A life-changing slice

Once, on an apparently boring night, some friends and I tried to calculate the number of slices of pizza we had eaten in our life.

Numbers from college and the first few years afterward  – when pizza and Western Sizzlin’ buffets were living high on the hog – were high, averaging 125-175 slices a year.

The numbers took a dip after that, but I still bite into about 70 slices a year.

I winced through the ham and pineapple phase (not natural, I’m telling you) and the BBQ chicken pizza craze (give me chicken or give me pizza).  I veer toward  mushrooms, Italian sausage, peppers, green olives and yes, anchovies on crackling thin crusts. (Don’t get me started on that doughy stuffed crust abomination.)

So it was a wonderous end to 2009, when some friends in Atlanta took me to Antico, a Napoli style pizzaria. We hurried in from the cold and the warm, yeasty, spicy air instantly fogged our glasses and made stomachs gurgle.

There is no slow moving at Antico. Glance at the menu, order your pie, grab a drink from the cooler and get out of the way. With only three huge tables – two of them directly in the kitchen, it’s a grab and growl kind of place. Three huge wood-burning ovens that burn at 1000 degrees bake a pizza in about five minutes.

The guys like to put on a show and welcome photos.

We ordered three pies and they came out with a crispy, slightly charred crust laden with hot peppers, chunky tomatoes, and toothsome cheese.

They disappeared so quickly they never had a chance to cool off. Even the teenagers in the group liked it.

We like to make pizza on Friday night, with a long, lazy weekend facing us.

Here’s our current favorite homemade favorite. It’ll never be like Antico’s. But Atlanta is only four hours away….

White Pizza

1 herbed pizza crust from Trader Joe’s. (Or any kind that you can spread thin)

Extra virgin olive oil

1/2 an onion, diced

1 cup sliced mushrooms

3 handfuls fresh baby spinach

1/2 cup low-fat ricotta cheese

1 cup shredded Italian blend cheeses

dried oregano and thyme

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Saute the onions and mushrooms in a little olive oil until mushrooms are soft.

Spread crust as thin as possible on pan. Coat generously with olive oil.

Spread mushrooms and onions on pizza. Sprinkle with oregano and thyme.

Add spinach, covering entire pizza.

Dot the pizza liberally with small dollops of ricotta. (Small amounts placed close together keep the pizza from getting soggy.)

Sprinkle Italian cheese on top. Sprinkle on some more oregano and bake 10-15 minutes.

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