February 9th is America’s “National Pizza Day”, a great excuse to eat more pizza – that perfect American example of convenience. Whether you’re a kid pestering your mom to order Domino’s, a working stiff with only time for a quick slice, or an uptight food snob who is unsatisfied with “traditional” pizza and is intent on burdening one of life’s greatest doughy, crusty, cheesy pleasures with a shitload of fancy avant garde toppings and sauces, you’re all welcome on Feb 9th.
Pizza is everywhere. There are so many outstanding options in the city now, an experienced pizza eater no longer chooses based on convenience or price – nowadays, a pizza lover has a refined palate and is just as likely to choose based on the chewiness of the crust as he is to choose based on price. And if you’re looking for choices then the only way to go is Pizza Studio in 7th & Fig’s TASTE food court.
God bless 7th and Fig (technically “FIGAT7TH”, excuse me). The horribly-named TASTE is like a dream come true for people who can’t make up their minds about what they feel like eating. From the Flying Pig to The Melt, you’re crazy if you walk away with an empty stomach here. There’s an appeal to the mix-and-match dynamic – follow up the Loteria Grill taco with a cup of soup from The Melt (order 9 melts and the 10th is free), which comes with tiny grilled-cheese croutons on top – that is definitely not available at any other food court/shopping center in the area. I find myself actually looking forward to my weekly Target cat litter shopping trips knowing that there’s a Sprinkles cupcake in my future. Just put that kitty litter on my skateboard and coast down the street stuffing a black-and-white in my mouth. Here kitty kitty!
Pizza Studio kinda seems like the odd man out here in TASTE Figat7th (Jesus, I hate that name). Pizza is a vaguely ethnic item, and Americanized out the yin yang. Thankfully, Pizza Studio doesn’t try to play up any Napoli heritage or give a shout out to previous generations of dough spinners. If anything, Pizza Studio plays up the grand American tradition of getting what we want, how we want it – in a way, this is the most American of the vendors here in the overwhelmingly international TASTE.
Every step of the Pizza Studio experience can be customized – crust, sauce, cheese, you name it – and it reminds me of the best part of the Subway experience. Their “Unlimited Pizza” menu item (the size of a Domino’s medium pizza) is a dream come true for the indecisive, with dozens of standard toppings (and some that vary by location) and at least 5 or 6 different crusts available (they’ve added “Moroccan” to the list at this location), including gluten-free. I’ll either go buckwild with the choices and end up with a monster pizza or I’ll opt for minimal, like I have something to prove (my palate is so refined, I only need pineapple on a rosemary crust). Their rewards program includes a free pizza on your birthday, so maybe that would be the best time to experiment with weird topping combos (easy come, easy go).
The hardest part when visiting Pizza Studio is that feeling I get when I pick up my pizza (usually within 8-10 minutes of ordering), and I realize “Oh, I’m going to eat this whole pizza, aren’t I?” It’s not easy to find an inconspicuous spot to eat in this cafeteria-like atmosphere, so my gluttony is on full display. I may even choose to dip my pizza in ranch dressing with every bite – a pretty good sign that someone is dealing with food issues. My eyes will sometimes even dart around to be sure that no one is watching my disgusting display of pizza self-love. But fuck it: I did it my way.