Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Hero's Journey. of Pizza.

Forgot to post last night. Damn.

I've spent the last several weeks fixating on a very specific vision. Of pizza. We have great pizza right here in our neighborhood (Castrillo's, who we're having provide the chow for our rehearsal dinner) but we always get takeout. My Pizza Vision does not involve takeout. My Pizza Vision is of sitting in a pizzeria and having a hot pie placed in front of me on a metal pan. When I remove the first slice from the pan, the cheese strings out for at least two feet and I have to pile the gooey cheese strings onto my slice on my plate. Also in this vision: pitchers of Dr. Pepper with pebble ice.

I realize now that this vision is a California memory. This is the food we ate at Godfather's with the Jansens after church or before a movie. Or there was a place Elisa used to take us, somewhere on the way to Hidden Beach, where we made a video of the pizza because it was gooey to the point of being (compellingly) disgusting. I'm not fiending for authentic neapolitan cuisine here. I want the cheesy, floppy, Americanized version of the food I grew up eating.

So I took my quest to the masses, and posted a Facebook query:

I'll tell you, folks really respond when you talk about food on Facebook. Any time I'm feeling neglected (oh, as if I ever feel neglected...) I can just say something about whatever I'm cooking up for dinner that night and be assured of some attention. 35 people had opinions about pizza. Some folks could only mention out-of-town pizza joints, which is completely not helpful. Many people mentioned Mafiaoza's, where I've had enough negative experiences as to not be willing to give another try. There were several shoutouts to House of Pizza, which is definitely *great* pizza but not what I'm looking for here. A few folks offered up City House, including one (self-admitted food snob) who blithely dismissed all the other suggestions as inedible.

This is where Austin decided to get involved. First he requested my permission to simply respond with some profanity towards City House, which I denied. We've only been there once, and it was quite disappointing, but certainly not enough of an experience to pass permanent judgment, and we've had so many folks whose opinions we trust recommend it. After having his initial request refused, Austin turned to poorly veiled sarcasm instead:

I'll let you wipe the tears of mirth from your eyes while we ponder, together, what a great writer that man is. He made that all up! I don't even know where he gathered words like "Puglia" and "salame" and concepts like a stone oven that gets dismantled every day. Seriously.

A few people bit after that (poor James sent Austin a direct message begging for directions to Luca Montolivo's hovel), but I'd already moved on to a strong possibility for my pizza fulfillment: Pie in the Sky, a relatively new spot in Midtown. There are a few locations in the Nashville area and I've heard mixed reports on the other ones, but this one so far had some solid recommendations, plus the added bonus of 2-for-1 draft beers all the time. Friday night rolled around and we were in.

Success! Emily and I split a medium thin-crust pie with mushrooms, pepperoni and extra cheese, and the first piece pulled off that pizza with gorgeous, sticky strings of goo, exactly what I was hoping for. This was delicious food that satisfied a specific craving, and I don't feel bad for a bit that it wasn't authentic Italian cuisine. I didn't get my pitcher of Dr. Pepper (truth is, I can't drink Dr. Pepper anymore, other than very early in a day when I know I have to stay up very late... heartbreaking. Dr. Pepper and I used to be so close.) but it was on the menu, so that definitely counts. This one's going on the short list.

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