As I was catching up with a friend over a few slices last week at Pizza L'Vino -- the month-old pizza place on Waugh directly across from the new Whole Foods Market -- my friend began reflecting on the subjective nature of food, something I'm always eager to discuss.
"If I were a food critic," he mused through a mouth full of Italian sausage, "I would never review a pizza joint."
"Oh yeah?" I asked. "Why is that?"
"I can think this is the best piece of pizza in the entire world," he answered. "But to someone else, it's total crap. Pizza is just way too subjective."
He thoughtfully picked a slice of pepperoni off one of our three slices and held it up. "People can't even agree on the best toppings," he continued. "They can't agree whether thin crust or deep dish is best. They can't agree on anything. Pizza is a wholly personal preference. There's no winning."
"The only way to win," he challenged, "is to pick a specific style of pizza that's incredibly narrow and try to be objective about the crust or the sauce or the cheese. But still, some people are going to only like one style of pizza or one style of crust."
He seemed finished deliberating these matters and fell silent for a minute. Then: "But this crust is really good."
Although pizza -- like all matters of taste -- is, indeed, subjective, I agreed with him on this point. The crust on the slices at Pizza L'Vino was good: neither too thick nor too thin, but with a cracker-like crunch across the very bottom once your teeth tugged through the slightly chewy top layer.
There was a thick sheen of grease across the top of my pepperoni slice, which I didn't particularly enjoy seeing, but the crust handled the potential sog factor well and held up to its toppings until the very end. I also appreciated the fact that Pizza L'Vino spreads its cheese, sauce and toppings nearly to the edge of its pizzas, making for very small "pizza bones" at the end of each slice.
I also enjoyed the Italian sausage, roughly sliced and studded with fragrant fennel seeds throughout. And I liked the fact that you can get pizza by the slice at lunch. It's an objectively smart thing for a pizza place to do, especially one that specializes in delivery and take-out, and especially considering the hordes of office workers that descend from the buildings of the nearby American General complex and walk across the street on nice days.
Another objectively cool thing about Pizza L'Vino is its delivery service. The drivers cover a massive area (sadly, my own house is outside of it) and deliver more than just pizza. In addition to the salads, various appetizers (stuffed zucchini, wings, bread sticks), sandwiches and baked ziti that make up the other half of its menu, Pizza L'Vino will also deliver you beer and/or wine. And not some cheap Yellowtail wine, either, but good stuff.
The wine list offers a varied selection of sparkling wines, whites and reds that intelligently includes plenty of Italian bottles. The beer selection is smart, too: Everything from PBR to Karbach and Saint Arnold is represented, and you can order singles or six-packs.
Pizza L'Vino doesn't have an on-premises liquor license, however, so you can't consume the wine or beer on-site. But the little pizza place really wasn't built for that; in terms of a dining area, there are only six stools facing a bank of windows that's pleasant enough by day, but really meant as more of a waiting area than anything else.
As to the other, full-sized pies that Pizza L'Vino offers, I plan on ordering a couple soon. The huge list of available toppings includes some of my favorite things in the world, albeit things that others may not normally want on their own pizzas: cauliflower, anchovies, pineapple and hot-and-spicy giardiniera.
When I do construct my take-out pizza from Pizza L'Vino, it probably won't be objectively good. But, subjectively speaking, I think I'll love it.
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