Saturday, October 29, 2011

Pizza Zone: YRS' Faith In Pizza Delivery Restored

Pizza Zone, 1806 Cook St, Victoria, BC

My recent musings on pizza seem to have sparked a healthy dialogue on the question of best pizza delivery in the city. Much as I love pizza, I'm not one to waste too much blog space on the question. I've tried most delivery pizzas over the years, and most suck, in my taste-cynical opinion. 

At a wine-fuelled dinner party recently, a good friend made an almost Perry Mason-like opening statement, followed by closing argument in defence of the pie delivered by Pizza Zone. My first reaction was to the name of the place. What marketing genius came up with the name Pizza Zone? That really conjures up walks through the Tuscany countryside or romantic strolls along the cobblestone back-roads of Naples. But I listened intently to my friend, and he convinced me to give it a try. I'm glad I listened to him, glad I tried. Pizza Zone may now rank as among the 1% of really good delivery places in town.

Pizza Zone doesn't mess around with the 2-for-1 ploy. They do offer specials and deals for multiple pies, but their marketing research rightly informed them that quality can be more influential than quantity in winning new customers. Said strategy has worked, because they've just won YRS over.

We ordered the "420" (I can see why local pot-heads love this one), which has various quality meats, including real bacon bits! This was a point my friend emphasized - the first time he'd found real bits of actual bacon on his pizza, rather than the standard issue slabs of Canadian bacon. This real bacon does raise the sodium factor a fair bit, but sometimes this is okay, especially when the trade-off is real, crispy bacon! The other meats are not piled on and they are of high quality, unlike the disgustingly thick chunks of factory pepperoni and salami other places put on their pies. Clearly, Pizza Zone takes care in its creations. And I have to admit Zone's crust is a thing of beauty. It's thick (although they offer thin, too) crust, but light, airy, texturally near perfect; a qualitative leap from the heavy gluten bricks served by most other delivery places. I wonder if Zone ferments their dough multiple times to get that texture. Whatever they do, it works.

It turns out that names do deceive. Pizza Zone is not just another Domino, Pizza Hut or clever dream of a drunk marketing student. Zone's owners were actually inspired by a trip to Italy, specifically by "Mama Rosa." When I read the history blip on Zone's web site, I found it to be pleasantly romantic and sincere, rather than just another contrived Dragon's Den-like pitch:

It all began on a summer vacation in a small town in Calabria, Italy. Walking down the cobblestone streets was like walking back in time. We found this little restaurant called Mama Rosa. We were greeted by Mama Rosa herself, an older woman small in stature but larger than life. When I asked her for a menu, she laughed out loud and said "a great cook has no menu because a great cook can make anything".

My wife and I explained to her that pizza was our favorite food and that we wanted to have a real authentic Italian pizza. She walked back into the kitchen and later returned with a thin crust pizza lightly covered with cheese, calabrase salami, black olives, sun dried tomato and a hint of flavor that I have never tasted before. This was honestly the best pizza we ever had, truly a homemade Italian pizza. We returned home from our holiday, bringing back as much of Italy as we could. One of which was the "Calabria pizza recipe."
Mama Rosa we will never forget you and as promised your legacy will live forever.

Okay, maybe a tad corny. But you know what? In a world of crumbling financial markets, which were built on a toxic foundation of greed, deception, fraud, theft and lies, well, sometimes corny is called for. Indeed, corny is perhaps the only redeeming thing we have left in our failing empire. 

YRS gives a big thumbs up to Pizza Zone and raises a glass of Chianti to Mama Rosa!

Pizza Zone on Urbanspoon