John Kenneth Galbraith, the economist who coined the phrase “conventional wisdom,” observed that we celebrate monumental events by devouring dead cow in a public arena, aka a restaurant. Got a raise? Wayward child surprised you with a coupla “A”s on his report card? Able to swing that fraudulently filled out loan to buy that new Chevy Impala? Head to the restaurant and order steak, telling the waiter in no uncertain terms that it should be seared but still bleeding.
Perhaps, this is where I got off track. Our family, instead of steak, went out for pizza. Pizza was the first thing in life that I had come to love.
The only place acceptable for our family ritual was a hole-in-the-wall called Pellicci’s, in Stamford, Connecticut.
You walk(ed) through a narrow hallway as you entered, and on the right, a three-by-eight opening allowed you to view the kitchen. Sensing an audience, the chef would toss pizza in the air, and while it was air-borne would whistle, as if the wind was disturbed by a boomerang. There is no combination of letters to recreate that sound as a word. Let me just Donald Trump you with this: Believe me–it was beautiful.
The pizza was not one to die for; it was to LIVE for. The Mary Poppins of pizza: perfect in every way. When I left Connecticut as a boy, I was correct in my assumption that I would never have a pizza so erotically pleasing to my every fiber, that I was so eager to conquer and consume. Pellicci’s was the standard, by which all others fell disastrously short.
Four decades later, I had business in Old Greenwich, a few miles from Stamford, and in the same coffin by my bed that concealed Gideon’s Bible, there was other printed matter, no less sinful but utterly engaging: a list of restaurants endorsed by the hotel.
Pellicci’s. After forty years, it was still in business. How could I resist?
It was early afternoon when I arrived, having last seen it when I was seven or eight.
It was closed!
But a janitor was inside moping the floor, and I pried open the door. He leaned his mop against the wall. He was a bit portly, too old to be doing this job, and wore a bandanna around his head. Health code stuff, I figured.
“We’re not open yet.”
But I implored, I begged. I used all the charms that later in life had proved to be so ineffectual with women.
He let me in. The place had changed. No longer a hole-in-the-wall, it was an elegant restaurant, had expanded to take over the entire building.
He was my witness. I had to tell him what transpired when I was a boy.
“There used to be a window here, showing the kitchen. Can you believe it, when I walked by, the guy making the pizza would toss it skyward, and whistle as the pizza made its ascent and descent.”
He looked at me with a bemused smile. “Can you believe it? I was that guy.”
He whistled. It was really him.
My first love, the love of pizza, had returned.
“I don’t make the pizza anymore, but I’ll make one for you.”
I came to regret the years of infidelity. Eating what those whores had offered me: Domino’s. Shakey’s. Pizza Hut. There were others, but I swear, they meant nothing to me. I knew I needed to eat, but there was no love in the transaction.
Father forgive me, for I have sinned.
Father Pellicci forgave me, and offered me a to-go box.
32 thoughts on “All the world’s a pizza, and all the men and women merely pepperoni”
“the first thing in life that I had come to love” … So hard to compete with early passion!
Still living on the crust.
thought you’d get a rise out
Hey! This is a really good story and I really enjoyed it. Very good job, Thorn!
Thanks. I do think it has pizzas.
OOPS! I mean pizzazz!
What a great story! A kick back & relax tale that made me smile all the way.
Loved it T.
(I wrote an entry today…but I may hate it tomorrow… We shall see.)
Miryam, you have yet to disappoint with a story, and don’t you know ALL writers hate their stories? That’s why they keep editing. Send in what you’ve got.
In your Inbox Mr. Editor. Thanks for the push….
Takes me back to my Jersey days and the Italian Pizzerias. When a story has me ‘tasting’ a remembrance, it is very well written.
I can’t read this story again or reply to comments without getting those cravings! Maybe we need a contest about pizza. First date in an Italian restaurant, frozen pizza getting you through mid-term exams, the pizza tree. Yes! The pizza tree. When my kids were small they asked where pizza came from. The pizza tree, I said. Really. Yup. In fact we’ve got one in the back yard. Should be in bloom by morning…So when my kids slept I got a coupla boxes of those frozen pizzas about five inches in diameter and fastened them to the bare branches of the pizza tree in the back yard. Next morning, my kids informed me that the tree had blossomed! We harvested before the sun came out: pizza wilts pretty quickly.
Being a lover of real Italian pizza, I can relate to this excellent and humorous tale. Diabetic now, I can at yeast delight in memories of sitting in a booth at Barcelona’s Restaurant and devouring a plain cheese pizza while the jukebox played “I Can’t Stop Loving You” by Ray Charles. How did I know in the far off future it would be pizza I’d be bemoaning!
Sal…if we have a contest about Pizza, you are not allowed to enter! Can’t use the Sicilian advantage!
Thorn, thanks for getting my Leap Day off to a jumping great start. Love this one! LOL
ok. I expect a poem out of you: An Ode to Pizza! Post it on your new website, which, folks who are reading this, is https://www.facebook.com/MageeParkPoets/?fref=ts, or simply google Magee Park Poets.
Ahh, a first love for most of us. How could I have forgotten pizza when thinking about first loves?
It’s a love that may not take your breath away, but it will smell of garlic and pepperoni!
Takes me back to Chicago and the deep dish pan pizza you’d stand in line for on Rush street. I love how you just grab our hands and take us with you, so effortless into your story. A subject of simplicity turns into a feast.
My family moved from Stamford to Bridgeport when I was too young to complain about missing out on that fabulous pizza. Thank you for introducing the flavor of the experience to me. Whenever I retrieve sweet memories of Stamford, I will indulge the fragrance of your pizza passion, and enjoy. /^_^\
Thorn, I need to speak with you. Would you please email your phone number. Thank you. 🙂
Good one Thorn. I’ve heard enough about pizza back east and have yet to taste any of it. Oh well – a thought for the bucket list. What trip down memory lane or should I say a memory flip over – from back then to now! My Mom lived in New York waiting for my father to return from overseas and stayed with a Jewish Italian family. She was taught how to make tomato sauce from scratch while there. I use that now to make my own homemade pizza from scratch and yes that includes the crust. Now I’m hungry!!!
From what I have heard you can’t get “East Coast” pizza flavor anywhere except from the East Coast. Something to do with the way the water filters through the soil before it eventually enters the mains and shoots out of the taps at the restaurant.
Many, many years ago I heard a radio interview with a couple of guys who opened a NY Pizza shop in the ATL. Not “NY style” but “NY pizza.” They said they shipped water from up there down to their restaurant to be able to make their dough. I never got to eat there and now I don’t even remember its name so I can’t even find out if they are still in business or not.
Pizza is life for many people; it makes everything ok. Such a wonderful story of finding your first to die for love again. I need to get to Angelo & Vinci’s now!
Haha. Great write. Loved the punch line ending.
True story…for real. Good to see you returning to the site, and the whole crew looks forward to reading what you will send in. Better hurry, though, as the queue is building.
All of you folks visiting our site: Here is a reminder that our contest closes the 15th of March. If you have not yet entered the contest, here is the link to do so: https://awordwithyoupress.com/contest/at-last-a-new-contest-lost-love-it-is-valentines-day-after-all/
Please help this community of writers grow by posting this on your website or FB, invite your friends to enter the contest and leave comments for all the entrants. You can enter up to three times: great news for the promiscuous among us who have more than one “first loves!” And you could win a mystery trophy and Nook or Kindle device… just sayin’.
OK…get out your hankies. The wonderful man who made the world’s best pizza left us a few years ago, I discovered before I posted my story. Just for fun I posted this story on the webpage for Pellicci’s, figuring patrons would get a kick out of the story. I just got this as a FB message
Pellicci’s Ristorante Omg!! You just brought tears to my eyes thank you for that. He was my father!
All we are saying – is give pizza a chance!-)
Kyle described your story as “effortless.” We all know that the writing probably isn’t effortless but the reading of your stories always is.
I’m not going to be surprised if one day you do win one of your contests.
It’s entirely possible (I sleep with the judge!)
Love the tongue-in-cheek humor and sarcasm woven into a deeply touching story. Real life is better than fiction when chance meetings bring our stories full circle.
not too cheesy?