Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Who Wants Pizza?

If the title didn’t pique your interest, I’m sure the scrumptious photo did. I mean, who doesn’t enjoy pizza? Personally, I can’t think of a single person I know that doesn’t like pizza. Granted, some of us relish a delicious pie more than others, but I have never heard anyone say anything negative about this culinary delight. That would be heresy.

After all, pizza is like sex. Even when it’s bad it’s still pretty good.

Based on the premise that all pizzas are at least pretty good, there are some better than others. And everyone has an opinion on whose pizzeria makes the best pie. Ask a group of people and you will get at an abundance of assorted responses. Plus, a lot of hemming and hawing to go along with those responses.

Two years ago I posted a “Best Pizzeria in Kenosha” poll and the initial response was quite brisk and varied. I didn’t have to elaborate or set parameters, people immediately began casting votes.

For those interested in the details, the poll consists of my top ten pizzerias (at the time) in Kenosha. I had to draw the line somewhere, that’s why there are only ten. Reluctantly, I had to leave off fine establishments like Tenuta’s, Rosati’s and Rocky Rococo.

Looking back, I should have included Rocky’s in my top ten instead of Renzo’s. The only reason Renzo’s made the list is because they make the best pizza turnovers in Kenosha. I know, technically a turnover isn’t a pizza, but they are soooo good. And, besides, it’s my poll.

Other local pizza joints that did not garner a spot on my poll were Frankie D’s, Antonio’s, Toppers, Little Caesars, Domino’s, Pizza Hut, Nick-N-Willy’s, Slice of NY Pizzeria, Papa John’s and Papa Murphy’s. 

Some of these didn’t make it because I have never tried them and others because I had tried them. Enough said.

One pizzeria that didn’t make my list because I have not tried their pizza yet was Luisa’s Pizza. Located in Salem, Wisconsin, according to a 2011 Kenosha News poll, Luisa’s has the “Best Pizza West of the I.”

The only reason I haven’t tried their pizza yet is because of its location. Unfortunately, I don’t travel so well these days and Luisa’s is located at the corner of Hwy 50 & 317th Avenue in Salem.

I have heard nothing but wonderful things about Luisa’s and some day, some how, some way, I will try their pizza. That pledge goes out to my Facebook friend Paul De Luisa, the owner/operator.

A couple other restaurants that would have made the poll had they been in Kenosha are situated right over the state line in Illinois. They are Pizza House on Sheridan Road in Zion and Quonset Hut on Grand Avenue in Waukegan.

Pizza House was a favorite haunt of mine during my halcyon days while working at American Air Filter in Zion. Whether it was something for lunch or a pie picked up on the way home, I was never disappointed. The double-decker from Pizza House was good for a minimum of two meals, even for a veteran trencherman like me.

The Quonset Hut was a popular place to go after a Kenosha Flyers hockey game played across the border in the land of Lincoln. The pizza and Italian bombers were top-notch and it didn’t hurt that they served me beer when I was only 17. Hey, don’t blame them; I was big for my age.

While we are still in Illinois, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention some of the iconic pizzerias there. Places like Lou Malnati’s, Giordano’s, Pizzeria Uno, Connie’s, Gino’s East, Aurelio’s, Home Run Inn and Edwardo’s come to mind.

So far, I haven’t had the pleasure of sampling the much-ballyhooed fare from any of these restaurants. Lou Malnati’s offers mail order pizzas that are partially baked, flash frozen, ready to be baked and eaten. I was tempted to order a pie from Lou’s, but the price quickly quelled my desire to place an order. $57.99 for two 9” deep-dish pizzas is a bit costly, even for a pizza devotee like me.

Based on the poll results, not everyone agrees with my tastes. Like I said earlier, if you ask a group of people what their favorite pizzeria is, you will get a multitude of answers.

Here were the poll results:

Carl’s – 25%
Valeo’s – 17%
Pa’s – 16%
Casa Capri – 15%
Luigi’s - 8%
DeRango’s - 4%
Infusino’s - 4%
Jimano’s - 4%
Renzo’s - 4%
Ruffolo’s - 3%

Surprised by the results? I must admit there were a few eye-openers. 

While I am making lists, here is my personal 2014 Top Ten list of Kenosha pizzerias:

1. Valeo’s
2. Sal’s
3. Pa’s
4. Luigi’s
5. Casa Capri
6. DeRango’s
7. Rocky Rococo’s
8. Infusino’s
9. Jimano’s
10. Renzo’s

Maybe, if there is enough interest, we could run another poll on this blog site. Let me know!

Until next time…from the booth.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Happy 30th Anniversary Play Ball

This summer marked the thirtieth anniversary of the Play Ball newspaper. The eight-page tabloid was the effort of publishers Glen Marescalco and Jack Ostrowski. During the first two weeks of the free publication’s short existence, Don Cox and John Rampart assisted them. The paper was published bi-monthly beginning May 29, 1984, with the last issue coming out August 21 that same year. As you might have guessed, the paper was devoted to all levels of Kenosha softball and baseball. Although it only survived the one-year, it was a must-read periodical.

The cover of the inaugural issue featured team pictures of both the 12” men and women Kenosha City champions from the previous (1983) season. Current Kenosha Mayor, Keith Bosman penned an article about the upcoming city tournaments. A regular feature, the “May Beverage Player of the Week”, debuted in this issue. Larry Keating garnered the honor, winning an Old Style cap and t-shirt along with a case of Old Style beer. Other regular features were the standings from The Bullpen and Finney’s West.

The second issue not only spotlighted the local softball scene, but also concentrated heavily on hardball. Tremper High School’s baseball team made the cover, celebrating their trip to the state tournament. Play Ball also featured two regular columnists, Dudley Blue and Xavier B. Harding. These pen names were used by a couple of softball “heavyweights” who liked to offer their spin on Kenosha’s favorite sport.

As could be expected, getting team and managers to contribute information and results was Marescalco and Ostrowski’s biggest obstacle. So much so, they put themselves on the cover of the June 26th cover pleading for contributions. Mayor Bosman added a second article, this one concerning the upcoming 14” tourney. Tournament results were peppered with the usual array of pictures featuring Kenosha’s men and women in action.

The July 12th issue of Play Ball ran a column by Xavier B. Harding that pondered the future of softball in Kenosha. It was interesting to go back and read the column and see how Harding’s opinions have played out, as softball progressed. Maybe, if there is enough interest, I can “reprint” that 1984 column in the Daily Kenoshan. I found it very interesting. That was the beauty of Play Ball. It was about people and things that you knew and cared about. Heck, it was about you!

The cover of the next issue of Play Ball had 1984 women Rotary champs Pasquali’s on it. A comprehensive article was featured along with an ad congratulating them on their back-to-back Rotary titles. Speaking of ads, they were another great part of the paper. Not only do they bring back wonderful memories, like The Ranch, Uncle Munchies and Hoff’s Players; but also the paper had coupons! The Times, Video Unlimited and The Fon Tan Blu were just a few that offered great deals when you patronized their establishments. Many a Thursday night, my team made the short trek across 22nd avenue from Hoff’s to The Times to use the free drink coupon we had tore out of the latest copy of Play Ball.

The final issue had the 14” City Tournament champions, The 5th Amendment, on the cover. The 5th’s pitcher, Rick “Cardo” Bloomquist, was honored as the last  “May Beverage Player of the Week”. The tabloid was fortunate enough to have Kenosha softball luminary Al Gajdos author an article about the legendary Strang Siding’s women’s team. Jon Naumann, Steve Spizziri, Tom Jaehne, Tammy Nelson and umpire George Becker had the privilege of having their pictures grace the back page of that last issue.

In that last issue of Play Ball, Jack Ostrowski and Glen Marescalco wrote, “We hope you enjoyed each and every issue of Play Ball. We’ll be back next year – bigger and better!” Unfortunately, they weren’t back the next year. But please rest assured that I, along with countless others, did indeed enjoy each and every issue of Play Ball. Until next time…from the booth.