Sunday, November 06, 2005

PIzza!

This has been a busy weekend so I have not gotten out to take pictures. I have been doing work around the home and trying to get ready for my fall festivities. I have been thinking about pizza today, though, so I thought that I would get you thinking about it as well.

The news article was commemorating the early days of pizza as introduced to America and how it has changed over the years. The early pizzas, the article said, were thin-crusted with crusts that tended to burn in places leaving the pie crispy and topped with a thin layer of sauce and toppings. IT went on to explain the evolution of pizza to the Chicago Deep Dish pizza and to discuss how the pendulum is swinging back toward the early style of pizza again. The article made me think of pizza and I have been fighting the urge all day to order one from Papa John's for dinner.

Ah, Pizza! The famous local favorite is the Colorado Mile-High pizza from a local chain called Beaujeau's (pronounced "bo-jo's). This thing is huge. I have seen it ordered but have never tried it myself. It is at least two inches thick. As far as I can tell, it is what Douglas Adams describes in The Long, Dark Tea-Time of the Soul. In the book, an American who lives in London entertains herself by calling the most uncooperative pizza restaurants that she can find (none of which deliver) and ordering huge and lavish pizza pies; "pies with extra cheese and anchovies, essentially a pizza with an extra pizza on top." Make them both Sicilian pizzas and you have the Mile-High.

Then of course there was the pizza that my Aunt Judy used to order when we would come to visit in Minnesota. They were the first pizza that I ever saw that, although the pie was round, the slices were square. I remember how my cousins used to get so excited that we were going to have pizza.

"We're going to have pizza! Do you have Pizza where you live in Miami?"

What does one answer to a question like this? Granted my cousins were very young when they asked this, but then we were all young as at the time as well and as such, had to have a good time at their expense. So, even though Dad made some great Sicilian style pizza himself, we looked at our cousins and all four of us shook our heads feigning bewilderment. "No," we replied "What is pizza?" We have gotten some good natured ribbing at our cousins' expense ever since.

Dad's Sicilian pies were good. He'd make them occasionally, lining a cookie sheet with dough, smearing on the sauce, and then letting Mary, Denis, Chip and I "help" put on the toppings. Yum! We didn't have pizza nearly often enough when we were kids.

No story of would be complete without mentioning Provenzano's. When the description of the "original" pizzas was stated in the article, Provenzano's was the first thing that sprung to mind. There were very few restaurants that I can remember going to a child. There were a couple breakfast places, one in the Concorde Shopping center on Bird Road (Next to the Woolworth's five and dime) there was another, further from home, at the Westgate Mall. I cannot remember which was which, but one was called "Bertrand's."

For lunch (and occasionally dinner) there were two that stand-out both of them because we got to see the elephants when we went to these places. One was the Burger Giant the other, diagonally across the street was the Royal Castle. Burger Giant was a burger restaurant that served the burgers plain and you could take them to "the fixings bar" at the end of the counter and put whatever you wanted on them. Oh, and it had the best strawberry shakes! Royal Castle was an odd restaurant for its location. It was a corner coffee shop that had booths in the back and a lunch counter that wrapped around the front. There was a window that wrapped around the two sides of the restaurant that faced the streets that it was on (Bird Road and Southwest 107th Avenue) just like they expected a lot of foot traffic past the windows. The restaurant would have looked less out of place if (like all the others I had ever seen) it was on a corner in a busy down-town area.

The elephants! Also at the corner of 107th and Bird was a large house set back from the road by a large front and side yard. The house was surrounded by a ten-foot chain link fence. The fence was to keep Trixie and Dixie a pair of African elephants in the yard. They were pets of the homeowner, who (as I was led to understand) was apparently the widow of the famous flier Eddie Rickenbacker.

For dinner it was either The Grotto (a seafood restaurant in Coral Gables) or Provenzano's. Provenzano's was a family-owned Italian restaurant that had the kitchen in the open so that you could see the dough being tossed and the pizzas being slid into the oven. We used to go and get thin, crisp pizzas with one or two toppings, sausage and mushrooms was what I remember. One other thing I remember about the pizza at Provenzano's is that they used Parmesan or Romano cheese on their pizzas. I do believe that this was probably the first pizza I had ever had. Occasionally we'd get spaghetti and meatballs. One big baseball-sized meatball sitting on top of a pile of spaghetti topped with tomato sauce!

Well, I've made myself hungry! I think I am going to go and make some dinner. I hope that your weekend has been great!

Don Bergquist - 06-November-2005 - Lakewood, Colorado

1 comment:

Don Bergquist said...

PS: Dad, Mary, Denis and Chip, please add a note if I have any additional comments on my restaurant reviews. - djb