Let’s take a trip in the way back machine and visit Jaime in the year 1999.
Just a silly girl in her sophomore year at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Jaime learned a lot about the ways of university life after spending freshman year at a suitcase school where not much happened. She learned that the school doesn’t shut down on weekends, like her last school did, that frat parties are nothing like they are in the movie Animal House, and most importantly, she learned that Antonio’s Pizza gave her favorite meal a whole new meaning.
It was early fall, and Jaime had been exploring the downtown area of Amherst when she came across, what seemed to be, a regular pizza shop. Having worked in a pizza shop during high school, Jaime was no stranger to cheese, sauce, dough and toppings creations, but something seemed oddly different about this place. The slices were decked out well beyond your typical pepperoni, mushroom, and olive slices. No, these slices were masterfully crafted, each pie with its own unique personality!
Jaime’s eyes grew wide as she glided down the edge of the case where the pizzas were displayed. Fresh basil leaves with chunks of mozzarella, potato slices sprinkled with bacon, drizzled with a cream sauce, avocado, black bean, tomato and chips! CHIPS! Legitimate tortilla chips on a pizza! It was all too much… What to do, what to do?
She wanted to order them all, but couldn’t, so she tried two different slices, thinking that was what she usually ordered. After consuming the entire slice with its decadent, slightly overloaded toppings, she was getting full. How is that possible? Was this just the pizza to end all other pizzas? Was this just such the ultimate slice that one really was just enough to satisfy any stomach? It may as well have been, because after eating at Antonio’s, no other pizza was going to measure up to its celebrity.
Antonio’s was a staple in Jaime’s college career, and all kids in Amherst, Massachusetts LOVED this pizza place! On Friday and Saturday nights after the bars let out, the students gathered outside Antonio’s to grab a slice before heading home. The sidewalk outside the pizza shop, jam packed with happily buzzed patrons, appropriately acquired the nickname “Club Sidewalk”, with Antonio’s as the focal point of the attraction. Jaime and all of her friends gathered there on the weekends and partook in the after hours festivities. No other place tasted this good after a night of debauchery.
It was tough to leave some of the food establishments when Jaime and her peers graduated, from UMass. The local cuisine was part of the college charm, and we knew that Antonio’s was a one-of-a-kind place. Yet, all of Jaime’s friends, even after graduating, often visited Amherst and stop by Antonio’s for a slice. Some even went so far as to buy entire pizzas made up of the various slices, which costed quite a bit, but they all knew it was worth it. Nothing rivaled it.
Even today, as I look back upon my life in college, and the food that was such an important part of the experience, I can honestly say that no matter where I am, no matter what pizza I try, Antonio’s will always have a “slice” of my heart…
(Images wouldn’t upload tonight… You may have to take a ride out to Amherst and taste for yourself!)