26 July, 2007

My thoughts about pizza

The subtitle of this blog should be "50 Ways to Avoid Working on the Report I Need To Write". But we can forget about that for a moment.

So I've rambled about this quite a bit here and there, but I don't think I've blogged about it ever, so here we go.

The pizza in Seattle sucks (*). The asterisk, as employed here, indicates that there exceptions to that statement which I will reveal in a few moments after I bitch and complain first. So, first of all, I think the the problem in Seattle is that pizza chains seem to carry a lot of weight. There are a lot of them. Domino's, Pizza Slut, Round Table, Romio's, Jet City, Papa Murphy's, Pagliacci's, and the list probably goes on. And everyone seems to love them. They are not good. The only exception, and it doesn't even deserve an asterisk, hence maybe I should just give it a "&" or a "$" as some type of sub-special case, is Pagliacci, which, if you need to go to a chain, go there.

That's issue 1.

Then comes the infusion of California pseudo-pizza rubbish and artsy cuisine that deserves a name other than pizza. Here, I refer to such places as California Pizza Kitchen, and then all the Faux Italian places like Tutta Bella and the place at U-Village that I can't remember. So these places are not bad pizza. But they are not really pizza. And also they serve tiny, thin pizzas at high prices. And they focus around obnoxious toppings like artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomato, pulvarized wolf spleen, and various other shit that doesn't belong on pizza. Like gorgonzola cheese. It's almost like they are saying "What shit can we throw on this so that people who really like pizza will be offended". I think I am going to make my own fancy-schmancy pizza restaurant, and here will be the toppings I will offer to all the yuppified California, health-infused, new-age, scum:

petrified shaved larynx, dandelion, earwax ringlets, mackerel, soup (yes, just pour an entire can of your favorite soup on the pizza), fungal toenail, yeti scrotum, maple leaf, and my favorite "drainiculus" (**). Note the use of the asterisk again. In this case, the double asterisk indicates that there will be a definition of the term immediately below.

** drainiculus is the various soppy, aged, rotting, organic matter that accumulates in the drain catch of your kitchen sink if you keep piling up and semi-rinsing dirty dishes for, say, 3-5 weeks. it is unclear at this time whether this topping will be offered as vegetarian or not, since theoretically speaking, EVERYTHING becomes vegetarian if left to degrade long enough.

Back on task, though. So for me, you see, pizza is not about "seeing, and being seen". It's not a trendy thing where I go and pick at one or two slivers of kalamata and pomegranate with white sauce. For me, being from Boston, pizza is a STAPLE food. You people from Seattle must know what staple foods are, right? I think examples for you would be salmon. But that's another story that I'll save. Back to pizza. Staple foods have certain properties. 1) they are good. 2) they are inexpensive. 3) you can find them everywhere. 4) people eat large amounts of them. 5) there is no 5.

So, having come from Boston, where every town has it's own "House of Pizza" which is usually either Greek or Italian, and every one of these places is great in its own special way, I am rather annoyed with the offerings here in Seattle.

Here comes the time where I will get back to my first asterisk. As a footnote, I should mention that I dated a girl in college, who was not only 4 foot 11 inches tall, which is odd enough, but she referred to an asterisk as an "askee". I don't even know what she meant. Maybe she meant ASCII like the character code? She could have called it the "star" and I would have forgiven that. But what the fuck is "Askee"? How do you even get that? And she wasn't saying it to be cute either. We won't mention her name here. She had some other funny things like that which I cannot remember. (apparently this was important enough to me that I felt the need to blog about it again in spring of 2008... hm).

Anyway here comes the second asterisk - the moment you've been waiting for!

* There IS good pizza in Seattle. But you need to really look hard for it!

1. The best pizza place I have found in Seattle, of course, is Piecora's at Madison and Pike. This is authentic New York style pizza. They have authentic New York decor. The atmosphere is slightly New York, in that the people who work there are a bit more aggro than you would normally find in a Seattle establishment. But it's great pizza, and it's not insanely priced. And they are very CONSISTENTLY GOOD, which is another thing that cannot possibly be overrated.

2. The second best pizza place deserves a few asterisks next to its name because I am not sure I can really give it this status anymore. It is called "A New York Pizza Place". I am certain that the "A" in front of the name is to get it at the front of the Yellow Pages listing for pizza. Pretty clever, but a little foofy. So when I moved to Seattle in 1999, this was my favorite pizza place. It had completely authentic and extremely valuable New York sports memorabilia, and it was owned by a completely authentic New Yorker. Prices were not bad, and quality was consistent. Unfortunately, something happened. In maybe 2002 or so, owner decided to sell the business and move to Europe. Good for him. Bad for New York Pizza place. He sold it to a guy from Arizona. And the prices went up. And the quality control went down. And all the authentic memorabilia is replaced by shit you could by in the posters section of Fred Meyer. Cheesy, no pun intended, and ironic since their pizza is now often not so much. They still have the *capacity* to make a top-rate pizza. But they don't always assemble with proper amount of cheese (i.e. cost cutting) and they almost ALWAYS undercook their pizza, which is mind-boggling to me - how can you do this? How fucking difficult is it to look at the pizza, and say "It's ALMOST done. I better leave it in there another minute or two so that it will be perfect and my customer will be happy". But no. Furthermore, they reduced their hours so that they're not open every day and NEVER open for lunch. If you're still reading this then you're about to hear the best part - so if you read this part, send me a message and give me a kudo for having mucho cojones. I almost got in a FIGHT with the Arizonan owner like 4 years ago! It was great!. I had been getting angrier and angrier because first their large cheese was 11 dollars. Then 12 dollars. Then 14 dollars. And I think it's like fucking 16 dollars now or something. So I asked the guy "how come your prices have gone up so much?". So he starts telling me this whole story about how the best cheese is on the East Coast, and he needs to have it shipped out here, and that it is so expensive. Then he tells me that the entire cost of the pizza is the cheese. Dough, negligible. Sauce, nada. The cost is the cheese. So, then, genius that he is, he says "cheese has gone up like 75 cents a pound in the last year or so". And I, having worked at a pizza place, know that a large cheese pizza probably gets between 0.5 to 0.75 pounds of cheese. That, doing the math, is between 35-50 cents, approximately. And I say to him (because I am smart), if cheese went up like 50 cents a pizza, why did you increase your prices by 2-3 dollars? At this point, he says "listen, do you have a problem?". And it sort of started to escalate from there, and my friend I was with at the time had to tell me to drop it.

I take my pizza VERY seriously.

The Arizonan sweetheart also apparently owns the Fremont Classic now as well, so you might want to avoid that place too :)

3. Talarico's in West Seattle is not bad. They have karaoke, which can be amusing, and they serve VERY LARGE, reasonably priced, New York Style pizza until late at night. Not a bad idea if you're in West Seattle, or if you are in the mood to sing karaoke.

4. I forget the name for sure, but Mamma's or Mama something's on Pike or Pine in Capitol Hill is also decent.

Beyond that. Fuck Seattle and your fucking shitty ass overpriced pizza. And that's all I've got to say about that shit! If you want good pizza for free, come over my house and bring me an offering of appreciation and I will abide.

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