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A Pizza My Mind: On Serving Sizes

Editor's note: In honor of National Pizza Month (aka October), the Serious Eats editors, staff, and Slice writers will top off our regular content with their deepest thoughts on all things cheesy, saucy, and crusty.

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Lucali's pizza. [Photograph: Adam Kuban]

Once I really grossed out some French girls. A friend who was hosting their trip to New York brought them to a group dinner we were having at Lucali. I ate more pizza that night than I ever have before. I don't remember the numbers, but slice after slice of thin crust pie went down the old hatch, washed down by some deliciously cheap red wine. The girls seemed shocked by the general group performance, but as the only other female, they seemed particularly disturbed by me. They ate a few slices, I ate a few dozen. In my defense, that place is dim, the pizza is good, and I hadn't just waited for an hour on the freezing New York winter street to not eat as much pizza as possible.

I think the real issue here is serving size. The proliferation of sit-down restaurants that serve quality pizza by the pie has many Americans confused. There are the people who are used to ordering at slice joints, where one to two of the large slices per person seems to be the norm. Then there are the people who are used to ordering crappy take-out, where the pizza comes so loaded and stuffed with cheese and toppings (not to mention the 5x height of the dough) that only the most aggressive eater could, or would want to, make it through a whole pie alone.

But thin crust pizzas with delicious, fresh, restrained toppings? I'm down with one pie per person, at least. Yet so often I find myself out to dinner with a group of four and someone asks, "So what two pies should we get?" I try not to balk, and it's only decorum that makes me suggest that we at least up that number to three. "What about four, for a start?" I'd like to say. "If we were in Italy, we'd each get our own pie, roll it up, and eat it like a slice!" I could shout. Instead I often find myself leaving upscale pizza places hungry and more than a little frustrated at my dining companions.

Now the obvious solutions are: make new friends who know what's up, or just order more pizza and embrace being known as a glutton. The first is difficult because I generally like my friends, and the second because though I'll occasionally have a Lucali-style pig out, I take issue at the idea that eating a single thin crust pie to my face is too much. America, all pizzas are not created equal!

So I guess I'll just wait until cultural understanding shifts and people know that serving size for pizza varies widely by type. In the meantime, I'll sneak a few slices to go.

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