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Slice of life

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October is pizza month

Fall is here. Kids are back to school, leaves are changing color, families are gearing up for Halloween. One aspect of the season is oft overlooked and that is the fact that October is Pizza Month.

This savory pie has been an American staple for time immemorial. Whether you are watching a football game on television; celebrating a milestone in your life, such as a birthday, graduation or job promotion; or even if you simply want a quick and simple dinner, pizza has it all: gooey cheese, hot savory sauce, and the combinations of toppings are limited only by availability and a good flexing of your culinary imagination. The bold can enjoy fare that is adventurous and delicious - but there's also nothing wrong with some tried and true combinations.

Around the country the pizza can define the area. There's Chicago deep dish pizza, which needs utensils, and the famous New York style, where you fold the thin crust in half before heartily enjoying (I assume New Yorkers heartily enjoy pizza).

Crust - Crust is the very foundation upon which all good pizzas stand. A bad crust can literally destroy a pizza, no matter how delectable the toppings. Whether you like it crispy, slightly chewy, brushed with oil, sprinkled with cheese or touched with herbs - if it isn't done right, the whole creation is in jeopardy.

Sauce - The sauce can vary from slightly sweet to spicy or any combination thereof. You can also try a white pizza, where there is no red sauce, instead you can enjoy a garlicy pesto or even just olive oil. Delish.

Cheese - Mozzarella is a standard, but by no means the only type of cheese to be found. You can have a mlange of flavors all with different types of cheese. In fact, that sounds lovely.

For Hillary Gras, author of the blog Gras Pizza, says one of the key points of a good pie for her is the crust.

'It doesn't have to be crispy, it doesn't need to be thick. It simple needs to meet the hand test.' If I can't eat a pizza with my hands without it flopping down, I'm disappointed,' she said via email. 'Pizza is supposed to be a simple meal that you can eat wherever, whenever. I generally don't like knife and fork' pizzas.'

Another point for her is fresh ingredients.

'While I'm a fan of culinary shortcuts, such as buying fresh-made dough from your local pizzeria, cutting corners with ingredients is both noticeable and a deal breaker,' Gras said. 'Fresh vegetables or cheese really make the pizza shine.'

We all know that pizza has a reputation for being an artery clogger, but it doesn't have to be that way.

'While traditional 'American' pizza is laden with pepperoni, sausage and other meat bases, traditional Neapolitan pizza is much simpler, often without meat. Take the caprese - the ingredients are so fresh and simple that you don't need a fatty meat to tie it together. I think a good pizza is one that doesn't rely on an indulgent ingredient,' she said.

Sliced from Facebook

We asked our Facebook friends where they go and what they like. Here's what they had to say.

Angelo's Pizza, Millinocket - Sarah suggests the veggie pesto.

Bear Brew Pub - Lucy recommends the BBQ chicken.

Charlie's Pizza, Ellsworth - Anna likes the pepperoni and bacon with extra, extra, extra sauce.

House of Pizza, Millinocket - Shirley favors the Hawaiian.

Jason's Pizza, Brewer/Bangor - Carissa recommends the taco pizza.

Papa John's - Stephanie suggests the chicken barbecue Hawaiian.

Pizza Gourmet, Hampden - Suzanne recommends the house delux, which features pesto in lieu of marinara sauce and is topped with stewed tomatoes and garlic.

Siano's Brick Oven Restaurants (Freeport and Porland) - Dustin enjoys the meatlover's cooked over a wood fire.

Squire (The), Holden - Zachary likes the bacon, and yours truly is a fan of chicken and pineapple.

Tesoro's, Bangor - Barb enjoys the thinly-sliced meatball and garlic, while Michele suggests the green pepper and garlic.

Tri-City Pizza, Bangor - Angelia and Sarah both suggest the cheese and Ellen prefers the double pepperoni.

Winterport House of Pizza - Roxanne likes the large wheat pizza with chicken and pineapple.

Facebookers also suggested C & K Market in Hermon, Finelli's Pizza in Ellsworth, Seamus' Market in Bangor and Giacomo's in Bangor. But they didn't tell us what they liked, so you'll have to test it out.

Other places people might enjoy

Around the greater Bangor and Ellsworth area we actually have a wonderful variety of pizza joints to choose from. Whether you enjoy a classic pizza from Pat's (Orono, Hampden, Ellsworth - just to name a few), or you want a gourmet twist, say Reel Pizza in Bar Harbor, there's a place for you. Just because something isn't mentioned on Facebook doesn't mean you shouldn't check it out.

Kosta's, Brewer - It isn't a huge selection of pizza, but what they have is wonderful.

Pat's Pizza, Orono, Hampden, Ellsworth - One of Maine's most famous pizzas for a reason.

Reel Pizza, Bar Harbor - Gourmet pizzas, beer and movies. Year round. What more can you ask for?

A slice of the Edge

Everyone has a favorite pizza place. A few years ago when we featured different pizza styling from the area, we had a chance to sample pizzas. I was pleasantly surprised by many, but there were some that simply stood out.

Here's what we enjoy at the office:

Katy England, Overlord of Editorial

Angelo's Pizza, Bangor - The Greek. To say I have a crush on this pizza is an understatement. Layered with slices of tomato, spinach, Greek olives, feta and enough garlic to drive vampires to extinction - it was love at first bite.

Jason's New York Style Pizza - This was one of my favorite surprises. The crust is both crisp and chewy, with a wonderful cheese to sauce ratio. If you haven't been to Jason's you are missing out on a great pizza.

The Squire, Holden - There's nothing like calling a pizza place and having them know who you are based on the toppings on your pizza. We like the chicken pineapple here.

No, I can't make up my mind what I like best. That's what's great about pizza.

Other topping combos I enjoy are broccoli, feta and garlic; broccoli and bacon; and bacon, chicken and jalapeos.

Pat Shaw, Edge guru

Favorite pizza toppings... Tough question. I have a few. Love Hawaiian pizza (ham and pineapple). I also love a good barbecue chicken pizza. And of course the classic pepperoni is a must. My favorite place to grab a slice is Finelli's pizza in Ellsworth.

Tim Bissell, Class Clown

My favorite pizza place is Pizza By Alex in Biddeford, and my favorite topping would have to be ... Cheese. I'm a purist.

Jeremy White, [TITLE]

My favorite pizza is the Bear Brew Pizza at the Bear Brew Pub in Orono.

The toppings on this bad boy are red sauce, mozzarella and Gouda cheese, hamburger, bacon and BBQ sauce. If heaven serves pizza, I know this is it.

Allen Adams, Super Genius

My favorite pizza topping, while boring, is pepperoni. I enjoy the classics. My pizza joint of choice is Pat's in Orono - mostly because I can walk there from my house.

DIY Pizza

Sometimes the best pizza is the kind you make yourself. There are some tips to getting started to make life easier.

'I would say to start with the pre-made dough. It cuts out that dreaded step and most pre-made doughs are awesome. Equally important, invest in a pizza stone and parchment paper,' said Gras. 'Pizza stones can be found for around $30 and give a crispy on the outside, doughy on the inside texture.

'Start simple. Try a caprese. That was the first pizza I ever made and it sold me on homemade pizza. Once you've got the basics, then step up your game and try some other interesting flavor combinations.'

You can follow Gras' blog at GrasPizza.wordpress.com.

Last modified on Monday, 19 December 2011 13:56

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