I love deep dish pizza. That makes being in Chicago a very nice and dangerous thing. There's Pizzeria Uno, Due, Giordano's, Gino's, Lou Malnatti's . . . so many good pizza places, and so hard to rate them against one another. But by far, the best pizza experience I ever had came during a divinely appointed visit to Edwardo's.
Back in the college days, I didn't spend too many weekends at Moody Bible Institute. It felt far more freeing to come home. But one weekend I just happened to stay in the city. No plan. I just did. My room mate and I were bored. We decided to go out. We started walking. Nowhere to go and no reason to go there.
Suddenly, we were both hungry. For pizza. I don't remember who said what, but the conversation went like this: "Eduardo's?" "Yeah."
So we went. Got there at 9:50, and the place closed at 10. They locked the door immediately after we entered (in a "no more customers" kind of way, not a "you'll never get out alive" way). From the moment we sat down, I got the sense that all the restaurant staff, rather than begrudging our last-minute arrival, decided they were going to make this one count. There was literally no one else to wait on. No other pizzas to make. No other tables to clean. No other Cokes to refill. It seemed like they were committed to create the perfect dining experience.
And their quest for perfection culminated with a deep dish pepperoni pizza. The crust was golden, seriously, it sparkled a beautiful uniform shade of goldenrod. The red sea of succulent sauce is always bloody good, but it looked as if the tomatoes had been freshly murdered. When our server lifted each of our first slices out of the steaming bed of Italian spiced righteousness, I knew this was something special. The cheese didn't stretch out in the sprawling web of overstringy lactose like it would on a lesser pie. It didn't snap off the way it does with coagulated, refrigerated, microwaved leftover slices. The cheese from the slice delicately parted with that of the rest of the pizza like the hands of two dancers gliding lovingly apart as if only for a moment.
There it sat, waiting expectantly to be eaten, fulfilling its destiny as the best pizza ever. The crust, that sweet and crispy golden crust . . . the cheese that seemed to vanish in my mouth . . . the savory, tangy explosion of sauce . . . every taste bud was tingling. I could taste this pizza in my soul. Its warmth was spreading throughout my existence, healing bad memories and forgiving past offenses. With every bite, I was reborn. The meal was eternal.
The whole time, we didn't say a word. My room mate and I didn't even look at each other. The pizza captured our full attention. We ate all but two pieces, deciding they should be preserved for at least one day of posterity. After we left, we spoke of how perfect it was, but not with too many words. Not like this. We both knew without saying it, we just had the best food ever prepared on this planet. The sheer glory of it carried us back to our dorm room.
The next day at noon I went to the fridge to finish off my final slice. It was gone. My room mate ate them both. And I don't blame him. I was an idiot to leave her in that fridge alone. Did I learn nothing from my very special episodes of Punky Brewster?
Anyway . . . that's pizza at its best. I love pizza. I love deep dish. But that one moment at Eduardo's . . . there are no words. Well, at least there are no more words.
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