For last week's Best of Dallas® 2014 issue, we've been counting down (in no particular order) our 100 Favorite Dishes. If there's a dish you think we need to try, leave it in the comments, or email me.
Many readers submitted suggestions for this year's 100 Favorite Dishes. Some made the list, some of them gave me a stomach ache. But the recommendation for "DIY pizza from Jimmy's with frozen pizza dough, Mama's meatballs and fresh cheese" stood out so far above the rest that I had to save it for No.1. Don't mistake me, I cooked the pizza the day after I got the email, but I saved my photos and notes so this dish could take its place at the top where it belongs.
In another life, in a city far, far away, I was a bit of a pizza addict, making pies three or four at a time on weeknights whether I had the guests there to eat them or not. But since moving to Dallas, my pizza-making had crawled to a stand still. I hadn't made a pie in more than three years, and here I was with a single dough ball, four meatballs and a can of tomatoes. I was nervous. Sure, I could run back to Jimmy's and get everything I needed to start it all over if I really muck things up, but this was a matter of pride. I wanted to pull a beautiful pie from my oven right from the start.
The dough comes in a plastic bag frozen so solid you could brain a pig with it. I decided to let the ball thaw in the fridge overnight, in the hopes that I could make a pizza for lunch the next day. But when I checked the ball the next morning and it was still hard as quartz. I turned the thermostat up on my fridge and resolved to have pizza for dinner instead.
And at 6 p.m.? It was softer, but still really firm, like that wad of Play-doh you took out of the can and forgot about for a night. By that point, I'd thawed the meatballs, browned them in a sauce pan and dumped a large can of San Marzano tomatoes over the top. My apartment smelled amazing. I took the dough from the fridge, covered it with plastic wrap on a well-floured cutting board and listened to my meatballs simmer -- for two long hours.
By then the dough was still cool, but it was soft enough to work with so I gave it a shot. I pressed down on the ball with the pads of my fingers to degas it a little, taking care to protect some of the bubbles that I'd hoped would expand and become beautifully charred pizza blisters. But as I started stretching it out into a round, the dough didn't want to play nicely. This dough was pissed.
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I tried everything. I even dusted the backs of my knuckles with flour and tried spinning the dough in the air. It was awful. Erase the image you have of a massive disc of spinning dough descending through the air like a satiny bed sheet. What spun above my head was shaped like a baguette, and after screaming at it and stretching it into a circle that was almost big enough to be a pizza, I threw it down on the cutting board and watched in horror as it quickly pulled back into a blob no wider than a small dinner plate.
If you ever encounter the problem, the solution is to simply let the dough rest until it's supple enough to work with, but I was starving. Eventually, I shaped the pizza and topped it with the meatballs that I'd crumbled up and a modest amount of mozzarella. About 15 minutes later, I was fishing a pizza out of the oven with a pizza peel. My house smelled like Zoli's. I was (from my own perspective at that time) pizza champion of the world.
If you're one of the types that uses Jimmy's as a takeout for Cuban Sandwiches, you might think about shopping for groceries while you're there. At least buy the ingredients to make your own pizza at home. Provided you let your dough rest enough, you'll likely have fun with it. And no matter what emerges from your oven, it will likely be better than the delivery in your neighborhood.
No. 100: Pastrami Egg Rolls at Blind Butcher No. 99: Chicken-fried Steak at Tom's Burgers and Grill No. 98: Pasta with Uni Butter at Nonna No. 97: Camarón en Agua Chile at La Palapas No. 96: The Wings at Lakewood Landing No. 94: Chicken Kebab at Afrah No. 93: Trompo Tacos at Bachman Lake No. 92: Fish and Chips at 20 Feet No. 91: Canelés at Village Baking Co. No. 90: Banh Mi from La Me No. 88: The Burgers at Off-Site Kitchen No. 87: The White Album at Spoon No. 86: Ramen at Tei An No. 85: Tacos at Revolver Taco No. 84: Stuffed Chicken Wings at Sakhuu No. 83: Korean Fried Chicken at Bonchon No. 82: Grilled Branzino at Tei Tei Robata No. 81: The Toddfather at Cattleack Barbecue No. 80: The Biryanis at Chennai No. 79: Shish Tawook at Qariah No. 78: Arepes at Zaguan No. 77: Goat Momo at Everest Restaurant No. 76: Steak Tartar at Gemma No. 75: Escabeche at Joyce and Gigi's No. 74: Spicy Fish in Oil at Royal Sichuan No. 73: Pupusas at La Pasadita No. 72: The Kathi Roll at Simply Dosa No. 71: The Chicken Wings at Teppo No. 70: Cheesesteak at Truck Yard No. 69: Chicken and Waffles at Jonathon's No. 68: Birria Tacos at Los Torres Taqueria No. 67: Bulgogi Cheesesteak at Say Kimchi No. 66: Suadero Tacos at La Banqueta No. 65: Brian Luscher's Post Oak Red Hot No. 64: Banana Flower Salad at Mot Hai Ba No. 63: Cinco Leches Cake At Mesero Miguel No. 62: Cabrito a la Parilla at El Ranchito No. 61: Reuben at Kuby's No. 60: Plain Cheese Pizza Cooked Extra Crispy at Zoli's No. 59: Enmoladas at Mesa No. 58: Pig's Head at CBD Provisions No. 57: Rib "Sandwich" at Baby Back Shak No. 56: Beef Noodle Soup at Monkey King No. 55: The Nachos at Spiral Diner No. 54: Elotes, Everywhere No. 53: The Popeye At Green Grocer No. 52: The Cuban at International Bakery No. 51: Rush Patisserie's Croissant No. 50: Kitfo From Sheba's Ethiopian Kitchen No. 49: Beer at Craft and Growler No. 48: Pastor Tacos at El Rincon No. 47: Banh Mi From Nammi No. 46: Beef Fajitas From Mariano's No. 45: Italian Combo from Carbone's No. 44: The Brisket at Pecan Lodge No. 43: Chicken-Fried Steak at Ellen's Southern Kitchen No. 42: Carnitas Tacos at Taqueria Y Carneseria Guanajuato No. 41: Lamb Burger at LARK No. 40: Regina Margherita At Cane Rosso No. 39: Barbacoa At Barbacoa Estilo Hidalgo No. 38: The Peace 'Stachio at Hypnotic Donuts No. 37: Nasi Lemak at Kampong No. 36: A Rotisserie Chicken Taco at Velvet Taco No. 35: The Burger At Boulevardier No. 34: Surfers On Acid At Local Oak No. 33: Bread Pudding at Sissy's No. 32: Pelmeni at the Russian Banya No. 31: Loukoumathes at Greek Fest No. 30: The Charcuterie Plate at FT33 No. 29: Short Rib Grilled Cheese at East Hampton No. 28: The Fried Bologna Sandwich at Maple and Motor No. 27: The Pastrami Sandwich at the Whistling Pig No. 26: Bacon-Encrusted Bone Marrow at Knife No. 25: Meatloaf at Stock and Barrel No. 24: The Reuben at Cock and Bull No. 23: Causa Limena at San Salvaje No. 22: Fish Tacos at TJ's No. 21: The Cuban at ¡C. Señor! No. 20: The Smoked Salmon at Zen Sushi No. 19: The Ham Sandwich at Vagabond No. 18: Steak and Eggs at Meddlesome Moth No. 17: Campechano at El Come Taco No. 16: The Chicken Scratch at Chicken Scratch No. 15: Veal Bolognese with Pappardelle at Urbano No. 14: Chicken-Fried Steak at Babe's No. 13: Hanger Steak and Eggs Taco at Good 2 Go Taco No. 12: Emporium Pies' Pies No. 11: Bun Bo Hue at Don Que No. 10: Fish Reuben at Rex's No. 9: Tacos at La Ventana No. 8: Moules Frittes at the Grape No. 7: The Sliders at Easy Slider No. 6: Pulpo a la Plancha at Casa Rubia No. 5: Bacon Egg and Cheese at Start No. 4: Dry-Aged Burger At Neighborhood Services No. 3: The Pork Chop at So&So's No. 2: Cacio e Pepe at Lucia