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[whitespace] Deep-Dish Satellite

Popular Silicon Valley pizzeria opens up a San Francisco branch

By Joe Mangelli

IF YOU THINK DISCUSSION OF THE BALKANS is fraught with passion, fear and misunderstanding, try mediating between Italians discussing what good pizza is. President Clinton nearly set off an international crisis when he innocently accepted a slice of pesto pizza from a vendor in Naples a few years ago. The original City by the Bay was apoplectic that someone had the gall to cohabit pizza and pesto in the same sentence--and offer it to the American president, no less. For Neapolitans, pizza is thin crust: margherita (tomatoes, mozzarella and basil) and marinara (tomato sauce and garlic). Basta cosi! End of story. So the mention of "deep-dish pizza" with lots of stuff on top might cause the collapse of the government. For the record, though, throughout Italy and even in Naples, pizza is offered with various toppings, though they are applied sparingly--just don't tell anybody.

But, hey, this is not Italy. The votes have been counted, and Metro's Best of the Silicon Valley Readers' Survey selected Pizz'a Chicago as the area's best pizza. Located in the Santa Clara Village Center off El Camino Real (1576 Halford Ave.; 408.244.2246), Pizz'a Chicago has been a neighborhood mainstay since '91. People love this place. It's small, it's green and it's decorated with things Chicago. From White Socks pennants and maps of the Chicago subway system to ubiquitous Chicago Bulls antiquaria, it feels like a real pizza place.

Last month owner and co-founder Art Harris and partners Pete Bosnak and Sandi Michel hefted their success northward to Ghirardelli Square. With a million-dollar view of San Francisco Bay, this copy of the modest digs in Santa Clara offers some of the most famous scenery in the world at a sensible Santa Clara price. The Chicago-style pizza is a California version of the original. The crust is disarmingly light and fluffy and dusted beneath with cornmeal, so it's not oily like the kind nonna used to make when she came from Sicily. The staff must have had a great time creating pizza names. There's the Fridge, the John Dillinger, even the Dennis Rodman. The highly recommended Air Jordan (fresh tomatoes, basil and raw garlic, $9.95 to $15.95) and the Black Hawk (sausage, ricotta, sweet peppers, etc., $11.95 to $17.95) are so airy they go down easily without distending the midsection. Pizz'a Chicago also offers a short selection of salads, soups and pastas, all well within Everyman's budget. Proprietor Harris prides himself on the fact that even at Ghirardelli Square a family of four can get a meal, drinks and dessert for under $30. In addition to the new location (900 North Point St.; 415.929.7815), Pizz'a Chicago has branches in Palo Alto (115 El Camino Real; 650.424.9400) and downtown San Jose (155 W. San Fernando St.; 408.283.9400)

Fit to a Tea

For lovers of fine teas, Tea Time in Palo Alto is offering a fall schedule of classes designed to develop an understanding of this highly codified area of connoisseurship. Participants will be taught to sniff, smell, swirl and taste the finest teas available. Classes will focus on teas from around the world. Discussions and tastings will enable participants to distinguish flavor nuances. Four classes are slated, beginning Oct. 12 at 7pm (Teas From India) and running to Nov. 16 (Blind Tea Tasting). Cost is $15 per class. For reservations, call Tea Time (542 Ramona St., Palo Alto) at 650.328.2877.

Pumpkin Buys

On Oct. 9, the Pumpkin Patch Boutique, a benefit for the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford, will be held at the First Congregational Church in Willow Glen. This organization always offers a great brunch at reasonable prices. This year's fare involves a vegetable souffle, a romaine-apple salad with raspberry dressing, a dessert and a beverage for only $7. Bring the family and enjoy live music, handcrafted commodities, antiques, gourmet baked goods and a wonderful brunch while helping out a great cause. The event will be held at the First Congregational Church, Hamilton and Leigh avenues, San Jose; brunch is from 10:30am to 1:30pm.

Got tips for A la Carte? Send information to 550 S. First St., San Jose, 95113.

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From the October 7-13, 1999 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 1999 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

For more information about the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, visit sanjose.com.

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