No, this is not about a side trip in Rome. This is about my mother’s love, nay obsession, for an onion pizza made by the Teaneck, New Jersey kosher-Italians at Colisseum Pizza on beautiful Cedar Lane, Teaneck’s main drag. My mother talks about this pizza like it was the holy grail of pizzas. Pancake, Muggins and I were going over to their house for lunch last Saturday, and Jeanne told me the night before that she was going to order from Colisseum pizza. “What makes it so special?” I asked her. “It’s just GOOD,” Mah said, as if that were explanation enough. “Wait till you taste it! It’s a GREAT onion pizza!” Of course! As we all know, the orthodox Jews really know their pizza.
When Saturday came, the three of us hopped in the car and drove over, ready for pizza and an afternoon of repeating ourselves endlessly while guzzling Crystal Light Lemonade. What a scene awaited us when we got there. There was pizza, all right. But it was not from Colisseum. It was from Presto’s, another pizza place in Bob and Jeanne’s neighborhood. Mah confessed that she had called Colisseum, “but there was NO answer! Can you believe it? And that onion pizza is so DELICIOUS! Have you ever had it?”
Dear God in heaven, I thought to myself. We’re going to have to hear about Colisseum onion pizza, while eating sub-par pizza from Presto’s – all afternoon. And Jeanne was fit to be tied. “What kind of pizza place isn’t open on a SATURDAY?” she fumed, while gobbling a chicken parm sandwich. I said, “Maybe because they’re orthodox they’re closed on Saturday?”
She scoffed. “No, no, no. I ALWAYS call on a SATURDAY and they’re ALWAYS open. For some reason, today they’re CLOSED!” She paused. “Would you like another slice of pizza? It’s not from Colisseum, you know.”
Even Bob was disappointed. In a fit of unforeseen socializing, he had wheeled himself out to the table, ready to be fed and gift us with some of his signature bon mots. He gestured to me to open the pizza box. I did so.
“Hgmjsjiksissn”? he queried.
“No, Bob, this is not Colisseum pizza. They were CLOSED.”
“Mhhshsiwfjkdfjdbfm?” he continued.
“Yes,” said Jeanne, “of course! I called THREE times and there was NO answer! Can you believe it? But try this pizza. It’s not as good as Colisseum onion pizza, but it’s pretty good.”