October is National Pizza Month. Yes, it's true. The pizza, which frankly seems like a food substance that in America is in no danger of becoming an endangered species, has its own celebratory promotional month. And why not? While I presume that most of us eat a good deal of pizza in any/every month, it's not a bad idea to pause and give thanks, to truly appreciate the pizza pie.
One craft fanatic suggests some fun activities for pizza month: "Make pretend pizzas out of clay" (that's no fun), "Have a pizza party!" (better, as long as it doesn't involve the clay pizzas) and "Visit a pizza parlor." Ah, now you're getting warm. I upped the ante by challenging myself to celebrate October by ordering pizza from a place in Madison where I've never been before.
At first I thought this could only be a couple of names, but as I surveyed the pizza listings in the phone book, I realized there are a lot of pizza purveyors -- in Madison itself and from Middleton to McFarland -- more than the big names that immediately spring to mind.
Pizzas are one food substance where it's particularly true that proximity is the first cause of culinary friendship. When I lived on McKenna Boulevard I liked to get pizza from the now-departed Edwardo's. When I lived off Milwaukee Street, I liked to pick up pizza at the Buck's on Cottage Grove Road (no delivery) or Rosati's on Commercial Avenue. Now I like Cafe La Bellitalia or Benvenuto's up on the north side. It is in this way that you can drive yourself into a pizza rut.
I ended up at Supreme Pizza, which has been operating on East Johnson Street for something less than forever, but in Madison terms, a good long time. As it was late and raining, I called in my order and picked it up at the counter. But there is a small dining area that could seat a couple of dining parties; it has the comfy, lived-in air of up-north bar.
Supreme Pizza bills itself as "Madison's Thin Crust Pizza Capitol," so thin crust it was. I like thin crispy crusts -- my favorite was from the now-defunct Luigi's on the Capitol Square. Supreme's thin crust certainly is thin. It's almost like eating a pizza on a cracker, but the crust suffers from a slight flour overload that makes it less flaky-crunchy and more chewy than it would ideally be. The pie was not overloaded with sauce, but you could really taste the oregano. How you feel about that is, of course, a matter of taste. I'd rather have less sauce than a sloppy slice. A plus: the pies here were less greasy than many. (Less greasy than Rosati's tend to be, for instance.)
The standard pepperoni and mushroom and a standard sausage and black olive were, well, standard, though the mushrooms were fresh, not canned. On my next visit I will order from the more interesting toppings, including bratwurst, sauerkraut, corn, chipotle peppers, vegan soysage and eggplant. I believe, although I'm not 100% certain, this is the only place in town where you can order a ham and sauerkraut pizza, or a bacon and sauerkraut pizza. If you've not tried these flavor combos, I highly recommend them.
Unless, that is, you are vegan, in which case you are also in luck, as Supreme also offers a whole wheat vegan crust at no extra cost.
Overall: Supreme's pizza was more on a par with Buck's than I would have liked it to be. But I like Buck's -- its pizzas have a straightforward, simple appeal. Supreme's thin-cruster won't permanently tempt me away me from either Cafe La Bellitalia or Benvenuto's. But I will be coming back for ham and sauerkraut.