Unlike steak, there is no animal from which a pizza is cleaved, nothing—save for the size of the oven—to restrict a pizza’s proportions. (But imagine for a second what a wonderful world it would be if cattle made of dough roamed the open range.) And so the weighty responsibility of balancing boundless circumference with the bounds of good taste falls to the pie slinger.
Take Talarico’s, where the mammoth, individually sold slices are isosceles monuments to the power of perception: Yeah, it looks like you’re getting a lot for your money—14 inches from point to outer edge is an intimidating portion—but you’re paying $6 for it; the whole thing smells of gimmickry. Which isn’t to say it’s lackluster: The Coppola—Talarico’s thin yet dense crust covered with spritzes of goat cheese, long ribbons of roasted red peppers, and a dash of garlic—makes an admirable attempt at elevating the classic East Coast slice.
Northlake Tavern, on the other hand, favors depth to surface area. (Credit the appetite of its U Dub clientele for making that formula a success for more than 50 years.) Diameterwise, the meat eater’s special is no bigger than your average pie, but it sags under the weight of mounds—and mounds—of thick-cut pepperoni, Canadian bacon, and chunks of beef sausage that advance to the crust’s borders like Italy’s answer to Manifest Destiny. It’s edible expansionism, where the terrain is soft with fields of gooey mozzarella and provolone and the rivers run spicy with marinara—you know, the kind of place where a mythical beast of yeast and flour might graze. And for the lover of all things big, it’s the Pizza Promised Land.
BOTTOMLINE:Northlake Tavern weighs in with proof that sometimes you can’t have too much of a good thing.