I used to live across the street from Roberta’s, sometimes dining there for both breakfast and dinner in the same day. I discovered that eleven a.m. on a Wednesday was a guaranteed way to beat the crowds. I dined there enough in the five months I lived there to not have to go back for another three years. In the meantime, Roberta’s began producing frozen versions of their famous pizzas. I saw it first in my fancy bodega’s freezer section, a little vacuum sealed circle of hope for a then lonely single girl. I skipped it that time, skeptical that it could validate and confirm the way the real thing did.
I forgot about it for a week or so, but flashbacks and memories of the Calabrian chiles and Kale smashed up against the plastic wrapping lingered. Faced with making a salad or buying a frozen pizza, I remembered the frozen disc, waiting patiently for me in the bodega freezer. I skipped to the market, relieved to not have cook after an exhausting day of doing nothing. I grabbed the Baby Sinclair pizza and a six pack of Grunion beer and merrily made my way home. With the oven preheating, I sat sipping my Grunion, obsessively reading the instructions, not wanting to mess up any preparation on my end. It said to cook for three and half minutes. Leaving very little to obsess about, I realized I was so intent on my mission I had not even bothered to look at the price. I wagered a price of $6.99 tops, and flipped over the package to check. A pink sticker indicated a price of $12.49 and confirmed my severely poor estimation skills. I scoffed at the price as the pizza itself was thin, more of a decorative cracker than dinner.
I took a bite of my heated Baby Sinclair pizza. It was garlicky and generously kaled. Spicy too. It was filling despite my initial assessment and just large enough to share with my dog. Satiated and dusted with pizza ash, I reviewed the price one more time. I calculated the the subway fare to get to Roberta’s, the Uber fare to get back from Roberta’s, the time spent waiting to get a table at Roberta’s, and the fee to consume to Roberta’s fresh pizza. The $12.49 didn’t seem so bad.
I revisited Roberta’s last night, having a chance to test my projections. We waited an hour and half for a table, and I waited 15 minutes for the ladies’ room. We ordered Stracciatella, a stringy plus of live dining, and three pizzas. The chewiness of dough fired in a brick oven and eaten soon after, I discovered, is elemental to the universal healing process. The web of Stracciatella sliding around my tongue after three beers immediately mended deep wounds. The $20 dollar peak priced Uber fare stabbed slightly, but if you can’t make the pilgrimage to headquarters, eat that $12 frozen pizza triumphantly.