Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Gina's Pizza: I Plead Guilty

It's almost embarrassing how much I love Gina's Pizza. Not only because the pizza goes against almost every foodie rule in the book regarding the size, toppings and crust composition of a truly great pie, but because I will drive in ridiculous 405 traffic for it. Last Friday night, I spent two excruciating hours on the freeway just so I could join my parents for a bite at the no-frills Irvine location of the Orange County pizza franchise. It's disturbing. Especially when I try to justify my behavior by reading Yelp reviews, only to find that most people think the pizza is "just ok" or "not great" or "nothing out of the ordinary."

It pains me to see the attacks on my favorite guilty pleasure -- do they mean that I have no taste? That my buds fail me the moment I pass through Gina's glass swinging door? Or does it simply mean that even the self-proclaimed "picky palated princess" is capable of being bowled over by something that is not critically acclaimed? "Gossip Girl" certainly isn't going to win an Emmy anytime soon, but I don't enjoy it any less because other people might find it smutty and tawdry and rife with poor writing. On the contrary, I welcome it into my Monday night line-up with open arms -- just as I welcome Gina's absurdly inauthentic pies into my stomach with the reckless abandon of an indiscriminate glutton.

I wish I could claim that my "poor" taste ends there, but even the house salad, a simple affair topped with cucumbers, chick peas, tomatoes, red onions and peppercinis, manages to win me over more than it should. I don't know why I always go back for a second helping off the family-style serving plate ($8.99), but it's an inevitable occurrence. I dish it into my bowl with gusto, cover it with the tangy homemade balsamic dressing, and chow down like I am feasting on a glorious arugula and field green salad with walnuts and goat cheese rather than a basic green salad with iceburg lettuce. I shouldn't like it, but I do -- going so far as to battle it out with my dad to secure the last chickpea on the plate.

My parents and I always follow our vulgar affair with the salad with another foodie sin for pizza traditionalists: the barbecue chicken pizza. On a thick crust. A really thick crust. A crust so dense and chewy and anti-NY that the pizza could almost be called cheese bread, except for all the chunks of succulent white meat chicken, red onions, barbecue sauce, and ample sprinkles of cilantro. Atkins dieters and thin-crust lovers would shudder at the site of this monstrosity of a pie, but I'm obsessed. I crave it like I crave a masochistic workout session at the Bar Method, and I pour my heart and soul into the effort of consuming it as I do when I am burning through my ab muscles.

I don't just stop at one slice. I actively seek out the two largest pieces and eat them both down to the very ends of the crust. A full stomach does nothing to slow my pace. If my mom doesn't finish her second slice, I am more than happy to finish it for her. If there is a stray chunk of chicken on the pizza platter, I dive in to save it. My family and I do not leave fallen soldiers at Gina's Pizza. We consume them all, or bring them home with us. And then we eat ice cream. Dreyer's ice cream. The slow-churned kind with ingredients that I can't pronounce, because they do not come from nature.

I don't care what Yelpers or NYers or even Chicagoans say. Even when I have to spend two hours on the freeway to defy my foodie self, it tastes pretty darn good to be bad.


Esi said...

Sometimes, the best reviews are your own. Although, I am pretty sure I wouldn't drive on the 405 on a Friday to get pizza :)

Diana H. said...

Haha, well I probably should have mentioned that I was also driving down to spend part of the weekend with my parents! The pizza part was COMPLETELY coincedental. ;)

Futile Sniffer said...

I have never heard of this place before, but the pizza looks good to me! I would drive 2 hours to meet up with my parents and enjoy "bad" food, eat ice cream, and watch Gossip Girl together.

What's this Bar Method??? Review that! :)

Diana H. said...

Bar Method is this AMAZING workout class with studios in WeHo, West LA, and across the US. I've actually been meaning to post about it -- I already know what I'm going to title it too -- "Bar Method: Taking a Bite Out of My Butt." ;)