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Pizza, Pizza

November 25, 2011 1 comment

[From the Via Tribunali website]

Joel flew back from North Carolina Wednesday. Despite a delay getting out of Atlanta that resulted in his flight arriving here 40 minutes late, he arrived in time for us to have dinner together. Of course, it was three hours later for him, but he was game to stop at a restaurant on the way home and voted for the Georgetown location of Neapolitan pizzeria Via Tribunali. I wrote about Via Tribunali three years ago, after we went there on the day after Christmas. That post focused more on the accident of our stumbling on it after choosing not to stop at Via Tribunali’s Capitol Hill location in favor of heading farther afield to the Georgetown restaurant Stellar, only to find Stellar closed and then find ourselves at the Georgetown Via Tribunali in our search for somewhere else to eat.

Joel was with us that time too and had been a veteran of the Capitol Hill branch, the original. He had frequently urged us to try it, and we were there at last. My verdict, from the post that day: “Everything was great. A superb meal, well worth driving to Georgetown for.”

Since then, whenever we eat at the better pizza places in Seattle, Gail holds up Via Tribunali as her model, even though we never got back to it. You’ll recall our latest experiment, dinner two months ago at Delancey with Robin and Brooke. We quite enjoyed it, but Gail was convinced it was no Via Tribunali. I didn’t presume to remember well enough.

So two nights ago we were there once again, with Joel and with Jessica as well. We arrived moments before the end of happy hour, so we hastily ordered wine and beer and Jessica, who wasn’t interested in the full range of offerings, ordered a small, happy-hour sized Margherita (pomodoro, fresh mozzarella, grana padano, olive oil basil), which she declared the best pizza she ever had. Gail, Joel, and I bypassed the waning happy hour options, ordering two salads and two pizzas from the dinner menu.

To start, we had the Insalata di Caesar (romaine hearts, caesar dressing, anchovies, grana padana, croutons) and the Insalata della Casa (seasonal greens, fresh mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, olives, prosciutto cotto). Hmm. I’m getting these descriptions off the on-line menu, but I don’t remember getting croutons in the Caesar salad. What we had instead were small pieces of what I thought was pita. And we asked for the anchovies on the side, for Joel to eat. Both salads were excellent. I especially liked the prosciutto.

Then we had a Primavera pizza (cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, arugula, grana, basil) and a Salsiccia (pomodoro, fresh mozzarella, Italian sausage, grana padano, basil). Excellent once again. The primavera surprised me. I expected to like it, but to prefer the salsiccia. Instead, I enjoyed both equally, and found the primavera perhaps the more interesting of the two, probably because having sausage and basil on a pizza is common enough, but I don’t recall having a pizza covered with arugula. It turned out to be a great mix of ingredients: light but full of flavor.

For dessert, Gail and Joel shared a piece of tiramisu while Jessica had some chocolate ice cream. I tasted the ice cream. First rate.

Is Via Tribunali the best? Do I prefer it to Delancey or Tutta Bella or Cafe Lago? I can’t say. I enjoy them all. What I can say is that we shouldn’t wait another three years for a return visit. That would be a mistake.

Yesterday was a day off from pizza, what with Thanksgiving dinner and all. And tomorrow we have family plans that will prevent us from eating pizza. So if we were to get to Northlake Tavern and Pizza House while Joel was home, tonight had to be the night. Plus, it was the right night in any case, since Northlake is our Friday standby. Off we went, the same four of us, a few hours ago. Not much to report. We had our usual: salads with honey mustard dressing, the combo (sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, olives), vegetarian (mushrooms, peppers, onions, olives, tomatoes), and salty dog (secret ingredients; only those in the know have the privilege of ordering order this, since it’s not on the menu, and being in the know means knowing Russ, Northlake’s best customer, who conceived it).

There’s no point comparing Northlake to Via Tribunali. They reside in different food universes. That I have come to love Northlake is one of the great mysteries of my life. I can’t explain it. Nor will I try. What I know is, I’m fortunate that Gail introduced me to it decades ago, that it became smoke free a few years back, and that Russ turned us into regulars.

Oh, and the turkey last night was pretty darn good too, not to mention the fabulous squash soup and today’s lunchtime turkey hash. Thanks Gail.

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Categories: Family, Restaurants

La Guardia Farewell

November 25, 2011 Leave a comment

[Port Authority of New York and New Jersey]

At the NYT City Room blog today, David Dunlap writes about the dismantling of all but the lowest portion of La Guardia Airport’s 1964 air control tower. As he notes, “Loved or hated, the old control tower was undeniably a traveler’s milestone.” When I grew up, and more so during the years that I lived in Boston, I flew into and out of La Guardia countless times. Less frequently since moving to Seattle, but still we pass through La Guardia on occasion, and indeed, the old control tower had come to be as distinctive a structure as any in New York. I am sad to realize it has disappeared.

We drove by La Guardia twice over Labor Day weekend, heading back and forth between JFK and Manhattan. I’m surprised I failed to notice the tower’s absence. There’s not a whole lot to like about La Guardia. Now it is missing my three favorite features: the tower, the rusted frame of the parking garage, and the temporary building that was home to the Eastern Shuttle. The garage was left unfinished in order to develop a patina — at least that was my understanding — and after decades of what looked like neglect, it was finally painted over.

As for the shuttle, that amazing service in which you lined up to fly to Boston or DC and boarded whichever plane showed up next, rather than a terminal, La Guardia had an over-sized shack you would pass through on the way to covered passageways with openings to head out to board the planes. No reservations, no tickets, no boarding passes. Just get on, and if the scheduled hourly flight filled up, they’d start filling another. Once the plane (one of a fleet of DC-9s) was in the air, the flight attendants would come down the aisle to take payment. On the Boston end, one would arrive at a regular terminal, Logan’s Eastern Air Lines terminal, pleasant enough, but without the charming seediness of La Guardia.

Alas, Eastern went downhill, then out of business, Delta and US Air took over shuttle service, the old shuttle shack was replaced by US Air’s and Delta’s new terminals, and before long, the iconic tower was the lone representative of my beloved trio. Now they’re all gone.

As for the NYT piece, Dunlap writes that spotting the tower

from the cabin of a Lockheed Electra or a Boeing 727 meant you were really back in New York. No other airport had anything quite like this porthole-pocked cynosure; a hometown creation by Wallace K. Harrison, the consummate New York establishment architect of the mid-20th century, who designed the Trylon and Perisphere for the 1939 World’s Fair and went on to play an important role in Rockefeller Center, Lincoln Center and the United Nations.

[snip]

Mr. Harrison’s reputation was resuscitated in the late 1970s. The sophistication of his curving designs was linked to the artistic tradition of Alexander Calder, Jean Arp and Fernand Léger. Yet the La Guardia control tower still seemed to escape respect. Paul Goldberger, then the architecture critic of The Times, said in 1980 that the structure “with its plethora of portholes looks like a concrete piece of Swiss cheese.”

But the influential architect Rem Koolhaas paid oblique homage to the tower in his 1989 design for the Zeebrugge Sea Terminal in Belgium. In “Delirious New York” (1978), Mr. Koolhaas described the dialectic in Mr. Harrison’s work “between the rectangle and the kidney shape, between rigidity and freedom.” Ultimately, he wrote, the liberating impulse surrenders to the grid. “Only his curve remains as a fossil of the freer language.”

Categories: Architecture, Flying