Saturday, July 7, 2018

[Food] Homage to Pizza Gone By

Gone
Not too far from where I live is a "turn key fully equipped restaurant" for lease.  The restaurant that was there until a few weeks ago was called Pizzaniste.

Pizzaniste had really good pizza.  Gourmet, all fresh ingredients, coal fired, whole-wheat crust as an option; even gluten free as an option.  Partly because they also made custom fresh salads, there were some unexpected ingredients: Real anchovies, fresh basil, artichokes, black beans, corn, cilantro, carrots, chickpeas, eggplant, hard-boiled egg, zucchini and two types of olives to choose from (along with all the other things you might expect every pizza place to have).  The place also had the look of a high-end juice-bar.  Tile and wood, clean glass in front of the food prep area.  Ingredients in refrigerated buckets easily seen and identifiable by the consumer.

Pizzaniste was also surprisingly inexpensive (which may be part of their demise).  They made these 12" personal pizzas, and their specialty vegetarian, "Veg Out" was $11.95.  Less than $1 per inch.  They had this huge bowl of Minestrone soup that they sold for $4.95.  This place was excellent, and I would have paid half-again the price for anything I ordered there it was that good.

However, it wasn't greasy New York street-style pizza.  The first thing I learned about this neighborhood is that the best rated pizza place around here is a place that absolutely specializes in street-pizza.  At Louie & Ernie's Pizza, orange grease runs freely from a bent slice (no pepperoni required), just like they make it for the two buck slices in "the city".  Street-pizza has its place, but I'm not in my 20s anymore, so I have to come at that sparingly.  This neighborhood loves Louie & Ernie.

In their last week, one of their employees pulled me aside and said that I was the only customer who noticed that they were about to close.  The signs were piling up fast.  Early in the year, there were several weeks where several fountain drink flavors ran out.  That was isolated, and eventually fixed, but ... a bad sign.  About a month before they closed, their customer WiFi stopped working, then their branded cups ran out, replaced by cheap purple-green blotch design cups.  I mentioned my suspicion to that employee, and he put on his best face, "they are on order".  When their web-site went offline with no sign of returning, I was deeply concerned.  The last time I went in, and they were out of Parmesan cheese I moaned at everyone, "Oh... it's really over."  That's when he took me aside to tell me that they would be closing as soon as Thursday or Friday.  They were already gone on Thursday evening.

My wife and I miss you, Pizzaniste.

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