Pizza Grosso

In the absence of genuine New York-style pizza slices in Prague, this hole-in-the-wall near Muzeum is a satisfying stand-in

This article was originally posted on the Czech Please weblog.

I've never fallen in love with a pizza in Prague.

There. I said it.

I've tried quite a few. I even enjoyed some of them. But there was no love.

(Cue violins)

As much as I've tried, I've come to accept that I can only well and truly love a New York-style pizza.

You never forget your first.

Of course, mere words can hardly express the magic for those who don't know. But to give some idea of what I'm talking about, you can read Wikipedia's description of New York-style pizza.

As for other pizzas, there's never one reason a relationship never formed. Usually, it's a combination of factors: The sauce is bland or there is not enough or it's ketchup. Or the crust is too thin or too soggy or burnt. Or the mozzarella is not good (or not mozzarella at all).

Sometimes, there's just no chemistry. Italian or European-style pizzas aren't my thing. I can't fight it.

There is one pizza in Prague that warms my heart. This is the one pizza I go back to again and again. It's not love, but it's close. Sometimes in life, you have to settle for less than the dream.

In my head, I hear Lyle Lovett singing I Married Her Just Because She Looks Like You.

The pizza I'm talking about does not have a fancy address. It actually comes from a hole in a wall in a hole in the ground. In other words, the "food court" in the tunnel under Legerova, behind the National Museum, at the top of Wenceslas Square.

The name of the place is Pizza Grosso. Just like in many New York pizzerias and a few in Prague, they pre-cook the pies and line them up, ready for reheating. I actually love eating pizza this way. This is almost always how I eat pizza in New York. They often have Margherita, pepperoni (more like sliced salami), Hawaiian, mushroom, spinach, olive, and even a corn pizza. Is that called an Iowan?

Reheating the slices gives them a beautifully crispy, crunchy crust. You just have to make sure they make it hot enough -- sometimes they rush the slice in and out of the oven to move people along.

Say "Ohřát prosím" when you order (the best I can do phonetically for visitors is OH-zhat PRO-seem). They'll heat it up anyway, if it is not fresh from the oven. But it encourages them to heat it a little more.

They get a lot of things right with this slice. First, it is big -- a quarter of a 50 centimeter pizza for 30 CZK. Wikipedia says a New York-style pizza has a thin crust, but it is usually a little thicker than most of the pizzas you'll find in Prague.

It stands up very well to folding and holding as you walk. Just be careful with the pepperoni version -- it'll drip red oil down your arm.

Then there's the sauce. There was quite a lot on my last slice -- it depends who's making it that day -- but it's good, so I didn't mind. It is nicely salty and spicy with a great kick of garlic and oregano.

If you really need a place to sit, there are some benches and ledges nearby, but my advice is to keep moving. This is not usually a gathering place for Prague's cleaner or better dressed citizens.

I told the people behind the glass at Pizza Grosso that their pizza was my favorite in Prague. They informed me that they have another location, right under the Kotva department store near Náměstí Republiky.

I was going to compare this pizza to a slice from a similar operation that a friend claims is the best in town. But this post is getting long, so I'll leave it for another day.

People have made various recommendations like Pizzeria Rugantino in Old Town or Pizzeria Grosseto, near Náměstí Míru. Grosseto recently won the contest for the best pizza in Prague, as judged by The Prague Post's restaurant critic, Davie Faries. It's been years since I've tried these places, but they just didn't do it for me.

Pizza Grosso does something for me.

You can tell me about your love, but don't think it will make me jealous. If you've been to Chicago, Naples, or Yerevan and want to tell me the pizza there is better than a New York pizza. I have one word for you:

Fuhgeddaboudit.

Pizza Grosso
The Tunnel Behind the National Museum
Under Legerova
Prague 1


READERS' COMMENTS

"I never had such a bad pizza. It was like rubber-chicken! I tasted like the pie was precoked, and this review confirms that it is. I could survive if it was only bad, but I have been sick for 48 hours and hospitaliced!!!!

"This is an act of terror against Pizza and any italian food!!!!"


me
August 3rd, 2008

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