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Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Pizza Files

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.