WARNING: Reading this on an empty stomach may cause pain, dizziness, general discomfort and erratic dance moves.
Drizzly Friday night, two pairs of heels echoing in a sparsely lighted, quiet street. I can totally hear you asking, shouldn’t you be on a date girl? Yes, yes I probably should. And I really would if it hadn’t been for my bitterness after the brief but dense episode with D., who turned out to be a total tool, who completely ruined my Christmas, and after whom I decided to name my toilet brush for now.
So here I am, throwing myself into this odd little adventure instead. Its highlight, I am told, should be currently Prague’s best pizza – as confirmed by city’s biggest Italianophile, A., who agreed to carry out the research with me, as well as her Italian flatmate, who decided to go take a shower instead when he heard I am going, too. Coincidences, right?
“So it’s better than Pizza Nuova? How can it possibly be better than Pizza Nuova?”
” It’s fantastic, I swear.”
” But at 100 Kč? Impossible. You are aware that whenever you lie, especially about pizza, a kitten dies.”
” Jesus!!! Wait, I think this is it.”
An apartment building, no restaurant sign in sight. We press the bell and A. utters something in Italian into the microphone – a proper secret-venue password I imagine, like ‘Oranges on sale at Lidl’ or similar. A buzzer lets us in and we walk up the stairs of a mediocre residential building. I smell underground already when we pass abandoned plants on the second floor and some spilled garbage bags on the third, but not even my wild imagination could foresee what I am to witness.
Call me conservative, but this most definitely is not a restaurant. It’s an apartment, full of boys, mostly Italian, with music on full blast (yes I was being old and put it down), a slightly disturbing surreal collection of pictures on the wall, a very futuristic pizza machine and the most divine pizza smell, ever. In the middle of all that stands the maestro himself, Frankie.
Now if you thought I can’t hold a conversation in Italian just because I only dedicated two months to learning it, decades ago, in a convent school, you so have underestimated me. I immediately blend in, casually throwing in well-timed “Si” and “Attraversiamo” here and there… Here’s what I learned before all my senses have been hijacked for good.
An office nerd by day and a pizza guru at night, Frankie has been making his friends pizza-happy for years. Perhaps slightly less happy since he announced he would start charging for it as it became more and more popular and he found himself spending a fortune on ingredients every week.
He produces the most genuine, humble smile when I start inquiring about the slightly sci-fi pizza machine that he had to adjust somewhat in order to be able to reach the right temperature. That, and the beautiful fresh ingredients, seem to be his secret: flour from Italy, mozzarella by Mozzarellart, photo-ready fresh basil and a drizzle of flavoursome olive oil on top… I try and keep myself busy by taking pictures but all my focus has gone bye-bye.
“Fine del mondo!!!” Screams one of the guys from above his pizza box, his mouth beyond-full and eyes beaming. I raise my eyebrow in question, turning to A. for explanation.
“The end of the world. Means he’s loving it.”
It’s only a bit later, when it’s finally, finally my turn and the soft crust says hello to fragrant olive oil, spicy rucola, prosciutto and freshly grated parmigiano cheese in my mouth that I discover the true meaning of that phrase…
P.S. I know all of you are on a diet right now, not really interested in anything as high-cal, gluten-full and completely kale-free as a pizza… So here, some random pictures to chew your raw chia muffins over…