Today I was astounded, in awe, and absolutely in love.
After having lived in Los Angeles for 15 years, I learned the hard way that really good pizza is near impossible to get outside of NYC & New Jersey (and the NY Style pizza in New Jersey is the better of the two).
When I move to the SF Bay after an 8 year stint back in New Jersey, I knew I would be leaving good pizza behind, again, and likely for good. Until one day a few months ago, when I was walking around Berkeley, hungry because it was lunchtime and had a craving for pizza. I started looking and walked by a number of pizza places, most of which charged almost $4 a slice and looked like thick focaccia with spaghetti sauce and enough cheese for a bowl of fondue on them. In other words, disgusting. I kept walking.
And then, pretty much where I’d started to walk from, but from another angle, I saw Arinell’s Pizza, walked in and what I saw what a definite NY style pizza, the price was under $3 a slice and it looked positively hopeful.
I was not disappointed.
The pizza at Arinell’s is as good as any I’ve had in NYC or NJ, and also just as good as Vito’s in Los Angeles (after 11 years in L.A. a self-avowed “Dago From Elizabeth, NJ” moved to L.A. to make real pizza). Arinell’s is also consistently good, I’ve not had a bad slice there, though I’ve noticed that the girls who work there don’t re-heat slices hot enough. On a good day Arinell’s is a great tasty treat, just like it is on a bad day, but prior today, I’d not experienced anything like this…
I ordered two slices and a diet Coke (shut-up, I prefer the taste of diet Coke). When I took the first bite I knew this was no ordinary pizza. The crust was crisp to the point of crackling when bitten into, it was HOT but not roof-of-the-mouth-burning, the sauce was thin, in just the optimal amount, a thin, flavorful barrier between the crisp bread and the molten cheese.
I pulled the slice away from my lips and saw wisps of steam coming out of the incredibly thin layer of ‘crumb’ in the crust, as I ate my way up the slice and got to the edge of the slice where the crumb was thickest, it was still steaming, still perfectly crisp and crackling in my mouth, and the plain bread provided the perfect palate cleanser before starting the next slice.
Today I had the most absolutely perfect pizza moment in my life, 8 hours later and I’m still in awe of the amazing creation I experienced today.