Well, it’s better than a kick in the balls.

There’s an old saying that pizza is like sex: even when it’s bad, it’s still better than nothing.  This is the worst sort of lie imaginable: bad pizza is the one unforgivable sin.

Maybe it’s my food snob side showing, but I’ve never had good Italian food outside of the Metropolitan New York Area.  It’s the same way with bagels: good luck finding a decent bagel store outside of the Five Boroughs or Long Island, but that’s more a function of the fact that the main Jewish enclaves are clustered around the Five Towns.  Still, there’s a hell of a lot more Italians spread around the country than there are Jews, which would logically lead you to believe that it’s easier to find good pizza in places besides Little Italy.  However, this is wrong.

Don’t get me started on places like chain Italian food restaurants, either.  What Pizza Hut did for mom and pop pizza joints, the Olive Garden did for sit-down Italian restaurants: it’s about as close to the real thing as Taco Bell is to real Mexican food.  In fact, I’d rather take a fork in the eye than eat at an Olive Garden, though I have been known to enjoy the guilty pleasure of cheap, greasy dough or one of those vile Doritos Locos tacos on occasion.  Besides, Pizza Hut specializes in that abomination known as Chicago style deep-dish pizza, which is an affront to anyone who grew up eating thin crust New York style.

Luckily, the majority of pizza joints you’ll find will feature thin crust pies, which is as it should be.  Unfortunately the further you get from the metro NY area, the likelihood of finding a decent pizzeria or Italian food restaurant approaches nil at an exponential rate.  An excellent example of this is the meal the wife and I had today in North Creek, at what I can only assume is the only game in town.  I’m not going to point the finger because, well, I’m not interested in giving this place bad publicity; besides, we didn’t actually try their pizza. Instead, the wife had a calzone while I had the one menu item that can be used like a litmus test for good Italian: the chicken parmesan hero.

I have to give it to those poor schlubs: it was an honest try, and they were close.  Of course “close” only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, so it’s not really much of a compliment.  The wife’s calzone was sub-par, as it featured not just an over-done crust but grainy ricotta cheese on the inside, though the mozzarella the place used wasn’t bad. It didn’t help that the marinara sauce that came with the calzone was cold as if it had just come from the refrigerator.  My chicken parm on the other hand was rather abysmal.  The chicken was gummy, the red sauce was bland and overly sweet, and the hero roll was too soft; combined with the ho-hum mozzarella, especially considering that it could have been melted a bit more, the whole thing was more or less a disappointing experience.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, though – I ate the hell out of it because I’m a fat bastard.  Next time, though, I think we’ll give a slice or two a try.  If it’s still no good, we’re going to take off and nuke the place from orbit.  It’s the only way to be sure

Kill me now.

Kill me now.

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2 thoughts on “Well, it’s better than a kick in the balls.

  1. ROFL, I’ve heard that one of the big reasons NYC has the best pizza on earth has to do with water, I think specifically the hard water.

    Kind of like how Long Island has become the new mecca for wine makers due to the combination of climate, soil and rain.

    I mean I’ve often thought – Hey why doesn’t a nice Italian family move to a small town somewhere lovely (what the locals might consider a city), and clean up with the best pizza for 100 miles?

    Then I realized, they did, and they found out it sucks for pizza making.

    Now, to be fair, I often don’t even like “good pizza” I find for me italian food can be hit or miss. My friend Charles and presumably his whole family are exceptional cooks.

    They are masters of simple recipes, not over-seasoning things, and using natural combinations of flavors. When I bust out the Old Bay Seasoning, or the Smokehouse maple rub for what I’m making, he winces in visible agony.

    To be fair, his mother cooks like an Italian Grandma. I mean this mother fucker once offered to make me Spaghetti and Meatballs. So I’m like, cool, there is the jar of sauce, and the pasta, and the meats in the fridge.

    He ended up going to the store, and came back with fresh tomatoes, and an assortment of other shit, and spent the next hour or so chopping simmering, stirring, seasoning, and making the most amazing version of spaghetti I ever had. The meatballs were so good, I think I pooped a little when I had my first bite.

    So I can understand why he is horrified by my comparably lazy methods, and my overly flavorful concoctions (when I make hamburgers, the last thing I want you to taste is the burger meat apparently).

    I must admit, Italian Grandma’s don’t have the monopoly on good cooking skills. They just get all the fame, I had a friend who was from Serbia, his mother barely speaks English and the food she makes literally knocked me out of my shoes, I woke up on the floor with my stomach distended and the vague recollection of being in food paradise for an hour, where succulent meats, and mind boggling pastries flowed into my gullet.

    I couldn’t pronounce more than one of two of the syllables for half the things I ate, and I Didn’t care.

    So there is DEFINITELY something about old world cooks…

    As for upstate cooking – I find when I go to the country, the best chefs I run into are the hunters, or the normal meat and taters kinda short order cooks.

    The hunters find ways to make venison and bear become an experience, all cooked over a small little electric hot plate, served on paper plates with plastic forks.

    Those short order chefs sometimes knock it out of the park with their simple fare… Possibly because the ingredients are often fresh and local. Best hamburger I had in years was in a little diner in the Adirondacks. I had a bad head cold and couldn’t taste anything, but I could taste that burger, and it was great.

    • There is an absolutely fantastic butcher shop up here, about 20 minutes from where we live, called “THE MEAT STORE OF THE NORTH.” Yes, in all capital letters. We checked it out today and the place is freakin’ stocked with all kinds of stuff. They have something like 10 butchers on staff – we don’t do much meat but when we do we’re totally going there, the place is amazing!

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