Jeremy Malanka refuses to let go of his childhood
CHEESE + tomato + bread = quick and easy food. This equation is often the solution when we’re short on time or energy, but as adults we often forget our initial love affair with this delectable slab of goodness. Try to imagine your first slice. That first bite, the moment the salty, chewy cheese meshed with the sweet tomatoes and the snap of the fresh bread. It had to have been magical.
My goal is to find the pies in our own backyard that bring you back to the boardwalk, back to the pizza party sleepover, and back to our foodie roots. Simple times, when food and company was a Friday-night treat. I found pizzas in West Chester that rival the best. “Fresh, quality ingredients” has become a cliché in this consumer age (I blame Papa John). What makes the difference is passion. Passion for finding the best ingredients, passion for combining them consistently and beautifully – not haphazardly to squeeze out a buck.
Ask the guys at America’s Pie on East Gay Street. Not only do they crush their own tomatoes and grate the best mozzarella they can legally procure, but they love doing it. These guys eat, sleep and dream pizza. The menu boasts over a dozen gourmet pies, including a New Orleans Pizza made with blackened chicken and their own honey mustard sauce. They have a great take on a newfound favorite of mine, the upside-down pizza, made with your choice of cheese. The slices are gigantic and recall a time before pizza was mass-produced with corners cut and taste squandered.
If delivery just won’t cut it, stop in Limoncello. Their happy hour features $6 wines and half-off pizzas. Need I say more? I love their house Chianti with an upside-down, sprinkled with basil and fried eggplant. A bite of that pizza is enough to make me believe in God. They also offer up the most unique pizza I’ve ever tasted: white pizza with the best salami allowed on a pie, topped with arugala, ricotta and a baked egg. And this isn’t some fancy pizza at an overpriced bistro: it’s served up right in your culinary playground of The WC.
If it’s a true boardwalk slice you’re looking for, check out Benny’s Pizza, another family-run joint that just reeks of the beach. The tables and wallpaper haven’t changed in what seems like 40 years, and when you walk in it feels like a postcard circa 1972. The pizza has the sweetest sauce of all the spots I’ve tried, making pepperoni the best topping for their pies.
You’re always going to eat, and you’ll often fall back on pizza. But, every once in a while, find the time for a slice that will remind you that, when you were a kid, it was the pizza that made the party.