Mostly, though, you run into pizza that tastes like sludge and motor oil. It’s made with pepperoni without pep, sauce without snap, and black three dimensional recreations of things that look like olives, but have the flavor of wart medicine. Once in a while, though, behind the glass of a storefront, a pizza still flies through the air like a saucer from a planet that hasn’t forgotten what it’s all about. The hands twirling out the pie are in friendly fists, and throw it with gentleness and skill. The sauce stings with flavor, the cheese is positive of its identity, and the oven is hot enough to imprint a light brown haze on the crusty edges of the masterpiece.
      When I called that first night in Massachusetts I was surprised by a pleasant young woman’s voice. “General Pizza,” she trilled. For some reason she sounded happy. Even the best of places generally takes your order begrudgingly. But she was nice. And happy.
      “Order what you like.”
      She giggled. “As long as it’s pizza.”
      I took it as a challenge. “Pastrami pizza,” I said. “Whole wheat crust. And hold the anchovies.”
      “Kosher dills?” she asked. The joy was obvious in her voice.
      “Just plain,” I answered.
      “Twenty minutes.”

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