Friday, September 17, 2010

Pizza Served Plump at Patxi's

As a young girl, I’ve never been a crust person. Yet with age I guess I’ve matured from my picky-eater days. One Friday after school, I rendezvoused with my parents in Hayes Valley and enjoyed a rare early dinner at Patxi’s Chicago Pizza. With the first bite of my deep dish slice, my taste buds thanked me for reconsidering.

According to the take-out box, the restaurant’s title is pronounced “pah-cheese,” but the locals know that by now. Nestled in the 2-block radius of Hayes Valley, the pizzeria constantly overflows with families with kids, buddies up for a slice and a beer, or couples on a casual date. However, with pizza orders requiring twenty minutes for thin crust and nearly forty for their signature deep dish creations, coming here for dinner may be a bit time consuming — they even recommend calling the order in before showing up. Luckily for the three of us, we had gotten there before six o’clock, clearly noting that the ten young, friendly wait staff would definitely be needed later that evening.

The menu offered salads at a welcoming $5.95, so we settled for a Greek. As for the pizza, we chose a 14” pan-style filled with sun dried tomatoes, mushrooms and Italian sausage ($28). The salad arrived fit to feed one, but we all thoroughly enjoyed the garden-fresh bell pepper, cucumber, red onion, Kalamata olive, feta cheese and red wine vinaigrette mix, which surprisingly featured almost no leafy greens. Afterwards my mom and I took a walk around the block to cater to our impatience, yet we came back to find our waiter at our table, leaving with a “Cheers” and a steaming, crimson pie before us.

With one look at the seeping slice oozing on my plate, I knew that this pizza required a knife and fork. The first bite sizzled in my mouth. I closed my eyes and relished the tanginess of the homemade sauce (unfortunately, the taste of the sun dried tomato couldn’t compete on my palate), the stretch of creamy mozzarella and the chewiness of the herb seasoned Italian sausage. As I continued to slice away, I realized that what made this pizza so filling was the cheese, though the tomato exterior of the Chicago style pie didn’t suggest it.

Though the deep dish slice was much too heavy to lift, the crust supported its exemplary taste nonetheless. The bottom layer was sprinkled in cornmeal and crisped to a golden brown. The next layer was almost buttery and flaky in composition while the uppermost layer blended beautifully with the filling. For a moment there a bite of crust reminded me of eating a forkful of creamy homemade chicken pot pie. Mmmm.

By my second slice, though my stomach was nearing its capacity, I troughed through the slice to get to my favorite part, where the filling meets the crust. This was another story. I examined my rod of crust and bit into it. The texture reminded me of a Mexican churro, crispy on the outside and soft, fluffy and warm within. My taste buds reported that this was definitely one of the most pleasant crusts I’ve ever pondered over.

Finally, my mom, dad and I pulled back our chairs and stretched out our stomachs. “Could you imagine finishing that whole pie on your own?” my dad ventured, glancing at the remaining two slices we saved for my brother.

“That would be disrespectful,” I replied.

“No,” said Dad, “That would be disgusting! It would be gluttony — a sin.”

I guess we dined mischievously that night.

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