Months ago, a songwriter named Kirsti Manna (whom country fans may know as the writer of the Blake Shelton hit “Austin” as in “…P.S. if this is Austin / I still love you”), when Karsten asked her if she could recommend good pizza in Nashville, preferably Chicago-style pizza, recommended Vinny’s Pizza in Hermitage. Karsten has been begging to go there ever since.

So finally, tonight, we went. 28 minutes there, 28 minutes back. And for what? For cracker pizza. I kid you not. Wafer-thin crust, extra-crispy at the edges and soggy in the middle, with barely any sauce or cheese on it. The veggies were nice, but I could’ve been happy with grilled veggies sans cracker crust, thanks.

After this experience and many others like it in the past year and a half, I can only conclude that Nashvillians don’t understand pizza.

Which is sad, really. I love Nashville for many reasons; I plan to be happy here for a long time. But I must now plan to rely on homemade pizza and trips to Chicago for any chance at decent pizza from a restaurant.

[Incidentally, the one perk that driving to Bumblefuck and back affords is this: during such a long trip, you might get to hear nightfly’s voice on the radio, as I did. Which is cool. (I think it was that Opry Mills “shut up and drive” spot again, but I only caught the tail end of it so I’m not sure.) ]

I’m back at home now, sipping hot cocoa, feeling full but disappointed. Oh well. They can’t all be Gino’s East.

Vinny’s

28 thoughts on “Vinny’s

  • November 26, 2004 at 12:49 pm
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    You will NOT get GREAT pizza down here. Pizza is totally a Midwestern thing. We have been spoiled growing up in Illinois. We should get together and make a REAL pizza sometime. I think that would be fun as hell. I had a Pizza Hut supreme thin crust today. It’s about the best thing I can come up with.

    Now, I will tell you this….

    Pizza Perfect over in The Village is pretty Goddamn good. The original pizza makers of that joint also run a place down here in Antioch called Picnic Pizza. Both joints are Italian style New York “fold up” pizza. There is also a pretty good New York style place in The Arcade in Downtown called House Of Pizza.

    But if you are looking for Gino’s East, Giordano’s, Uno, or Home Run Inn… Fuggetaboutit.

    Youz outta luck heea.

    You have to just make due.

    I think you can get frozen Uno pizzas at Wal-Mart Supercenter. They’ll do for that Chicago Style craving.

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  • November 26, 2004 at 12:51 pm
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    Vinny’s used to be really good.

    They used to give us pizzas all the time at Star 97.

    Hmmmmm…

    I wonder what happened there.

    But I will attest, the crust was always soggy in the center.

    Ick.

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  • November 26, 2004 at 1:02 pm
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    I used to get great pizza in California, though, at Pizz’a Chicago. Of course, the founders of that chain were ex-Chicagoans who’d worked at Uno and Gino’s East. So, uh, yeah.

    And there was even a pretty decent Chicago-style pizza place in Portland, Oregon, though I cannot for the life of me think of the name of it now. Wait, I’ll check Portland Citysearch. There it is! Murray’s.

    Anyway, yeah, making some would be fun. Maybe when we finish renovating the kitchen in the new house, unless your apartment actually has a decent-sized kitchen — ours is a closet with an oven in it.

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  • November 26, 2004 at 1:18 pm
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    What’s the place in the little shopping strip mall type thing just inside (or just outside, I can’t remember) of Music Row? I went there and they had the most wonderful pizza (really good things i would have never thought to put on pizza) but I can’t for the life of me remember their name.

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  • November 26, 2004 at 1:25 pm
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    Hm!

    Somewhere I missed the point where you started eating dairy!

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  • November 26, 2004 at 1:34 pm
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    Yeah. I’ve been a bad, bad vegan. Stress has gotten the better of me in the past few months. It’s not an everyday thing, but I’m eating cheese more than I used to. Hey, know what? Cheese is good!

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  • November 26, 2004 at 2:56 pm
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    Good for you, I say! All things in moderation, right?

    And now I want pizza.

    -J

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  • November 26, 2004 at 4:06 pm
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    The “gourmet”, ultra-thin crust, spray-some-cheese-whiz-on-a-plate-and-call-it-a-pizza pizza has really become the trend around town. Too bad. I do not like thin-crust pizza at all. I like a really thick crust, minimal sweetish sauce, and loads of cheese and toppings.

    Pizza hut is the only place I’ve found around town that has a decent pan pizza – but its not chicago style and its hardly top quality.

    As for the best pizza, though its only average crust thickness, its Mellow Mushroom IMHO.

    Those us who like thick crust pizzas are in the minority. Everyone I know just loves those cracker thin crust pizzas.

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  • November 26, 2004 at 11:08 pm
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    Yeah, that’s a pretty decent kitchen, and those are certainly hard to come by in apartments.

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  • November 26, 2004 at 11:10 pm
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    Do you get good pizza in Edmonton, or do you have to make it yourself?

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  • November 26, 2004 at 11:19 pm
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    I haven’t had Mellow Mushroom, but Karsten had it once when I was out of town and wasn’t impressed. He put it at about the same ranking as Mafiaoza’s, which we agreed is OK but not great. He also sampled Obie’s another time while I was out of town (I get to eat a nice dinner on the company dime wherever I am; he gets to eat pizza in town with friends) and thought it was OK but not convincing as a Chicago-style pie.

    And I’ve had a deep-seated suspicion, maybe even hatred — perhaps irrational, I’ll admit — of Pizza Hut ever since my parents took me there for a birthday lunch one year when it was just about the last place I wanted to go. I’d’ve chosen Chicago Dough Company over Pizza Hut any day, but they didn’t let me choose.

    Yeah, I said it was irrational. 😉

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  • November 26, 2004 at 11:44 pm
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    I hope this doesn’t convince you that Nashville isn’t worth visiting after all. 😉

    Dude. I may seriously go for the mail order. (I hate e-commerce shopping carts that make you fill in all the credit card info before you get the total including shipping.) Ah. No, I probably won’t. I threw four pizzas into the order (because why bother with just one or two?) and the total comes to $128.41 — that’s $69.80 for the four pizzas, $4.36 in tax, and $54.25 for shipping.

    Oh well. Good thought, though!

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  • November 27, 2004 at 12:30 am
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    I get what I think of as good pizza, though it’s not Chicago-style and therefore inevitably inferior. 🙂 My favourite pizza place is panago, but I love them for all the weird toppings more than for the pizza itself. They have these “primo” pizzas that are all just perfect combinations. The “veggie mediterranean,” for example: sun-dried tomatoes, kalamata olives, red peppers, baby spinach leaves (mmm), and red onions with feta cheese and mozzarella.

    -J

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  • November 27, 2004 at 12:32 am
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    It might be fun once for a novelty (and to introduce Nashville friends to Chicago-style pizza), but it doesn’t sound terribly practical. I’d do it once, though.

    -J

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  • November 27, 2004 at 12:46 am
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    Well, that sounds pretty interesting. There’s room for that type of pizza, certainly. 🙂 That sounds similar to the place here in town recommended just a few comments above. It also sounds a little like Willow Street Pizza in the south SF Bay area, which, when I lived there, was a fun variation every once in a while from Pizz’a Chicago.

    So yeah, inferior, but still good. 😉

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  • November 27, 2004 at 12:49 am
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    That’s true. Now I’m thinking about doing it for the housewarming party. If all the financial stuff that’s up in the air over the next month or so (e.g. my converstion from contractor to staff at who-knows-what salary, Christmas bonus from my contracting company, etc.) works out well, I may allow myself to indulge. 🙂

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  • November 27, 2004 at 2:08 pm
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    Okay, this is changing my ideas for dinner tomorrow, because although I do not claim to make either (1) Chicago-style pizza or (2) the best pizza anywhere much, I can, I think, exceed the pathetic crackerian version.

    So. What sort of pizza do you actually like?

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  • November 28, 2004 at 3:36 am
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    Oh, I like lots of pizza. My favorite, obviously, is deep-dish/pan/thick-crust/whatever you want to call it. But I like thin crust, too, and I love stuffed pizza, and even cracker pizza could be good if it were made right. By that I mean not dry and crispy-hard on the edges and soggy in the middle. And I enjoy the wood-fired style of pizza.

    The pizza I make at home is with a bread we buy from a Lebanese bakery down on Nolensville (they call it “mifrude” or something, but it’s basically somewhere between a huge pita and one of those Boboli crusts), homemade sauce, onions, mushrooms, black olives, and shredded soy cheese. It’s not perfect, but it’s good enough to carry me from one “real” pizza to the next. 🙂

    If you’re thinking of making pizza, that sounds fun. I can bring some optional toppings that we have on-hand, like sundried tomatoes, broccoli, pignoli, canned mushrooms, onions, canned black olives, and/or minced garlic. I think I even have some canned pineapple. 😉 Let me know; I’d rather pack any or all of that stuff up and bring it over than have you go out and buy stuff we already have.

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  • November 28, 2004 at 3:37 am
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    Oh, and I can bring sauce, too, unless that’s one of your specialties. 🙂

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  • November 28, 2004 at 6:23 am
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    Can’t help you on the wood-fired bit – my complex sort of frowns on residents installing large bakeovens on balconies – but I think we can come up with an acceptable thick-crust alternative between us. So let’s make this a Pizza Experiment dinner, eh? And if it’s not right, we’ll do it differently next time. And then when we’ve got it good, we’ll open a pizza place ourselves.

    If you’ll bring sundried tomatoes and onions (which I usually like to caramelize, so let me know if that works for you) and canned black olives, I’ll be eternally grateful. I’m going to get some fresh mushrooms. I’ve got some canned roasted red peppers from Trader Joe’s. I slow-cooked some garlic in olive oil over the holiday, to get garlic olive oil and also roastedish garlic, so we can add some of that.

    I never make tomato sauce the same way twice. It sounds as though that’s rather a specialty of yours. Bring some; we’ll make two ‘zas (at least…!) and compare notes.

    Questions:

  • How do you feel about whole-wheat flour in your pizza crust?
  • Do you have any soy cheese on hand? Alternatively, are you game to eat the dairy kind tonight, or would you prefer a lactose-free evening?

    yayness…

  • Reply
  • November 28, 2004 at 7:01 am
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    Whole wheat flour is grand. I think Karsten’s a bit suspicious of it above a certain percentage of the overall crust, but anywhere below 50% whole wheat he seems to be happy with. However, if you’ve already got whole wheat happening, he’ll deal. 🙂

    As to the cheese, it matters not. I’m open to dairy, but I also have to run to Kroger to exchange a package of shredded soy cheese that has little green spots visible. If you let me know, I’ll pick up anything else while I’m there.

    In fact, I should probably just call you and make this whole thing simpler. 🙂

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  • November 30, 2004 at 4:55 am
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    this is me not taunting the two of you with my pizza-enabled residence. see me not doing that?

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  • November 30, 2004 at 5:19 am
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    Ha. Not jealous. I am currently eating Thanksgiving leftovers, so nyeah. 🙂

    -J

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  • November 30, 2004 at 5:24 am
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    i had a turkey sandwich for lunch! one of my fave sandwiches of all time is turkey (proper turkey, not deli turkey or something ridiculous like that) and lettuce and mayo on pita. i like it better than eating the turkey during the actual meal. i love thanksgiving leftovers! i’m glad that you have some!

    Reply

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