Friday, January 27, 2017

Off the Map: Hungry Girl Should Go Somewhere Else

BBQ Pork Pizza -- Pete and Sam's Restaurant, Memphis, TN
Pete and Sam's Restaurant

Sometimes, like at Paynes BBQ, we understand exactly why a Food Network star featured the food on Best Thing I Ever Ate. And sometimes, we not only don't understand why the dish was featured, we don't even understand how the star ended up at the restaurant in the first place. 
Is This a Food Network-Worthy Restaurant or a Bojangles?
So in lies our conundrum with Lisa Lillien and her choice of the BBQ pork pizza at Pete and Sam's Restaurant. Not only is Pete and Sam's not in the heart of downtown Memphis, it's barely in the heart of anything, being that our drive there took us through some of the most wildly disparate neighborhoods possible ("Memphis: from mansions to pawn shops in three blocks or less"). After Whiskey Sour manages to corral our rental car into the parking lot (thanks for the unlit sign, Pete and Sam's. Makes you SUPER easy to spot...), we are instantly greeted by a fellow diner who decides that we look like the type of people who would like to hear her talk about how the day is blessed because rain is a blessing (side note: it's not raining).

And so, our dinner is off to a rousing start.
Can You Read This Sign? Because We Could Not
Pete and Sam's looks and feels like a throwback Italian restaurant, albeit an Italian restaurant from the middle of Tennessee rather than, say, from Rome.
Nothing Like Being Greeted By a Shotgun on Your Way to Dinner
Diet Coke and Whiskey Sour are insistent that they need some vegetables, so they decide to order a salad to share, along with a plate of toasted ravioli (which Vodka has always wanted to try) and the reason we are here: the BBQ pork pizza from the GUILTY PLEASURE episode of Best Thing I Ever Ate.
Call Us Crazy, But Even Olive Garden Looks Like More Like a Guilty Pleasure Than This Place
"What size pizza?" our waiter asks.

"Small," Vodka answers.

"How small?"

"How small can you make it?"
Oh Good, More Pork, Just What We Need
The waiter rounds his fingers into the shape of what is essentially a bagel bite, which in truth seems like exactly the amount of additional pork we'd like of to eat. Meanwhile, Vodka is scouring the alcohol list, where she finds only two options: beer (which she hates) and "wine glass (empty) each."
Photographic Evidence of This Travesty
I'm sorry... what now?! You're going to give me an EMPTY wine glass? What kind of cruel place is this?!
Take Back the Three Pounds of Bread and Butter and Give a Girl Some Booze!
Decidedly depressed over the lack of menu items featuring the word "cocktail," Vodka crankily sips her water while Whiskey Sour assesses the situation around us. It is at this time that she spots a salad coming out of the kitchen, one that is approximately the size of the aforementioned bagel bite.
Iceberg, Straight Ahead
"Um, I think we're going to need two salads," she tells our waiter as he deposits the plate of toasted ravioli on our table. While much more a staple of St. Louis cuisine than Memphis, we're surprised to find them stuffed with meat instead of the (more desirable, if you ask us) cheese. The two miniature salads appear soon after, and Diet Coke and Whiskey Sour dig in as if they've never seen iceberg lettuce before.
Meanwhile, Vodka Consumes Even More Meat
When our pizza arrives, Vodka stares at it questioningly. First of all, to call it a "pizza" is generous, as it is essentially a warmed up tortilla laden with toppings. 
Pizza in the Form of a Pita
And other than the tomato sauce, none of said toppings are anything close to the kinds usually found on pizza.
Ah Yes, Topped with the Finest Orange Cheese Straight Out of Naples
First of all, there's the cheese, which instead of the gooey mozzarella we're used to, has an orange tinge which looks suspiciously like shredded Kraft singles, and it is also just barely melted. And the pork itself, while not terrible on its own, has a decided sweetness to its sauce, which makes the whole affair in desperate need of some salt. Vodka wonders whether taking off the tomato sauce entirely, and instead dousing the creation with more barbeque sauce, might help the situation, though in truth, we're not sure there's much that can be done to save it. 
Also, It Is Cut in Strips Instead of Triangles -- Exactly Which Part of This Is Supposed to Resemble Pizza Again?
It's not that any of the components themselves are so horrific (though Vodka does take more issue with the still firm cheddar cheese than her counterparts do) -- it's just that nothing is added by putting all of them together. The whole thing is the epitome of the whole not being greater than the sum of its parts, and as Diet Coke says drolly on our way out, "Hungry Girl should go somewhere else."
Like, You Know, Pizza Hut
At the very least, Lisa Lillien should go somewhere that knows how to fill an empty wine glass.

Pete and Sam's Restaurant's BBQ Pork Pizza: 2 stars

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