Gugino’s

There’s this funny little eye-tah-yin place by the University campus that Mr. Right-Wing talked me into goin’. Okay, this is a new thing on me, given my previous statements of dislike for New York, New Yorkers and the whole New York experience.

We wandered in and I immediately found the place to be a bit charming. Steel kitchen racks line the walls and kickboards of the entire dining area. On these shelves are bags of flowers, jars of olives, chubs of polenta[1] and other kitcheny dry goods. A close examination reveals that basically everything is imported. “Producto de Italia” most read. Cool. Authentigo. Except aren’t stacks of racks like this out in the dining area simply for decoration? After all, I’m sure the kitchen is full of the same Sysco and Farmer Brothers boxes as are every kitchen in America…

Not just decor! Also New Yorkers really seem to be just proud of the fact that they're from New York. Provincialism always confounds me, it's not like the place is great enough to write a godawful pop song whose only lyrics are the city's name repeated ad nauseum, right?

So consider me surprised and shocked when a guido waddled out of the back, through the dining area, weaving between the chairs and customers to grab a bag of flour and a couple of cans of tomatoes from the rack. Okay, that’s cool. They at least try to stay authentic.

Speaking of authentic, meet our cook. Now as a foreword, I’m homeless. You might have drawn that from earlier posts here, but I ain’t have a house. I live out of a Jeep Cherokee. I have all my clothes in a duffel. I take my showers at the gym. I use my internet at the public library. I get by on basically 250$/mo between my car insurance, phone bill and gym membership. Our cook is dressed in a white t-shirt, basketball shorts and the delightful stereotypical guinea-on-a-gold-chain that he and his people wear more often than my Israeli friends wear their Stars of David[2].

This guy is wearing to work what I wore to sleep. I don’t have a home. I don’t go out in public dressed in what I wore to sleep. And yet this guy goes to work, he gets up out of bed in his house somewhere in the Valley, takes a shower, smokes up a Newport, splashes on the Drakkar Noir, looks at himself in the mirror and says to himself “yeah! this is sufficient! I shall go out into public, looking like this!”

Ready to work! Maybe I'm putting too damned much effort into this whole "finding a job" thing, what with my shirt and tie and suit coat and shined shoes and all.

He then hops into his 1991 IROC-Z (black, t-tops) and blasts the shit out of Led Zeppelin 4 on his cassette deck as he motors his way to Guigino’s Italian Deli.

And I’m homeless.

Now that we’ve gone so far to the side that we’re listing and in danger of capsizing, let’s talk about the pizza. I’ve a relationship with the dish that one would call “storied.” Basically pizza’s my favorite thing. If you know me, you can pretty much tell. I spent the majority of my twenties working in pizza shops and lawdy did it ever do my health buckets of good! So since I’ve moved on and away from what was my Life Before Vegas, I’ve shied away from the demon pie that has had such a tight hold around my arteries.

So here we go, into the eye-tah-yin joint advertising a 6.99$ large cheese pizza special. Fuck it, ain’t had a pizza since I moved here, let’s get it on.

Our working-in-bedclothes wop behind the grill proceeded to actually knead and roll out a dough ball. Holy shit dude, I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone actually make the dough to order. Typically pizza places have dough pre-made and pre-portioned, ready to be slapped around and shaped into a vaguely-round disc upon which the toppings are placed. If anything, that was interesting.

When the pizza arrived at our table, I instantly noticed something about it: it was bland. Bland itself doesn’t do justice to the look, feel, texture and flavor of the pie. A new word needs to be invented to explain how boring this pizza was. Where most pizza joints have little screw-top shakers full of red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese, this place had shakers full of oregano.

Yeah, the main herb what goes into pizza sauce, the one that gives it the very essence de Italia was placed off to the side, to be added by the customer.

While the guinea behind the counter did indeed make up some dough from scratch, he left out an important ingredient: the damn salt. Nothing makes dough taste flat, distant and pointless faster than the lack of our good buddy Sodium Chloride. Two eternal essentials to Italian cooking were left out completely.

Now maybe this is just a symptom of what’s wrong with the East Coast and its culinary tradition. They’re boring. Maybe to them, this is an exciting time out. But to us on the West Coast who were brought up to enjoy food that actually tastes like stuff, this pizza was barely more than a slice of toast, some ketchup and plain cheese thrown in the microwave to melt a bit.

No enjoyment, no gusto, no pleasure, just eating for sustenance and obligation having spent twelve bucks in this dive on a pizza and two fountain drinks.

Bleah.

Terrible.

Oh and there were no red/white checked tablecloths. Come on. Seriously? What kind of eye-tye joint doesn’t have red checked tablecloths?

Someone out there – someone with tastes boring enough to find Las Vegas exciting – is bound to enjoy this place, but I hated it.

[1]grits. Normal people call them grits.

[2]I wear a tan hospital bracelet that reads “NO CAFFEINE”. It’s supposed to be ironic!

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One Response to “Gugino’s”

  1. Thanks Says:

    The unintentional irony of this blog is hilarious. Thank you for the humor. For all your bitter complaints about everything and trying to paint yourself as better you fail to realize you are the epitome of all that you complain about. I hope you find some maturity and self-awareness.

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