A friend once told me that pizza was the ambrosia of all food. At the time I really was not completely sure what this word, "ambrosia" even meant, so I went on to question him about it. Ambrosia in Greek mythology was the food or drink of the Gods, consider to be perfect food. When he went on to explain, he said pizza is perfect because it includes all of the food groups in one simple package, "there is nothing better". While I tend to not completely agree with him on the, "nothing better" part. There is no doubt that when you have a really good pizza experience, it will be memorable one.
I was eighteen years old for my first one. It stands out well in my mind and is one of my favorite memories of Paris as a teenager. My family and I had spent a week in Scotland where my sister lived at the time, and then all of us headed to Paris for the following week. Turns out that we were in Paris for the end of the Tour De France. We did not do this on purpose, and it was rainy, so we watched it from our hotel room on TV. This fact still horrifies my cycling enthusiast in-laws. I had no idea though. I was just a farm boy hanging out in Paris with my black cowboy boots and Mini mullet.
This fact still horrifies me to this day. I have come a long way baby!
After nearly two weeks of traveling I was wanting something that felt more like home. It turned out that right down the street from our hotel was a little quaint pizzeria. We walked past several times and I watched a man tossing dough and sliding freshly made pizza from a brick oven. I was fascinated. We went in and ordered one afternoon and I was completely impressed by the whole experience. It was the first time I experienced a pizza without sauce, it only had oil on it. There were a few select toppings that were premium ingredients and the pizzas were simple. The first bite was amazing. Perfect crust with a slightly smokey sweetness that came from the oven, and over all just a very satisfying experience. It was so good we went back again before we left.
Pizza is a very shaky topic, battle lines have been drawn over crust, sauce, toppings, the way to eat it, cooking method, and a host of other things so I understand that my perfect pizza will probably not be your perfect pizza, but we can all agree on one being really good. I've found one that is really good.Tomatoes. Sound obsessive? Well, it really is very good, after all GQ named it one of the 25 best pies on earth! It must be good right?
My wife and I drove up for dinner one night to find out if what he had been telling us was really true. While the inside of the place is really nothing to talk about, the pizza is incredible. It is in my top five of all pizza experiences thus far in life. Tomatoes, does have character with its photos of pizza history on the wall and the large logo that greets you as you walk in. While it is clean and bright, it is a no frills pizza joint. Don't expect cloth napkins and cheerful waitresses. Pizza is what they do, and they do it very well.
We ordered two different items at the recommendation of the friend that sent me. The first was an order of their cheese bread which is essentially a cheese pizza sliced into bread stick form and served with an excellent simple, but tasty red sauce. The second is what they call the Naples sampler. I did not ask about the name but it gives you a good depiction of four of their best pizzas all in one. The quarters are divided up as follows: Classic with one topping (red sauce, mozzarella, and Italian sausage), White (mozzarella, fresh tomato, basil, garlic), Green (mozzarella, spinach, garlic), Fresh Mozzarella (Red sauce, buffalo mozzarella, basil).
These guys were brought out on two baking sheets covered with parchment paper. We were given drinks, plates, and utensils, and that's it. It was a no frills dinning experience. But it was a memorable one. The pizza ingredients are simple and no frills as well, but when you start with really good ingredients and treat them with care, magic happens. There is magic happening here. With my first bite I was remembering being in Paris nearly twenty years ago. The crust. The ingredients. The flavors. It all brought a flood of memories back to my mind. That is what really good food will do. So the next time you think you will pick up a five dollar slice of card board, think twice, load everyone in the car and head for the hills to make a memory. You can leave your fancy cloths at home and just go enjoy the pie. You will be glad you did. Here's a link to their menu, check it out.