Thursday, April 3, 2014

Pizza at the zoo? I don’t think so

Pizza, as far as I’m concerned, is one of those odd foods. It’s not always worth getting.

I'll take the corner slice
If we’re talking about a pie that was freshly made and is eaten while still piping hot, then sure. I don’t even mind a cold slice that happens to be left over from that pie.

BUT WHEN I happen to encounter a snack stand at some event and see that they’re offering up pizza as one of their menu choices, I rarely bother to get it. Too much is lost in the translation of having to produce a large mass of slices available for people to munch on – rather than on focusing on trying to make an individual pizza that is worth consuming.

So excuse me for getting a giggle at the reports this week that the Lincoln Park Zoo has reached agreement with a new company to sell pizza slices to those people who are visiting the world-class zoo and whose appetite has not been killed off by the aromas of various substances generated by the animals after they have eaten.

People who want pizza at the zoo can now claim that they are eating pizza from Aurelio’s, a suburban Homewood-based chain whose fanatics will claim it to be the best pizza one could ever consume.

I know because I can recall high school being surrounded by those people (I attended a South Holland-based high school that had – still has, actually, an Aurelio’s located one block away from campus) who thought I was insane for the fact that I didn’t care for the product.

EVEN BY PIZZA standards, there was just too much grease – to the point where it overwhelmed the pizza toppings, rather than enhanced them.

Now, zoo-goers are going to get to share that same experience, in between staring at the animals occupying space that I’m sure makes real estate developers drool while fantasizing about what kind of monstrosity they would build on the land – if ever given the chance!

I noticed in statements that Aurelio’s officials are saying their bringing their “special pizza-making processes” to the zoo. I don’t know what those special things are. But it could be what makes the difference between a slice of pizza that bears a resemblance to the restaurant, and something covered in gobs of cheese that tastes no different than what you’d buy in the frozen foods aisle of whatever supermarket you prefer to peruse.

Calling it “Aurelio’s” pizza could be the equivalent of deceptive advertising – albeit one that Aurelio’s approves of because it puts the name out there.

IT’S NOT GOING to be something that gets me out to the zoo anytime soon.

Having a brand-name pizza isn’t even going to be what gets me out to U.S. Cellular Field this season. I’ll go to a ballgame or two in 2014. But the fact that they now also have a deal with a local pizzeria isn’t that big a deal.

In the case of the Chicago White Sox, it is Beggar’s Pizza that is operating the concessions stands that sell pizza slices. Now I’ll admit to preferring Beggar’s to Aurelio’s (something about those extra-large chunks of toppings – particularly sausage – makes their pizza interesting).

But I’m not optimistic that the same taste will translate to the ballpark. It may be even further off-the-mark from Aurelio’s at the zoo. Although it’s going to have to be better than the DiGiorno frozen pizza brand that was sold at the ballpark in recent seasons.

ALTHOUGH THE KEY to getting a pizza worth anything may well be to stop off at a Lou Malnati’s restaurant after the ballgame/zoo trip. Although perhaps a deep-dish or pan pizza is a totally different type of food item.

That is, unless you have a neighborhood place nearby that has the absolute best pizza cut into squares that one could ever find – and which nobody else knows a thing about.

Those are usually the best, and can’t be replicated anywhere else.


EDITOR’S NOTE: My personal fave from a pizza are those bite-sized slices you get from the corners of a round pizza cut into squares.

No comments: