Hidden Temple of Pizza
Firenze serves up a mean pie if you can find it
Whoever stuck a roundabout on Central should be dragged through the streets on a incontinent mule at sundown, where the city's children can flog them with orange-filled socks and film it for LiveLeak. It might sound harsh, dear reader, but I always say the punishment should fit the crime. Transportation “experts” will tell you that it is safer for drivers and pedestrians, minimizes traffic accidents and reduces carbon pollution. But they've obviously never been stuck driving in a circle, dizzy and disoriented, while lane-hopping New Mexicans swerve toward the front bumper.
Which makes me wonder why Firenze Pizzeria would choose a location right down the street from one. I hope their insurance offers superlative mental health coverage, because I would become a gibbering maniac after only a few shifts if I were one of their poor, poor delivery drivers. But I guess that's how you separate the pros from the toe-dippers.
Even after figuring out this mystery, I was still unsure as I approached the front door. The rest of the street was shuttered and dark. Through the glass of the front window, I saw only a sparsely populated dining room with all the seating against a single wall and a lot of empty space. On the dominant wall were abstract paintings, lined up in a semblance of decoration. It felt like I was being set up in some bizarre pizza sting operation, and the set had only been up for a few hours.
The staff, who were incredibly friendly and attentive in a desperate way, began tossing pleasantries my way almost immediately and seemed genuinely interested in a conversation about the new design of my debit card—a sure sign that the place had been dead for a while. The wood fire stove, a sleek and roaring beauty that took up a corner of the room behind the cash register and prep station, crackled with heat and boredom, almost giving an audible sigh at the sight of me.
I ordered to-go. Within minutes, two bubbling 12-inchers were in my hands and I was back out in the black night air and shuffling to my car.
To steel myself against the terror of the Ring of Death, I sampled the goods behind my steering wheel in what was either the restaurant's back lot or back alley. Having this moment in private was one of the best ideas I've ever had, considering the immediate full-body reaction that will overtake any human being when they lose their Firenze virginity.
Criminy. I literally moaned. Right there with my windows down in the dark behind a pizzeria with a Kesha song playing on the radio. The culprit was the classic Margherita ($8.75). The golden crust was crisp, yet soft enough to keep it firmly on the other side of thin. The cheese was messy and delicious, and the tomatoes actually tasted like tomatoes—probably because (most) of the ingredients used here are organic. And Firenze didn't pull any of that light dusting of dried basil crap on your old reviewer. Here, it was fresh, chopped and copious.
The Margherita's partner, a beautiful NM White ($9.25) was covered in green chile, roasted garlic, chunks of chicken and the perfect amount of feta—all on a slathering of an amazing roasted garlic cream sauce. To enhance the experience, I did something I would never recommend to minors or those with heart problems: I stacked a slice of one pie on top of the other. Eat responsibly, kids!
Somewhere in there I spotted a slice that somehow was entirely devoid of cheese or sauce or even the hint of topping. Aha! I thought, I've found a chink in this gooey armor of theirs. I seized the naked wedge and shoved it in my maw. And, God bless it, it was maybe the best part of the whole damn thing. (Yes. I am aware now that pizza with no cheese or sauce or toppings is just the crust, but I would like to remind everyone that I was in a semi-
Needless to say: I am now a Kesha fan. Thank heaven I can trust you, dear reader. If word ever got out... It's best not to think about it.
Nevertheless, I've decided that the great food here will make a return trip through the gauntlet worth it, and at least I'll know where it is next time. But for the sake of all that is holy, will someone put up a real sign, or pay off a city employee to get some lights burning? Sheesh.
900 Park Ave SW
Hours: Mon-Sat: 11am-8pm