There are manly pizza toppings and girly pizza toppings. I'm sorry that the world of pizza is so sexist, but that's the way it is. And anyone who tries to disrupt this social order is met with fierce resistance, mocking, and ridicule. You might think that I'm exaggerating, but I'm not: You wouldn't believe the withering criticism I endured when my friends read what I wrote about Proletariat Pizza and found out that I ate a pizza with eggs on it. Those motherfuckers let off such a steamy cloud of huffy grumbling, they sounded like an army of Hamburglars, "robble- robbling" in exasperated lockstep.
Famed British heavy metal singer Secret Squirrel belts out his classic hit, "Hellbent for Leather."
You see, pizza aficionados consider the "traditional" pizza toppings like pepperoni, mushrooms, olives, peppers, or sausage, to be the "manly" toppings, while avant garde condiments such as pineapple, figs, chicken, artichoke hearts, and the like, are clearly for girls. And don't get me started about pizzas that have alfredo sauce on them in lieu of marinara. You may as well be eating a pizza covered in jizz.
I have no idea where these social distinctions came from, but everyone intuitively knows that what I'm saying is true. At the masculine end of the spectrum are places like Northlake Tavern, where the pizza is so motherfucking meaty your kidneys fail when you eat it. Feminine pizzerias include Pagliacci, which, in addition to decorating its pies with effeminate trappings such as spinach, goat cheese, and rosemary, also strews estrogen pills and subscriptions to the Oxygen network all over the crust. But Flying Squirrel Pizza must be bisexual, because they go both ways.The Secret Squirrel ($8) is called "secret" because it's secretly gay, like a Republican Congressman. It's basically a shrimp pizza with pesto sauce. Six huge-ass prawns, juicy and perfectly cooked, lounge on a small pizza crust, painted with a high-gloss coating of vivid green pesto, and a sprinkling of microplaned parmesan. But what makes this pizza secretly gay? As everyone knows, shrimp are a manly topping because they are beloved everywhere by all people--which makes shrimp a very populist topping. And populists are manly like Teddy Roosevelt, who is so tough he once punched a grizzly bear in the nuts so hard he killed it. But all the shrimp in the world can't change the fact that pesto is the Liberace of pizza toppings. The Secret Squirrel is thus somehow simultaneously manly and gay: Rob Halford, in pizza form!
A small Caesar Salad ($6) sucked because they diced the romaine smaller than necessary. Seriously, you could've put that salad on top of a taco. A very noncommittal dressing was smooth in texture, but lacking in either garlic or anchovy flavor. At least the croutons were crunchy and flavorful. Is a Caesar Salad girly? It's got "Caesar" in it, with all the connotations of victory and assassinations and other manly pursuits which that name implies, but I don't think I have to tell you that salads are for chicks.
The #1 was a plain cheese pizza. It was $14, which is maybe too much for a cheese, but it was a pretty damn big pie. The crust was bubbly and chewy, puffy around the edges but very thin underneath the toppings. The sauce was a perfect balance of sweet and tangy, and the mozzarella was of a higher quality than the white melted caulking that places like Pizza Hut put on their pizzas. Everyone knows that cheese pizzas are the stem cells of pizza, the foundation of other, more advanced pizzas. As such, the #1 was neither male nor female. Like Michael Cera, it's just a fetus, and its sex is too early to tell.
The #3, on the other hand, was confident in its masculinity: it was topped with big savory crumbles of Italian sausage and unrepentantly scattered with intermittent mounds of diced garlic. The garlic was cooked just enough to still be a bit spicy, but not totally raw. What an awesome pizza, and affordably priced at $16.50. This pizza was manly like a cigar-smoking carpenter wearing Old Spice.
While Flying Squirrel numbers some of its pizzas, other pies have names. The Washington ($19) was clearly pretty girly. It featured cubes of ham and sautéed onions and was otherwise pretty good, except for all of the apple chunks on top. Yes, you read right: Tart cubes of apple desecrated this holy land of ham and onion. The Washington was interesting, though, because it was WAY better cold than hot. When hot, the apples were mealy and the caramelized onion flavor predominated. When cold, the apples became crisp and the delicate smoked perfume of the ham made itself known, and the onion flavor respectfully retreated a couple paces.
The Lightnin' Hopkins ($19.50) was the MANLIEST PIZZA IN THE WORLD. It was a classic, topped with pepperoni, thin cross- sections of button mushrooms, razor-sharp red onion rings, and a generous heap of Mama Lil's Peppers. This pizza was the best of the best, spicy and tangy and meaty, like a bunch of cocky fighter pilots--and as manly as a bunch of fighter pilots playing beach volleyball together, and as oily too.
Flying Squirrel Pizza is pretty damn tasty, though the prices are a little steep. Plus they don't deliver. Still, I like this place, because they clearly provide equal opportunity for both manly and girly pizzas. Maybe they should change the name to "Title IX Pizza."
Rating: 8 egalitarian pizza societies out of 10
Flying Squirrel Pizza is located at 4920 S. Genesee St.
To place an order call 206-721-7620