Sunday, October 26, 2008

Our Life in Bacon (La Vita Mia, 28-01 24th Avenue)

Bacon makes everything better. We made bacon baklava last year in an effort (successful, we'll add) to prove this hypothesis, and we are now at work on an ice cream involving bacon (a fellow Astorian, Ice Cream Erik, has cornered the market on sausage ice cream). Given this, we're not sure why bacon pizza is not on more pizzeria menus. It's bacon! It's pizza! You can't go wrong!

La Vita Mia ("My Life"), a typical neighborhood place on 24th Avenue, has recognized the bacon hypothesis, offering a pizza topped with strips of bacon and believing in it enough to sell it by the slice. We can't say whether it's better than any other bacon pizza in the neighborhood, as this was our first foray into the territory, but it was tasty and seemed like second nature. Maybe we're tickled because this was our first (of dozens? hundreds?) of pizzerias on our mission; perhaps we'll be yawning over bacon pizza come June. But for now, the offerings! Chicken Cheddarella! Philly Cheese Steak! The Vita Mia Special, featuring no chicken, bacon, or basil! Choose you are crust!

Unfortunately, we didn't get to sample La Vita Mia's signature slice, the Grandma, with fresh mozzarella, garlic, and organic tomato sauce ("organic" is in red type on the menu), as they had already sold out. We're guessing that the name of this pizza is not some clever marketing ploy -- La Vita Mia, which is as utilitarian as pizzerias come, didn't seem especially cognizant of such things -- but is actually named for someone's grandmother, who probably suggested the recipe.

Left to choose from the more quotidian slices, we found that the pepperoni and plain Sicilian were passable, aided by the rack of condiments thoughtfully supplied at every table. The slices had clearly been sitting for a while, but apparently if you want fresh ones after 8:30 in Astoria, you better order a whole pie.

It's not "our life", we know, but we can't help but think that this is mistake, as is closing so early. (La Vita Mia closes at 10 during the week.) The pizzeria is missing out on serious drunk traffic from the beer garden down the street, which stops serving food early, leaving patrons with a belly full of beer and nothing greasy to sop it up with. (The winner in this scenario is the Neptune diner, which is open 24 hours and attracts a decent amount of stumblers from Bohemian Hall.) We're no businesspeople, but it seems it would be a winning proposition for all involved were they to extend their hours a bit.

The staff gives the impression that they wouldn't mind dealing with a rowdy, beery bunch, either: The main counterman dealt with our queries about the absent Grandma slice with matter-of-fact bemusement, spinning paper plates for the slices we ended up having with panache and offering chocolate wafers for a bag to the (curiously) large number of assorted co-workers coming through the door. At one point, they shared a laugh with a regular customer, who they claimed was "always stoned." (Admittedly, he was wearing sunglasses, it was dark outside, and he wasn't Corey Hart.)

Don't get us wrong: La Vita Mia isn't spectacular in any area, and the slices are only what you'd expect (save the bacon! always the bacon!). But it's a handy beer garden soak-up if you finish (or begin) your drinking early enough, and there's enough quirk to make us regard it with fondness.

Price: It's pizza.
Will we go again? Yes, but mostly because the next closest food option to the Beer Garden is Number One Chinese Restaurant.

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