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Circuit Court New York

Pizzeria Uno
55 3rd Avenue (at E. 10th St.)
212.995.9668
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Magistrate Tavee examines.On a particularly frosty January evening here in the Big Frozen Apple, my dinner buddy Audrey and I found ourselves traipsing up and down lower 3rd Avenue scavenging for füd. Anyone who knows New York even slightly knows the East Village is filled with more tasty cheap eats than you can shake a gavel at: great ethnic (Veselka, the restaurants of Indian Row), Italian (Frank), sushi (Hasaki), burgers (Paul’s Place and Cozy Burger), desserts (Veniero’s and Chikalicious), and vegetarian (er, um...).

Audrey and I stood there in the brisk winter breeze and weighed our options. Then it hit us: the heartwarming smell of baking cheese, bread, and plum tomato wafting our way. Lo and behold, across the street from us was that familiar green and gold Pizzeria Uno sign. We made sure none of our friends were around and dashed in.

Now, the last time I had the Uno, I was merely an up-and-coming magistrate in the Michigan circuit court system. Though I had yet to grow into my robes, I'd done enough research to know that Uno originated the Chicago “Deep Dish” style of pizza in 1943, which is essentially a pizza quiche or casserole if you want to be technical about it. I remember how the walls were lined with various “Chicagoan” artifacts, and that the pizza, while delicious, left this ignorantly-developing lactose-intolerant with many a case of what can only be described as “No. 3.”

So what struck me upon stepping inside was that literally nothing had changed in the more than 12 years since I last experienced mild cheese overdose. The artifacts were the same, save for a few new layers of grease and smoke, and even the crowd looked like they had stepped out of the Mall of America circa 1994.

True to form, I ordered the classic Numero Uno, a brick of sausage, pepperoni, peppers, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, mozzarella, and romano. Audrey ordered the Shroom: a concoction of mushrooms, spinach, garlic, and cheese. The waitress was pleasant enough, offering that sort of well-trained chain restaurant service that’s overly nice while being entirely unmemorable, and who is legally obligated to ask you if Pepsi is okay instead of Coke (it’s not).

Before long, our pies arrived. I never really understood the phrase “pizza pie” until I first started eating these, and can’t really apply it to regular pizza now. About two inches high (a layer of baked crust, then various fillings, then cheese, then a final layer of tomato sauce) and 6 inches wide, they were steaming hot coronaries-in-the-making. There was an initial scare as I inspected a questionable blackened ingredient for a minute or two (documented for your review), but I was able to keep my wits about me and continue.

Onion Prong

I popped a Lactaid pill (don’t leave home without them), and we began eating. Damn, these things are good! The crust is probably made with a stick of butter alone, and its slightly sweet taste complements the spiciness of the sausage and pepperoni perfectly. The tomatoes were fresh, the cheese was, well, cheesy, but the onions and peppers seemed to get lost among the sea of flavors. Audrey definitely took a shine to her Shroom pizza as well, and for a good fifteen minutes we lost ourselves in a fat-saturated daydream, forgetting that, were any of our friends to peer through the window and see us, we would have to commit hari-kari (after fully digesting of course)

AudreyAt $7.79 for an individual size, this is a really good deal. I finished five of its six pieces and saved the last for a late-night snack. Even though I could have easily finished the entire thing, I’d recommend exercising a bit of moderation. Somehow I suspect the proliferation of Uno’s around the country is directly linked to the growth in the average American waistline. Anyway, yeah, it’s not cool or fun or ironic, but Uno is pretty damn tasty. Get over there and take a little stroll down Memory Lane. And remember to bring your loose pants.

Postscript: Okay, so I made up the part about the smell of bread and cheese wafting about 3rd Avenue – anyone who knows New York also knows you can barely smell anything on the streets in January save for wet concrete, street salt, and dog poo. Despite the salted dog poo though, there’s something totally appetizing about a place that couldn’t be any more out of place in the East Village. While I usually don’t rule in favor of chain restaurants, I can’t help but rule for good eats, and that’s what I had.

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Contact Magistrate Tavee at plangent1002@hotmail.com

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