Saturday, March 27, 2010

Plaza Pizza

Wednesday March 24th and Friday March 26th 2010
Plaza Pizza, 4th and Spring Garden, Philadelphia, PA

You might recall in my first entry I used Plaza Pizza as a point of reference for a compare and contrast evaluation of the near by Liberty Pizza. I said that a Liberty slice is far superior to a Plaza slice, a belief in which I stand firm. Plaza slices are inconsistent, varying day to day without ever achieving true success.
My Wednesday slices (seen below) were the most typical of an average Plaza slice. Crust like a spongy cracker, leaving behind a distinct trail of crumbs on your plate and shirt, a skimpy portion of sauce which there is too little of to get enough of a taste to make a comment on, and a choking hazards worth of discount mozzarella. The grease tasting very buttery, almost as if the dough were buttered prior to cooking. When its like this, immediately after finishing, my saliva glands go into hyper mode and I’m left with the overwhelming desire to drool and spit all over the place as I rush back to work to chug several cups of water and get the butter coating out of my mouth.
Friday was a better day for Plaza. As you can see, my slices were a little more well done, which maybe cooked some of the butter off and crisped the cheese up a bit, but of course there’s no happy medium, so the crust was even more brittle and crumbly than usual.
You ask me, “Why? Why would you go there twice in one week? Why is it you frequent an establishment who’s product you clearly hate?”
Well, when I first started working for Adi and the boys I tried out Plaza and was disappointed. Due to convenience of its location I returned several times, never leaving satisfied. My at the time co-worker Davey put it into perspective for me when I asked him about it, “Yeah, it’s pretty bad, but the ladies who work there keep calling me honey, so I mean, I guess I’ll keep going there.”
And that’s how it is. I walk into Plaza and its all, “Hey Ren.” and “Hey Babe.”, “How’s it going?”, “How’s work?”. You feel guilty if you don’t go in there, they ask you about it, “Where have you been? Your not working?” I’ve pretty much committed at this point.
Not to mention, it’s quite the scene in there. The owner stands off in an aisle to the left of the counter staring blankly into the kitchen occasionally screaming things in Greek to the rest of the staff. Sometimes he’ll pick up the phone, “I need your credit card number! I need the number! Hello? He hang up on me!” The all female counter staff constantly in mid discussion about family drama or debating the merits of the new Beyonce versus the old Beyonce.
They operate on a different level. On Friday, there was a guy in a wheelchair out front trying to bum change from people, not too uncommon, but when he came in the store and paid for his already eaten meal with the change he just bummed, I was surprised. “Oh, no, it’s only $2.50 honey, you got some change.” the waitress told him, handing back some coins. They know customers by name, they sit down and talk with them while they eat, they help the elderly cross the street!
Their client base is quite diverse. My regular visiting hours being Monday through Friday between 1 and 3 PM, I see a real blend of humanity. They get the office lunch break suit and tie crowd, the assisted living crowd, the living on the street off their meds crowd, all sitting in a room together eating awful pizza. The beer cooler brings in a different element, a lot of people just passing through to pick up a 6 pack, or a lot of people sticking around for a while because it’s not like a bar so you don’t have to tip.
Wednesday there was an older hunchbacked man at the counter talking to the Greek boss, “Tell Jimmy you saw me.”, he told him.
“Yeah, I’ll tell him.”
“Tell him I lost weight. I lost almost sixty pounds. I got the turkey neck now.”, he said, securing his loose neck skin between his pointer and index fingers and giving it a good throttle. To me there’s nothing like seeing something like that and then eating two slices of overly cheesed saliva producing slices of pizza and going straight back to work.

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