Yesterday, I found myself in Brooklyn, for reasons I do not care to discuss at the moment. I was in the Williamsburg region and felt the need to travel to Best Pizza. I've been to Best before, and I always appreciate the place and enjoy the food, at least to a degree. But there is something about Best that leaves me unsettled. I suspect this arises from the superlative praise it receives - praise that creates an idea which cannot be met in reality.
To wit: SeriousEats posted on it a while back, claiming that it's perhaps the best meatball sandwich in recorded history. Their chicken parmesan sandwich has also been heralded, again by Serious Eats and also the Times. I had the meatball sub about a year ago. I liked it fine and appreciated the quality of the ingredients and the high craftsmanship, but remember thinking: this is it?
When a place is spoken of in such reverence and you have a respectful yet lukewarm experience, it is easy to doubt yourself. Therefore, knowing I was going to be in the Williamsburg region, I felt compelled to return. I had a regular slice and the chicken parm. I listened to the well curated rap music and sipped a Dad's root beer as I ate. The soda was unequivocally foamy and delicious.
The slice. I liked it. The crust is very thin. This is a very saucy pizza. The sauce is thick and tastes of fresh tomatoes. There is a very minimal amount of cheese. I would say it borders on too little cheese, but sometimes it's ok for the sauce to overpower the cheese. A tasty, refreshing pizza.
The chicken parm. This is it? I'm not trying to be hard on it, for it was a good sandwich. The chicken was obviously of high quality. I ate it pretty happily. If I lived in the Williamsburg region I'm sure I'd eat it every now and then. But is it really that good?
I sometimes worry that food writers feel the need to inflate the deliciousness of things. I think this is very likely, insofar as humans are inclined to inflate the positive attributes of most things, perhaps in an attempt to feel better about the world.
I like Best. I respect it. I am just not so sure these righteous sandwiches are as righteous as they are made out to be.