Monday, September 24, 2007

it should be a slice of heaven

let's talk about pizza. it generally falls under the category of "even if it's bad, it's still good." i beg to differ..... there is a great divide between good, proper pizza, done well and really really crap pizza. i believe life is too short to even entertain the sad pies.

have you seen mystic pizza? well, if you have you'll understand why i was so looking forward to trying their famous 'mystic pie'. the sauce was a secret only known by Leona, the momma/boss character that owned the restaurant in the movie. now, i do realize this was a movie, but the hype for this julia roberts movie in the 80's was so big, i figured the restaurant must have something to offer so many years afterward! restaurants don't survive on movie hype alone.
when my brother and now sister-in-law were getting married over 5 years ago they decided to plan the event in her hometown in connecticut. when the date neared my mom and i had two things we wanted to do while we were there - eat lobster & eat mystic pizza. we knew this would be a challenge due how busy we were going to be all weekend with manicures and up-do's but we were determined.

the night we arrived we stopped in mystic for the pizza on the way in. we ordered the 'mystic pie' - i had pretty high hopes. when it arrived i could barely let the cheese cool before i took a bite. i wish we had skipped on my silly desire to taste Leona's famed sauce and just spent the evening looking for lobster. -in the end it was not exactly the slice of heaven i was expecting. to add insult to injury, i had a tummy ache afterward that hung on like a mon chi chi from the underworld.

when it comes to food, i can hold a pretty mean grudge and i must tell you that ever since that day, i have had very low expectations of pizza parlors. i mean this was supposed to be the ultimate! and on top of the bad pies, they were out of medium t-shirts so i had to buy one 2 sizes to big. what a snowball!

now, to make this small tragedy come to a point and for me to stop being such a 'debby downer' i would like to tell you about salvation pizza. my husband i have been eyeballin' the place since it came into the neighborhood, its next door to our favorite sandwich shop . however, it's hours were a mystery to us when it first opened and it just always slipped our minds when we were deciding where to go.

then a few weeks ago, we had torn our kitchen apart to do some minor renovations and had to find something close by, open late and wasn't the one of the many stodgy college joints in our area. suddenly, my husband remembered salvation pizza. alas, our time had come.

we walked in and were instantly in love. this revived bungalow with dark and hip interior and exterior decked with globe lights and picnic tables was a feast for my eyes and soul. right up my alley! oh, please let the pies be good! please!

i was not disappointed. it was so simple, they only have pizza and drinks on the menu. nothing fussy, nothing overdone. so refreshing!

we ordered a pitcher of live oak 'liberation ale' and two pies. we each decided which topping was our all-time favorite and added it to one of the pies. one was a clam with lemon and the other was an artichoke heart, mushroom, broccoli, etc. veggie pie. both were dreamy.

if only i had walked into that mystic parlor and been met with such splendor! imagine!

i recently made pizza from heidi swanson's recipe blog 101 Cookbooks. her pizza dough named "the best pizza dough ever" stands up to its name. next time you think about ordering in - i hope you have some of this dough on hand to create your own tasty pies.

after i followed her dough recipe and let it rest overnight, i was ready to build my own. take note, i think i have the "best topping ever". you don't even need sauce, in fact you won't want it. it's so simple....

1 large red onion
sea salt
tiny pinch of turbinado sugar
high quality extra virgin olive oil or butter
splash of port beer (or any dark beer)

-thinly slice onion, put in hot skillet with either oil or butter, sprinkle the onion with a couple of pinches of sea salt. sauté until your onion starts to develop some color, sprinkle one just the tiniest bit of the sugar and lower the heat. just sit back and let it caramelize. you can stir it around a bit it makes you nervous to not constantly tend to what you're cooking. and when it starts to caramelize, deglaze the pan with a splash of beer. after the alcohol has cooked off it will get nice and dark. and voilá! that's it!

i will usually then add mushrooms, fresh romas, artichokes, basil, fresh mozzarella - whatever i have on hand or looks good at the time. then i just pop it in the oven and grind a little fresh pepper over the top and wait anxiously while it blasts to perfection. i dare you to wait until the cheese cools!

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