*Note from Peter: "The MacBeth" is a delightful pizza memoir sent in by a friend of Pizza Quest named Jeffrey Ippolito. We loved it and thought it was a fun piece celebrating fond memories, good pizza (almost), and good friends. We hope you enjoy it as well, and keep the conversation going. If you have pizza memoirs that you'd like to share and see published here please send them to us at:
“The 2nd Best Pizza That Never Was”
About 20 years ago, when I was living in Columbia, Missouri, seven friends and I went to Shakespeare’s Pizza, a great local hang and pizzeria, after an Oklahoma/Missouri football game. We were starving. Since most of our party was from out of town and I was the local ambassador, as it were, the group entrusted me to order a couple of large pizzas on behalf of the table. I knew immediately one would be the tomato and pepper cheese.
That was, then, and remains today, my all time favorite pizza. To me it’s pizza perfection, from it’s foundation of hand-tossed crust, a generous amount of sauce and bed of fresh cheese, to the whole slices of tangy tomatoes and spicy chunks of melting pepper cheese. It has taste, texture and a lot of cheesy gooeyness. The T-P-C was a standard, a must have.
However, I wasn’t sure what toppings to get on the next pizza. As I approached the counter to order, I scanned the menu painted on pizza boards on the wall behind the counter, looking for
something with a little bit of everything, a supreme of sorts. That’s when I discovered The MacBeth! Due to our previous tailgating activities that day, I had a little trouble distinguishing all the ingredients; but there seemed to be the key makings of a great Supreme, and that was good enough for me.
I placed my order of one large MacBeth and one large tomato and pepper cheese, and returned to the table, confident my order would make the crew happy and excited that I was about to be biting into my favorite slice, as well as to be trying something new, the MacBeth. I even boasted about how pleased everyone would be with my choices.
Because of the football game, the place was packed; and it took awhile for our order to be called over the intercom. Our stomachs were grumbling and, with each passing order called, our excitement was growing.
Finally, came the call: “Jeff, your MacBeth is ready. Jeff, your MacBeth is ready.” We cheered; and I slapped my hands and, rubbing them together, pronounced,”This is going to be good.” As I headed for the counter my sister, who was one of those visiting, joined me to help with plates, utensils and napkins (it’s kind of a self-service place.) When we reached the counter we were met with a surprise. The MacBeth was more like a small sandwich than a large pizza. In fact, it was just like a sandwich – a 12” sub to be exact. It had a lot of “Supreme” ingredients, all right; there were things like salami, several cheeses, and, now, I could see some of the others: lettuce, pickles, mayonnaise, etc. My sister and I looked at each other and immediately burst into laughter, to the point of tears. The MacBeth looked good, but it was definitely not a large pizza.
We both lamented about how bummed everyone would be when we revealed my blunder, but we didn’t really care because we thought it was so funny. In fact, together, we both carried the little red basket in which it was served with a bag of chips, each taking an end. We were met at the table by puzzled looks as we presented --- The MacBeth! My sister and I again began laughing, but there was some initial confusion among the other six until they all realized that I had ordered a sandwich instead of a pizza. At that point everyone started laughing hysterically, and then, without hesitation, we promptly sliced The Macbeth into eight equal pieces and everyone devoured their little portion, hoping it was enough to hold them over until the tomato and pepper cheese was called. I think we even passed the little bag of chips around the table so each person could have a couple of those, as well.
When I was at Shakespeare’s a few months ago, I noticed The MacBeth was no longer on the menu. Too bad. Although I only ordered it once, after the tomato and pepper cheese, it was my favorite thing on the menu, if only for the memory. Yes, The MacBeth, the best pizza that never was.
By Jeffrey Ippolito