blogitto ergo sum

May 4, 2011

#179 – pizza, my way [part I]

Filed under: Eat, Drink, Enjoy,Opinionated — yael [ya-el] wagner @ 01:42
Tags: ,

I enjoy a good pizza.  thin crust, fresh topping, minimal or better, no cheese.  or if you have to, make it feta or goat.  meat?  DO NOT even think about pepperoni.  or sausage.  and yet, i came a long way; indeed.

skipping the pizza trivia, when and where which pizza was invented, served and why, who was margarita…  most of the answers can be found here  and  here.  both links however, are US-biased.  this link offers some Italian perspective.  and yes, it was indeed invented in Italy, but had its big break in the US.

confession: given my current commitment to pizza, one may find it hard to believe that  it wasn’t until my early 20s that I’ve eaten anything pizza but the pizza edges, i.e. the topless crust.  it took the IDF to get me to eat hard cheese [“yellow cheese” is the Israeli term], melted or not.

pizza my way - 1st 20 years

even today, my first choice of pizza is a cheese-less one.

pizza-ignorant, i made it through life with a very low opinion of this playground of creativity. the pizza selection in Israel of my childhood and teenage years was limited and anything but creative or high quality.  tomato soup with melted cheese and some stuff on it or in it, resting on a thick baked bed summed it up.  not even once i ordered pizza or got one delivered.

In Hebrew we call it "to open a table" - לפתוח שולחן

what was my favorite food then?  funny, i can’t remember ever going out of my way for any food.  agnostic?  Falafel was Devora’s, middle-eastern salads were great, gefilte fish was for old people, and pasta was better known as noodles, macaroni and spaghetti.  everything was simple and i ate more vegetables and salads than i do today.  much more.  as a student [post army service in Israel] vegetable pies and quiches were the hit of the day and i was creative about making my own salad dressings from scratch. yes, salads ruled.  onion soup was big too.  from scratch.  6 large onions per batch, lots of tears, and don’t forget the toast with the melted cheese on top.  croutons are for salad.  i used white wine for the onion soup much more than drank it. if  you could just get it delivered every Friday, I’d be HAPPY.  this blog, from which the above open table photo is borrowed, offers good insight to the middle-east food of my childhood.  my Ashkenazi heritage took care of the Eastern-European flavors and foods.

i had my pizza AHA moment when i volunteered in a Toronto Italian restaurant [see #176 – Bettolona, NYC. Eat, Drink, ENJOY].  for his birthday, Mario, the chef-owner, had a pizza party for friends at the restaurant after closing.  the only food offered was pizzas – thin crust pizzas, with toppings like I’ve never seen before.  tuna chunks, eggs, pickles, chickpeas… practically anything and everything edible found in the kitchen was converted to a pizza topping.  when i questioned it, Mario said that this is the real spirit of pizza making.  not a bath of melted cheese.  apparently when it comes to pizza, a good crust and a good mix of toppings that live in peace and harmony is all it takes.  thin crust of course.  forget Chicago.

when MohamedA offered to introduce me to Mediterranean pizza in the neighborhood, i agreed without hesitation.  good marketing is selling you something you have thought you needed.  feeding you [off the menu] Middle-Eastern pizza, with the spices, herbs and flavors you grew up on, is getting you addicted to the taste of home.  in Via Mia’s case it’s much more than that.  since that lunch, i keep coming back, again, and again, and again. initiating one friend after another, savoring the flavors, enjoying and sharing Mohamed’s warm and generous hospitality, in addition to the great pizzas.  often, VERY often.  so when you tease me and call me the owner, i laugh and take it as a compliment.  ’cause while i don’t own the place, i do own an abundant curiosity and respect to experimenting with food, commitment to quality and ever improving, with no show off.  who imagined that I’ll  find it in a hole-in-the-wall pizza place.  this is pizza MY WAY – Via Mia Pizza on El Camino.

from pita to pizza

for months now I’ve been initiating one friend after another, sharing these great pizzas and Mohamed’s warm and generous hospitality.  if i haven’t taken you there yet i either owe you an apology,  or hmm, maybe you are not around?  regardless and to make it clear, this is your invitation.  just say when.



  1. Antica Pizzeria e Friggitoria
    Via dei Tribunali, 94, 80138 Napoli, Italy

    Comment by Cuihtlauac — May 4, 2011 @ 02:11 | Reply

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