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"That's not the point," Bill said. "This is the wave of the future. Full service is out. Simplicity is in."
Simplicity is certainly the touchstone for the fare at Spin, where 13 signature pizzas are topped with different but refreshingly uncomplicated variations of vegetables and meats roasted in the giant gas-fired oven, then combined with cheeses on a delicious thin, chewy crust. Creative patrons can also custom-design their own pizzas with a list of ingredients that runs the gamut from prosciutto to roasted onion-fig marmalade.
Creativity is great, but I prefer pointing to pizza combinations that are already proven success stories, such as the splendid oliva e carcioffi, baked with roma tomato sauce, roasted artichokes, capers and caramelized onions. From the "white cheese" half of the pizza menu, I also ordered a number with goat cheese, crimini mushrooms and roasted chicken called pollo rosto e chevre. But what I received instead was the chicken sausage and gorgonzola pizza from the rossa menu. I don't blame the young lady who took our order. She had to cope with the confusion of three men who were suddenly standing in front of the mounted menu and forced into a quick consensus about which pies we wanted to share. It's not a good place for impulsive decisions.
Everything was delicious, though. The salads were fresh and lightly dressed. The best of them was the 8-Color Salad, a jumble of greens, red cabbage, crunchy radishes and pine nuts. We made quick work of the pizzas and even took home a couple of leftover slices. Nice dinner, but it was still, you know, pizza.
I returned on the following Saturday with a couple of friends; by 6:30 p.m., there was a 30-minute wait, so we went to a movie instead. A few nights after that, I came back with Bob and Marilyn. "Everyone's talking about this place," Marilyn said, though she was disappointed that she didn't recognize a soul in the dining room. The clientele seems dominated by residents who live in and around the 119th Street corridor and south. Mostly they're white, well-coiffed and conservatively dressed. You know, the anti-Waldo Pizza crowd.
Bob got miffed when the waiter didn't bring the salad he ordered; Marilyn hissed when her Eduardo a grilled panini with chicken sausage, white-bean spread and onion-fig marmalade came out too soon. She wanted it served with the pizza. Too bad, because the sexy-sounding Eduardo looked and tasted fantastic, but there's nothing quite as frustrating as a premature panini, let me tell you.
Marilyn downed a glass of Chianti and described the first time she tasted pizza. No, it wasn't pizza at all but a party in a palazzo in Rome, and if I'm remembering correctly, there was a movie star, a count or a famous conductor involved. I should have paid more attention, but I was absorbed in eating big triangles of a pizza bianca decked out with slightly crispy, translucent baby spinach leaves and fat, amber cloves of roasted garlic. I finished three pieces before Marilyn had reached, well, the climax of her story.