Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Babe, Murals and, Oh Yeah, Pizza

One of the first things I do when arriving at a new campground is to “Goggle” for the nearest grocery and PetsMart. Next is to look for the best pizza.

So I was pleased when I found link for Saggio’s, located just a half block from the University of New Mexico campus in Albuquerque. Saggio’s serves a long list of Panini and focaccia sandwiches, salads, calzones, and pasta dishes that are – if the ziti that the man at a neighboring table was eating is any indication – large enough to feed an entire UNM frat house. But it was the pizza that online reviewers raved about. It was described as thin and crisp crust and one native New Yorker enthused that it was a pizza slice you could fold.

So it was with anticipation that we drove around the block (and around the block and around the block) looking for a parking place. Upon entering Saggio’s, we were greeted by a statue of Babe Ruth. (Now Chuck wants to make it clear that this pose of Babe’s was not commemorating his “Called Shot” home run in the 1932 World Series Game 3 against the Cubs. Chuck maintains that Babe was pointing to his favorite eatery in what would years later become part of Wrigleyville. That’s Chuck’s story and he’s sticking to it.)

So, we followed the Babe’s direction to the line to place our order. All orders are placed at the counter and there was a good-sized line when we arrived. Customers in tuxedos and in jeans placed orders with musicians carrying instruments and adults cradling small children.

Our first inclination was to order a Margherita from the gourmet pizza list but it only came in one size (ten inch), and there wasn’t anything else on the gourmet list that Chuck would be likely to eat.

So we went with a medium (fourteen inch) Neapolitan with cheese and sausage. As an impulse, we added an order of breadsticks with marinara sauce for dipping.

However one describes the pizza, New York style it is not! Chuck described it as a pizza that is good if you only want to eat one slice. At the second – and especially the third – slice, you realize there is too much crust, too much cheese, and too much oregano in the sauce. The breadsticks were large and light and the spicy marinara was perfect for dipping. Two of the slices of pizza along with two and a half breadsticks came home and were reheated for supper. Having one slice each reinforced Chuck’s opinion – great pizza if you’re having just one.

At Saggio's, one dines surrounded by murals--the main one depicts Pope John Paul II, Anthony Quinn, the Beatles, the Tin Man, Bugs Bunny, and a host of customers visiting a 7-Eleven. (I challenged Chuck to interpret this one, but his interpretation the Babe Ruth "Point" seemed to tucker him out.)

On the way out, we passed the pastry case filled with Brown cow cheesecake, Lemon mixed berry cheesecake, Belgian chocolate cake, and cannolis. From the space where the engine and seats of a taxi used to be, we selected – for the purpose of research only – to bring home a chocolate shell cannoli and standard shell cannoli. The chocolate was filled with a plain cheese filling and the plain shell filling included chocolate chips.

I only give Saggio’s 3.0 (out of 5.0) Addies. That high a rating is based on the breadsticks and cannolis and not on the pizza.

Question for Chuck's Illinois family and friends: I believe it was my fourth grade teacher Mrs. Pennington who told us about a characteristic of my hometown of Plainfield, IL that no other town could claim. That was in 1954; it cannot claim this status anymore. Any idea?

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