Thursday, September 20, 2012
My second favorite pizza also is no longer. When I was stationed at Ft. Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis during my advanced training, there were two very industrious college dudes off base who started a pizza delivery service. One guy made the pizzas and the other delivered them to the various barracks. Now it could be that my taste buds were dulled by army chow, but those pizzas were surprisingly awesome.
Today more than ever there is such a huge variety. In LA it seems a new gimmicky pizza place opens every ten minutes. One we have in Westwood (near me) is called 800 DEGREES. You order your pizza the way you order a Subway sandwich. You move down the line while guys load up your pie with the toppings and features you desire. Then it’s placed in an 800 degree oven and flash baked. The result is a decent pizza. But there are lines around the block. I don’t get it. Meanwhile, Mafia Pizza down the block is always empty. Hard to believe with that inviting name.
In LA we have numerous chains. CALIFORNIA PIZZA COMPANY is your standard reliable option, but they now clearly emphasize other entrees besides pizza because pineapple toppings are no longer the rage. B.J.’s is another. But are you really going to find superb pizza in the same restaurant that serves Thai salmon and baby back ribs? NUMERO UNO is the deep dish equivalent. But for me they're numero venti.
Another hot chain is Pitfire. And then there’s Wildflour – for the organic pizza aficionado. Hey, you get hungry hugging trees all day.
We also have Tombstone Pizza, but my daughter, Annie's rule applies here. She eats no food where the consequences are in the title.
“thin-crust gourmet pizzas and a rockin' gothic sensibility.” Yeah, I can just picture them all sitting around the Castle of Otranto on a dark stormy night waiting for the pizza to be delivered.
Maybe the most controversial pizza in Southern California is Barone’s. Very thin-crust and rectangle. Some people love it, others think it’s like eating cardboard – and not even good cardboard.
Pizza-by-the-slice also is somewhat lost on me. I know New Yorkers swear by Ray’s (or Original Ray’s, or Ray’s Original, or Rey’s, or Rey’s Original), but to me it’s just re-heated. That's breakfast pizza.
Deep dish Chicago style is great but super-filling. And takes forever to make.
Every town has its own standouts. You just gotta know who they are. When I broadcast minor league baseball in Syracuse I discovered Arturo’s Decent Italian Food. Their pizza was way better than decent. You’re welcome to chime in with your favorite from wherever you are. I do vaguely recall that the pizza in Firenze was pretty good. Not an authentically Italian perhaps as Matteo’s in Maui but still worth sampling.
And finally, if you’re like me, just reading this – I bet you're hungry for a pizza like right NOW.
By Ken Levine at 8:30 AM