Sunday, October 24, 2010

Stay In (and Order Some Pizza)

"You better cut the pizza in four pieces because I'm not hungry enough to eat six." ~Yogi Berra

For just this week I’m changing the name of this column from “Get Out” to “Stay In” and covering something I rarely get a chance to talk about: pizza delivery. It’s the perfect solution to lunch or dinner during times of inclement weather or just times when you just plain can’t muster enough get-up-and-go to fix your wig and make a public appearance. Our area has no shortage of pizza places that will come knocking on your door in (hopefully) speedy fashion with a (hopefully) piping hot pizza pie for a (hopefully) relatively small amount of cash.

There’s no shortage of national pizza chains in North Idaho that saturate the airwaves during football games and clog your mailbox with coupons found inside those irritatingly messy bundles of paperwork that constantly arrive. If you can resist the urge to throw these mailers directly into the trash bin or fireplace, there are usually some pretty good bargains to be had.

Personally, my favorite of the chains is Pizza Hut (various locations, website), mainly because I’m slightly addicted to what seems to be their exclusive concept, the Stuffed Crust Pizza. Lining the perimeter of a pizza with string cheese and encompassing it inside the crust is such a simple and genius idea that the other chains were probably kicking themselves for not thinking of it first.

If nothing else, Pizza Hut has been generally consistent over the years. I always know what to expect when I open the box, their drivers are polite and speedy, and with their ongoing special of ten bucks for most pizzas, it’s hard to complain.

I was skeptical earlier this year when Dominos (various locations, website) hit the airwaves with their much-hyped “new and improved” pizza recipe, but I figured anything would be better than the pizzas they formerly delivered. They were one of the first pizza chains in existence, but their product never had a lot of personality, basically defining the notion of “cardboard crust”

For years Domino’s was probably most well-known for their delivery drivers who would frequently speed and get in car wrecks trying to adhere to the company’s now extinct 30-minute guarantee. When I did finally get around to giving their new pizza a whirl, I did have to wait 40 minutes, but I was actually rather impressed with its tangier sauce, livelier cheese, and buttery garlic-herb crust.

Garlic Jim’s (405 W. Neider, Cd’A, 930-4818, website) is the new kid in town when it comes to pizza chains and they seem to have already gained a cult following. The Northwest-based franchise earns definite bonus points for creativity with their toppings which include coconut, roasted corn, cashews and tortilla chips, four ingredients which if ever put together on a combo would indicate a munchies episode likely sponsored by someone holding a medical marijuana card.

In its only location outside of Washington State, Westside Pizza (15580 N Vera St., Rathdrum, 712-4580, website) wins in the “best name” category for its potentially fatal “Death by Pizza”, a combo which includes nearly every possible topping they offer, eleven in all.

Sahara Pizza (801 W. Seltice Way, Post Falls, 262-4011, website) is another mini-chain whose only two locations outside of the Northwest are in Bolivia, oddly. Their “Tikki Tikki” is a wonderfully out-there combo of dijon chicken, feta cheese, pineapple, marinated artichoke hearts and fresh garlic, atop a layer of pesto herb sauce, and their “Bacon Cheeseburger Paradise” Pizza is enough to make a cholesterol queen scream.

I raved last month about Greek Street Pizza and More (226 W. Ironwood Dr., Cd'A, 664-0604, website), so there’s no need rehash the details but I will say that after another return visit, I’ve concluded they serve up the freshest and finest pizza and pizzalonis in the region, and I predict the family-run operation will one day take over the world. And who else will deliver fresh-made authentic baklava to your front door?

Green onions sprinkled across my pizza were a first for me. And there are many possible firsts at Pepe Caldo (1606 N. 4th, Cd’A, 765-6010, website) with a roll call of intriguingly unexpected ingredients like Smoked Salmon, BBQ prawns, Andouille sausage and capers. Craving a ham-and-pineapple situation, I called them up for the first time recently, and they delivered a delightfully heaping “Flying Hawaiian”, which came topped with their special “Red Sauce Number 3”, fresh mozzarella, shaved ham, seasoned chicken breast, pineapple, mushrooms, red and green onions, and aged Parmesan.

Impressive to say the least, but not quite as wild as Pepe Caldo's “Chipotle Southwestern” with a creamy chipotle sauce, chicken breast, various veggies and cactus nopalitos. Not weird enough for you? For a mere $8 more, they’ll even throw on some slices of rattlesnake meat.

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