Friday, August 5, 2011

Just As the Sirens Lured Sailors…

with their enchanting music, the promise of rare ahi tuna on Asian slaw was luring me to the Beach House in Fort Collins.*

So what happened? Why am I writing another boring blog about pizza? Do you know how hard it is after three years to find something original to say about pizza?

We were on Linden Street in Historic Fort Collins when Chuck spied a restaurant window. There painted on the window were the words “Best in Fort Collins for 16 years” and “Best Pizza in Mid-America Inter-national Pizza Challenge Held in Las Vegas.”

So much for my dreams of ahi tuna.

“This is the place to come for the best pizza in Fort Collins. And you don't need to take my word for it: That's been the consensus of the Coloradoan Readers’ Poll for more than a decade. In addition to offering the traditional chewy white pizza crust, the restaurant offers a whole-wheat poppy-seed or herb crust and several sauce options: sweet basil, fresh garlic…pesto, or spinach ricotta. The long list of available toppings includes artichoke hearts, feta cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, pineapple, and almonds. If you're not in the mood for pizza, you might try the spinach calzone or stromboli“ (frommers.com).

“When it comes to pizza, everyone is always quick to adore their favorite New York-style, Chicago-style or Italian-style pizzerias. I think it’s time we show some love for the Fort Collins-style pizza at Cozzola’s. It’s not thin crust, it’s not deep dish, it’s not Colorado-style (close, but better)—it’s a style all of its own—thick and piled high with some of the most creative doughs, sauces and flavor combinations out there. I feel like it’s a pizza-lover’s heaven (if you can let go of regional loyalties)” (eatingfortcollins.com).

First a word about Colorado-style pizza, also called Mountain Pizza. Think Chicago deep dish on steroids. They pile the toppings on a thick—let me repeat, thick—crust and then fold the crust edged a little at a time around the circumference. On a recent “Man v Food” on the Travel Channel, Adam Richman measured the height of the crust at Beaujo’s (a Mountain Pizza Mecca) at four inches. Egad.

Beaujo’s web site provides the following description: “A Mountain Pie is a pizza with more of everything that’s good. Please consider when ordering that they are more pizza than you are likely to imagine. Here’s an average estimation of what they’ll feed: 1 lb.—1-2 people or one voracious wolverine; 2 lbs.—2-3 people or a half-dozen mongeese; 3 lbs.—3 -4 people or two Diamese gorillas; 5 lbs.—5-7 people or one woolly mammoth (presently impossible to acquire a wooly mammoth” (www.beaujos.com).

So following our walking tour, we stopped at Cozzola’s for a pizza lunch. After Chuck had interrogated the nice young woman working behind the ordering counter regarding their crust thickness, we decided to order a fourteen-inch cheese and sausage with sweet basil sauce, but using a twelve-inch dough ball. “We usually fold the edges but do you want them left flat?” she asked. “Flat” we replied. “Oh, and please go light on the cheese,” we asked.

We took our seats and surveyed the room’s d├ęcor which was primarily lattice wood dividers, rough unfinished wood paneling, and some green viney plants.

Without much delay, our pizza arrived. And a fine pizza it was. The sauce had a bit of tomato tang and wasn’t sweet from too much cooking. The sausage tasted faintly of fennel. The very thin crust was almost like a saltine cracker. And the “light on the cheese” was more than enough cheese.

After our permuta-tions, this pizza probably bore little resemblance--other than the sauce and sausage--that made Cozzola’s an award winner. But we liked it and consider it to be a 4.0 Addie pizza.

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*Yeah, I know. The sirens lured the sailors to their death on the rocks, but I wasn’t going to face death by ahi tuna.

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