Frankie & Johnnie's
11753 San Vicente Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90049
There are some things life that, no matter how bad it is, can never really be bad. Sure, there will always be a range of quality, but even at the furthest end on the spectrum from “Awesome!” it’s still not bad.
For girls, this applies to...nothing.
Even if it, whatever "it" is, is off the charts, above and beyond holy effin’ the best ever, most incredible awesome, leaves you in an uncontrollable quivering, shivering state of tears and laughter, girls will find something wrong with it. Baby, that was...incredible. *sigh*
But now my mascara is running, dammit.
Maybe that’s a slight exaggeration about girls, because there are a few things that I have found can never really be bad. (Believe it or not, I am a girl).
You can still have macaroni and cheese out of the blue box made with milk, margarine and NASA nuclear powdered cheese, and it still won’t be horrible. Obviously, on the quality scale, it doesn’t measure up to, say, Tyler Florence whipping up his Ultimate in your kitchen wearing nothing but jeans and an apron, but it’s still macaroni. And cheese. If there’s a bowl of macaroni and cheese on the table, no one pushes it away.
Oh, alright. Pizza is starting to grow on me. Pizza is never so bad that I won’t eat it.
But be not fooled. Just because it looks, smells, and sounds like pizza, doesn’t mean it’s a pizza. And that means, yes indeed, it can be bad.
A calzone can blow your mind.
A calzone can also suck (and I don’t mean “suck” in a good way).
We were at an old standby for an easy, local, cheap dinner – Frankie and Johnnie’s for pizza – less than a three-minute walk from my house, or a five minute *blush* drive. Yes. Yes! Yes, I have driven there, and amazingly, it takes longer to drive the two blocks than two walk it, due to the inevitable around-the-block search for a vacant meter that ends up in a parking spot that is further away from the restaurant than my house is. But don’t worry, I’ve wised up. With gas prices now, I don’t drive unless it’s at least four blocks away.
For some reason, I was feeling crazy that night. That’s right. Crazy. No, make that wild and crazy. Crazy is ordering a slice of mushroom pizza instead of cheese. Maybe even going so far as barbecue chicken pizza instead of cheese. As crazy as those are, they are still pizza and I was assured that they wouldn’t be bad. There’s no real risk there. But I was wild and crazy, so instead of ordering the usual single slice of cheese pizza that I blaspheme with so much garlic powder, dried oregano, crushed red pepper and salt that it is rendered utterly unidentifiable as pizza, rather a mobile mise en place for a pasta recipe, I ordered a calzone. Ha! I went completely bonkers, threw all spreadsheets to the wind, grabbed Risk by the hand, jaywalked across the street of culinary delights, and ordered a calzone!
It was bad.
Right. I said “suck” three paragraphs ago.
The calzone sucked.
A calzone is, in essence, a pizza that has folded over onto itself, so I would imagine that a calzone from Frankie & Johnnie’s would taste roughly about the same as a folded slice of their pizza – thin, crisp crust with a good number of charred spots, an evenly sweet/spicy balanced sauce, and of course, just enough to cheese to weight down the crust, but not slip off in a gooey mess.
The calzone was shaped into a plump crescent with deep folds where steam and yeast lost the battle to doughy weight. Normally, in this Super-Biggie-Me world we live in, its size would not merit any such special notice, but it was as large as, and looked like, a handbag – not a pretty, glittery, little evening clutch; we’re talking about the oversized carry-all that glamour moms schlepp around Bloomingdale’s with them that is basically a mobile Sephora/Sav-on/home-office.
The calzone was enormous size-wise, and strangely, it felt even heavier. Not only was it a mass of dough, but whatever substances were gurgling away inside the hermetically sealed crust were undergoing some sort of subatomic reaction that resulted in compounds heavier than the as-of-yet undiscovered, unnamed element 118 aka ununoctium. It was dense.
I cut the calzone open using Frankie & Johnnie’s-provided plastic knife, which was completely insufficient for cutting through the crust. Around the edges where the dough had been folded over multiple times to create the seal, the crust was thicker than the skin on your Uncle Claude’s corny, callused heel. The knife made it though, and splitting the two halves open, the inner blobular beast was unleashed. Rivers of runny ricotta cheese flooded out first all over the cardboard. Melted mozzarella thundered behind, oozing and spreading like an epidemic, cheese solids slowly separating from oil that gurgled like lava.
I tried to use the flat side of the knife as a dam, to hold it back, to push some of it back into its calzone cavern, but there was too much. The cheese was
overwhelming in size and speed. My little plastic knife couldn’t stand up to the force. I never thought I’d be faced with a moment when I’d have to say, there was too much cheese.
The crust was thick, heavy, and though it was dry, it was strangely chewy and doughy, as if it needed at least another 15 minutes in the oven. The accompanying thin, watery marinara could not have been the same deliciously spicy sauce that Frankie and Johnnie use on their pizzas. However, taste was the least of the problems – two tiny plastic tubs was hardly enough to lubricate a calzone of that size. I would need one little tub for every mouthful of that doughy dryness. Certainly, a bite with the cheese made it easier to get the mass of dough down my throat, but as much cheese as seemed to have flooded out, very little was actually edible once it had undergone cold fusion with the cardboard underneath.
I didn’t even come close to finishing. In fact, I didn't even save the leftovers.
Pizza is like sex...for a guy. It can never be bad.
Calzones are like sex...for a girl. It can be bad. And when it’s bad, I wouldn’t care if I never ate another calzone again.
For a month.
Alright, a week.
Fine! Three days, okay? And that's my final offer!
** a year ago today, "foodie" was a six-letter word **