For the Super Bowl, I like to celebrate the culinary traditions of cities represented on Super Sunday. For Super Bowl XLVI, I suggest New York-style pizza for the Giants and Boston cream pie for the Patriots.
Pizza is a football natural, Giants or not. But this is a great excuse to treat yourself and partygoers to an authentic New York-style pizza. There are several local pizzerias that serve New York-style pizza, and some of them are actually owned by people from New York such as Danny Falcone, whom I wrote about in December. But Falcone isn't the only New Yorker in the metro area handing out authentic New York-style pies.
An Empire-size pie from Papa Angelo's, 3921 N College Ave. in Bethany, is as New York as it gets. Your party will pop with these massive slices so weighted with premium ingredients that folding is a necessity, and don't forget garlic knots, which are sort of the pizza equivalent to doughnut holes. The pizza is just like New York: big, brash and not afraid to let you know it's there. Not unlike the restaurant's namesake, Papa Angelo DiGiantomasso, 82. Don't ask Papa Angelo how he's doing or what he knows unless you're prepared for an answer like, “Why, you writin' a book!?!” When asked how a kid from Queens ended up in Oklahoma, Papa Angelo says without hesitation, “I ran out of gas.”
But the first DiGiantomasso to make it from Central Islip, N.Y., to Oklahoma was Angelo's son Joseph, who brought his family to Bethany 16 years ago with no job, few prospects but an overwhelming desire to raise his young family in a better place.
“I love New York. I love any team anything as long as it's New York, but I'll never move back there,” DiGiantomasso said. “I love Oklahoma; I love Bethany. People here don't realize what they've got.”
What we do have is phenomenal New York pizza thanks to these Long Islanders who make pride a primary ingredient in every pie. And on Sunday there's no doubt about which team they'll be rooting for. At the counter you'll find a football autographed by the 1991 Giants thanks to former offensive lineman Clarence Jones, who was coached as a child by Papa Angelo.
If you want to take the party to Papa Angelo's, you might consider taking the Empire challenge, which entails eating the 20-inch Empire with double the three toppings of your choice. If you can take down this 6-pound pie in 45 minutes, the pizza is free and so is the T-shirt you'll get. On the north wall of the restaurant is a picture of the single brave soul that succeeded. On the south wall you'll find a wall full of those who've failed. Papa Angelo's does sell pizza by the slice during weekday lunch service.
For more information or call-in orders, call 491-6767.
In honor of the New Englanders, you can go for another kind of pie. In fact, this pie is no more a true pie than a pizza, but still is delicious nonetheless. I'm talking about the classic Boston cream pie.
This dessert icon from was created in 1856 at Boston's Parker House Hotel, and in 1996 was named the official dessert of Massachusetts. But this pudding and cake combination with two layers of cake filled with vanilla custard and topped with chocolate isn't so easy to find in these parts. Many bakeries make them, but the only one I could find that offers it daily was La Baguette in Norman.
It's absolutely no surprise that Johnny Jazzar, 63, and Rudy Khouri, 51, are doing something in their bakery that no one else does, because that's been their modus operandi for more than a quarter of a century.
The brothers-in-law with impossibly high standards run a 7,000-square-foot production bakery that supplies some of the state's top restaurants, hotels and markets with the highest quality baked goods — including their own La Baguette Bakery and Cafe, 1130 Rambling Oaks Drive. The La Baguette at 924 W Main St. in Norman still serves baked goods, soups, salads and sandwiches from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The two Lebanese immigrants opened their first bakery in 1986 thanks to Khouri, who saw the French patisseries he grew up with were nonexistent on the prairie.
And they run a pretty mean little cafe, too, serving top-notch soups, salads and sandwiches by day and bistro fare by night. The La Baguette Bistro on May Ave. began with Jazzar and Khouri. When Michel Buthion was food and beverage director for the Skirvin, he was a loyal La Baguette customer. When the hotel closed, he approached Jazzar about running the restaurant at 7408 N May Ave. Eventually, Michel and his brother Alain bought the place, promising to use only La Baguette pastry in return for the right to use the name.
La Baguette in Norman sells Boston cream pie slices daily, and they are spectacular. The cream is sweet, the cake delicate and the chocolate rich. And in true La Baguette form, the simple topping isn't enough. Rudy adds chocolate swirls all over the top as a garnish.
Not many places where you go for dessert and stay for lunch or dinner, but La Baguette is one.
Both Papa Angelo's and La Baguette are open Sunday. If you plan to order a whole Boston cream pie, be sure to call La Baguette in advance at 329-1101. You also may order pies through the May Avenue store; call 840-3047.