I switched schools at the beginning of the year, and while I found everyone to be nice, I was skeptical about their hobbies and their ways of life. It’s a small little prestigious school full of kids who love to learn and have fun- while this may seem innate to learning, it’s not, believe me. I’m not very acquainted with my grade to be honest- it’s nothing against them, it’s just I’ve found more in the upper class, but that doesn’t mean I dislike my own. In fact, my class is quite supportive and inclusive. That’s why I wasn’t shocked when the first person who discovered I had a food blog was someone in my class. Ever since, most people express some interest in it- especially trying their hand at the whole food blogging thing- I’ve done a few lunches with kids from my school that we’ve reviewed. But maybe the most enthusiastic about doing a for Vin et Grub was William. So this past Wednesday, I piled into a car with him and his bros and made a trip down to Miccuci’s which served the purpose to convince me that the infamous creation of Stephen Lanzilotta, the “Slab” was the best pizza in all of Maine.
Unfortunately, pizza is not my favorite food. I’m not saying that I’m a caviar and truffle aficionado, but I suppose I prefer fried chicken to a slice of ‘zza any day. Not to mention my experiences with thick dough pizza have been ruined ever since my friend Annie made me a pizza four years ago that caused me the worst case of food poisoning (as well as the only) I’ve ever had. Miccuci’s slab is thick, cheesy, and soft. Nothing like the pizza from Otto’s, Flatbread’s, or Bonobo. Personally, I adore thin crusted pizza, and when there’s a place as good as Otto’s not even a mile away from Miccuci’s it’s odd that I wouldn’t choose to go there. But William insisted, along with Addison, that the Slab could not be topped- that it was an experience all in itself. Reluctantly I went along with this idea. I love Miccuci’s in fact, I go there quite often to get specialty groceries and Luna Bread- but the slab has never appealed to me before. When we were getting out of the car, William and Addison told me about the policy which they always follow- “We have a slab code of honor. If we make it to 45 India Street and there aren’t enough slabs for our entire group, we wait for another batch to come out. We’ve waited forty-five minutes while a randomly chosen person keeps watch.” – Addison. Upon hearing this, I thought it was ludicrous to wait so long for a piece of pizza, but I noted it because it clearly expresses how great of an experience the slab is.
Thankfully there were enough slabs for everyone five minutes after we went inside. The bros were thinking about doing 1.5 slabs per person, I was overwhelmed just by the sight of one, so I promised Jack whatever I didn’t eat. We grabbed some sodas- San Pellegrino Chinotto all the way, and sat in the little alcove where Miccuci’s bakery is located. It was there where I took some very necessary photos, listened to a legitimate bro-sesh, and finally got a taste of the slab that they had been swearing by. Addison says that, ”The first time I had a slab was a spiritual experience. The orgy of lip-smacking tomato sauce and salaciously melted cheese incited a food-lust inside of me that only the heartiest of pizza can sate.” Whether or not he was serious is futile. The fact that he’d even go the length to make such a passionate proclamation really solidifies the fact that the slab is an experience.
Now as far as the slab goes. It’s certainly not Otto’s Three Cheese Tortellini Pizza made with love by Travis (which conveniently I ate tonight), but it wasn’t what I was expecting. The fresh mozzarella was browned nicely but still wonderfully gooey, the tomato sauce was remarkably sweet but still retained the natural flavor of fresh tomatoes, the dough was a bit sour, nicely aged, and still soft. I was nervous that it would be undercooked and heavily flavoured by yeast- thankfully, it wasn’t. Unfortunately though, it was too thick of a crust for me. It just reaffirmed that I am a thin-crust pizza kind of person, who loves light cheese and heavy veggies. As the slab only comes in one form, it’s hard to match those standards- but I guess I shouldn’t be comparing it to my typical pizza standards anyway. As William said, “It’s an experience,” and that does not necessarily mean it’s pizza. I don’t want to convey the wrong message and make it seem like I disliked it- that’s not the case at all. It was nicely flavored, fully cooked, and delicious- it’s just not my cup of tea. At the same time, I can see why everyone loves the slab, and why the bros make weekly trips to indulge.
Maybe that’s where it got me. It’s too indulgent. Yeah, I know- this coming from the girl who sears all her meat in truffle butter. I’m a hypocrite. Say it why don’t you?
Despite feeling sorta guilty after eating my slab, I was quite content. Hearing the guys talk about the slab and lax season was refreshing. It’s nice to know that people care about life’s simple pleasures. Not to mention many times I found myself laughing at William’s jokes, and Sam’s facial expressions. I guess now is a good time to talk about Chinotto, which everyone besides me disliked. Chinotto, for those who don’t know, is the most darling little citrus fruit- quite bitter in taste, that make wonderful sodas. In comparison to the normal lemon and orange San Pellegrino’s, the Chinotto variety offers a fuller taste without all the added sweetness. I almost feel like I’m describing a wine- but I’m not. Even though there is a slight aftertaste of alcohol.
This is what we accomplished within 35 minutes of being dismissed from class. Look at it. Weep a little. Go to Miccuci’s tomorrow.
Overall, the excursion was worth it. While it’s difficult for me to say that I will want to eat the slab often, I can say that I’ll have another one in my life time. It’s not even pizza, that’s all I keep saying to myself. It’s just a baked piece of dough with some sins sprinkled on top, it’s a conversation starter, it’s a symbol of the Italian culture in PTLD, and it’s the handy-work of my past neighbor, S. Lanzilotta, whose license plate reads SXYBKR. Food and Wine, as well as Bon Appetit, have insisted on making a trip into Miccuci’s if it’s your first time visiting Portland. I agree. It’s hard to imagine that it’s even legal- because I really feel like its too indulgent. But I think any first time visiter to Portland should split one with a friend, and ponder over whether or not it should be considered pizza. Maybe it’s a revolution in the making? Maybe I’m just a little too stuck up to classify it in my normal pizza category for fear that it will soon take Otto’s # 1 seat?