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Had a Piece Lately?

March 25, 2009 - Phyllis Sigal
What is it that really makes DiCarlo's Pizza so special? Why do people come home to Wheeling and just HAVE to have a square of DiCarlo's Pizza? Why would people spend more than $50 to have a DiCarlo's Pizza shipped to the far reaches of the universe? Why do debates break out over WHICH DiCarlo's has the best pizza?

Why are there hundreds of posts on Facebook continuing that debate on the group "DiCarlos Pizza is the best in the freakin world!" Why are there 2,915 members, six discussion topics and more than 325 wall posts? And why are there actually SEVERAL Facebook groups devoted to DiCarlo's Pizza. (There's one called: DiCarlo's Pizza tastes like cardboard with ketchup poured on top.)

Why would anyone spend an hour and a half waiting for four pieces with extra cheese at the Elm Grove location on a Friday night?

First off, I really don't know the answer to most of those questions. (Other than, it's unique, it's crave-worthy, it's really good and people are obsessed and have too much time on their hands ...)

The one I CAN answer is the last one ... I can tell you why I stood in the Elm Grove DiCarlo's — feeling like I was in a can of anchovies — last Friday night for an hour and a half. Several reasons.

First, because I'm a good mom. My daughter, Amanda, was coming home for the weekend and she had requested DiCarlo's for dinner. She's an Elm Grove fan, while my husband and I are both partial to the downtown Wheeling DiCarlo's.

Second, because I am a downtown fan, I was not aware of the crowd of Wheelingites and others who converged on that space on Friday nights. Joann at CentreTown Fitness tried to warn me when I mentioned I was stopping at TWO DiCarlo's on my way home that night. (Hence the workout.) She said in passing, "You better order early. It gets busy on Friday nights."

I should've questioned her a bit further. "WHICH DiCarlo's?" and "HOW early?" would've been the right questions. The answers to those questions would have been: Elm Grove and VERY VERY VERY early.

So I left the gym, after burning roughly the calories equivalent to two squares of DiCarlo's, and called downtown for my seven pieces of regular. Ten minutes, he said. OK, well, in order to time it properly, I'll call Elm Grove just before I pick up my downtown pizza.


Thirty minutes, she said. I'd be No. 8. I was hopeful it would be quicker than that.

When I arrived at the Elm Grove location, I pulled into the last parking space available. Not a good sign. My hope flew out the window.

I walked in, and joined the crowd.

Also, because I'm not an Elm Grove regular (even though I did grow up on that DiCarlo's), I was a bit confused about the protocol. First off, I couldn't figure out the numbering system. They'd call 35, then 79, then 92. And I was 8? Where did I fit in? Should I tell them I'm here, I wondered. Do I pay them now? Heck, I didn't want to look like an idiot!!!

So, I made my way up to the counter and told them I was No. 8; do you want my money? "She'll get to you," I was told. Nicely, though, I might add.

I finally figured out they called the numbers to pay, and then called numbers to pick up the order. So, when I heard the high numbers (and eventually the really low numbers), those people were to pay.

I spent my hour and half socializing with the crowd. Some people I knew, some I didn't. But there was a certain camaraderie I felt, huddled with the hungry masses.

I introduced myself to the woman from the Shipwreck Lounge in Moundsville, who I'd previously talked to on the phone about our TGIF publication. (FYI: She was buying DiCarlo's Pizza kits! The kits came with crust, sauce, cheese and pepperoni, which her kitchen puts together and they sell to customers.)

I ran into a guy who graduated in my Triadelphia High School class. We chatted. Mostly about pizza, and what time they ordered theirs.

I said to a few people with whom I chatted, (probably too loudly and too many times) "I'm a downtown fan. I"m only here because my daughter, who's in for the weekend, likes Elm Grove."

A friend, who had come into the gym just as I was leaving, came in to pick up her pizza. "When," I asked, "did YOU call for YOUR pizza?" Before she even got to the gym, she told me. Smart. She knew about this crowd, obviously. And she waltzed out with her little white box WAY before I did! And she only stood there for about 10 or 15 minutes.

Another friend came in; I heard a whisper in my ear. "And what number are you?" he asked. He was No. 13. So, we talked for a while. That helped to pass the minutes.

Yeah, and my downtown pizza was getting colder by the minute, I kept thinking. (So, I texted my husband. "This place is crazy. You might want to put the oven on.")

When the numbers finally rolled over from the high numbers to zero, I knew I was getting close. (Someone in the crowd commented, "If you were 'zero' would you own up to it when they yelled, 'ZERO!'" ... Well, if you'd been standing there for an hour and half, you sure would! "Yeah, I'm zero! And proud of it!")

My high school class buddy was No. 4. FOUR. Out the door he went with the prize. (People were actually fearful of getting mugged as they left with their pizza. No, really!)

Closer, closer, closer it got to ATE. I mean 8.


YAY! My turn. I grabbed the pizza and headed out the door, and then, turned to my friend, No. 13, and said, "Hey, do you want me to keep you company until your number comes up? JUST KIDDING!"

And as I drove home, with the smell of hot and cold pizza mingling in my car, I just kept reminding myself: I do love Amanda. I do love Amanda. I do love Amanda.

But I still love downtown DiCarlo's better. (Better than Elm Grove ... not better than Amanda.)


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