Don't Wait Till Valentine Day for Lovers

All right, I know it's not Valentine's Day, but for those of you who like to plan for the future, I have a theme date for you. The first two words are Lover's Pizza. I recently shared a booth with a date at the great place on Lovers Lane. If you're going to a place with "lovers" in the title on a date, then in my book you're doing pretty well. OK, OK the hole-in-the-wall pizza joint probably got its name because it sits on Lovers Lane across from the Inwood Theater and not because naming a restaurant Lover's Pizza & Pasta is cute and would make couples descend on the eatery. But whatever the reason, Lovers Pizza has the perfect name and has pretty close to perfect New York style pizza pies. And that's exactly what my date and I were craving on Sunday afternoon while watching the Cowboys game.

Lovers Pizza is small, 10 tables tops. The cashier and pizza makers shine friendly smiles and make you forget that you're ordering pizza in a strip center in University Park and not on a bustling avenue in Manhattan. The restaurant seems to cater more toward local families and Highland Park high school kids, not couples on dates, but we went there anyway. I'm so glad we did.

The old vinyl booths pull you in, making them comfy enough to persuade you to stay and eat your pizza there and not take it to go. I could hear my date above the sound from the TV and didn't need to wear my fanciest jeans or going out heels. We had a relaxed date -- just talked, watched some football (I finally understand what a first down is) and ate great pizza. Well, I didn't watch as much football as he did, which means I stuffed myself with more pizza than he did...but I'm fine with that. We didn't order a salad or any of the pasta dishes listed on the board behind the cashier. That would've been too complicated. Plus, we'd already taken too long to compromise on a pizza.

I guess if it were a first date we each would have been more conciliatory and agreed to eat whatever the other wanted (and if we didn't really like it we'd pick off the hamburger or pineapples or whichever topping we usually refuse to eat and slip it under an unused napkin). But this wasn't a first date. We weren't nervous around each other or trying to make that ideal first impression. Pizza is personal, and we weren't messing around. We each knew what kind of pizza we would eat and which type we wouldn't dare select. So we settled on one pizza with two entirely different halves. One for him, with his toppings (anchovies, pineapples, bell peppers) and one for me, with my toppings (mushrooms and cheese). My half of the pizza was scrumptious -- the entire half.

After refilling our Diet Dr Peppers, we decided to forgo the Italian dessert. And that's where part two of this lovey-dovey themed date emerged. Although on a carb high, we still needed something sweet. While my date could have rolled me across the street, he took the polite route and suggested we walk to I Heart Yogurt in Inwood Village. What better way to top off a pizza from Lover's Pizza than with a cup of frozen yogurt from the heart healthy soft serve franchise?

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Monica Berry

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