Some of you might be thinking, big deal, a pizza, I see that on Serious Eats everyday, and eat it all the time. I see it on a computer everyday too, but I am sure not getting any face-to-face time with it in Seattle. None like this anyway. This one is from Gerry’s Pizza in Wilkes-Barre, PA. It’s right around the corner from my mom’s house, yet we always drive ten minutes to get pizza from Angelo’s. Their pizza is similar, which is not so strange. They are brothers. Their father owns Ricci’s Pizza, which is Sicilian deep-fried wonderfulness, and I was lucky enough to have very good friends who lived across the street, so their $1 slices were a blessing on our young adulthood incomes, and young adulthood laziness.
Angelo’s happened to be closed for vacation when we had our stomachs all set on warm gooey cheese, and there was no turning back. Nothing else was going to fill that triangle void. So we decided to give Gerry’s a try. They even have a drive-thru. Very convenient. Especially when you are in your pajamas relaxing at an early hour, and still want delicious pizza.
I thought I’d kick off my Pennsylvania food series with pizza, because in addition to bars, and churches, we probably have more pizza places per capita then just about anybody, and it’s one of the things you miss most when you leave our little valley. Although rectangle “Old Forge” style pizza has most of our heart, New York style still has a home in there. I know everybody says the pizza from their hometown is the best, but mine really is. Seattle is not a pizza town. Yes brick oven pizza places are popping up everywhere, but that is kind of my point. It’s more of a novelty, not a multi-generational family business. Pizza is a newer phenomenon in the Emerald City, and it shows. It’s missing the love. There is one exception: Hot Mama’s- the only New York style that comes close. Oh my, their pesto pizza is pretty magnificent also. Madame K’s is good Seattle pizza (pizza with yummy things like chicken, blue cheese, and onions with balsamic to accent it), although it isn’t as good as it used to be. Cafe Lago, and Serious Pie are delicious, but aren’t pizza pizza. They are more bistro pizza. How much do you think that delicious fresh pizza above is? You’re wrong, $9. Nine dollars. Seattle equivalent, not less than twenty at most places.
Our delivery options are between a and b. So it is inevitable, there is going to be a night where I want someone to bring me something warm, good, and in a box. That place will have to be one of our two choices, Pagliacci. Somehow when Jim and I order Pagliacci’s pizza we end up spending $45. Which I usually don’t mind paying, and here is why: they deliver, they have one of my favorite salads. I know weird, but it’s really good, even when delivered. There are chickpeas, and salami, roasted red peppers, and they never screw up and give me raw onions. They have locations in many neighborhoods in Seattle, but are a local business, and you can eat in-house if you so choose at most locations. This is no Domino’s. No cheesy bread, and certainly no dessert pizza (a peeve of mine). Instead they carry bread sticks from a local bakery, Macrina, and gelato from Gelatiamo, a local gelato slinger. They use local, or artisan-made products, including Salumi’s meats, and Mama Lil’s peppers, which seem to be on a lot of menus in the area. They are great on almost anything, and they sell them by the gallon at a ridiculously affordable price, especially for Delaurenti, our only Italian specialty store. They offer seasonal specials, and carry my favorite drink in the world, San Pellegrino Limonata. Did I forget to mention their staff is silly nice. Genuinely.
If that wasn’t enough, a few days before pay-day, and running low on food in the house, we ordered pizza, writing a check we knew wouldn’t be cashed until payday (another plus, no one takes checks anymore), we were met at the door with a free pizza for just being loyal customers, and a smiling delivery guy. Jim’s shock as he shut the door was met with shame, as his tip was written into the check, and we couldn’t tip him. Of course the delivery guy said no worries, and of course we felt terrible. I think we both held back tears. Pizza angel we needed you. Money struggles have a way of dampering just about everything in life, but when it messes with our food budget, grrr. Random kindness does wonders for putting things into perspective. The world was good again.
Don’t go thinking I base all my pizza love on emotions. I would take a lack of service for just about any pizza in my hometown. See below for some of the reasons. Yeah these two were mine. More isn’t always less, sometimes more is necessary.