Pizza & Painkillers
Ouch. My back is relapsing. It went out at the beginning of Passover, and it came back just in time for the end of Passover. This holiday is supposed to be about suffering, but this is ridiculous. And now the holiday is over and I’m still in pain.
Regardless, I wasn’t going to let this get in the way of my second annual Passover break-fast pizza date at DeFazio’s yesterday.
So I timed my muscle relaxants and painkillers so that their effects would peak when it was pizza time. Mrs. Fussy was kind enough to do the driving. And I was able to sit at the end of the table, so I could stand up and stretch out my back. The good news is that I made it through. I was even able to make it to The Snowman for a little ice cream afterwards.
The bad news was a little surprising.
First I have to say that I love DeFazio’s. I do. And I still enthusiastically endorse them as the Best Pizza in the Capital Region for which they are listed in the FUSSYlittleBALLOT. I also should remind you on my stance on consistency: I think it leads to mediocrity and is the enemy of brilliance.
While DeFazio’s has never won a Tournament of Pizza, that is pretty much the result of their decision on what pizza to enter into the finals. It’s a vexing question that has caused other great pizza places to stumble as well. But short of that, I’ve never experienced anything less than brilliant at the shop itself.
Last night was a little bit off.
The pizza tasted great. The toppings were fresh and flavorful as I’ve come to expect. DeFazio’s pays great attention to the quality of their ingredients, and is one of the big things that makes their pizza so delicious. There were bubbles a-plenty on the pies. The end crust was also beautifully crisp and burnished.
So what was wrong?
The bottom crust. It was a bit under done. Not only was it floppy and not able to support the weight of the pizza, but its interior texture was more doughy than cooked. This was consistent across all four pizzas we received over two rounds of ordering.
I can speculate on what happened, maybe the oven was running a bit cooler, possibly the dough was chilled and a bit cooler when it hit the oven floor, or perhaps the crust wasn’t rolled out quite as thin as usual. It’s hard to say, and it doesn’t really matter.
The place is great, and I’ll be back. Today’s post isn’t intended to dissuade anyone from going. It’s just that all places have highs and lows. Good days and bad. And it’s important for people to know. So that if you happen to wander into DeFazio’s and have some pizza that is good but not great, they have the capacity to do better.
For those who base an evaluation of the shop on their clam pizza, I will suggest that it’s folly to get clam pizza anywhere but Pepe’s in New Haven (or perhaps some other city where both clams and pizza are held in equally high regard). I suspect there might be one or two solid versions of this in Providence, but while their clam score is high, their pizza score is a good bit lower.
But that’s neither here nor there.
Last night DeFazio’s had a couple of tables put out on the sidewalk. You can call ahead to make sure you’ve got a table. And you can bring some beer or wine for a very reasonable corkage (it was $1.50 per head for beers). Just make sure if you are going to order multiple pizzas that you order in rounds. You don’t want more food on your table than you can reasonably finish in a few minutes.
And while some people might be tempted by their organic whole wheat or multi-grain crusts for health reasons, it’s their original white crust that brings me into this institution. Yes, the alternative crusts are very good for what they are. They add nuttiness and complexity into the pie. But texturally, they aren’t what I want in a pizza.
Texture is very important to me. And even at great places, it’s not always right.