By Ben Adler
Here’s something that may surprise you: there is one aspect of New York pizza that could be better. It’s the temperature, stupid. New York pizzerias tend to let the pizza sit out there until it gets unconscionably cold, and then throw it in the oven when you order it. The more unusual the type of slice you ordered, the colder it will probably be, since there is less turnover among those types, which is just another reason you should get a damn plain and forget all these vegetables and pieces of chicken and whatnot that you stupid Americans like on your pizza. What frequently happens afterward is that they leave the slice in the super-hot oven too long.
You know the feeling: you’re standing at the counter, getting antsy because you’re hungry, you’re running late, and the slice is just the right temperature right now. It’s agonizing. When it finally comes out it practically burns your hand through the paper plate, the crust cracks when you try to fold it, and it burns your tongue upon eating. You sort of wait, getting even more impatient, but do not wait enough, thus burning your tongue and getting that nasty reheated taste you get when you leave a leftover slice in the fridge over night and reheat it the next day. It sucks.
The too hot slice is actually a good thing when you are getting it to go because that means it is still warm when you get home. I think the tendency towards over-heating comes in part from that fact. But I always clearly say if I’m having it to stay or to go, and I always specify when staying, “not too hot.” Years of going to the same pizzeria in my neighborhood had adequately trained Oscar, the friendly young man who worked there, and eventually even Mario, the unfriendly old man who owned the place, to expect me to say not too hot. So much so that I no longer even needed to say it. Then Roma’s closed and reopened under new ownership. Now, they treat me like just another Yuppie jerk — the kind who asks for their slice to come from the freshest pie, which is still warm, to avert this whole problem — which is to say that they ignore my requests as if they didn’t speak English. I would never dream of asking for my slice to come off a certain pie — what’s he supposed to do with the older pie then? — but I do think they could take it out sooner while they stand around kibbitzing behind the counter.