I spend too much time on the road. Long crazy drives… It’s way too easy to exist on Combos and Slim Jims on the 12-odd hour drive between Knoxville and Brooklyn (um… yes… I’m in one or the other). Otherwise there’s the too many hours to get to a karate tournament somewhere (yes, also true…) You really have to force yourself sometimes to take a decent break to get some good eats. Chains/franchises are to be avoided at all costs (of course). There’s been some odd ones, like a jews-for-jesus bagel shop in the middle of Virginia.
Lately, tho, I’ve become obsessed with finding really good pizza. In Brooklyn I’m a little spoiled for this… I’ve waited the many long minutes (sometimes more than an hour) for a pie at Grimaldi’s (by the Brooklyn Bridge) or Totonno’s (Coney Island). If you need to ask… yes, it is worth it. I haven’t actually been inside Di Fara yet to order a pie, but I’m sure it’ll be worth the wait.
One great find, pretty late at night, on the long drive up to Brooklyn was a little place called Luigi’s in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Harrisonburg is about half way between Knoxville and Brooklyn, but if you’re driving that long ribbon of highway, the I-81, it’s a good place to hit. Fine beer selection, excellent pizza, friendly staff and patrons. Downtown Harrisonburg was disturbingly similar to my home town of Schenectady, New York. A place that had been abandoned by the southern migration of industrialization some time in the 60s or 70s. I got involved in a totally out-of-left field discussion while there about Madonna’s legal ties upon the Bad Brains… Apparently (some super-light Google research revealed) she did actually own their name at one time. I dunno. I really don’t care. I just know that beer and pizza never tasted so good before catching a few Z’s before the next day’s (what proved to be excessively hellish) drive.
A couple of weeks later, I’m fleeing the Hartford/Springfield Airport (sorry… Bradley), headed for the Mohegan Sun Casino for another Karate tournament. Too hungry to cope in the rental, I randomly pulled off of CT Rte. 2 into the outskirts of Glastonbury, Conneticut. There were no music festivals, but there was a great tag sale (more on that in later posts), and a tip to try out Giovanni’s Brick Oven Pizzeria… which we did, and it was well worth the trip.
A footnote or aside… There is a web site called Slice, that is for the serious pizza hound, that has been a pretty good guide in my search for some good pie. I could never rise to the level of their stringent review criteria… and certainly won’t here… but if you are mad for that perfect slice, you might want to see them for guidance.
In Closing. There is good food, it’s usually not in the retailtainment hubs that have polluted this country. They are off to the side, in strange locals you might not normally visit. Restauranteering is possibly second only to bookselling for eccentric professions of the most benefit to the greater society, and it really is worth your extra effort to seek out and support such establishments.