Whenever I wind up in hotel rooms with the Wi-Fi wavering I try to find a phonebook (they still exist some places) and I go straight for the yellow pages to section P.
Before instantaneous Google searches followed by Yelp or Instagram image confirmations, we had to rely on the yellow pages to plan our pizza eating in unfamiliar territory. Back there you’d find the full page ads of all the local joints showcasing their menus and specials—a snapshot of what you’ve got to work with side by side.
The ancient book of the landlines.
Last week we packed up the family for a vacation to New Smyrna Beach in Florida and as soon as we settled into our rented condo overlooking the ocean I couldn’t help but wonder: What kind of pizza does this little beach town have?
I knew it wouldn’t be long before a pizza craving would strike, so after a long day of travel, with my electronics dying and our Wi-Fi sparse, I began to search for some stashed away coupon catalogs or a stack of menus left behind by the owners.
On an end-table covered in brochures for local attractions—next to the landline phone, I found my New Smyrna guide book. My instincts guided me as I picked up the paperback artifact, dusted it off like Indiana Jones and slowly thumbed to the yellowish section of its back pages.
The pizza of New Smyrna Beach.
My first step in section P was to do a quick scan for any food-porn worthy imagery—though I didn’t expect to find any high-quality images printed back there, I couldn’t even find anything besides run-of-the-mill staged stock pizza photos. Not a good start.
Next, it was time to get into the details of what each menu had to offer, I began searching for clues to what might make one place better than another. I combed the details of thin and thick crust options, specialty pizzas and appetizers.
I weighed the options between New York style slice shops, Italian Restaurants and dive pizzerias. After a lot of internal back and forth and more pizza hypothesizing than Tess cared to hear I had made a decision.
Manny’s Pizza Beachside.
The first place I opted for was called Manny’s Pizza Beachside. I figured might as well stick with the vacation “beach vibe” and it was backed by the recommendation of the front desk employee who mentioned they also do a killer breakfast.
I went for a half pepperoni and half deluxe which included pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, green peppers, and onions. The crust was the most noteworthy element as it was uniquely reminiscent of focaccia bread. The pizza portion was thin but the crust rolled up into a hand-tossed handle at the edge that was really good for a dip in some ranch.
The veggies had a nice rough cut and the sausage was sliced in thin medallions. It wasn’t the best pizza I’ve ever had, but the toppings, sauce, and cheese were flavorful and executed properly (it’s vacation pizza so it can do no wrong).
Visiting the past.
Flipping through the phone book to find Manny’s reminded me of going through catalogs before Christmas as a kid and circling all the things I hoped to get. Just like vinyl records, cassettes, VHS’s and early Nintendo games, scouring the yellow pages revived a dorky nostalgia within me that was fun to embrace.
With everything we need right in our smartphones, I imagine it won’t be long before the old paper phonebook will be a thing of the past—an item that will stump the kids of the future like 8-tracks or rotary phones.
What pizza taught me:
With technology increasingly integrated into our lives, it’s nice to disconnect and spend time with some of the remnants of our modern age. In New Symrna Beach that old-school method of researching pizzas was almost more fun than the pizza itself.
What I’m eating: Manny’s Pizza Beachside half pepperoni and half deluxe
What I’m reading: I Love Capitalism Ken Langone