What Makes a Great City Pizza Joint?
In a recent article on Slate, food writer Dave Gilkey claimed that a city pizza is a “myth.” I’d say that it’s a common misconception. For starters, I live in a large metropolitan area and there aren’t very many pizza joints down there. There used to be a deli down the road from my house that served terrible pizza, but that’s since been replaced by a fantastic local restaurant that serves nothing but world-class food and fantastic customer service. City pizza in America isn’t nearly as imaginary as Gilkey makes it out to be.
Of course, Gilkey’s definition of a “pizza” includes a lot of things beyond the tomato pie he mentions. As he points out, there’s no denying that the topping is the star of any pizza pie. From here on out, let’s focus on what constitutes a truly good pizzelle, and not just what the topping is. The topping has to have a strong flavor, with a moderate to medium cheesy consistency. It should also be able to withstand being cooked in the oven for a decent amount of time (around 20 minutes maximum). And, of course, it has to come with a decent amount of extra calories.
That brings us to the second rule of thumb about pizza: you shouldn’t skimp on the toppings. If you’re going to take away a cheese topping, you should take away a good deal of other things, too. Take away the calories! There are so many great things about pizza that skimping on the toppings is self-defeating. While it may seem like you’re sacrificing some flavor, the reality is that the quality of the toppings goes a long way toward making a good pizza.
The most important thing about a pizza is the base. Most people who go to a pizzeria want a pie that tastes good, and looks great too. If you’re looking for a good meal and a great pie, then you’re in luck. Just make sure you pay attention to the base of your pie. One of the best base types for a pizza is a tomato sauce base. It has a nice full flavor, but is not so heavy that you’ll feel like you’re being weighed down by a brick.
Don’t go too cheap on the crust, either. Just like anything else, a cheap crust just isn’t worth it. If you’re going to spend two dollars on a pie, you want it to taste good and not like it. If you’re paying seven dollars for a pie that tastes like cardboard, then you’ve got something that’s not right. Stay away from those kinds of pie places.
Speaking of taste, the flavors of pizza all have to work together to create a good meal. One of the best things about local pizzerias is that they know their stuff. They aren’t just selling you a slice because it’s appealing. In fact, a good pizza joint will put lots of effort into each and every pizza that they make, and that includes frying the dough in vegetable oil or using real cheese. Most of the better pizzerias will use high quality ingredients in the dough, so you can rest assured knowing that you’re getting a good slice.
Another thing that distinguishes a good city pizza joint from a bad one is the atmosphere. You shouldn’t have to feel like you’re at an office cafeteria. The decor has to be pleasant, and you should feel like you’re spending a little time in your office working instead of standing there waiting. You want to enjoy your time there, and you should enjoy yourself while you’re there, as well. Some of the nicer pizzerias will have open kitchens, so that you can sit back and eat without having to move around. This is also a nice feature if you have kids.
It doesn’t matter what you order. Some people like stuffed breads, others like it with meat. If you don’t know what you want, they can usually help you choose whether it’s something that you’ll like. If you go to a place like this where the employees are friendly and the atmosphere is warm and inviting, you’re likely to enjoy your meal and the company.