At a party last January, a friend was regaling with a story about a recent date where the subject of pizza brought on a lengthy conversation of what constitutes an ecstatic love of pizza and what it would be like to be on a date with someone that despises it. “So what type of person is a pizza fanatic? How many slices in a week are we talking?” My friend and her date came up with four. Four trips, resulting in a minimum of four pizza slices. The week prior to this party, I was asked to join a birthday dinner at Nomad Roman, newly opened next door to my work. Seriously, I can smell it when the wood oven is fired up. It got to about 4 o’clock, dinner was at 7pm, and I knew there was absolutely no way that I would be able to hold out. I walked three blocks over to Zio’s, a pretty decent spot for slices and got a Sicilian corner to tide me over before, well, another round of pizza. After the convo at the party, it felt like I was only a few slices away from a feature on TLC. This all goes by way of saying, I gave up pizza for the entire month of February, and boy what a depressing month that was.
My triumphant return to the merry land of margherita was a fancy pizza crawl with 30 or so foodie friends who like to, among other things, run a lot, make the act of eating a contest, and drink in the name of science. We rented a school bus, broke every rule on that magic bus except a curious one prohibiting sunflower seeds, and hit up five area pizza joints, fairly new to the city, all pretty gourmet.
I won’t go into lengthy details about each; they were all great and really, after a month’s fasting, I probably would have been content with something half-thawed from the freezer section at Super Fresh. You can read a detailed description of all the stops over at BrotherlyGrubLove and Eat, Drink and Run Philly. I thought Dimeo’s pomodorino sauce was the most flavorful, a hidden jewel of a pizza spot in an unassuming location in the Andorra shopping center. The da vinci from Art of Pizza in Fishtown topped with pork belly and red onion surprised me as my favorite. Both pork belly and red onion tend to be too strong of flavors for me to have more than a few bites but I practically stole the slice belonging to my table mate. I regret not tasting the renata from Pizzeria Vetri, a white pizza garnished with rosemary and sea salt, but that’s a spot I’ve returned to time and time again and foresee in my future.
The pizza party was punctuated by boozy bus rides and one trip to Prohibition to “kill time.” The crawling ended with a trip to Interstate Draft House, “Dead Man’s Party” on the jukebox thanks to the strategic wardrobe choices of one crawler sporting a vintage Oingo Boingo tee. As I write this it is Mardi Gras and we are heading into the Lenten season. I’m (attempting ) giving up cheese so am heading into another six-week stretch without. I guess I’ll have to sate myself with tomato pies instead.