A NY Pizza Virgin No Longer

9 Aug

It may seem obvious: any average foodie with the slightest sense of morale is aware that New York Pizza is a revered and well-established pillar of the culinary world.  It is embarrassing, then, for me–someone with such high regard for food in its various forms–to admit that I was, until recently, a NY pizza virgin.  It really wasn’t my fault, per se; I grew up going to the city for special outings or occasions, and it was a fluke that we never got pizza on any of our trips.  When I started going to New York more often, I had other food destinations in mind, and although the multitudes of pizzerias called my name, I found myself saving room for meals out.  

Like anyone’s first time, mine was awkward and subpar.  When I mentioned offhand that I had never eaten a slice of famous New York pizza, my mom dragged me into the nearest pizzeria, a yenta bent on keeping a young woman from maid-hood.  She, my sister, and I shared a slice in the sparse room adjoining the pizzeria.  An unfortunate choice, this chicken and broccoli pizza, with its immeasurably and superfluously thick crust, was a flop.  I left my maiden bed pizza parlor feeling empty and unfulfilled, a princess afraid of many unsatisfying future nights spent with her new prince.  Surely, it would get better, no?  I had never been utterly disappointed in New Jersey’s pizza, but I knew that the famous New York pie had yet to find its way to my lips.

‘Twas a score of hours ago when I truly found the reason for the NY pizza craze.  First, I found myself eating ordered-out pizza with a group of people who I met at a school meet-up in front of the Plaza Hotel.  Even for a random pie delivered to a street corner, this was pretty decent.  One pie with mushrooms and goat cheese was actually kind of impressive, and a cracker-thin crust gave the pizza character.  

A few minutes after that “snack,” my sister and I found ourselves walking to Co. for dinner.  I was curious about this controversial pizza joint.  How could an artisan bread maker put out a bad pie?  Lahey’s pizza turned out to average a rating between good and excellent in my book.  The pizza bianca was chewier than I expected, but fresh out of the oven with ricotta, it was a pillowy delight.  Our Popeye pizza was also very good, and it exhibited the same chewiness in the crust while also showing a slightly charred bottom.  We really enjoyed this pizza.  However, we left, we were both conscious of a void within the food receptors in our brains (a culinary radar that reads satisfaction–this is not an actual thing but more of an intuition), we realized that we lacked satiation by sauce.  The order-in pie had no sauce.  Pizza bianca has nothing.  The popeye is all cheese, no sauce!  Damn, didn’t Popeye need his lycopene too?  I suppose the spinach got a better spotlight position without tomatoes present.

Anyway, as we walked back to the Port Authority Bus terminal, I passed a familiar scent.  Then a familiar sight.  Every time I walk down 9th Ave, I pass a pizza place that looks like a crappy box with a mail slot.  A couple of men stand inside, exchanging a slice for the customer’s dollar through said slot.  I always pass it, but this time I put my foot down.  The nose knows, and this was no exception!  I bought my slice, and after topping it with garlic salt and oregano, I dove into this beautiful piece of wedge-shaped joy.  After all the pizza that I had, it was a surprise that anything could still peak my appetite, but this did it.  I reveled in the sauce, cheese, and crust chorus that came singing down my throat, squeezing the pizza-grease in a messy deluge down my esophagus.  I do not mind regressing to a state of barbarism when I am eating something that feels primal and right.  How could I?  

So there, people: I can earnestly say that I am not a pizza virgin any longer; in fact, I am resting myself from such an exhausting and passionate tryst.  I love New York Pizza!  If you are ever walking on 9th ave, and you see the pizza joint on 41st, do yourself a favor and put a dollar through the slot.

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