It was the best pizza I had ever eaten!
Many, many years ago . . . way too many to talk about in real numbers . . . I enjoyed my first pan pizza. It was at Papa Del's in Champaign, and I was visiting my friend, Wendy, a freshman at U of I, who was eager to share this incredible culinary discovery with me. From that day forward, it became the gold standard by which all other pizzas are measured.
Last week, we were driving to Chicago to see Jersey Boys with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, when I happened to think again about that delicious pan pizza. Suddenly it occurred to me that we would be driving right past Champaign and I could have that pizza again! I immediately suggested a stop at Papa Del's on our way back home. The decision was unanimous!
We didn't arrive at Papa Del's until about 8:30 p.m. on Monday night, although Mapquest took us there with no problems -- just too much shopping in Chicago before we left town. We should have known! We parked in the large lot behind the building, walked inside and were greeted by a server who reluctantly told us they had been "slammed" earlier in the evening and were completely out of pizza dough. I was crushed! "But," she said, "if you want to wait, we'll have more made in about 30 minutes." Did I want to wait? After all this time? You bet!
We ordered drinks and were informed that they were not serving anything but pizza for the rest of the evening, so even a salad while we waited was out of the question. OK then! We'll be really ready for that pizza. Of course, making the dough took time, but so does baking a pizza that size and that dense. At least an hour passed before our pizza was finally delivered to our table. It was breath-taking to behold! Aromatic, bubbly, beautiful and enormous!
And the taste? One bite and I knew it was just like I remembered -- pizza perfection! Thanks Papa Del's . . . and thanks again Wendy!