When my little cousins, Ammaar and Suhayb, came to the city to visit with friends, Ammaar insisted we have Grandma Pizza on 50th and 9th. “It’s sooo good,” he kept saying of the place another cousin Sana (there are a lot of us) introduced him to–so we obliged. When we got to the intersection, I began looking all around for a sign that says “Grandma Pizza,” to no avail. I looked at Ammaar quizzically. “Are you sure we’re at the right place? All I see is some Uncle Mario’s place.” “Yeah, that’s it!”
Turns out “grandma pizza,” he FINALLY explained later, isn’t a place, it’s a type of pizza. Well, don’t I feel sheepish that my lil cousin had to explain this to a “food blogger” (I use that term very loosely though so whatevs). You live, you learn. Erica Marcus from Slice explains further: “Variations abound, but the basic outlines [of grandma pizza] are as follows: a thin layer of dough is stretched into an oiled, square “Sicilian” pan, topped sparingly with shredded mozzarella, crushed uncooked canned tomatoes, chopped garlic and olive oil, and baked until the top bubbles and the bottom is crisp. [Michele] Scicolone [Manhattan resident, Italian food expert, and co-author of Pizza: Any Way You Slice It] observed that grandma pie sounded a lot like “pizza alla casalinga” (housewife-style pizza), “the kind of pizzas you’d get in Italy if you were invited to someone’s home.”
Anyway, when we walked in, a slightly jumpy waitress seated us (seemed like she was the only waitress in the whole mid-sized pizzeria). “Are these tables OK? Ok bella, I love you.” And disappears. I looked at everyone at the table…”Did she just say she loves us?” Everyone heard the same thing. I’ll take it. Turns out the older waitress would be mumbling a lot of non-decipherable things throughout our meal. But not in an annoying way, it was sorta endearing. Maybe because I was so entertained by her, it was like she was a caricature to me.