Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Have You Heard That One About Pizza? It Goes Like This...
Some of us associate the oddest, most humorous memories with certain foods. Pizza is one of those foods for me.
Example: May 28, 2004. AMC Theatres on Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, California.
I remember it clearly. It was opening night of the blockbluster disaster flick, Day After Tomorrow. That evening, the silver screen audience was principally populated with residents from the nearby nursing home and the moviegoers were abuzz with excitement. Before the movie began, we excitedly watched the previews when I suddenly heard my beau whisper loudly into my ear.
"What is that smell?"
I faintly detected an oniony odor wafting in my direction.
Upon looking up, about two to three rows ahead, I saw a feisty gray-haired woman with her head buried in an open Styrofoam take-out container. I surreptitiously craned my neck upward and peered over her shoulder to view the contents of the container. I was amused to see that her container was heaped to the brim with a mottled orange ball of stringy chow mein noodles and sweet and sour chicken that was so radioactively red, it looked like the molten tip of a branding iron. Awe-struck and secretly jealous, I chuckled softly and feigned exasperation. "She has some guts," I muttered to my beau.
I then heard a rustling commotion and using my peripheral vision, I spotted a cluster of eager seniors huddled over a popped-open lid of a large cardboard Costco pizza box. Not to be outdone, they had snuck a whole pizza into a movie theater! Now those folks had guts to the N-th degree! In my heart, I immediately bowed in deference to them. If any human was worth worshiping, it was these cheapsters! I vowed to myself that one day, I would sneak an entire pizza box into a packed theater. And let me tell you, that day, will be the pinnacle of my achievement as a human being!
The moral of the story, is that one should have no shame when it comes to eating pizza. One of my favorite places for "shameless pizza eating" in the City of San Francisco, is Pizzeria Delfina. They serve pies there that are guaranteed to leave even the hardiest, most-resilient of adults in a garlic-induced stupor.
Pizzeria Delfina specializes in authentic Italian pizza: the kind with blistered, charred, and crackly edges and a supple interior. The kind with melted blobs of mozzarella and crushed tomatoes reeking of freshness. The kind that will make you wanna bring a whole pie into a movie theater! The pies of note at Pizzeria Delfina, are the classic Margherita and two, off-the-menu specials: (1) the Purgatorio and (2) the Gricia.
The Purgatorio is a traditional pie slathered with a spicy, tingly hot tomato sauce base which the chefs spike with red pepper flakes and layer with Romano cheese. The shavings of Romano will melt away on your tongue like salty flakes of snow and provide the perfect counterbalance to the entire pizza pie. However, the best part of the pizza is not the cheese, but the oozing and gooey sunny-side eggs, that spill forth on the pizza face.
The Gricia is made with guanciale (apparently, pig jowl) and panna cheese. This pizza is decorated with wispy tendrils of spring scallions and topped with a puddle of warm cream poured directly within the concentric circle of crust. The entire pie is sprinkled with crushed black peppercorns, which provide a spicy contrast to the creamy pie.
And hey, I would be willing to risk shame and ostracization in a movie theater for these fellas'! (I am an exhibitionist, what can I say.)