The Yellow Pages: Section P

“Time moves in one direction, memory in another.” -William Gibson

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.

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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.

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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

 

 

What’s Better Than Pizza on a Friday?

“No man needs a vacation so much as the man who just had one” -Elbert Hubbard

Pizza on a Friday that kicks off a vacation.  There’s nothing like the swirling butterflies that accompany an approaching vacation—the same fluttering eagerness that’s often invoked by a slice.  A vacation on the horizon can give us the deep pleasure of anticipation—a joy that permeates our thoughts, can dull our day-to-day worries and make to-do lists more tolerable.

I love vacation almost as much as I love pizza.

The best part of my vacations is that they tend to be filled with pizza and vacation-pizza is no ordinary pizza. Vacation-pizza is guilt free and graces us multiple days in a row, maybe even multiple meals in a row, all in exciting new locales. There are no rules and regulations—unorthodox pizza practices are encouraged.

Vacation-pizza can be found in many varieties: Wood-fired Neapolitan in tourist traps, pizza-by-the-slice on bustling city streets, Dominos in hotel rooms and even take-n-bake around campfires on cabin retreats. Of course, all of it again cold and leftover in the morning—a quick slice for the road.

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The Baileys Harbor Cornerstone Pub.

As I write this on vacation in Door County, WI. I even found some surprisingly satisfying pizza at a family restaurant/bar called the Cornerstone Pub in Bailey’s Harbor which usually specializes in broasted chicken, prime rib sandwiches, and other bar staples (my brother said the prime rib sandwich was outstanding).

The pizza was reminiscent of the bowling alley pizza of my youth, and I do mean that in a positive way.  It was loaded with cheese, had quality sausage and a decent sauce—it was definitely an unexpected treat among a classic bar menu and it goes to show you never know what pizza you’ll stumble across on vacation.

Vacations are like extended cheat-days.

Whether it’s a 3-day holiday weekend or a whole week off often the best part of a vacation is it’s approaching awesomeness.

I’ve found it’s critical for me to always have some sort of vacation in queue.  The giddiness I get for an upcoming trip keeps me motivated and gives me something to look forward to, it can get me through a slump—pushing me one step further when I’m exhausted and want to quit. It’s where hard work gets rewarded.

Most run-of-the-mill two-day weekends I try to achieve this pending-vacation excitement by creating little mini-vacations. I try to indulge in some unique activity that evokes the feelings of vacation-mode; it could be as simple as exploring a new pizza spot the next town over or taking a trip down the Pizza Hut lunch buffet.  Anything that can give me a little tinge of that special “vactiony” feel.

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The best part of vacation besides the pizza? 

According to a CBSNEWS article “New York Times contributing science columnist John Tierney has been researching how to make the most of vacation time. He says people who take more vacations see real health benefits, like fewer heart attacks or bouts of depression.”

Tierney also says ”One of the big advantages of vacations is that it’s the anticipation beforehand makes you happy, for one or two months beforehand. So the more you can do that, the better.”

What pizza taught me: 

While the escape of a vacation is rejuvenating, the allure of its arrival is equally as rewarding.  The time leading up to our vacations is something to be cherished as it gives us something to day-dream about, make plans for, something to prep and pack for—something to look forward to with our families.   Now, back to my vacation, I’ve got leftover Cornerstone Pub to attend to.

What I’m eating:  Half pepperoni, half sausage at The Bailey’s Harbor Cornerstone Pub,  Bailey’s Harbor in Door County Wi.

What I’m Reading: Richard Branson Losing my Virginity