Or maybe should say, A place I called home for a long time. The City That Never Sleeps. The Big Apple. Gotham. If you can make it there…
Yes, you guessed it: New York.
So where did I get this New York-ish pizza? If you know me, you probably guessed that too: it was made right in my own home. Really.
I had an honest-to-goodness New York slice made in my home. Actually, I had three slices. How I managed to abstain from eating a fourth is still a mystery.
My husband, A.K.A. Mr. Free the Pizza, decided he wanted to try something other than his go-to, modified-Neapolitan crust. He wanted to tackle the big boy.
Quick backstory: Mr. Parker has been a pizza geek for over twenty years. When he began making pizza for me, we were just-marrieds living in Los Angeles. One night, we invited a friend over to join us. A nice southern gentleman.
When the man tasted the pie, he was beside himself with delight. He asked, “Who made the crust?”
The answer, of course, was “Mr. Parker.” Then Mr. P went into the kitchen for something and I pointed out that he had also ground the sausage himself.
Our polite southern friend then asked, “Honey, Not to be indelicate, but what is it that you do?”
Well, I get to eat it. Usually, I clean up after.
Ever since then, Mr. Parker has been working to perfect the art of great pizza at home. And I’ve been his enthusiastic guineapig. (I know. I said, “Pig.”)
Now, back to New York pizza from our kitchen. To be honest, his first run at it was just fine. You know: “Fine.”
The world you use when someone says, “What did you think of the date your mom set you up with?” They were fine. “How was that trip to Trenton?” Fine. “How are things going at work in the prison?” Fine.
But the second time he took a stab at NYC pizza was beyond fine. It was the charm. As soon as the scent hit me, I got nervous. Anxious, even. One bite, and I knew.
That pizza was so spot-on, the taste was a memory bomb. I was instantly back in New York at my favorite slice joint. It was on 12th and University at the little shop below Bowl More Lanes. (Neither of which are still there. Shame.)
But, OMG, I could see it all.
The worn linoleum countertop.
The high tables with the little round tops that you had to stand at.
The row of shaker-top containers holding oregano, parmesan cheese, and red pepper flakes.
Nothing there was designed for lingering. All of it screamed, “Eat your slice and get the hell out—or buy another one.”
And why wouldn’t you? It was that good.
And this joint was just around the corner from my apartment. At the time, I was twenty-three, single, and had the metabolism to eat pizza with abandon and barely gain a pound. (Those things are no longer true.)
But now, Mr. Parker has created a pizza that gets it all right. The balance of cheese to sauce works. The cheese is sharp with just enough bite and pull. The sauce is bright without being sweet. And the crust has the perfect flavor and structure.
Call me a happy ex-New Yorker.
And in the interest of fooling ourselves, Mr. Parker suggested that we have the pizza for lunch and make dinner would be a small meal. This way, we could work off the calories and carbs in the gym after lunch. And the light diner would make it like it never happened.
All would be right with our waistlines and the world. I agreed that it was a genius plan and together we lied to ourselves and enjoyed every last bite.
Pizza borders on religion, and Mr. P has taken me to church. Can I get an, amen?!
So, where’s your favorite place for a slice of pizza?
Honey Parker has been writing, writing, writing for decades, decades, decades. In there, she has also been a standup comedian, a Hollywood screenwriter, a director, and a co-author of edgy business books. Careful-ish is her debut novel. It is the first in a trilogy. It is comedy-ish.