Please take a look at this adorable hedgehog. You’re going to need him later, when I start dropping the f-bombs.
Today, we’re going to talk about New York pizza. Almost nothing gets New Yorkers going like pizza. How and where to eat it, who makes it best, the history behind the Patsy Grimaldi pizza wars – it’s important. Some of you out there think pizza is controversial because you’ve seen reality shows on the Food Network like “Chicago Deep Dish / New York Thin Crust Smackdown!” Guess again, pretty boy, because almost no one in NYC even knows what Chicago pizza is. The nearest thing is called Sicilian, and you can usually find it
cowering pathetically in the corner, waiting for perverts who like that kind of thing. It’s not for the rest of us. Also, I know you wouldn’t, but may I remind you never to mention the tomato-paste-on-cardboard that shows up in 30 minutes from Dominos or Pizza Uno or any of those places? This is neighborhood pizza I’m talking about, and we take it very, very seriously.
TYPES OF PIZZA
There are 2 types of New York pizza. The first type is called Pizza. You buy it by the slice. You order it by saying “gimme-aslice with pepperoni, don’t heat it up too much.” Or, you could say “gimme aslice makeithot.” You get to choose these toppings with Pizza: pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, or plain. Peppers and onions are acceptable. MAYBE meatballs or anchovies or olives. If anyone says words like “ham” or “pineapple”, you are no longer in New York City. You are in Times Square.
The second kind of pizza is Brick Oven. You can’t buy one slice at a time; you have to get the whole pie. This isn’t a problem, because 1 or 2 persons can easily eat a whole brick oven pie: chewy, charred crust with fresh tomato sauce and REAL mushrooms baked on. Of course you can do it! If you are a true foodie, you’ll care whether the brick oven is a coal or a wood-burning oven. Personally, I don’t care.
HOW TO EAT PIZZA
You need to master the basic maneuver. Please watch this mandatory training video, made by Jon Stewart in 2011. It’s 7 minutes and 49 seconds long, and has some very dated political references, but please block your calendar and put in the earbuds or you won’t get credit for the course.
WHERE TO GET PIZZA
Pizza is local. You get pizza from your local pizzerias. You know which ones there are. The one with the best sauce. The one with too much sauce and too much cheese, but there are days when nothing else will do. The one that delivers to ANYWHERE, including a public park. The one where you have to get on a subway to get there. The one where you have to pour the grease off the top before you pick it up, but they’re at the door before you even put your phone back in your pocket. The one where you should get the calzones instead. The new one with the brick oven and the special mushroom pie. We’ll get to that one in a minute.
HOW TO ORDER PIZZA LIKE A NATIVE
Turns out, I belong to a neighborhood email list. Neighborhood list servers, like Facebook, are great for when you have a spare hour or two to comb through screen after screen filled with nitpicking minutia, whining, ranting, and pointless chitchat, to pull out one or two gems of knowledge. (Kind of like this blog.)
This month, the trending topic involves the local brick-oven place. It seems that some of my neighbors don’t think the customer service is up to snuff there. Seems that no one behind the counter smiles or greets them cheerfully the millisecond they walk in. Seems they are feeling slighted. Their feelings are bruised. They are promising to boycott Local Brick Oven Place until the establishment changes its ways and learns how to properly serve patrons who are filled with a deep sense of entitlement.
I bounced that one off of Al, to calibrate his reaction. Now, here’s where you’ll need the hedgehog.
“These neighbors say they don’t like Brick Oven Place because of what? Are you serious?
The pizza guys don’t SMILE at them? What the fuck? Who wants the fuckin’ pizza guy to SMILE at you? I want him to give me a fuckin’ pizza! That’s his job! Gimme the pizza! If it’s a good slice, maybe I’ll smile next time I walk in. Are these people fucking crazy? I tell you this – I wouldn’t trust a pizza guy who smiled all the time anyway! What’s he got to smile about? Did he just spit in my pizza?”
So, for all my neighborinos who think the pizza guys should smile more, here’s a hint. Maybe you’ve just moved to this part of town in the not too distant past. Maybe you think Disneyworld’s Pizzaland is your model for the happiest pizza place on earth. Maybe you should move to Greenwich, CT, where they smile a lot. Because if Al goes into the local place and says “gimme aslicea pepperoni” and the pizza guy SMILES at him, that’ll be the end of that for both of them.
And maybe, just maybe, you should try smiling first.