subject: Anna's Pizza #5
take-out vehicle: flimsy pizza box
As one of the few (perhaps only) pizza places in Charlottesville older than myself, I had been eager to finally try Anna's for some time. My only excuse for not having previously done so was inconvenience, but this past Friday I finally made up my mind to take the plunge. I called ahead on my way out of the office, picked up two bottles of chianti (it was Friday, after all), and made my way across town.
Anna's opened in 1976, and at the time it was probably a really cool place for locals and/or students hang out. Unfortunately (though I'd never been in there before and so I can't say for certain), it seemed as though nothing had changed in the 30-odd years since. The furniture, the lights, the lonely old jukebox in the corner—they all seemed ripped from the set of Happy Days. Likewise, the pizza itself seemed dated. It wasn't awful, don't get me wrong, and perhaps I didn't get to experience it at its zenith, but the pizza I picked up just seemed...tired.
I ordered a 16-inch traditional pizza with half pepperoni and green pepper (my favorite since childhood) and half broccoli (one of my wife's new favorite toppings). As I tried them separately, however, I found each pizza component to be somehow lacking. The pepperoni was thin and didn't have a great deal of spice, the cheese was stringy and had an odd melted-plastic-like quality, and the sauce was mediocre. The crust was probably my favorite part. It was golden brown yet foldable and chewy, very similar to other "Yankee-style" pizzas I've eaten before. I think my biggest disappointment, however, was the previously frozen broccoli. It was just unappetizing.
All that said, the whole turned out to be somehow greater than the sum of its parts. Yes, it was uninspired and I've certainly had much better, but in a way it was also comforting, like an old cozy blanket. My wife, who grew up on Anna's but who hadn't eaten from there in probably 15 years, said it tasted exactly like she remembered. "It's a taste," she said, "that you just can't forget." And despite my never having eaten it before, I understood what she meant.
I admit, I was hoping for a better pie, but combined with the two bottles of wine, a few good CDs, and three hours of overdue conversation, our meal turned out to be pretty darned fantastic.