It's depressing being broke. Being a broke student is especially excruciating, as there are so many luxuries to spend money on, like going out and eating fancy chow with your more affluent friends. Night after night of Ramen noodles and Hot Pockets just don't cut it; sometimes you have to splurge.
Enter Pizzeria Napoli. This small eatery opened recently amidst the industrial buildings and condo complexes of Centennial Boulevard. It took three passes before I finally found the tiny shopping center housing the new restaurant.
Having only a take-out menu to guide me, I had ordered a $16 dollar Chicago-style pizza by phone an hour earlier. I was going to go with the Sicilian, also $16, but I was told that would take even longer to cook. When the woman behind the counter passed me my order, I understood why: Picking up the food put a somewhat unexpected strain on my back. This was the heaviest pizza I had ever encountered.
The box was also enormous, taking up the entire passenger seat. I was tempted to belt it in, for safety's sake. In an accident, the weight of that thing could have surely sent it hurtling through the windshield, taking out lightpoles and sullying innocent passersby with renegade toppings. One has to keep an eye on a pie this size; you never know what it's capable of.
Back at the ranchero, the fantastically huge cardboard oyster was opened to reveal its gleaming Italian pearl, a pizza that defied imagination. The crust was easily an inch thick, I'd venture to say an inch and a half at the edges. My topping choices of ham, pineapple and tomatoes made a colorful combination, one I think you'd call "Autumn."
Now before you recoil in distaste at the mention of my toppings, let me take a moment to defend these innocuous fruits and vegetables: Dems good eatin'. Don't knock it 'til you've tried it.
When the enormity of the meal was revealed, all hope of eating with the hands was abandoned. Knives and forks are a necessity. For curiosity's sake, a sample slice of the deep dish creation was weighed on a conveniently handy postal scale: approximately one pound.
Let us ponder the implications of this figure. Eight slices to a pie, one pound to a slice, $16 for the whole shebang -- that's $2 per pound of food. A pound of food is easily a meal, so if you're eating alone, that's eight meals. If you ate it three times a day, you're looking at two and two-thirds days of solid nutrition for an average of $6.86 per day. That, my friend, is the edible blue light special.
And not only is it cheap, it tastes good, too. The crust is not too doughy, but not so hard you end up with a cleft palate. The toppings were fresh and the cheese was cheesy. The marinara sauce was really good -- not sweet like some other prominent pizza joints we shall not mention, but well seasoned and mellow.
The only problem with food this huge is that it isn't going to fit well in a dorm room minifridge, so a few slices went through rigorous field tests. After being left uncovered for about five hours, it was still moist and responded well to being microwaved. Later, it was left in the car overnight. While hard, the sheer mass of the slice allowed the core to stay malleable and only needed a few drops of olive oil and some R and R in the oven to perk right up. The next day it had lost most of its charm, but was still edible. I'd give it one more day before it became too dry to eat.
All the way around, Pizzeria Napoli has proven itself to be a valuable community resource, giving po' folk the opportunity to devour tasty, massive quantities of food without feeling guilty or entering into the wonderful world of debt. On behalf of the collegiate population of Colorado Springs, we thank you.