Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Eat Like a Local on the Big Island of Hawaii: Pat'z Pies

Everywhere you go somebody is claiming they have the best pizza. Which is great, because in the immortal words of Jeremy Grey (better known as Vince Vaughn, playing himself, just like we like it) in Wedding Crashers; "It's pizza, baby, it's always good." Truer words are rarely spoken.

The problem arises when classifying pizza as great, because everyone has their own criteria, as individualized, subjective and vexing a problem as selecting the perfect bra. Sometimes it's as simple as thin crust. Sometimes it's a complex theorem on the spicy to sweet ratios in the tomato sauce. I won't insult you by claiming that Pat'z Pies in Kealakekua, Hawaii are the best pizzas on earth. But I'll tell you why I love them so very much, to convince you to stop when you visit our Big Island.

You pull off the highway (ambiance is not the reason one stops at Pat'z.) park in the line up and place your order at the window. Here is where you get your first taste of why Pat'z is so special. It's Pat himself. Never have you seen a man so happy to help you order a slice, or so proud of his skill in the kitchen. He can't wait to expound on the virtues of his pies, tell you about toppings or share a great surf spot a few miles down the way. And he'll probably talk you in to a freshly fried malasada (Portuguese doughnut) on your way out. He's just as friendly and genuine with his local regulars as he is with visitors.

At last, your slice arrives, fresh from the oven. First of all, it has a wheat flour crust, which could spell a tough, chewy disaster. Instead, it's a little nutty thanks to all those whole grains and light, fluffy, crisp thanks to the perfectly hand tossed dough. Then, there are the toppings- an amazing array to choose from, many locally grown. Our slices had spinach, olives, pesto, peppers, garlic and two kinds of delicious cheese. It's hot, fresh, loaded and made with so much love and joy, you can't help but taste it.

What makes for delicious pizza in your book?

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