Frankie & Johnnie’s – Pizza is Like Sex, Calzones are Like…

frankie & johnnie's pizza, brentwood, los angeles, ca - calzone

Frankie & Johnnie’s
11753 San Vicente Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90049
310.442.9500

There are some things life that, no matter how bad it is, can never really be bad. Sure, there will always be a range of quality, but even at the furthest end on the spectrum from “Awesome!” it’s still not bad.

For guys, this statement applies to sex. And pizza. Sex and pizza can never be bad. And you know what? For guys, it pretty much seems to apply to anything.

For girls, this applies to…nothing.

Even if it, whatever “it” is, is off the charts, above and beyond holy effin’ the best ever, most incredible awesome, leaves you in an uncontrollable quivering, shivering state of tears and laughter, girls will find something wrong with it. Baby, that was…incredible. *sigh*

But now my mascara is running, dammit.

Maybe that’s a slight exaggeration about girls, because there are a few things that I have found can never really be bad. (Believe it or not, I am a girl).

Macaroni & cheese.

Ramen.

French fries.

You can still have macaroni and cheese out of the blue box made with milk, margarine and NASA nuclear powdered cheese, and it still won’t be horrible. Obviously, on the quality scale, it doesn’t measure up to, say, Tyler Florence whipping up his Ultimate in your kitchen wearing nothing but jeans and an apron, but it’s still macaroni. And cheese. If there’s a bowl of macaroni and cheese on the table, no one pushes it away.

Oh, alright. Pizza is starting to grow on me. Pizza is never so bad that I won’t eat it.

But be not fooled. Just because it looks, smells, and sounds like pizza, doesn’t mean it’s a pizza. And that means, yes indeed, it can be bad.

A calzone can blow your mind.

A calzone can also suck (and I don’t mean “suck” in a good way).

We were at an old standby for an easy, local, cheap dinner – Frankie and Johnnie’s for pizza – less than a three-minute walk from my house, or a five minute *blush* drive. Yes. Yes! Yes, I have driven there, and amazingly, it takes longer to drive the two blocks than two walk it, due to the inevitable around-the-block search for a vacant meter that ends up in a parking spot that is further away from the restaurant than my house is. But don’t worry, I’ve wised up. With gas prices now, I don’t drive unless it’s at least four blocks away.

frankie and johnnie's pizza, brentwood, los angeles, ca - calzone
when she’s crazy, it’s a calzone

For some reason, I was feeling crazy that night. That’s right. Crazy. No, make that wild and crazy. Crazy is ordering a slice of mushroom pizza instead of cheese. Maybe even going so far as barbecue chicken pizza instead of cheese. As crazy as those are, they are still pizza and I was assured that they wouldn’t be bad. There’s no real risk there. But I was wild and crazy, so instead of ordering the usual single slice of cheese pizza that I blaspheme with so much garlic powder, dried oregano, crushed red pepper and salt that it is rendered utterly unidentifiable as pizza, rather a mobile mise en place for a pasta recipe, I ordered a calzone. Ha! I went completely bonkers, threw all spreadsheets to the wind, grabbed Risk by the hand, jaywalked across the street of culinary delights, and ordered a calzone!

It was bad.

Right. I said “suck” three paragraphs ago.

The calzone sucked.

A calzone is, in essence, a pizza that has folded over onto itself, so I would imagine that a calzone from Frankie & Johnnie’s would taste roughly about the same as a folded slice of their pizza – thin, crisp crust with a good number of charred spots, an evenly sweet/spicy balanced sauce, and of course, just enough to cheese to weight down the crust, but not slip off in a gooey mess.

frankie and johnnie's pizza, brentwood, los angeles, ca - calzone
the slouchy crescent, for spring ’06

The calzone was shaped into a plump crescent with deep folds where steam and yeast lost the battle to doughy weight. Normally, in this Super-Biggie-Me world we live in, its size would not merit any such special notice, but it was as large as, and looked like, a handbag – not a pretty, glittery, little evening clutch; we’re talking about the oversized carry-all that glamour moms schlepp around Bloomingdale’s with them that is basically a mobile Sephora/Sav-on/home-office.

The calzone was enormous size-wise, and strangely, it felt even heavier. Not only was it a mass of dough, but whatever substances were gurgling away inside the hermetically sealed crust were undergoing some sort of subatomic reaction that resulted in compounds heavier than the as-of-yet undiscovered, unnamed element 118 aka ununoctium. It was dense.

I cut the calzone open using Frankie & Johnnie’s-provided plastic knife, which was completely insufficient for cutting through the crust. Around the edges where the dough had been folded over multiple times to create the seal, the crust was thicker than the skin on your Uncle Claude’s corny, callused heel. The knife made it though, and splitting the two halves open, the inner blobular beast was unleashed. Rivers of runny ricotta cheese flooded out first all over the cardboard. Melted mozzarella thundered behind, oozing and spreading like an epidemic, cheese solids slowly separating from oil that gurgled like lava.

frankie and johnnie's pizza, brentwood, los angeles, ca - calzone
unleash the blobular beast
frankie and johnnie's pizza, brentwood, los angeles, ca - calzone
barely tamed by sauce

I tried to use the flat side of the knife as a dam, to hold it back, to push some of it back into its calzone cavern, but there was too much. The cheese was
overwhelming in size and speed. My little plastic knife couldn’t stand up to the force. I never thought I’d be faced with a moment when I’d have to say, there was too much cheese.

frankie and johnnie's pizza, brentwood, los angeles, ca - calzone with marinara
not enough marinara to lubricate

The crust was thick, heavy, and though it was dry, it was strangely chewy and doughy, as if it needed at least another 15 minutes in the oven. The accompanying thin, watery marinara could not have been the same deliciously spicy sauce that Frankie and Johnnie use on their pizzas. However, taste was the least of the problems – two tiny plastic tubs was hardly enough to lubricate a calzone of that size. I would need one little tub for every mouthful of that doughy dryness. Certainly, a bite with the cheese made it easier to get the mass of dough down my throat, but as much cheese as seemed to have flooded out, very little was actually edible once it had undergone cold fusion with the cardboard underneath.

I didn’t even come close to finishing. In fact, I didn’t even save the leftovers.

Pizza is like sex…for a guy. It can never be bad.

Calzones are like sex…for a girl. It can be bad. And when it’s bad, I wouldn’t care if I never ate another calzone again.

For a month.

*pause*

Alright, a week.

*blink blink*

Fine! Three days, okay? And that’s my final offer!

** a year ago today, “foodie” was a six-letter word **

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  • ryan kim

    Mmmmm, pizza… good. You’re right, even when it’s bad, it’s still good. ‘cuz it’s pizza. i disagree about the sex analogy. it’s not always good. pizza, however, is never awful.

    Liked your E3 blogs. You fit in quite well with the geeks…

  • Skip

    Pizza is never awful?

    Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Exhibit A…

    Domino’s Pizza.

    GASP!

  • jackt

    There’s no such thing as too much cheese.

  • Phil C

    I just had their pizza (mushroom, sausage and black olives) for the first time a few weeks ago and was very pleasantly surprised.

  • sarah

    ryan: that’s not what you said to me! you told me that it’s always great! ;)

    skip: BUT, if there is a box of hot, fresh domino’s (is that an oxymoron?) on the cocktail table in front of you, are you going to IGNORE it?!?!

    i didn’t think so.

    jackt: in food, maybe not. but i can give you plenty of example of TOO MUCH CHEESE (air supply?)

    phil c: ooh! glad you liked it! did you go to the brentwood location?

  • Maure

    i guess your pizza and sex analogy
    is valid. it’s customary to tip
    the delivery person after both.
    at least that’s what i’ve heard.

    oh sarah, another tyler florence
    reference. here’s a blogger with a
    someewhat differing viewpoint.
    perhaps he prepared her the
    “ultimate” calzone.

    http://www.eatdrinkonewoman.com/2006/week18/index.html

  • onetomato

    i get you on the french fries, sarah. i’ll even stretch that to tater tots. something i never find fault with no matter what…a tequila shot! hee hee.

  • peachiee

    Did you intend the picture to look like a money shot? :P

    That calzone experience sounds so disgusting. I’ve only been to Frank&Johnnie’s once and it was so terrible I’ve never been back. Next time go for Papa John’s!

  • Skip

    Sarah,

    I should tell you I grew up in Connecticut (eating Lena’s First and Last meat-stuffed, sauce-topped pies) and have had more “Famous Ray’s Pizza” (how many are there) in NYC too many times to want to count.

    (And nuts to that Chicago deep-dish stuff. It’s delicious and all, but I’m a thin crust guy.)

    I’ve had mindblowing “sex” with some of the “tastiest women” in the USA.

    Would I jump into bed with any old cheap whore of a pizza?

    No way.

    NO WAY.

  • Slice

    A calzone seems more along the lines of, uh, “self pleasurement,” since it’s sorta like pizza folded in on itself.

  • s’kat

    You know, there are indeed bad fries out there, and I have eaten them.

  • sarah

    maure: i thought “the tip” was included.

    onetomato: just as there is a list of things that can never be bad, there is also a list of things that will NEVER BE GOOD:

    ~ 100% fat free cheese
    ~ tequila

    peach: you know how like, you’ll only do certain things with one guy, and other things with another guy because each has different “talents?” f&j is good at pizza. they are not good at calzones.

    skip: you have too much integrity.

    slice: but calzones CAN be bad and well, you know what they say about self…er…you know. NEVER BAD.

    s’kat: but see, even if they’re “bad” relative to say, McDonald’s (which is the benchamark against which all other fries must be measured), bad fried are better than a baked potato. and you still eat bad fries.

  • LACheesemonger

    Last, but not least ;)

    As usual, Sarah’s like wine for chocolate, or not yet advanced enough in wine to know what the difference is between so so, not good at all, and ‘other worldly, mindbogglingly ephemeral’… ah, wine I mean :). But choosing constant gluttony/imbing in those high-caloric substitutes will make you fatter though. It’s not quantity/frequency that matters Sarah, it’s all about quality.

    Hell, I’d get tired of having sex with Hyo-ri Lee, if I did indulge every single day of the week, the way DeliciousS plows down all those sinfully tasty, but oh so bad for your wasteline caloric bombs—carbo loading with empty calories of food and hard liquor. Though, if Hyo-ri is reading, I’ll gladly try the 31 day experiment to see if it’s really bad….please! (hehe, I may not be as lame as the guy’s Sarah makes the mistake of writing about, but hell, I’m not that stupid ;) ).

    Yeah, well since Sarah is a ‘grrrl’ after all, we don’t expect here to know any better about these things; when she’s only had mediocrity to compare, do we ;)?

    Hmm, somebody needs to help Sarah become her real ‘inner woman’, me thinks :).

    Yeah just haven’t had the right wine, guy, or pizza yet Sarah. You still haven’t comprehended just how much those little extra touches make all the difference…uh, I mean in preping the pizzagasm, uh, that ultimate Pinot Plateau…remember what I said in that e-mail about the shape of the Burgundy bottle ;) (hmmm, then again Sarah…argggh nevermind, that’s back into the …shssssh, you’re making me blush realm of the senses…I was going to tell you about how, about that last months massage entry, how you’d need to go back to him to get your spasmodically curled & cramped toes back to normal so you could wear your flip-flops in public ;) ).

  • hermz

    *sigh*… all the predictable sex-uendo comments. Gotta take the good with the bad, I suppose.

    My first calzone was in Evanston, and I’ve yet to have one that good since. Not that I go around eating them regularly. Maybe I’ll try Pizza Mania’s sometime.

  • cathy

    Theres only one great Frankie & johnny’s pizzeria and thats in Bonita Springs Florida all the others out there are wanna be’s

  • Anonymous

    lori said….

    The Frankie & Johnny’s in Bonita Springs Florida had the absolute worst pizza i’ve ever had. It was soggy, the sauce was bland and the cheese was cheap….ewwwww

  • Anonymous

    lori said….

    The Frankie & Johnny’s in Bonita Springs Florida had the absolute worst pizza i’ve ever had. It was soggy, the sauce was bland and the cheese was cheap….ewwwww

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