If you’ve been reading this site for more than a few weeks, than you may know I have a slight love affair with pizza. I love to cook it, I love to read & write about it, I love to look at it, I love to think about it, and I especially love to eat it.
But I am not alone in this devious desire. According to one internet source which I found on Yahoo Answers and therefore must be credible, the annual per capita pizza consumption in America is 23lbs. One slice of Papa John’s cheese pizza weighs 93 grams, which is roughly 1/5 of a pound. So that 23lbs equals almost 115 slices of pizza. Not bad for a dish that got its beginning as Naples street food! (note – check out that link, it’s interesting)
Well some of you may have seen me mention that Atlanta resident Jeff Varasano is opening his highly touted pizza restaurant in just a few weeks, and the buzz among pizza aficionados is palpable. I know a few people who have tasted at Jeff’s house, who have assured me that while they’ve eaten great pie, the 2nd best doesn’t measure up to Jeff’s. I’ve even had a food blogger in Bermuda tell me via email how jealous he is that I get to live in Atlanta and try out Jeff’s pizza.
Obviously I’m quite excited for Varasano’s restaurant, but this got me thinking… the problem with pizza is that there are so many styles, preferences, and opinions. While I think the true Naples pizza lover (among others) will adore Jeff’s pizza, what about those that dream about meat lover’s pizza? What about deep dish? What about those that love stuffed crust (shudder)?
Well, rather than sit on the couch and pontificate by my lonesome, I decided to, well, sit on my couch and reach out to the cyberspace of Atlanta. What pizza destinations do Atlantans enjoy? Is there a style that is the consistent favorite? Do toppings and creativity trump tradition and simplicity? Greasy goodness over fresh ingredients? Quantity over quality?
A few days ago I took a poll and 70 Atlantans responded with their list of favorite pizza places. I then had to pare this list down to 12 destinations and I plan on eating at them all over the next two weeks. This is not a popularity test. I am not voting a “Best in Atlanta” as that would be like saying that my favorite color is now your favorite color. Think of it as more of a profile so you can see what Atlanta has to offer, and I can satisfy my own curiousity to find out what the Atlanta pizza scene and their diners are all about.
For this experiment I will not be alone. I have recruited many palates from around town to join me for lunch, dinner, and blind tastings. That’s right, every two nights someone will come to my house to eat the leftovers and give their feedback. At all tastings each person will be given a sheet where they can provide feedback on the dough, sauce, cheese, toppings, presentation, and overall pizza quality. All pizzas will be ordered with simple, traditional toppings; plain cheese, or a Naples or Margherita style pizza only. I am not ordering single slices, whole pies only.
As me and my pizza posse move through each destination I will post the results to this site. We’ve actually tackled the first two destinations and it’s been quite fun so far . At the end of the two weeks I can’t wait to see what we’ve found. My guess? It’s gonna be all over the map! But that’s what’s great about pizza. As Vince Vaughn says in Wedding Crashers, “Who gives a shit? It’s a great band, it’ s a bad band, it’s like pizza baby!”