As a unabashed lover of good pizza, I have often ranted about how hard it is to find a decent pizza in the United States. It’s much easier than it used to be, but it’s still tough. It’s odd that while pizza and Chinese restaurants may be the easiest to find, that it’s also harder to find good Chinese food and pizza than anything else.
What ruins most American pizzas is that we put much too much crap on the top. I guess that’s to be expected in a country where, as Bill Maher noted a few weeks ago, our favorite hamburger topping is another hamburger. We destroy pizza by putting two much cheese on it, which turns it into a mushy, stringy chewy glop. Oddly enough they usually put really bad cheese on pizza. It confuses me how adding more of something bad would make people think it was better.
We have the same problem with our wines, which we also bury under too much “cheese”. The cheese in this case is over-ripe, over-extracted and over-oaked. These things have the same impact on a wine that too much cheese has on a pizza. The once crisp crust is turned into mush.
I was reminded how bad most pizza is as, having moved this week, I was still without my pots and pans so I grabbed a carry-out pizza at Whole Foods. This was not a great pizza by any means, but it was a very good pizza and better than 99% of the pizza sold in this country. That the pizza at a grocery store is better than a pizzeria, whose specialty is pizza, is inexcusable. The crust was wonderfully crisp even though I took it home to eat. A bottle of wine I grabbed to go with it was also wonderfully crisp and unburdened by any “cheese”. The Barbera Oltrepo Pavese from Cantine Pirovino is less than ten bucks and is mercifully non-vintaged, as more wines in this price range should be. It is young, fresh and bright with a wonderful bite of acidity that was just as crisp as the crust. I really enjoy simple, pretty wines such as this with simple, but delicious weekday fare. As with cheese, more is not always better.