Luigi's pizza

Pizza without emotion is like childbirth without hemorroids

If you do not emote when you consume pizza, you are doing it wrong. Pizza has long been an emotional experience for me. I mean, shoot, remember completing your entire “BookIt!” readings  to then reap the lucrative prize of a fancy dinner at Pizza Hut? Pizza was and always will be the ultimate reward. Pizza Hut, however, did not reward the digestive system. That also made me emotional.

It had been awhile since my older sister and I had really connected, what with me getting my heart destroyed in what I like to call PeterPanGate, and with her getting her heart sewn up in the sanctity of marriage, it was nearly impossible to find the right time to just sister up. The right time occurred over Christmas in the oft forgotten city of Akron, Ohio. Akron. Ohio. Stuff your bourgie sneer in a sack of skunks — Akron is AWESOME. It has a wonderful art museum that you can actually experience all of without having someone’s Upper East Side plastic surgery mask melt down your back into your butt crack. Sure, you could get stabbed, but guess what? You can get stabbed at Grandma’s if she’s had too much to drink.

Luigi’s is tucked into a quasi-strip mall across from Akron Glassworks and a silver carp — one of my favorite typos (as in “You know what, Chauncey, I don’t give a carp!”). It was ice-spit raining and grey when I visited, the sky meeting cement overpass barriers was vertiginous.

The logo of Luigi’s is like the bat signal. MY bat signal. The insides are devoid of frill. Akron is about hard-working Ohioans with hands calloused from folding sod, driving the shit-spreader, wrangling their kids splattered in mud from still-running quads. They are here, at Luigi’s, with their sisters and husbands, to shovel-fist the most delicious pizza I have ever had. And a salad whose dressing is slap-your-neighbor’s-baby magnificent.

As my sister listened to me drone on about the demise of my relationship, a warm, but not too warm, waitress took our order. Italian tossed salads with cheese for the both of us; the tomato, cheese and pepperoni pie for me, and the pizza bianco for my sister. A basket of shy looking bread was plopped gruffly, but not too gruffly, in front of us. I underestimated that bread. And the butter? It was like it came freshly yanked out of a cow’s butt (I know that’s not where it comes from). The salad arrived in those light wood bowl things, piled with strippy cheese. I forked that salad. I forked that salad and I put it in my mouth and I almost took my pants off and ran around Luigi’s chortling with glee at this amazing salad and salad dressing discovery.

I drank red wine out of a stocky tumbler [We call them Guinea glasses here. -ed.] and observed. One table hosted an older couple, both slightly round, both wearing the same color jeans. They were quiet most of the time with the shared that silence of years together that were actually enjoyed. I smiled at them as the tastiest pizza I’ve had in two years or more was lowered slowly to the table in front of me like some sort of pork cylinder covered cheesy concubine. I drooled. I may have grunted. I may have started to disrobe.

Everything about Luigi’s pizza is perfection. Dark orange burned cheese pockets? NONE. In fact, it’s as if some of the cheese crept throughout the pan and crisped the sides and bottom of the dough. It kind of resembles my first fat-kid love: the personal pan pizza of Pizza Hut, but that’s where the similarities end. My first bite landed my defective dental pieces into hot pillowy dough slathered in sauce you could slap on a turd and call it a meal, topped with salty oozy tongue diddling cheese and perfectly crisped and baked-in pepperoni (I hate when the pepperoni sits unattached to the top of the cheese like a boyfriend who just won’t commit. See what I … yeah).

I don’t think I spoke for at least the 10 minutes it took me to devour the entire pizza AND have a slice of my sisters, which I like to call the double-edged boner killer. I mean, it’s SO GOOD, but your breath will land you in the crawl space for a night, no doubt. This pizza experience was emotional. I reconnected with my sister, I got to experience and celebrate a lot of what Akron has to offer. And the pizza itself resembles the good people of Akron in many ways — a city that is working so hard, has so much (oozy goodness) to offer, and it may get knocked around, but damn it, it’s going to keep plowing forward.

If you haven’t figured it out already, I would make sweet sweet love to Luigi’s Pizza. I would have its babies even past the point that I wanted to add another mouth to feed.

Learn about Luigi’s, and GO. (click images to view)

All photos by Kelly Samardak