by Fred MacMurray

What’s your favorite when it comes to pizza?

There are, of course, the big national chains Domino’s, Pizza Hut, Papa John’s, Little Caesar’s.

For a more sit-down approach, and a much wider menu than just pizza there are California Pizza Kitchen and Uno Chicago Grill. And of course there are regional favorites like Giordano’s (Chicago) and brands that cover a lot of area, just not nationally, like Shakey’s and Round Table.

So, where should totebaggers get pizza when they are in your area? Are there toppings that make the experience unique? And what else should they order from the pizza place for that local experience?

2015 Pizza Today Top 100 Pizza Companies List


166 thoughts on “Pizza

  1. If you’re in Baltimore, Hersh’s is it, at least if you like thin-crust, Neapolitan-style pizza. Their dough is just ridiculously good and flavorful, and they have this version with lamb sausage with smoked gouda (I think) and eggplant (I skip the eggplant) that is amazing.

    Big chains, my first love was Godfather’s. Nowadays I’d have to say my local favorite is Ledo’s; I like their slightly-sweet sauce, and I adore anyone who will allow me to get meatballs on a pizza. But the rest of the fam’s not too big on them, so we usually depend on Papa John’s (who at least delivers).

    My little town does have a place with a “real” pizza oven imported from Italy (Franco’s), so if I’m willing to go pick it up, that’s my default. But I’m not a huge fan of their sauce (their whole flavor profile is more southern Italian, which most people like, just not me). We also have Peace-a-Pizza, which the kids love (they have a mac & cheese pizza), but I find their dough too thick and tasteless and a little hard and cardboard-ey. OTOH, they have a cheesesteak stromboli (or calzone, I forget which) that is really good.

  2. I think pizza is like sex. There’s incredibly great pizza, there’s good pizza, and there’s just-OK pizza, but there’s no such thing as bad pizza. And I like all kinds of pizza: the NE/NY kind with a thin, soft crust and pepperoni juice dripping out when you fold it, I like the thin crispy kind from the fire oven with shrimp scampi or BBQ chicken, I like Chicago deep dish pizza. I could go on and on.

  3. “my local favorite is Ledo’s”

    Oh yeah, and their pepperoni slices are about an inch thick, and each little slice gets one. I can eat them forever.

  4. Agree, Milo. I like to eat and there is no bad pizza. Heck, even frozen pizza rolls have their place.

  5. My favorite is from East Side Pies (local place) that has been targeted inappropriately as part of the pizzagate. Everyone else in my family like Papa John’s or Double Dave’s for take out…they are close enough that pick up is ALWAYS faster than delivery. For eat in, they always vote for a Gatti’s buffet near us. We’ve done Papa Murphy’s a couple of times with mixed reviews. Pizza is rarely something I really want, so I go with the family’s choices.

  6. I like thin crust pizza. I like a lot of good toppings and less cheese. The sauce is important too. The one local pizza place that I like doesn’t deliver. As for the rest I don’t think they measure up to the Boston pizza places. We do frozen pizzas and we but CPK when we have those.

  7. In Denver, I really like Mici’s. If we’re just doing chain stuff, Pizza Hut is okay. But Mici’s is so much better. Their Italian sausage is fabulous.

  8. The single location places I like best here are Little Venice and Brandani’s.

    Local chains are in my descending order best to worst: Pontillo’s (our go to), Salvatore’s, Mark’s. Quality can vary by location.

    Around here, it has to be pizza AND wings. Not that you have to order them both together all the time but a pizza place has to have wings. Although I’m not partial to Mark’s pizza I was recently at a party and they ordered from there. The wings were some of the best I’ve ever had. Big, really crispy, good sauce.

    The gym I go to has pizza night 1x/month and they get it from Pizza Hut. Once slice of their pan pizza hits the right spot.

  9. I agree with Milo, no such thing as bad pizza!

    Here we have a greasy-spoon type of pizza place that also has subs, another place with slightly less greasy pizza (but too pale/undercooked IMO), and a REALLY GOOD charcoal oven place just next to the NH border. That is too far for take-out for us, unfortunately, but we have been going out for pizza more there since it is really good. We now have NO pizza delivery options – the closest Domino’s is 20 minutes away and so we are outside the radius.

    At our previous house, there were a couple of good places in town (one thin crust, one ‘regular’) and then Frank Pepe’s opened just before we moved. It was/is very good – the kids even liked the clam pizza!

  10. I LOVE good pizza.

    Here, I generally prefer thin crust Chicago style pizza. It’s not what people outside of Chicago think of as “Chicago style” but it is actually much more common than deep dish. The crust is really crispy, and it’s cut into squares (tavern cut). Lots of the good places make their own Italian sausage or get it from a local Italian market. The description in the slide show linked above is good. There are tons of good local places for this including Marie’s – the place in the slide show.

    We also go to a local Neapolitan place – Coalfire. That’s fantastic too.

    I do like deep dish – Lou Malnati’s is my favorite of the local chain places. But it’s something I only eat once or twice a year in the dead of winter.

    I also like the Italian Bakery type pseudo-Sicilian pizza baked in a sheet pan (I think it is called Grandma style on the East Coast). I saw that at the bottom of the slide show. We get slices of that from our local Italian bakery.

    I loved the pizza in Connecticut too, especially with the white clam sauce.

    I have never had any decent local pizza in the DC area or in Charlotte. It was pretty atrocious actually – and makes me question the “no bad pizza” theory. I would LOVE for someone here to prove me wrong for my next visit. For chain – Papa John’s is the most tolerable & what I would order if I were in a pizza dead zone (aka mid-South, Florida, etc), but I generally avoid all of them. Not hard where I live.

  11. In the US, New England style pizza, the old school Greek stuff. The style dominates from middle of Connecticut through New Hampshire. It has more tomato sauce than NY pizza, which always tastes strongly of oregano. I also like the crust better. NY pizza always seems congealed to me.

  12. The best pizza of course is in Naples. But it is a whole different experience from US pizza. You eat it with a knife and fork, sitting in a restaurant. The toppings are much sparser and are very traditional. You don’t see pizza or squash on pizzas in Naples!!!

  13. I also love Detroit pizza. I knew it was a style years before it became a Thing, because there was a pizza place in KY run by a guy who had come down from Detroit. We ate there all the time!

  14. Love Giordano’s whenever I’m in Chicago, especially spinach and mushroom.
    Papa Murphy’s is our takeout of choice when feeding hordes of kids. DH and I get their thin crust with lots of veggies.

  15. I have had bad pizza several times, usually while travelling, and usually in places in the Midwest or South, often smaller places. I had appalling pizza in WVa, for example and in Raleigh NC. The problem is usually that the sauce is really sweet and they use fake tasting cheese.

  16. I love Uno PIZZA(farmers market) hands down. I just like their crust and their sauce. Sauce is perfect balance of sweet and sour. Unfortunately, its so high in calories we don’t eat there a lot.
    After that come certain offerings from CPK, pie five etc. I eat chain pizza only in a pinch. If I am going to bow my diet, i would rather do it on absolutely great pizza than chain pizza.

    I prefer vegetarian pizza and for thin crust I like combination of goat cheese, wild mushrooms and basil. Yum.

    Of course Giordanos and Lou Malnatis is very popular locally, but we dont like it. Too much cheese in Giordano and not so great tasting crust.

    I agree about NY pizza seeming to congealed and having too much oregano.

  17. “I don’t care for Chicago style at all.”

    Does. Not. Compute.

    Totally in Milo’s camp on this one. No such thing as bad pizza. Badly-executed pizza, yes (e.g., burnt, raw, swimming in grease). But all types are fundamentally yummy; some are just yummier than others.

    I’ve had the pizza bianco in Rome — just a straight slab of focaccia, with a slice of mortadella on top, slightly melting in the heat from the bread. Deee-licious.

    We used to have a place in CoSprings that we enjoyed — Il Voltaio, or something like that? I remember loving their white pizza (lots of garlic/herbs, vs. just plain cheese on plain crust). Of course, they also had delicious beer and homemade root beer, which always helps. :-)

  18. “Badly-executed pizza, yes”

    That would be the pizza from the dining car on Amtrak that they microwave inside the little cellophane sleeve. That’s the pizza that most strongly challenges my theory.

  19. The worst pizza here is at the kids play places. When my kids were younger it didn’t bother them but now they really don’t like it. Since there are fewer kids at birthday celebrations the parents take the kids to a local restaurant or order pizza from elsewhere if they are at home.

  20. In Denver, I really like Mici’s. If we’re just doing chain stuff, Pizza Hut is okay. But Mici’s is so much better. Their Italian sausage is fabulous.

    RMS, I’ve never heard of Mici’s. I’ll have to check it out. I like Lil Ricci’s – it’s a great NY style place.

  21. Stylewise, I would rank NY style at the bottom, even though on a Friday night, I am totally happy to scarf down NY pizza from one of the better local places. My problem with NY pizza is there isn’t enough sauce, and too much cheese, and something about the crust makes the cheese congeal into the crust, so it can be a bit like cheeseslab.
    Also, the NY custom of salad pizza is an abomination against pizza.

  22. “The worst pizza here is at the kids play places.”

    OMG you’re so right, and I am completely wrong. ChuckECheese completely disproves my theory.

  23. Ok I will amend. Any pizza microwaved is bad pizza. But if you put a totino’s or pizza rolls in the oven…not bad. I don’t really care for Chicago deep dish but if I am in chicago, I would eat it because that’s what you do in Chicago. I like thin wood fired brick oven pizza, I like new york style pizza, I even liked mini bagel pizza’s made in our toaster oven. It is a “whole meal” in my book.

  24. Chuck E pizza is not bad and their wings and veggie tray were surprisingly fresh and tasty at the last CEC party we had. I think we did that three years in a row when my kids were younger. Just show up with cake – who doesn’t like that as a working parent?

  25. Of course Giordanos and Lou Malnatis is very popular locally, but we dont like it. Too much cheese in Giordano and not so great tasting crust.

    I love Gioradno’s. I don’t like how Lou Malnati’s does the sausage slab on their pizza. When I lived in Chicago, I thought Connie’s had the best pizza.

  26. I think Chuck E. Cheese re-did their pizza not too long ago. DW and I were surprised at how good we thought it was. I think the sauce is sweet, though, so you have to like that kind of thing.

  27. This photo shows a slice of salad pizza from a place in Westchester. The plain slice next to it is pretty typical of local NY style pizza, showing the congealedness that I object to. But the salad pizza, never!

  28. Here is a photo of Boston area Greek pizza – I think this came from Agoro’s in Chestnut HIll

  29. And finally, this photo of a pizza in Naples itself (I think the link said Da Michele), shows a key feature of Neapolitan pizza – the crust is FLEXIBLE. Not hard and crackly.

  30. I’ve read that Costco is now one of the largest pizza chains in the country, and I can see why. IMO, it’s the best combination of value and quality, by far. Sam’s is similarly priced if buying by the slice, but is nowhere near as good, and their whole pizzas are about the same price as Costco’s, but smaller.

    I wish Costco would sell their Margherita pizza, which they sell inside the store in take and bake form, in their food court.

  31. “I don’t like how Lou Malnati’s does the sausage slab on their pizza.”

    I don’t either. I ask for crumbled sausage instead. Problem solved! Connie’s is decent. And if Milo’s is there on his Loop tour – they deliver to the downtown marinas!

    I agree that some of the things that can ruin pizza are a sauce that is too sweet or tastes too much like dried herbs, and bad cheese. Like really cheap, awful cheese.

  32. Back in the day, I did enjoy a giant NY slice with ziti on top at 2am after a night out….that is the best time for NY style pizza, IMHO.

  33. New England/Greek Style pizza is what I grew up on and miss it so much; especially the hamburg pizza the local House of Pizza made. They would put the hamburg through the grinder so it was shavings all over the top of the pizza and cover it with cheese that was cooked to molten and then toss over a thin layer of hamburg over the cheese that would be crunchy – think the edges of a grilled hamburger. Whenever I go home to visit, I try to make sure we get some.

    Pizza is that food that even if I just had the best meal of my life and am full, if someone walks in with it hot, I’m tempted to have a slice. When I was younger I would, now that I’m older I can control myself….okay occasionally I’ll cut off a small bite.

  34. My favorite pizza place was in RMS’ hometown, but alas, is no more.

    Jose’s, on El Camino, made this great pizza with barbecue sauce.

    Other faves in that area include Ramona’s, and Frankie, Johnnie, and Luigi’s.

    Further south, the Golden Mushroom in Santa Clara.

  35. Antico and Varsano’s are the best in Atlanta. Antico is always on the best pizza in the country lists. My NYC bred, very Italian BIL, insists on eating there every time they visit – he said it’s some of the best pizza he’s ever had and he’s visited Italy a lot. There’s a local chain that’s uber cheesy called Fellini’s that the kids like (and it’s grown on me). Have not ordered Domino’s since we got Postmates and can now get better options delivered.

    I remember liking Ledo’s when I lived in Maryland. My college roommate is from Baltimore and it was her favorite.

  36. National chains, I like CPK fine, and if I was buying like 20 pizzas for a school thing I’d go with Costco. Local chains, I like Boston’s Pizza and its various spinoffs. (It does Boston-style pizza, surprise. Reminiscent of what I got at Pinocchio’s back on college.) Local one-offs, JJ Dolan’s is good for classic American pizza, there’s a Neapolitan place that keeps moving around and I think is now Brick Fire Tavern, and my kids like Serino’s a lot. Local twists tend to be things like putting Chinese roast duck on pizza, which imho adds up to less than the sum of its parts.

    Also, putting pineapple on pizza did not originate in Hawaii. That pizza is not “Hawaiian.” Please.

  37. I have lived in the Philly area all my life and we have great pizza. I don’t know why anyone would order pizza from a chain.

    I had Pizza Hut pizza in 1975 or 1976 in Ohio when my husband and I were driving to Missouri to visit family.. I told my husband that this was not pizza – didn’t know what it was but it wasn’t pizza,

    Sometimes during our travels we come across a transplant from this area who moved south or west and opened a pizza place or Italian restaurant and we are in heaven

  38. During my pregnancies, for some reason one of the few foods I could eat during morning sickness was pizza. I never figured that one out.

  39. Mooshi, I think you’re lucky because there are two very good restaurants near you that sell good pizza. It’s not the greasy slices, and I like both of those restaurants for higher quality pizza.

    We have the typical mom and pop places that range from old fashioned NY style to the trendier thin slices from a wood burning oven. It’s a tiny town and I appreciate all of the choices.

    We still visit our favorite places in Long Island when we see DH relatives. He is very loyal to two places, and we go all of the time. One is the original Gino’s in Long Beach. He loves it, but I think it’s just ok. I prefer Umbertos, and they even have a location in Florida. I don’t think it’s as good because the water is different, but it’s still good for Ft Lauderdale.

  40. @HM — when I was in college and totally hung over, about the only thing I could reliably eat was a chili dog. Go figure.

  41. I don’t understand the congealed description of NY pizza. If it gets cold and the cheese is no longer melted, then I see how it gets solid, but doesn’t that happen to all cheese pizzas?

  42. I just blot that grease that you’re talking about on NY pizza. I fold my slices before I eat one, and I like to get some of grease off before I eat it. I wouldn’t call it congealed, but I think there’s usually some grease.

  43. NYers – If you’re in Manhattan, and like Neapolitan pizza, try Don Antonio’s at 50th and 8th Avenue. So good!

  44. I’ve seen the CPK-style pear and gorgonzola salad pizza (not exactly the Platonic ideal of pizza but I actually like that one) but never the NY one.

    The CPK one:

  45. Is it too early to threadjack? I can’t discuss this over on Facebook because my Stanford Band friends are, uh, not entirely rational on this topic. But I find the kids’ defense of the Band to be lacking.

    First link is a letter from 90 female Stanford Band alumna who claim that gross sex jokes are just fine and everyone should just shut up. It’s true that jokes are not “assault”, but boy, they can seriously create a hostile environment. At Paly, the band desperately wanted to be the Stanford Band, and they would sing stuff like “I’m looking under a two-legged wonder” on the bus, and were just generally vulgar. It was, in fact, really off-putting to some of the girls. Thoughts?

    Second link is to a tear-stained post by a female in the Band about how Band is rilly great and fun and all about freedom and more freedom and bonding and also it’s totally great. An obvious counter argument might be that groups like the Klan might also be rilly fun and all about freedom and bonding and stuff, but they’re still Very Bad. NO, of course I’m not saying the LSJUMB is like the Klan.

    I guess my general response is: How come you kids aren’t bright enough to actually address the accusations and charges against the Band instead of just crying about how the administration is being really mean?

  46. One of Mr WCE’s and my agreements when we were dating was that we would not buy Little Caesar’s pizza. That may get violated as we enter the teenage boy years, but I’m not tempted to eat it. Price per square foot is probably going to be our #1 metric pizza metric over at least the next decade.

    We are outside the delivery zone for local pizza places and cheap so I usually get Papa Murphy’s and bake it at home. The family size pizza is barely enough. The boys’ favorite frozen pizza is Safeway Select Supreme, but it’s not good enough for me to be very tempted by it very often.

  47. Price per square foot is probably going to be our #1 metric pizza metric over at least the next decade.

    There’s some Beverly Cleary story — I think it’s Sister of the Bride — where the mother buys tons of cans of pork and beans to fill up her teenage son and his friends. When was the last time you bought pork and beans? I think they still sell it.

  48. I’ve never had salad pizza, but I like to put arugula on top of takeout pizza. I’ve made Popeye pizza that has spinach on top. It’s a Martha Stewart recipe iirc. And I have Wolfgang Puck’s recipe for prosciutto and arugula pizza, but I’ve never made that.

    Lauren, I think I know which two pizza places you mentioned. One has another location in Larchmont, and the other is next to the dance studio where I take classes. Those are my two favorite gourmet places, at least. The oven in the second place is a thing of beauty, covered with golden tiles.

  49. Lauren said “Mooshi, I think you’re lucky because there are two very good restaurants near you that sell good pizza. It’s not the greasy slices, and I like both of those restaurants for higher quality pizza.”
    The one that is really close is impossible to get into. I think I have successfully gotten a table twice out of like 10 tries. They have so many good entrees though that I haven’t gotten the pizza. My kid got it the first time we made it in, though, and I agree it was good. Very unique – not NY style, not Italian, not anything else. The other place, the one across from the library in the strip plaza, I didn’t care for. It was like they aspired to Italian style without understanding it.
    Plus, for Friday night takeout, I don’t want anything that fancy.

  50. RMS – the students don’t feel that the band atmosphere is a problem. The main difference as I see it that they were student led and presumably all of them, men and women agreed to the hijinks that were going on. The administration however got fed up with the bad external publicity and wanted to gain control over the situation in case someone who is not happy with the band decides to sue the college or something.

  51. Re: congealed – I think NY pizza seems congealed to me because there is so little sauce, and it is so thin. It is worse when hot, in fact. Because there isn’t much sauce, the cheese kind of unifies with the crust. It almost the opposite of Neapolitan pizza, which is all about good sauce, with maybe some cheese for adornment (actually the simplest pizza in Naples, the marinara pizza, has NO cheese, just sauce and fresh basil – oy, I can just taste those now – I ate so many in Naples).

  52. Well, maybe, Louise, but I’m not sure ALL the women thought it was really great.

    Another argument might be that since it’s an entirely voluntary organization, it should be left alone. But frats are voluntary organizations, and they get monitored.

  53. We live in a pizza desert. My family’s favorite pizza is Providence’s grilled pizza.

    Atlanta Mom, Fellini’s was the pizza of my youth, and to this day is the pizza by which all others are judged. I did youth group at the Cathedral, and the BEST nights were the ones when we all walked across the street for Fellini’s. I assume that one is still there – haven’t been in years.

    Now wallowing in nostalgia.

    @ RMS – I have had a lot of contact with college kids/grad school folks recently, for some alumni events. I’ve never in my life met so many special snowflakes. So incredibly self-centered and dramatic. I used to think it was an unearned stereotype. No longer. We’ve had many interesting family dinner talks about it.

  54. One more pizza oriented comment : I do not like those flatbreads that masquarade as pseudo-pizza in lots of restaurants today. There is a place in Scarsdale that has the flatbreads. Not good. I saw a lot of flatbread when we were travelling in Canada too. Speaking of that, one place I would not order pizza is Canada outside of Montreal or Toronto.

  55. There’s a place out by Fred +/- a county or two that has pasta on pizza. Cheese ravioli makes a lovely topping.

  56. St. Louis style pizza is the worst. Cracker like crust (like saltines) with a unique processed cheese called provel that resembles plastic.

  57. I missed whatever was the leadup to the band ban – is there a summary somewhere?

    My official organizations in college both violated the alcohol policy with predictable regularity. We also played games like “I never” etc. at our (school-sponsored) retreats. I think most organizations do the same.

  58. An observation – today I heard the largest community based school of music perform in my work building. Almost all the kids on violin and cello were Asian.

  59. RMS when the movie Drumline came out there was a number of stories that surfaced about how much hazing goes on in college bands (it was shocking) and these have continued over the years. Telling off color jokes may seem okay but I’m sure the school is looking at stories in the recent past about students dying and want to curb these tendencies. I agree with you that there may be some who didn’t find them funny but were too nervous/scared to contradict the “norm”.

  60. I don’t have a pizza place I love down here, but I think they are all in Houston (not the suburbs), and when we’re in town there are so many good places we never choose pizza. Hideaway, on the list in the link, is our hands down favorite pizza. When we were visiting at Thanksgiving, that’s the first place we went when we got to town, and ate there in two other cities over the next couple of days. We drove our kids crazy, but there’s a lot of nostalgia involved for us, and they’re fried mushrooms are out of this world.

  61. Sigh. I now resort to Blaze gluten free, veggie pizza, with vegan cheese. Definitely challenges Milo’s/LFB’s theory, and basically not worth the bother. My DD tells me Blaze (new around here but a chain so maybe you’ve all had it for a while?) is great.

    We bought a whole lot of $5 “hot and ready” pizzas from Little Caesar’s when we had a mash of kids around all the time. Can’t beat feeding a gaggle of peeps for about $20. We later switched to Domino’s flatbread, which was pretty decent. We’ve now moved onto Blaze, but on those nights, I usually have something else.

    When’s that cranky old people post coming?

  62. I agree that they’re both hard to get to get tables, but you can take out. We tend to go in the summer when it’s just the two us, so it’s easier to get a table.

    Mooshi, don’t get mad, but I like the salad pizza at Sals in Mamaroneck.
    Sals is one of our favorites in the county for NY traditional style pizza, but it’s too far unless we happen to be nearby.

    We had good pizza in Denver after we toured the baseball stadium. It was a place from Wisconsin called Ian’s. We couldn’t go to Racca’s because they were not open that day for lunch.

  63. “When was the last time you bought pork and beans?”

    Probably a couple months or so ago. We ate some for dinner one night last week.

    We always keep at least a few cans on hand as part of our disaster preparedness.

  64. “Almost all the kids on violin and cello were Asian.”

    And thus the stereotype.

    I’m guessing the violists were Asian as well.

  65. Around here my favorite is Matchbox. A new place opened up right passed Tysons that is good – Crust. We don’t have very many good pizza places in the suburbs or in DC proper. Everyone says that Two Amys is good, but every time I have been there my pizza has been bother burnt and undercooked in different spots.

  66. Lark – still there. In fact we went to that location last Sunday for lunch when we were out and about. We’re closer to the Howell Mill location so DH usually ends up picking up from there on the way home from work.

  67. Yeah, I know they do takeout but it is just too fancy for takeout. We did do takeout from there once – DH and I set up at the brewery a block away and ate it there. The takeout modality did not do flatter the food.

  68. I will say – we had amazing pizza in Alaska. Beer, pizza, and ice cream were all outstanding. I had no idea Alaska was actually known for those things.

  69. Finn – yes the stereotype did immediately come to mind. I have seen school bands perform here and you get a much wider mix so no real stereotype. Also, girls seem to be going into percussion more (or maybe this is not a new trend).

  70. @ Anon at 1:38 – they opened up a Don Antonios in Atlanta a year or two ago and it didn’t make it but I agree it was really good.

  71. Yeah, they’re closed…all 4? locations. There was one about 1.5mi from my house and it was our #1 choice before they closed, so we went back to Pontillos, around the corner. We liked them and, surprising to me, their lobster bisque was very good. Brooklyn Bridge was my choice whenever we just did slices vs whole pizzas.

    roughly right, when did you live here (not trying to blow your cover)?

  72. ” When was the last time you bought pork and beans? ”

    My grandma would always make us grandkids pork & beans (Van Camps out of the can), but make it gourmet by adding hot dogs. Mmmm…beanie weenies! (I am not sure if I am joking – i really liked it as a kid, but I haven’t eaten it in decades.)

    @RMS- I am with you that there are probably plenty of kids who feel uncomfortable with some of the antics and hazing, but do not want to speak up.

    @Risley – I went to Blaze once. It’s like a pita with some toppings. Only okay.. And it’s not cheap like Little Caesar’s or Pizza Hut or whatever.

    And whoever mentioned St Louis pizza – I like the crust well enough, but I thought the Provel was vile. Never again.

  73. My boys like pork ‘n’ beans and agree that adding hot dogs improves the dish. We are not gourmet.

  74. The stereotype is accurate for our district. I see it this time of year because we have the holiday band and orchestra concerts. The concerts are 5/6 and 7/8. We’re in the upper grades now, and most of the kids that haven’t dropped orchestra are from an Asian background.

    Our superintendent likes to share any kind of good news and this includes anyone that makes all county or all state. The kids are almost all Asian.

    It doesn’t start out that way in third grade. Everyone plays an instrument in 3rd and 4th grades in our district. The student can choose to take chorus instead of band or orchestra when they enter our middle school. They can’t do both because the entire grade has music during the same period. I wonder if it is the child or the child/parent making this decision to switch. It’s obviously easier to be in chorus because there is no practice at night or on the weekends.

  75. “It was, in fact, really off-putting to some of the girls.”


    “I’ve never in my life met so many special snowflakes.”

    So who are the snowflakes? The girls who are offended by sex jokes or the ones who cry about being deprived of participating in band? Maybe both.

    I also have fond memories of pork and beans with wieners added. So I recently made this recipe, but it was mostly a dud.
    Franks & Beans

    Same thing with Spam. I tried it as an adult and found it not so great. (But I need to travel to Hawaii and try it there!)

  76. “The stereotype is accurate for our district.”

    Here. too. Or at least it was a few years ago. And very few Asians participated in drama club.

  77. I honestly can’t remember where our best was, but it was a brewhouse in Anchorage, and everything was so good.

    Risley, you asked about a food processor the other day. I don’t have the Breville, but after much research, I put it on my Christmas list this year. My 20+ year old Cuisinart is starting to act up.

  78. C of C – in this age of trigger warnings, that’s a fair question. I don’t know. Both?

    I have never had pork & beans.

  79. Whoops hit post too fast. I have never had canned pork & beans. Obviously, cooking beans with pork is a staple around here.

  80. The stereotype is pretty prevalent at DS’s music school too. The guitar group has zero East Asians. There are a few of South Asian or Middle Eastern heritage though. And lots of Hispanic & AA kids.

  81. @Risley – Lark’s post reminded me about your question. I checked the recent Cook’s Illustrated rankings which I’ve found to be useful in the past. The ding they had on the Breville vs. the Cuisinart is that the Breville’s motor struggled a bit with a big batch of pizza dough, and that when you use the biggest bowl that the blades don’t get close enough to the edges.

    As there are multiple models, this is the one that they liked better than the Breville. They liked the Breville better than some of the other Cuisinart models.

    I’ve only ever had a Cuisinart similar to the one linked, but I’ve had no issues. Mine is > 12 years old and used once a week or so.

  82. I usually start by chopping an onion and cooking it, then add Pork and Beans and hot dog slices, and perhaps a can of corn.

    A friend from SF has a theory that Spam is most popular with people whose diet is based on rice, because it pairs well with rice, but not so well with other diet bases, e.g., bread or potatoes.

    Spam musubi (a slice of fried spam on a bed of rice, often with a sauce such as teriyaki sauce, wrapped by a piece of nori) is a great way to eat Spam. It receives a lot of national attention when Obama comes home for the holidays and orders some to eat while golfing, and can be bought all over the place here, e.g., 7-Eleven.

    Hormel makes a teriyaki spam that’s great for Spam musubi.

  83. I have never had beans with pork added, but growing up hot dogs (with grilled buns), B&M baked beans, and brown bread was a staple Saturday night dinner. Usually listening to A Prairie Home Companion on NPR at the same time. ;) My mom doctored the beans with dried onion and parsley, mustard, ketchup, molasses (about 1 T of each) and some deviled ham from a can. They are gooooood.

  84. Wow, we’re getting a Wegmans in Westchester County. I’m pretty sure the first time I heard of them was here on this blog.

  85. This is the best news that I have heard all week even though Wegmans might not open until 2018 or later. It would be a bit of a hike, but I am very happy.

  86. Yes, I heard that too. But it is a haul. I’d ratther just go to Fairway or Hmart if I am going that far.

    However, I am trying to find nearby alternatives to the Stop n Shop, which has pissed me off for about nteenth time today. They are always out of stock on the most normal things. Today, for the SECOND time this week, they were stripped of gallons of whole milk. They also had a big blank space where the bratwursts and other sausages go. I was counting on getting bratwursts for a fast dinner tonight. Also, not a single carton of eggs was in sight. Last week they were out of most varieties of Progresso canned soup, and frozen peas. How can you be a supermarket and be out of frozen peas????

  87. haha I saw the Wegmans announcement on FB and the first comment: “…ITS GONNA CHANGE YOUR LIFE”

    That’s horrible and weird about Stop and Shop. No eggs??! But I’ve rarely experienced those types of problems.

  88. Amazon Prime is wonderful. I just learned today that I can get Starbucks gifts cards from them.

  89. I don’t know if it’s gonna change your life, but it’s a nice grocery shopping experience, probably the best I’ve experienced. They have A LOT of house brands…all very high quality…and sometimes limited selection of other brands. e.g. bread crumbs. You can, of course, get house brand(s) of both “Italian” flavored and plain, but you can get only flavored from Progresso (the only other brand they carry), not plain. The one we go to, which, Ada, is the one 2 miles east from where the great northern you mentioned was, has a tremendous selection of both organic and regular-person produce, always excellent quality, a huge prepared foods/bakery/patisserie/sushi bar/pizzeria/sandwich shop/coffee bar/hot buffet section. I assume in the NYC market that will be their model. Some of their smaller, older, stores in places to our east are more like regular grocery stores, though still much better run.

  90. We have that same problem at Shoprite. Empty shelves. The manager explained that they can’t keep up with the demand now that all of the other supermarkets are closed due to the bankruptcy. I don’t know if your Town has the same rules, but our Town limits the hours that a large tractor trailer can make a delivery because it has to travel on residential streets even though the supermarket is on a main road. The deliveries can only be made early in the morning, or late at night.

    I think the new Hmart is opening very soon.

  91. We don’t have issues with empty shelves, just that no one store has everything I want/need. So, I end up rotating between 3 stores, all the same chain and 1 upscale version of that chain. One has great fish, one has much wider veggie selection, one has great deli, etc. Still annoying!

  92. It is the same here…different stores for groceries, meat/fish and veggies.

    I try to be as efficient as possible and stop in the store when I am driving by that area. It is much easier this time of year because it is cold enough to keep stuff in the car.

    I think people are excited about Wegmans because we’ve heard the rumors about customer service. We don’t have supermarkets with friendly staff around here. The people at Trader Joes and Whole Foods are helpful, but the regular supermarkets are not generally known for service with a smile.

  93. We have a Trader Joe’s, but I don’t get what the attraction is. Maybe because ours is small? I sure can’t do my shopping for the week there. My friend says the reason all the people who shop at Whole Foods are thin is because they can’t afford to buy much food there. The prices are 1.5 to 2 times more that other local stores. Our local chain depends upon the location, time of day, etc. on how good your service is.

    Somewhat unrelated, but our neighborhood Target has been almost too helpful with service. I can’t hardly browse the shelves without being asked if I need help.

  94. I LOVE Wegmans and sometimes make the trek out to the closest one to us. Their bakery, produce and meat is great. I hate buying shelf staples there because I can never find anything. It is a very confusing store. But their perishable stuff is awesome.

  95. We got a TJ a few years ago. It’s a great place to shop for extras–chips, cookies, sauces, frozen goodies, but I never buy regular stuff there–meat, milk, etc.

  96. DS2 comes home tonight with a major toothache – one of his baby teeth came loose but he has braces so iti s all wrapped up in the braces and causing major pain. He has an appt with the orthodontist tomorrow morning at 8am. Meanwhile, he had track practice, a orchestra concert tonight, and piles of homework. I told him I would go out and buy him some soup to eat since he can’t eat anything else. He wanted Chunky chicken noodle.. I went to the S&S, and guess what, no Chunky chicken noodle. All they seem to have now is HealthyRequest, which no one likes. Ugh.

  97. I don’t like TJs, because it mainly stocks processed food. I run in for milk if the S&S is out because it is quick.

  98. The reason our customer service sucks is because they can’t really get people who are all hopped up and excited at supermarket wages. I can’t imagine that will change for Wegmans

  99. Nothing to say about pizza, but I can recommend a premium whiskey. I have gone through a single malt phase (Dalwhinnie my fave) and a bourbon phase (Woodford’s Reserve), but in the end I am an Easterner and Rye is my tipple of choice. When I was doing a stockup recently I asked for a recommendation and the shopkeeper offered me Rough Rider, made from Long Island winter rye. It is smooth AND 124 proof.

    As for grocery stores, I can’t handle Wegman’s. I have a bit of agoraphobia, and it is just too big. I don’t do Walmart, either. Costco is not a problem for me because the pallets are piled so high that it breaks it up for me.

    I don’t see anything wrong with TJs. I can come out with the same basic day to day stuff as WF for half the price. Dairy, juice, eggs, cukes and a few other veggies, nuts, coffee beans, bread, cookies if we want em. I don’t buy the processed foods. We have a fishmonger half a mile away for our protein of choice. Costco for staples and bulk; Hmart for specialty ingredients; WF for fancy meats and veggies. Stop and Shop is always out of everything.

  100. Knob Creek makes an okay rye too.

    Milo, it’s kind of hard to describe the issue with the Stanford Band if you haven’t been following them for 40 years.

  101. Our local chain was taken over by Kroger but it still has excellent customer service and is well stocked. They have senior citizen discount day each week. People complain about the higher prices at the local grocery chain as compared to Walmart groceries but you have to drive out of your area to get to a Walmart. If you want to go more speciality to TJs, WF etc. again distance is an issue. Publix is trying to find locations in each area and compete directly with local grocery chain.

  102. RMS – I am interested in the Stanford band saga because it is the opposite of the usual situation where an issue is discovered, administration is slow to take action, students protest etc.

  103. Oh cool, that location is close enough that I can get there pretty often. Hmart is my favorite place, after our summer CSA, for veggies. It has a HUGE veggie section, and everything is loose so you can see what you are getting. And the prices are way better than the other stores. It also rocks for seafood. Those are things you can’t stock up on, so having Hmart nearby will really help me.

    Our TJs has the saddest shrink wrapped, baggied, pre-cut-up produce ever. They are my last choice for produce. Even Stop n Shop still has lettuce that is not in a bag

  104. Yes, Hmart the Korean grocery. It is also respectable for Chinese items. Where else can I get me some sliced pork belly, some fresh whole mackerel, sushi grade salmon, tiny red chiles by the sackful, myriad mushrooms, melons and fresh greens, and some doubanjian sauce to spice it all up?

  105. We have a Trader Joe’s, but I don’t get what the attraction is.

    I don’t either. They have a good gluten free selection, but otherwise I don’t see what the big deal is.

    Here are some summaries of the Stanford band story:

  106. MM –
    Wegmans will get better, i.e. customer caring, employees because: > minimum to start; health benefits for full time and part time workers; dental benefits; $1500/yr scholarships x 4yrs for employees who are full time students (when on this, the # of hours to work to qualify is pretty low…a couple of our babysitters got it. They were in school here but worked for Wegmans at home on breaks).

    They only have 92 stores so the owners (family) really know what’s happening. Pretty nice people; we see them around frequently, especially the top guy Danny. Around here if you say Danny, everyone knows who you’re talking about.

  107. Thanks for the food processor info. DH just saw the recall news so we’re going to get a 12-inch Breville. Shall report back!

  108. I generally don’t drink hard liquor, but when I do, I am a bourbon gal. I like Woodford Reserve and Blantons. I do also like a very peaty Scotch, the kind that tastes like ancient shoe leather. Laphroig is nice indeed.

  109. @Fred – my oldest is in early elementary and I left when she was still a twinkle in DH’s eye (and an egg in my ovary). So, it’s been awhile.

  110. The new H Mart will be much more convenient for me.  I hope they have a food court.

    10 Things You Have to Try From Your Local H Mart

    Their produce section is great.  I can see myself putting H Mart into my regular grocery shopping rotation.  I try to limit my grocery shopping to only once a week, come hell or high water, mostly S&S with a TJs run about every six weeks. They carry some items I like a lot, and overall I like TJs.

    Last night I was reminded why I like online shopping so much. I ventured out to a big department store looking for a particular man’s clothing gift. The first sales person told me she didn’t know if they had them, but to ask that other clerk, who was at the cash register helping customers in line. When she was finally free, the second clerk told me she didn’t know but the other clerks “over there” should know because they work on commission in that department. Totally frustrating. A case of “not my job”.

  111. Coc and Mooshi – I go to a local Chinese grocery chain. It is like H Mart but not as clean. Their fish counter is very good and they have a large Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese section as well other ethnic foods. The have two or three food counters. It is a bit of a drive for us but worth the variety.

  112. Venting here – my doctor, dentist are either off on Friday doing half a day. My car service pace is now closed completely on a Saturday. I am wondering if flexibility in their customers schedules mean people can make it at random times during the week.

  113. There is a largish Chinese supermarket right across from the faculty parking lot. They also have good produce – not as good as Hmart, but still good. And cheap! The seafood counter can be hard to navigate because no one speaks English. I find, though, that I don’t go as often as I would like though because a) I am usually heading out of campus like a bat out of hell, trying to beat traffic or get home in time to pick someone up b) even though it is right across the street, driving to it requires two terrifying left hand turns, one across a 6 lane boulevard. Walking is no better because I have to still cross that boulevard. Queens has the highest pedestrian-car fatality rate in NYC, for good reason – lots of those multilane boulevards.

    I hope the new Hmart has a food court too.

  114. “even though it is right across the street, driving to it requires two terrifying left hand turns, one across a 6 lane boulevard.”

    I am laughing, because I avoid my local HMart for similar reasons — even though it’s only 5-10 minutes away and the produce is good, the logistical annoyance is high. The last slog to get there involves two lights in series that are always timed opposite each other. Then you turn into a parking lot that requires you to drive all the way up to the entrance before making a U-turn into the parking lanes (thereby always backing up behind everyone trying to cross with their full carts). Then the parking spots are too small, and they are always jammed, and the rules of driving are not those I am remotely used to. Then you make it into the store, and I can’t figure out which little areas you pay first vs. pay at the end (there are no signs, you’re just supposed to know that you buy your bread up front). Then the place is just jammed with stuff and people and aisles that are way too narrow for both, and again, the rules of cart management are again not something I am used to. Then there is always the 15-minute checkout wait behind 6 overflowing carts. And then, to top it all off, I then have to drive back across the street to get the rest of my staples at Giant, with equally poorly-designed parking lot, crowded aisles, and checkout lines.

    I would rather drive 15-20 minutes the other way to Wegman’s, where I can at least get all my stuff in one-stop shopping, where there are never more than three full carts in line in front of me (and I kvetch seriously at that), and where I have found the back entrance into the parking area that allows me to avoid the line to park. I deal with the HMart once or twice a year when I need to stock up on condiments and sauces and the like.

  115. LOL – this is why we moved to the country. There are always plenty of parking spots! The first time we went to the Shaw’s (‘regular’ grocery store, not as discounty as the Market Basket), #2 asked me “Mom, why are there no people in this store?” There is an Asian grocery (independent) in the next town over. Market Basket is 10 minutes away and Whole Foods 20 (but again, GIANT EMPTY store and plenty of big parking spots), and in season, there are 3 farmstands on the way to the Market Basket so I stop there for all the produce (and local lamb/beef/pork). Costco is 20 minutes away, the same as at our old house, but it is a nice country drive with no traffic instead of dealing with lots of lights and partial highway drive.

    Now, if only I had a better vent hood fan and stove! ;)

  116. L, but the problem with the country is that you have to drive so far to get to any grocery store. We lived in rural MA for 5 years, and one of the many things I hated there was the fact that it was 5 miles to the CLOSEST place to buy food, and that place sucked, sucked, sucked – like a rural counterpart to our sucky NYC grocery stores. And that 5 mile drive was really awful when it had just snowed 2 feet. At least now I can walk to the sucky grocery store!

  117. “Our TJs has the saddest shrink wrapped, baggied, pre-cut-up produce ever. They are my last choice for produce. ”

    Agree that TJ’s produce is atrocious. So are their bakery products. I don’t really shop there anymore. Once in awhile I shopped there a lot when I was single & ate a lot of the frozen meals. I don’t really find it to be inexpensive compared to Whole Foods house brand for the same staples like dried pasta, tomato products, breakfast bars, nuts, etc.

    An HMart is opening in my neighborhood early next year. I have never been there as the closest one is in the suburbs. I think we are getting a smaller “urban” store without the crazy Koran spa and all the extras, but now I am excited that it may have good produce & seafood. And it is within walking distance.

  118. Thanks for the info about the Cuisinart recall. My model IS included, and I filled out the form for a new blade. I had no idea!

  119. For whatever reason, our two nearby TJ s one small, one medium sized both no liquor resemble the walk to neighborhood market that has a few great things enough of what you need but not everything rather than the trendy but crappy convenient store you all describe. Regional management must be doing a good job.

  120. TJ’s quality must be in the eye of the beholder. The one that MM hates is the same one I like, and the parking lot is usually very crowded. The shrink-wrapped, bagged produce that others hate works fine for me. For example, I like their bagged/washed/chopped kale both for convenience and quality. Same for their broccolini. I don’t often buy their bok choy, but I have vivid memories of the time I prepared a large batch of beautiful cheap baby bok choy from H Mart. Although I carefully soaked and rinsed, my final dish came out a bit sandy. So I don’t mind pre-washed produce. And TJs has the best tortillas around, which isn’t saying much for around here, but still. Their bagged movie popcorn is a staple at my house. So it all depends.

  121. My issue with bagged produce in general, and TJs in particular, is that I sometimes open the bag and some of it is brown or slimy. When that happens 20 minutes before I need to finish dinner, I get upset. I would rather buy produce unbagged so that I know what I am getting.

    And their parking lot is the worst, Especially when I am trying to pick up a kid at the elementary school, and the lineup to get into the parking lot blocks the road (the TJs is across from the elementary school)

    Never tried their tortillas. I had always been buying La Banderita but I am no expert for sure

  122. “My issue with bagged produce in general, and TJs in particular, is that I sometimes open the bag and some of it is brown or slimy. When that happens 20 minutes before I need to finish dinner, I get upset. I would rather buy produce unbagged so that I know what I am getting.”

    Yes. Exactly. I don’t mind pre-washed greens, but I dislike that all produce at TJ’s and Target is prewrapped. I also don’t find it to be very fresh, but maybe that is just my store.

    I buy tortillas from one of our local tortillerias – El Milagro. They sell them at all the area grocery stores, but if I have time I run to the factory store & get them fresh and cheap.

  123. I’ve never been to Wegman’s–they opened in Fairfax just as we were leaving. A grocery store with childcare while you shop boggled my mind. AustinMom, how long have you been in Austin? I stayed on Cherry Street for a little while, so discovered the Lamar store, and continued to shop there almost every week even when I moved to the other side of the interstate. It was very different from the stores they’ve opened around the country in the 25 years since then! Mooshi, you’re reminding me of the old joke “the food wasn’t very good, and the servings were so small”. Whenever the idea of making omelettes or some other eggy dish for dinner comes up, you are the first to complain that cracking a dozen eggs takes too long. I completely agree with everyone who dislikes shrink-wrapped produce!

    CoC, can you get all your groceries at TJs? I’ve never had much luck there with anything besides snack foods.

  124. HM – the fine print, below the big SINALOA, says “Hawaii Wraps”. Interesting, that’s all, since it says “tortillas” lower down.

  125. We got a Trader Joe’s fairly recently and it’s the only place I can reliably purchase baby bok choy.

    Walmart has many flaws, but a poorly designed parking lot is not one of them. I hate our Costco parking lot, which has only a single entrance/exit and so is usually backed up.

  126. The problem with our Costco parking lot is the placement of the gas pumps – there are always people pulling out of the gas station area without looking right into the main aisle.

  127. @WCE — well, welcome to the joys of infill development. Our local Walmart is right next to the grocery store I mentioned and across the street from that HMart. I think the same guy must have designed the parking lots like 40 years ago, when the Honda Civic was actually small — they have that horrible one-way angled parking, but half the people drive the wrong way, and the distinction between the lanes that actually go through to the exits and those that don’t are not at all clearly marked or well-lit, etc. etc. etc. (Lucky me, I was just there last night for a typical “MOM-I-need-gifts-for-school-it’s-for-charity-my-teacher-is-making-us-all-do-it-oh-by-the-way-it’s-tomorrow” visit).

    Fun conversation with DD, though — looking for the requested Frisbee, we ended up in the dark, veryvery back corner, and she says, “mom, I feel like we are in the lowest circle of hell.” And I said, “dear, we are in the back of a WalMart, surrounded by out-of-season toys, the week before Christmas. We ARE in the lowest circle of hell.

  128. Oh yeah, Costco. They’re building one ~2 miles from where we live. Scheduled opening this (past) fall, means it should open early next year I guess. The signage is up on the building and gas pump roofs, which I think is towards the end of building, but of course I have no idea what’s going on inside with the rows and rows of shelves to be put up. It’s on a corner, and they put up a left turn signal/lane one one of the roads that goes past it, added turn lanes and two entrances/exits on the other road. There is also a road that goes behind it sort of diagonally, with more turn-offs. We’ll know this spring if that’s enough.

  129. I think hell started with in Walmart the week before Christmas….

    I have done no christmas shopping and I pray I can get it all done without venturing into WalMart.

  130. “CoC, can you get all your groceries at TJs? I’ve never had much luck there with anything besides snack foods.”

    I can get most but not all, which is why I rotate my weekly grocery trips between Stop and Shop (most weeks) and TJ’s (once about every 5 weeks). At TJ’s I get snacks (good selection of nuts for example), dairy (excellent cheese selections and good yogurt), and other stuff. I like their their frozen fish and chicken better than that of most other stores.

    I used to shop at the original Whole Foods in Austin. Today’s stores are crunchy, but that original one was really crunchy.

  131. I’ve noticed Walmart’s vary quite a bit across the country. The one here is not so nice, but some in the southwest are big airy places with lots of parking. At one end you can find excellent ethnic food sections and at the other end are tires and firearms.

  132. The Walmart here is bad, and I went there once to return something that I bought online. It is really bad. We go to one upstate near DD’s camp because we can buy some snacks before we go to visiting day. It is actually “nice” for a Walmart. I think it makes a big difference when they have the ability to build on cheap land vs. opening in basement in a downtown office building where real estate is expensive.

    Costco doesn’t sell gas here, so the rest of you are lucky to have the ability to get their lower gas prices even if there are lines/traffic. Our Costco can not sell wine or liquor due to state laws about grocery stores selling those items.

  133. Our Walmart, probably the same one CoC and Lauren are referring to, is pretty icky – dirty, with stuff strewn about and out of stock. I went to a Walmart in an Appalachian county of KY a few years back, and it was equally icky. Those are my main two Walmart experiences. I need to find one that is in an area that adequately supports its Walmarts!

  134. “pretty icky – dirty, with stuff strewn about and out of stock.”

    That describes most K-Marts I’ve been to.

    I’ve not had that experience with Wal-Marts, but the ones I’ve been to were mostly pretty new at the time.

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