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This week, in celebration of the James Beard Foundation finally honoring Tom Douglas as the nation's most outstanding restaurateur , we're working our way through

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100 Favorite Dishes: Clam and Pancetta Pizza at Serious Pie

clampizza.jpg
This week, in celebration of the James Beard Foundation finally honoring Tom Douglas as the nation's most outstanding restaurateur, we're working our way through the Douglas portion of our favorite dishes list.

There's a common misconception that certain food items should always be cheap. Any chef who slaps a double-digit price tag on a plate of tacos or bowl of pho knows dunderheaded guests will kvetch and cry, pointing out they can buy the very same dish at a neighborhood joint for $5.

Many eaters similarly balk at paying $18 for a pizza, but the pancetta clam pizza at Serious Pie is a superb illustration of the kind of quality that only money can buy. There's nothing wrong with the other pies on the menu - excellence here is embedded in the crisp, bubbly crusts, scented with a whiff of hearth smoke - but the sophisticated saltiness of the shellfish and swine combination is brilliant.

The pie's showered with shaved Parmesan, which melts into the chewy Penn Cove clams and introduces a nuttiness that bounces off the peppery pancetta. To finish the pizza, there's olive oil and lemon thyme. And if the price is still a deal-breaker, remember that a downsized version is just $6 during happy hour.

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