Praise for Beloved Pizza

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Praise for Beloved Pizza

Post by Ralph » Tue May 09, 2006 8:11 am

Um, not our distinguished forumite. Sorry.

From Americanheritage.com:

American Pie

How a Neapolitan street food became the most successful immigrant of all
By Hanna Miller

Almost every American food—from egg foo yung to empanadas—is covered in the phone book under the generic heading “Restaurants.” Only pizza stands alone. Pizza, a Johnny-come-lately compared with such long-standing national favorites as the hamburger and hot dog, has secured a special place on the American table. Everybody likes pizza. Even those who claim to be immune to its charms must deign to have the occasional slice; a staggering 93 percent of Americans eat pizza at least once a month. According to one study, each man, woman, and child consumes an average of 23 pounds of pie every year.

But pizza wasn’t always so popular. Food writers in the 1940s who were worldly enough to take note of the traditional Italian treat struggled to explain the dish to their readers, who persisted in imagining oversized apple-pie crusts stuffed with tomatoes and coated with cheese. “The pizza could be as popular a snack as the hamburger if Americans only knew about it,” The New York Times lamented in 1947, illustrating its plaint with a photograph of a pie subdivided into dozens of canapé-sized slices.

That writer’s wistful tone was supplanted in a very few years by a weary one, as culinary chroniclers became jaded by the nation’s voracious appetite for pizza and the pie’s never-ending parade of variations. “The highly seasoned pizza with its tough crust and tomato topping is such a gastronomical craze that the open pie threatens the pre-eminence of the hot dog and hamburger,” the Times reported in a 1953 story about “what is perhaps inevitable—a packaged pizza mix.”

Pizza had wedged its way into the nation’s hearts and stomachs almost overnight, a phenomenon befitting a food that became synonymous with quick and easy. Americans seeking fun in the years after World War II found a good measure of it in pizza, a food that when eaten correctly (a matter of some debate among 1950s advice columnists) forced the diner’s lips into a broad smile. Pizza, like teenagedom and rock ’n’ roll, is a lasting relic of America’s mid-century embrace of good times.

Modern pizza originated in Italy, although the style favored by Americans is more a friend than a relative of the traditional Neapolitan pie. Residents of Naples took the idea of using bread as a blank slate for relishes from the Greeks, whose bakers had been dressing their wares with oils, herbs, and cheese since the time of Plato. The Romans refined the recipe, developing a delicacy known as placenta, a sheet of fine flour topped with cheese and honey and flavored with bay leaves. Neapolitans earned the right to claim pizza as their own by inserting a tomato into the equation. Europeans had long shied away from the New World fruit, fearing it was plump with poison. But the intrepid citizens of Naples discovered the tomato was not only harmless but delicious, particularly when paired with pizza.

Cheese, the crowning ingredient, was not added until 1889, when the Royal Palace commissioned the Neapolitan pizzaiolo Raffaele Esposito to create a pizza in honor of the visiting Queen Margherita. Of the three contenders he created, the Queen strongly preferred a pie swathed in the colors of the Italian flag: red (tomato), green (basil), and white (mozzarella).

Thus ends the story of pizza, according to most histories of the pie. It’s not a bad story, but it’s only the beginning; Esposito’s adventures in patriotic baking have little to do with why American pizza makers are taxed to exhaustion every Super Bowl Sunday.
By the late fifties it was storming the American kitchen.
By the late fifties it was storming the American kitchen.
(GETTY IMAGES)

Pizza crossed the Atlantic with the four million Italians who by the 1920s had sought a better life on American shores. Most Italians weren’t familiar with the many regional variations their fragmented homeland had produced, but a longing for pan-Italian unity inspired a widespread embrace of a simplified pizza as their “national” dish. Fraternal “pizza and sausage” clubs, formed to foster Italian pride, sprouted in cities across the Northeast. Women got in on it too, participating in communal pizza exchanges in which entrants competed with unique pies, some molded into unusual shapes, some with the family name baked into the dough.

Although non-Italians could partake of pizza as early as 1905, when the venerable Lombardi’s—the nation’s first licensed pizzeria—opened its doors in Lower Manhattan, most middle-class Americans stuck to boiled fish and toast. The pungent combination of garlic and oregano signaled pizza as “foreign food,” sure to upset native digestions. If pizza hoped to gain an American following beyond New York City and New Haven, it would have to become less like pizza. By the 1940s a few entrepreneurs had initiated the transformation, starting a craze that forever changed the American culinary landscape.

The modern pizza industry was born in the Midwest, not coincidentally a place of sparse Italian settlement. Although pizza had pushed into the suburbs as second-generation Italians relocated, most of the heartland was pizza-free. Its inhabitants had neither allegiance nor aversion to the traditional pie. The region also boasted an enviable supply of cheese.

Despite such advantages, Ike Sewell still wasn’t thinking pies when he partnered with Ric Riccardo to open a Chicago restaurant. Sewell, a native of Texas, planned on offering a menu of Mexican specialties. Riccardo willingly agreed, having never tried Mexican food. His first meal changed his mind so completely that, he liked to say later, he fled to Italy to recover from it. While there, he sampled classic Neapolitan pizza and found it much better than Sewell’s Mexican offerings. Sewell eventually agreed to forgo enchiladas for pizza, but not until he’d inflated the thin-crusted Neapolitan recipe to make it more palatable to Americans. “Ike tasted it and said nobody would eat it, it’s not enough,” Evelyne Slomon, author of The Pizza Book, said. “So he put gobs and gobs of stuff on it.”

Sewell’s lightly seasoned deep-dish pie, introduced in 1943, the signature item at Pizzeria Uno, was the first true American pizza. The pie was a uniquely Chicago institution, like a perennially losing major-league baseball team, that other cities showed no interest in adopting. Until Uno’s opened its first location outside Chicago in 1979, people had to go to East Ohio Street to sample anything like Sewell’s idea of a pie. But its success liberated pizzeria owners nationwide to tinker with their product, ultimately paving the way for the megafranchises.

Sewell was followed in the next two decades by scores of independent operators who deleted the traditional herbs and went easy on the garlic in hopes of gaining a bigger clientele. Pizza was no longer the province of firstand second-generation Italians. Americans of every ancestry wanted a slice of this pie. “I make any kinda pizza you want,” the New York pizzeria owner Patsy D’Amore told The Saturday Evening Post in 1957. “One day a man order a lox pizza with cream cheese. It turn my stomach, but I make it for him.” Professional pizza chefs like the unnamed Japanese-American woman who stumped the panel of the TV show “What’s My Line?” in 1956, and the Mexican-Americans who helped make pizza the second-best seller at the 1952 Texas State Fair (edged out only by the irresistible corn dog), and fledgling franchises like Pizza Hut, gradually shed all Italian imagery from their advertising campaigns.

But despite the best entrepreneurial efforts, most Americans remained unfamiliar with pizza well into the 1940s. “We had to give it away at first,” Eugenia DiCarlo told a McNeese State University interviewer of her husband’s attempt to establish a pizzeria in Lake Charles, Louisiana, in 1947. “They had never, never heard of it down here. And, boy, every time they’d take a piece of it, they liked it. And more and more liked it, told other people, and then got to the place where that was the biggest part of our business.”
Miss Rheingold enjoys a match made in heaven in the early 1960s.
Miss Rheingold enjoys a match made in heaven in the early 1960s.

The urge to tell other people about pizza was apparently a universal impulse that seized knowing literati like Ora Dodd —who in 1949 penned a two-page paean for the Atlantic Monthly: “It is piping hot; the brown crust holds a bubbling cheese-and-tomato filling. There is a wonderful savor of fresh bread, melted cheese and herbs. This is a pizza”—and World War II servicemen returning from Italy. Veterans ranging from the lowliest private to Dwight D. Eisenhower talked up pizza.

Led by the servicemen’s newfound cravings, Americans timidly sampled their first pies. Most weren’t crisp, bathed in olive oil, or sprinkled with mozzarella; if cooks followed the advice offered by Good Housekeeping in 1951, their pizzas were biscuit rounds or English muffins topped with processed Cheddar cheese, chili sauce, salt, pepper, and salad oil. Cooks could also opt to add deviled ham, stuffed olives, or canned tuna to the “cheese treatment.”

Americans who ate at any one of the country’s rapidly proliferating pizzerias (the number of parlors in the United States skyrocketed from 500 in 1934 to 20,000 in 1956) enjoyed a pie that cut a neat compromise between the traditional Italian pizza and Good Housekeeping’s “Yankee” variety. Pizzas at the Pennsylvania parlor where Andy Zangrilli got his first job were massive rectangles speckled with slithery pepperoni disks. “It was a hit,” said Zangrilli, who today owns a chain of pizzerias. “If you didn’t like the pepperoni, you’d take it off. It was the Model T of food.”

Unlike other ethnically derived foods that enjoyed faddish popularity in modern America, pizza never masqueraded as exotic. Its consumers didn’t aspire to be cosmopolitan or courageous. They were simply drawn in by the bewitching interplay of tomatoes, bread, and cheese—drawn in so strongly that by 1958 the novelty singer Lou Monte could issue an album called Songs for Pizza Lovers.
A serving plate from the early 1960s.
A serving plate from the early 1960s.

But it wasn’t just the taste that Americans liked. The social aspect of the pie appealed to a nation riding the postwar boom economy. It seemed uniquely suited to the fun that defined the 1950s, easy for “the gang” to share and informal enough to figure in slumber parties and sock hops. While the early New York pizzerias had been forced to sell by the slice to draw lunchtime business, most pies outside the five boroughs were sold whole, making it nearly impossible to eat pizza alone (although Jackie Gleason attributed his girth to having accomplished the feat many times, sometimes within the span of a single meal).

“I call it happy food,” Slomon said. “It’s a communal thing. You can have two people enjoying a pizza or you can have a group.” Sophia Loren in 1959 told the Los Angeles Times that having been raised in Italy to consider pizza the food of poverty, she pitied Americans when she saw how many pizza joints they had. “So I think America not so rich after all. Then I find eating pizza here is like eating hot dog—for fun.”

Eliminating cutlery made pizza eating seem raffish to more staid diners. Although Dear Abby urged her readers to respect the pizza as a pie and reach for a fork, the etiquette authority Amy Vanderbilt condoned eating slices “out of hand,” adding that “pizza tastes best as a finger food.” Look magazine in 1954 published an illustrated step-by-step guide, instructing readers to hold pizza from “the arc edge,” rather than the measly tip, and “roll it in a log.” Bob Hope still had reservations when his buddy Jerry Colonna prepared a pie. “It’s a tough baby to cut,” Hope complained. “I never cut it,” Colonna responded. “It’s hand food. Chew it down and have fun.”

Pizzeria owners accelerated the fun by hiring dough-tossing showmen to divert patrons by spinning pies skyward, sometimes sending the dough 12 feet into the air (and creating an overly dry pizza in the process). Tossers such as Aldo Formica, who demonstrated his talent on Tennessee Ernie Ford’s television show, became second-rung celebrities. “Then it started coming out that maybe the guy with the hairy arms in the dough wasn’t turning people on, and maybe he was turning people off,” the pizza consultant John Correll said of the tosser’s ultimate disappearance from the scene. “But pizza has stayed locked in to the image of fun and frolic.”

The image was polished in 1953 when Dean Martin swung his way through “That’s Amore!,” an Italian-flavored love song that famously compared the moon to “a big pizza pie” (a phrase that irritated exacting food writers, who insisted it was redundant).

By the mid-1950s pizza was everywhere. Although it would be another decade before baseball stadiums and zoos offered the snack, political parties, fundraising groups, and synagogue sisterhoods were plying their members with pizza. Fun and flavor aside, the price was right: Zangrilli sold two slices at his Pennsylvania State College parlor for a quarter. “Pizza fit students’ needs perfectly,” Zangrilli said. Sometimes too perfectly, as a 1950s Atlanta restaurateur discovered when he added pizza to his menu and immediately attracted hordes of Georgia Tech students who would congregate around a single pie and linger for hours. He dropped the pies.

An anonymous pizza baker in 1957 blamed James Dean for inducting teens into the pizza fraternity. “Jimmy loved pizza,” he complained to The Saturday Evening Post. “His fans knew that, so they loved it too.” Pizza was pitched as the ideal snack for hard-to-please high schoolers by companies such as General Mills, whose Betty Crocker character appeared in a 1960 comic strip to solve the “Problem of the Puzzled Parent,” who is perplexed by what to serve her daughters’ friends after a roller-skating outing. What do “most teenagers” like? she wonders. Refrigerated pizza dough, Betty Crocker assures her. Betty is proved right, as always. “Gee, Mrs. Steward, you sure know what’s good,” one handsome teen raves (although he disconcertingly appears to be eyeing her twin daughters rather than her pie). By 1963 pizza was a staple of the school lunch menu. The American School Foodservice Association that year announced it was bested only by hamburgers and hot dogs in the cafeteria popularity contest.

Adults weren’t ready to cede pizza to children, though. People of every age and income bracket went for it, as Lucille Ball, who met her second husband, Gary Morton, on a blind date in a pizza parlor, could attest. George Liberace was so enamored with pizza that in 1959 he contemplated abandoning the brothers Liberace to open a parlor, reconsidering only when brother Lee, the pianist of the duo, teased him ruthlessly.

Pizza’s mid-century journey from unknown to unparalleled was captured in a raucous 1956 skit aired on “Caesar’s Hour,” the show’s second gag that year grounded in pizza adoration. Pizza was to Sid Caesar’s writing team what domestic tranquillity was to the creative staff over at “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet”: a source of endless inspiration. In “The Commuters,” three couples are absorbed in a competitive Scrabble game. The word pizza is played, but nobody’s too sure how to spell the name of their new favorite food (the word routinely shows up on first-grade spelling lists today). So the couples consult a dictionary, taking care not to drool on the definition. The men, now rapturous at the thought of a pie, flee for the nearest pizzeria, promising to return with pizza for everyone. This being comedy, they hit a snag on the way home: Their car breaks down, and the pizzas are in danger of getting wet. One of the men decides to shield the pizzas beneath the hood, a bit of chivalry that manages to jump-start the engine. Powered by pizza, the men arrive home to find their wives asleep, to be awoken only by having fragrant slices of pizza dragged beneath their noses. Pizza was a dream come true.

The premise of Caesar’s skit quickly became dated as Tom Monaghan institutionalized the innovation that transformed America’s infatuation with pizza into a lasting relationship: home delivery. In 1960 Monaghan and his brother James bought an Ypsilanti, Michigan, pizza joint called Dominick’s (James traded his share to Tom one year later in exchange for a Volkswagen Beetle). According to Correll, Monaghan was forced to rechristen the store as Domino’s when Dominick complained he was “besmirching his name” with a lousy product. But Monaghan wasn’t fixated on quality: He decided to best the competition by offering free delivery, a service that every major chain later added to its repertoire. Pizza purveyors tested lots of new concepts in the 1970s and ’80s: There were restaurants that explicitly wedded pizza to entertainment, such as Chuck E. Cheese’s, where a life-sized rat boogied through the arcade, and restaurants that emphasized fresh and novel ingredients, such as California Pizza Kitchen, home to the caramelized pear and gorgonzola pie. Nothing, however, has yet supplanted the large pepperoni pie delivered hot within the hour as the quintessential American pizza experience.

Pizza’s firm hold on the American appetite is unlikely to slip anytime soon. With very little nudging from pizza marketers, Americans have made pizza the traditional food of the emerging national holiday Super Bowl Sunday; almost 70 percent of viewers eat pizza while watching the game. Both spontaneous and economical, ordering pizza remains a signifier of carefree camaraderie; pizza seems to automatically make any event a little more fun. “We will have pizza(!),” the Carleton College history department announced last year in a memo meant to lure students to a meeting. It’s hard to imagine fried chicken or tofu having the same drawing power. “Pizza is more popular than ever,” Slomon said. Not bad for a food that most Americans had to have explained to them just 50 years ago.

Hanna Miller, a food historian, leads culinary tours in Asheville, North Carolina.
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pizza
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Re: Praise for Beloved Pizza

Post by pizza » Tue May 09, 2006 8:52 am

Ralph wrote:Sewell’s lightly seasoned deep-dish pie, introduced in 1943, the signature item at Pizzeria Uno, was the first true American pizza. The pie was a uniquely Chicago institution, like a perennially losing major-league baseball team, that other cities showed no interest in adopting. Until Uno’s opened its first location outside Chicago in 1979, people had to go to East Ohio Street to sample anything like Sewell’s idea of a pie. But its success liberated pizzeria owners nationwide to tinker with their product, ultimately paving the way for the megafranchises.
Uno's deep dish Chicago style was and probably still is the best pizza ever made by man. In the mid-'50s Pizzeria Due was opened on Wabash Ave. about a block away to handle the overflow and relieve the long lines that always formed. Many fond memories of bye-gone days!

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Post by Barry » Tue May 09, 2006 9:13 am

I wouldn't do well in Chicago. I hate what they do with junk food.

I'm not a fan of deep-dish pizza; instead preferring the NYC-South Philly thin crust neapolitan style.
I can't stand what Chicagoans do to their hot dogs; throwing all that crap on it so that the hot dog itself is almost an afterthought.
And I saw a thing on the food network about how they like to dip their hot roast beef sandwiches, roll and all, into the juice. How do you pick up the thing with the roll soaking wet like that?

It's just not my kind of town when it comes to junk food.
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

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Post by BWV 1080 » Tue May 09, 2006 9:22 am

Deep dish "pizza" is a cassarole, not pizza.

Fortunately good pizza (i.e. not the crap from the major chains) is getting easier to find in Texas, which has traditionally been challenged by a lack of a significant population of Italian immigrants. I remember in the 1980's in Dallas, outside of a couple of restaurants in uptown locations, good Italian food in general was nearly impossible to come by.

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Re: Praise for Beloved Pizza

Post by Ralph » Tue May 09, 2006 11:38 am

pizza wrote:
Ralph wrote:Sewell’s lightly seasoned deep-dish pie, introduced in 1943, the signature item at Pizzeria Uno, was the first true American pizza. The pie was a uniquely Chicago institution, like a perennially losing major-league baseball team, that other cities showed no interest in adopting. Until Uno’s opened its first location outside Chicago in 1979, people had to go to East Ohio Street to sample anything like Sewell’s idea of a pie. But its success liberated pizzeria owners nationwide to tinker with their product, ultimately paving the way for the megafranchises.
Uno's deep dish Chicago style was and probably still is the best pizza ever made by man. In the mid-'50s Pizzeria Due was opened on Wabash Ave. about a block away to handle the overflow and relieve the long lines that always formed. Many fond memories of bye-gone days!
*****

When in Chicago I always eat at Pizzeria Due. And we have Pizzeria Uno in Manhattan and White Plains so a deep dish pie is never far away.
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Post by Corlyss_D » Tue May 09, 2006 1:23 pm

Pizza Hut is fine by me.
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Post by jbuck919 » Tue May 09, 2006 1:29 pm

I refer you gently to the following:

http://www.yaleherald.com/archive/frosh ... pizza.html

New Haven, CT may not have literally been the birthplace of pizza in the US, but close enough for practical purposes. It was literally the birthplace of the hamburger, at Louis' Lunch on Crown Street, still serving it the original way, and still the best hamburger I have ever had.

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Post by Barry » Tue May 09, 2006 1:40 pm

jbuck919 wrote:I refer you gently to the following:

http://www.yaleherald.com/archive/frosh ... pizza.html

New Haven, CT may not have literally been the birthplace of pizza in the US, but close enough for practical purposes. It was literally the birthplace of the hamburger, at Louis' Lunch on Crown Street, still serving it the original way, and still the best hamburger I have ever had.
Louis' Lunch is one of THE classic road-food places in the entire country. I haven't been there yet, but I'll get there eventually for one of those burgers. Their no-ketchup rule is a problem for me though. I may have to sneak in a couple packets.
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

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Post by jbuck919 » Tue May 09, 2006 1:54 pm

Barry Z wrote:[Louis' Lunch is one of THE classic road-food places in the entire country
Dp you have a link to a list of these? I might want to do a pilgrimage someday. The only other place I can think of I've eaten at that might qualify is the Florida Avenue Grill in Washington, and I don't know if that's there anymore, but it was also everything it was cracked up to be.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Post by lmpower » Tue May 09, 2006 1:59 pm

In 1955 some friends took me to a restaurant in Philadelphia where I first ate pizza. I had never heard of it until then. The following year I had a pizza in Naples. It was still a rarity in this county fifty years ago. I was one of the first people in America to eat pizza, run 10,000 meters and own an FM radio. All these activities were unheard of and unamerican in 1955. There was nothing on FM radio but classical music because of the superior sound.

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Post by Gary » Tue May 09, 2006 2:33 pm

BWV 1080 wrote:Fortunately good pizza (i.e. not the crap from the major chains) is getting easier to find in Texas...
Any good ones in Houston?
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Post by Haydnseek » Tue May 09, 2006 2:43 pm

Believe it not, I get my pizzas at Costco. You can eat it by the slice in the wharehouse or you can have them bake one for you to take home. They are really very good.
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Post by BWV 1080 » Tue May 09, 2006 2:56 pm

Gary wrote:
BWV 1080 wrote:Fortunately good pizza (i.e. not the crap from the major chains) is getting easier to find in Texas...
Any good ones in Houston?
Fuzzy's (Fondren & Westheimer)
Star Pizza (Shepard just N of 59)

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Post by Gary » Tue May 09, 2006 2:59 pm

Thanks, Steve.
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Post by Barry » Tue May 09, 2006 3:07 pm

jbuck919 wrote:
Barry Z wrote:[Louis' Lunch is one of THE classic road-food places in the entire country
Dp you have a link to a list of these? I might want to do a pilgrimage someday. The only other place I can think of I've eaten at that might qualify is the Florida Avenue Grill in Washington, and I don't know if that's there anymore, but it was also everything it was cracked up to be.
Try www.roadfood.com and www.hollyeats.com. The latter is a little more Philly area centered, but still has things from most regions of the country. At roadfood.com, you can search by food type and state.
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pbp0hur ... re=related

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Post by jbuck919 » Tue May 09, 2006 3:15 pm

Barry Z wrote:
jbuck919 wrote:
Barry Z wrote:[Louis' Lunch is one of THE classic road-food places in the entire country
Dp you have a link to a list of these? I might want to do a pilgrimage someday. The only other place I can think of I've eaten at that might qualify is the Florida Avenue Grill in Washington, and I don't know if that's there anymore, but it was also everything it was cracked up to be.
Try www.roadfood.com and www.hollyeats.com. The latter is a little more Philly area centered, but still has things from most regions of the country. At roadfood.com, you can search by food type and state.
Thanks. Actually, I have a couple of Philadelphia-area friends (I suppose I also have you as one) and I have always thought of going out with them to Le Bec Fin, which I missed in all my years at that Mercer County NJ college across the river. It may not be a road food classic, and it's probably too expensive, but in this day and age when neither New York nor Washington has a traditional French restaurant of that type anymore, it is certainly a sufficient dinosaur. Ever been there?

Edit: Appreciate the site, but they have to be kidding about Massie's in South Glens Falls. Contact me before you come to my neck of the woods. I can do a lot better than that.
Last edited by jbuck919 on Tue May 09, 2006 3:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Post by Barry » Tue May 09, 2006 3:24 pm

jbuck919 wrote:Thanks. Actually, I have a couple of Philadelphia-area friends (I suppose I also have you as one) and I have always thought of going out with them to Le Bec Fin, which I missed in all my years at that Mercer County NJ college across the river. It may not be a road food classic, and it's probably too expensive, but in this day and age when neither New York nor Washington has a traditional French restaurant of that type anymore, it is certainly a sufficient dinosaur. Ever been there?
John,
I've had lunch there a number of times, although only twice in the past few years. It's gotten progressively more expensive (the most expensive in the city). I used to think lunch was a bargain at something like $35 per person, exclusive of tax, tips and beverages (other than coffee or tea, which are included with the jaw-dropping, multi-tiered dessert cart). It's all prix-fixe. But it's gotten up to something like $54 per person for lunch. Dinner for two is almost as much as my mortgage when you factor in the drinks, gratuity and tax. There is anouther place owned and chef'd by the the second most famous French chef in town that is much more reasonable for lunch and also a wonderful experience.
I've found that not everything I've had at Le Bec Fin has been great, but when you get the right things, they are just so phenominally good.

I'm surprised to hear that NYC doesn't have that type of restaurant. I know they have a number of great French ones. Are you saying they aren't as traditional in terms of atmosphere and service?

http://www.lebecfin.com
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pbp0hur ... re=related

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Post by jbuck919 » Tue May 09, 2006 3:35 pm

Barry Z wrote: I'm surprised to hear that NYC doesn't have that type of restaurant. I know they have a number of great French ones. Are you saying they aren't as traditional in terms of atmosphere and service?
That is my impression from what I have read, but more importantly not as traditional in cuisine. However, for Washington I am certain of it. They used to be famous for their traditional French restaurants (Le Lion d'Or, Sans Souci) all of which have long closed. Everything there now is a variation on a bistro, some of them very good. I am not claiming it is an absolute loss, as things do move on.

Washington has one healthy very traditional French restaurant, L'Auberge Chez Francois, which is a long drive into the Virginia countryside. I enjoy reading about these things, and it has been my dinstinct impression that Le Bec Fin is the only imortant tradititional French restaurant located within the city in the northeast US, perhaps in the US.

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Post by Barry » Tue May 09, 2006 3:41 pm

We have another place called Deux Cheminees that is supposed to be pretty traditional, but I haven't been there.
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Post by Wallingford » Tue May 09, 2006 3:44 pm

Y'know, ill as I've been......there's NEVER a day that goes by that I don't wish for a couple nice slices of sausage pizza.

(Preferably, made by Round Table or Godfather's.)
If I could tell my mom and dad
That the things we never had
Never mattered we were always ok
Getting ready for Christmas day
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Post by jbuck919 » Tue May 09, 2006 4:05 pm

Wallingford wrote:Y'know, ill as I've been......there's NEVER a day that goes by that I don't wish for a couple nice slices of sausage pizza.

(Preferably, made by Round Table or Godfather's.)
You missed Jerry's Pizzas and Subs in the DC/Baltimore area. Years ago they had the best thin-crust pizza in the area including the best sausage topping. I mean truly fine and best by a million miles. Unfortunately it tended to be a well kept secret. When they defected to an ordinary Domino's style pizza I was crushed. When you find a treasure, you learn to depend upon it like your mother.

I didn't have any cravings during my illness--I was too ill to have cravings. But I do remember the first day I was able to eat a normal meal, and it was five months after my initial hospitilization. It was a marvelous hamburger and fries at a greasy spoon in Warrensburg, New York (maybe I should add that place to the road food list). It just happened to be the lunch where I was so bold (I looked like a pregnant skeleton in my condition) as to propose to a couple of local Epicsopal priests that they might use me as an organist during my convalescence. It turned out to be one of the great relationships of fellowship I have ever had, and it coincided with the day when I knew that yes, I was going to be normal again. I don't believe in miracles, but I do know that more than once in my life I have been the beneficiary of providential coincidence.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
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Post by Ethan » Tue May 09, 2006 6:10 pm

OK, Chicago “pizza”; If one puts together those ingredients and cooks them, they will taste good, but it doesn’t mean that it’s pizza...it’s not. Yes, it is a pretty tasty casserole, but I truly believe it’s too far from the concept to be called pizza...I guess I could deal with “pizza casserole” or something.

Now, if you are in or near Manhattan (or not), you should be going to Lombardi’s on Pearl St., not some damn chain! Also, Candido’s on the upper east side....there’s a Totonno’s around there too, though the real one is in Coney. Then of course there’s Grimaldi’s (not as good, but still good) in Brooklyn under the bridge. There’s John’s in Queens, which is newer and doesn’t use a coal oven, but is very good anyway. There’s Patsy’s in Harlem, and they have a great coal oven, but one needs to specify fresh Mozzarella, which is annoying. These are among the greatest pizza places in the world, including Naples. New Haven is the next place for the great pies - Sally’s and Pepe’s.

As for going to Pizza Slut and calling it good enough, well, that’s like people listening to top 40 radio and calling IT good enough. Where is the desire for excellence?

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Post by Ralph » Tue May 09, 2006 6:48 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:Pizza Hut is fine by me.
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I'm sure no one here is surprised to learn that. :) :)
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Post by Ralph » Tue May 09, 2006 6:49 pm

Here in NYC I favor John's on Carmine Street - no slices, whole pie only so you need to have a friend with you.
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Post by Barry » Tue May 09, 2006 7:23 pm

Lombardi's had opened up a restaurant here in Philly maybe five or six years ago. I liked it, but unfortunately, that block was bought up for a bigger project and they got kicked out. I guess business wasnt good enough to inspire them to open up at another location.

The most famous pizza place around here is Tacconelli's, which is in a blue collar neighborhood a few miles north of Center City. You have to call a day early to reserve your dough (i.e. let them know how many pizzas you'll be ordering the next night). It's high a high quality Italian or New York style pie. There are a handful of other very good places that I like a lot. Olde City, which is at least partially in the historic district, has a few excellent places to get a slice or a whole pie.

I don't know if this is the case in other cities (I'm guessing it is in New York), but there are also a lot of Greek owned and operated pizza places here in Philly. I prefer the Italian style pie to the Greek style. There is generally a more flavorable sauce, and more of it, and perhaps a little less cheese in an Italian pie.
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
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Post by Ralph » Tue May 09, 2006 7:28 pm

Barry Z wrote:Lombardi's had opened up a restaurant here in Philly maybe five or six years ago. I liked it, but unfortunately, that block was bought up for a bigger project and they got kicked out. I guess business wasnt good enough to inspire them to open up at another location.

The most famous pizza place around here is Tacconelli's, which is in a blue collar neighborhood a few miles north of Center City. You have to call a day early to reserve your dough (i.e. let them know how many pizzas you'll be ordering the next night). It's high a high quality Italian or New York style pie. There are a handful of other very good places that I like a lot. Olde City, which is at least partially in the historic district, has a few excellent places to get a slice or a whole pie.

I don't know if this is the case in other cities (I'm guessing it is in New York), but there are also a lot of Greek owned and operated pizza places here in Philly. I prefer the Italian style pie to the Greek style. There is generally a more flavorable sauce, and more of it, and perhaps a little less cheese in an Italian pie.
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I've been in Greek-owned pizza parlors here but most are Italian. One, near my house, is woned by a Jew and he makes damn good pizza.

And, of course, in Gotham we have Glatt Kosher pizzerias. One on W.27d Street is often packed.
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Post by Ethan » Tue May 09, 2006 9:55 pm

There was a fellow who wrote a book about a year or two ago. He went all over the US looking for truly good pizza...I read an interview with him, but not the actual book. Sounded interesting...he found some decent pizza in some very strange places outside of the hubs of NY and New Haven. His name? I dunno. Book's title? Dunno that either.

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Post by Corlyss_D » Wed May 10, 2006 1:09 pm

Barry Z wrote:Try www.roadfood.com and www.hollyeats.com. The latter is a little more Philly area centered, but still has things from most regions of the country. At roadfood.com, you can search by food type and state.
Great sites, Barry! I love classic diner food and am happy to see the diner revived.
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Post by Ralph » Wed May 10, 2006 1:33 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:
Barry Z wrote:Try www.roadfood.com and www.hollyeats.com. The latter is a little more Philly area centered, but still has things from most regions of the country. At roadfood.com, you can search by food type and state.
Great sites, Barry! I love classic diner food and am happy to see the diner revived.
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New Jersey is a great state for diners.
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Post by Corlyss_D » Wed May 10, 2006 1:47 pm

Ralph wrote:New Jersey is a great state for diners.
:( There must be other states with good diners. I try to drive around New Jersey.
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Post by jbuck919 » Wed May 10, 2006 2:10 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:
Ralph wrote:New Jersey is a great state for diners.
:( There must be other states with good diners. I try to drive around New Jersey.
I have not managed that feat in an entire lifetime of up and down and as you know even lived in the state for four years. Pennsylvania can be just as bad and definitely has worse roads. (Sorry, Barry)

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Post by Barry » Wed May 10, 2006 2:26 pm

No problem, John. I don't have a car 8) .

And New Jersey does indeed have a reputation for having a lot of good diners; or at least they did when I was growing up. Not sure if that's still the case.
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
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Post by Ralph » Wed May 10, 2006 9:26 pm

Barry Z wrote:No problem, John. I don't have a car 8) .

And New Jersey does indeed have a reputation for having a lot of good diners; or at least they did when I was growing up. Not sure if that's still the case.
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There are guide books just for diners in the Garden State.
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Post by Ralph » Wed May 10, 2006 9:27 pm

http://www.physics.drexel.edu/~goldberg ... es/NJ.html

This is a good, selective guide to N.J. diners.
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