Tiburón -Shark- Žralok

Tiburón -Shark- Žralok: Writing Cooking Traveling

Friday, June 5, 2009


One of them is a chaotic mess. It drips grease openly, tastes like alfredo sauce smothered in mozzarella with some artichoke and spinach mixed in and spread over a thick wet crust that still manages to be crunchy only because its size defies the oil. That is Artichoke Pizza. Your dream drunk food, available at all hours, just look for the line. Disregard that it has all the calories you need for the day, all the fat you need for the week, and all the cholesterol you will ever need in your life.

The other is also a hole in the wall, also has a line, but gives you the option to sit, have a drink. Like Artichoke, it only gives you a limited amount of options. All they serve are four kinds of pizza and only pizza. The dough is simple and light, soft and with burned air bubbles sticking out of the edges. Sauce and cheese harmonize or they don't. Sometimes it's cheese alone, sometimes it's sauce alone. In all cases the garlic, olive oil, sea salt, and basil create a subtle chorus of undertones which flare up every so often as you devour the delicate slices. It is simplicity itself, with all the complexity of a violin piece. That is Una Pizza Napolitana. All ingredients fresh, standalone, imported from the birthplace of pizza, Italy.

Both have been hailed "best pizza". OK. Sure. Regardless of whether they are the best or not, both are a few hundred stories above your average Joe's, Ray's Domino's, or All Star Pizza. One pushes the boundaries of Americanized pizza to its screeching extreme. It's almost Deep Dish in its thickness, all the flavor elements melded together into one two inch thick white sauce that explodes with intensity, it's jazz and big band, a wall of flavor. Meanwhile, the other one pushes in the opposite direction, reaching all the way back to Italy, back to the basics, the peasant food, the ingredients that each make their own statement but combine flawlessly with each other. Tomato, cheese, and bread, emphasized with salt, garlic, basil, and olive oil. It's almost healthy, definitely quality, maybe not completely Italian (all imports lose some of their edge) but close enough.

Aside from the basics of "good" that are standard in all recipe- good ingredients, freshness, heat- they have an element that makes them great. They are unexpected. When you bite into a slice of Artichoke it defies your expectations of what a pizza can be by being many things at once. It is pizza but it is also pasta alfredo and it is also artichoke dip. There is no tomato sauce or discernable toppings, one slice is more than enough, and the rush of serotonin is harder and faster than a normal slice of pizza could ever deliver. With UPN it's more subtle. You will every so often get some sea salt prominently featured, sometimes you will have basil, the cheese only covers certain sections and the sauce is also mobil on top of the greased dough. The dough has flavor. It's good bread. Simply flour, oil, salt, and yeast, baked in a brick oven. 

Each has chosen to make a bold statement. It took the elements that make pizza great and pushed them. When you have normal pizza the saltiness is there, the chaotic toppings are there, the cheese is there creating endorphins, the dough is soft or thin, more a vehicle for the cheese and sauce. It's satisfying, very tasty, but nothing you would call exceptional.


  1. Wait, what? 'Like meat, pizza is something you appreciate if you have it infrequently.'

    I want meat 24/7. If you make a dirty joke out of that I will steal your kitty

  2. I'm going to feed you to Spider.