We’ve all heard Judge Potter Stewart’s famous quote about porno so I won’t bother recounting it here. And if that man can subjectively, definitively identify pornography, so I can with pizza.
Matt Cerrone says that pizza is anything that stacks sauce, cheese, and, optionally, toppings on top of dough and calls itself “pizza.” Matt Cerrone lies. I’ve encountered plenty of things that vaguely fit that description call themselves pizza that are certainly not pizza, and probably at least one thing that calls itself something else that I might classify as a type of pizza — Flammekueche in Strasbourg, France.
So what’s the best way to know what is pizza and what isn’t? There’s only one way to be certain: Ask me. I know. Just trust me on this one, and be willing to defer to my pizza judgment.
If you eat something and you think it might be pizza, bring it to me. I will let you know.
But I can tell you this much right now. What I ate last night at Gino’s East here in Chicago was not pizza:
Which is not to say it wasn’t delicious, mind you. Because it was. I mean, hell, it featured sweet, delicious tomato sauce, a big, whole sausage patty and some scant mozzarella cheese on a cornmeal crust. Cornmeal! I mean it was like a giant pizza made on cornbread. And cornbread is awesome.
But note that I said it was like a giant pizza made on cornbread. Because pizza is not like this. This was like some sort of cake with pizza-related substances on top. Actually, this was like an actual pie of pizza things. Not a pizza pie, because that’s what we call real pizza. This was a pie inspired by pizza. Tasty, don’t get me wrong. I can’t stress that enough.
It was good last night and it was good again when I had the leftovers this morning for breakfast. But at no point along the way was it something I’d call pizza. If you blindfolded me and fed me it, I’d be all, “thanks for this delicious treat,” but not, “thanks for shoving that pizza in my mouth.”
The other thing is it takes 45 minutes to prepare. That’s nuts. I was fine with it because the waiter at Gino’s East told us it was going to take that long and we understood, but I can’t think of anything in New York you wait 45 minutes for once you’ve ordered it. One time when I was six, my mom and I waited 45 minutes at Friendly’s because the waitress forgot about us. But that’s pretty much it. There’s got to be a better system, especially at a place with as much traffic as Gino’s East had last night.
Chicagoans really just sign up to wait 45 minutes for pizza every time they order it? That means if they get it delivered it has to take at least an hour, right? That’s lunacy. Reminds me of an old Mitch Hedberg joke: “I like baked potatoes. I don’t have a microwave oven, and it takes forever to bake a potato in a conventional oven. Sometimes I’ll just throw one in there, even if I don’t want one, because by the time it’s done, who knows?”
But then these people still come out to the park every day even though their baseball team hasn’t won in a damn century, so maybe this city has a patience a lifelong New Yorker can’t understand.
Finally, I regret to inform you that Sandwich of the Week will be delayed until tomorrow or Monday for this week, depending on my schedule here in Chicago. Busy here. I meant to find a sandwich last night but we figured it would be a good time to get the eating of the “pizza” out of the way.