"Sally's pizza is sooo good," insisted Charlie. "You just have to wait in line and endure crappy service to get it. ...Also, the inside of the restaurant is kind of gross."
Man, how could I not be excited to visit the legendary Sally's Apizza after hearing Charlie's description of its nonexistent charm? Actually, that is part of the excitement; for food to be so awesome that it's worth eating even if you're going to be served by people who give half a shit.
First hurdle: the line.
Charlie, Lydia and I arrived at the restaurant later than we had planned, thus missing the first 5 p.m. seating. We took our place just a few feet away from the door (where my friend Jason soon joined us) and figured the wait wouldn't be too horrendous since we weren't that far back in line. I mean, surely nothing over an hour.
So, nearly one and a half hours later, we finally made that grand journey of a few feet to the front door. Right where all the delicious pizza fumes came wafting out. Taunting us. So close. So. Painfully. Close.
There appeared to be a few empty booths ready to be filled by our tired, pizza-ready bodies, but they were reserved for a large, yet-to-have-arrived party. We grumbled and wondered where this phantom party was and why they weren't getting their pizza on.
BUT THEN, LIKE, HOLY CRAP, WE WERE ALLOWED ENTRY INTO THE HOLYLAND OF SALLY'S AND GIVEN THE PRIVILEGE OF PLANTING OUT BUTTS INTO THE CUSHIONY BOOTHS.
The service wasn't as curmudgeonly as I expected, but it was markedly nonchalant. Menus were tossed upon us by the seemingly one waiter running the whole restaurant. When he reappeared and paused at our table, we assumed this was with the intention of taking our order. Instead, he inexplicably heaved two more menus onto the already present pile of menus for some unknown reason, then made a dash towards the kitchen while quickly saying, "Be back in a flash." After the "flash" had been drawn out for a few minutes (although I had considered that time as experienced by most humans is slowed down by 1000% within the alternate dimension that is Sally's, thus qualifying our wait as a genuine "flash"), the waiter reappeared to take our orders, finally putting us back on track towards pizza bliss.
We passed the time by playing Fluxx, "the card game with ever-changing rules!" As the only Fluxx-n00b at the table, I mostly stared at my cards with confusion and hesitantly placed them on the table with even more confusion. Someday I aim to play a game of Fluxx with more grace than a gimpy one-legged duck, but until then, I am hopeless.
And then OH MY GOD, the pizza we had so patiently and somewhat frustratingly waited for had arrived, unceremoniously splodged in the center of a parchment paper-lined sheet pan in all its blistered, semi-lopsided glory, looking as though it had just rolled out of bed and hadn't gotten the chance to coif itself. Because of our intensely gurgling stomachs, we went for a medium eggplant parmigiana pizza instead of a small.
Helloooo puffy crust.
Charlie and Jason politely waited for me to take my photographs even though they wanted to rip the pizza (and maybe me) apart. What good friends I have.
The first bite, apart from being of a elevated temperature that skin cells respond to with death, told me that the pizza was worth the wait. As someone who prefers simple pizzas—the margherita may be my favorite—I was afraid that the fried breaded slices of eggplant would be too heavy and mess up the balance between the crust and the non-crust. However, the soft, chewy crust was just thick enough to stand up to the toppings, making for a harmonious marriage of bread, cheese, sauce, and fried eggplant slabs. It's the kind of marriage that doesn't exist these days—the one where everyone is happy and gets along with one another.
I wouldn't say that the cheese, sauce, or eggplant necessarily stood out for being awesome; rather, there wasn't anything about each component that I would object to. They all came together because of the puffy, slightly crispy-based crust that sat underneath. What was it about this crust that I loved so much? It tasted like awesome. I mean, if it had nothing on it, if it were just a slab of flatbread, I'd still devour it. I could've sworn that it had slight touches of the warm toasted grainy flavor that I love so much, the kind that reminds me of a baguette de monge. Perhaps the long wait had twisted my perception—I can't rule out the possibility—but I really think that the crust was just exceptionally tasty. It's rare that I eat a pizza where the crust is easily my favorite part and I can imagine eating it even outside the context of a pizza.
I'd rather not have to wait one and a half hours again to eat at Sally's, but I can see why people do it. They're not crazy. Or...they're not that crazy. Dedicated roughly a twelfth of your day to getting awesome pizza is a perfectly acceptable class of craziness.
Next up: Pepe's and Louis' Lunch!