Thursday, June 08, 2006

Where were you when the world stopped turning?

I hope you are sitting. I hope you have a box of kleenex nearby. I received the following email yesterday afternoon from my buddy AW:

"Megabite is becoming not kosher as of Wednesday next week…did you hear? The owner told me today…soooo sad"

For those of you who know me, Megabite is a very important part of my life. Megabite happens to be like the best pizza place in the world. I feel as if, although my world hasn't stopped turning, somehow it is moving a little slower, and more erratically.

Growing up I was a very picky eater. You wouldn't know that by looking at pictures of me as a kid (I was the round kid that was often mistaken for a boy), but even when you're a picky eater, if the only thing you eat is Chicken McNuggets and cheese pizza, thats what you get. Almost everyday after school I would head over to Massimo's Pizza at the corner of Brookurst and Bushard (half a block from the Pacific Ocean) and get a slice of pizza. It might be that this was the only food establishment in walking distance of my house, but their pizza was really good back in the day. As I got older my tastes had changed and Pizza D'Oro became my fave pizza. I still remember my first time ever going there. My brother Alan brought me there for dinner before dropping me and a friend off at my junior high school dance. Little did I know that this place is known for their monster sized slices of pizza. I asked the waitress for a slice and then was like, wait how big are they maybe I want two. I figured if they are like Pizza Hut sized slices I'd still be hungry after one slice. She and Alan both laughed at me. When she brought out the slice I realized why. Lets just say it was hard fitting my slice and my brother's on the same table. Each slice is at least a foot and a half long. Its a meal in itself. When I first got my license (and my first car which previously was my Granny's and looked unmistakenly like the car from Wayne's World), my friends and I started going to Pizza D for lunch every week. I was like ritualistic. The food kicked ass and you couldn't beat the price since we were all on a small budget consisting of the money found in the couch cushions, or in my case the quarters I took from my dad's slot machine (sorry Dad, love ya).

Then I moved to New York, the pizza capital of the world. Um, outside of Italy at least. My dad says its because the water in New York tastes so good. It affects the taste of the dough or something. New York is famous for its large greasy slices eaten folded over with one hand. I never got the hang of it and still prefer using a fork and knife. I know I know, I'm a dork. Anyway, I bounced around from place to place recognizing the good pizza (Pizza Cave on the 72nd) and bad (J2). Then when I started my current job I kept hearing about this new place nearby. I tried it out and fell head over heels in love.

Just a quick overview on kosher food. The bare facts. Milk and meat can't be eaten together. And no pig. Therefore, most pizza toppings will not be found at your local kosher pizza joint. Only cheese and vegetable pizza. Like I said before, I usually ate plain cheese pizza, with the occassional pepperoni slice thrown in for good measure. For the FFB's here in cyberspace, don't worry, you didn't miss much. Pepperroni is okay but can be lived without. Same goes for cheeseburgers. But there was just something about the pizza at Megabite that was just out of this world. You know how some pizza places have really good crust, others use an incredible sauce, while others still are known for their topping combinations. Mega has it all! Every aspect was so yum.

Their slices are pretty big as well. I always think of the late great Mitch Hedberg's quote about small slices. "I went to a pizzeria and I ordered a slice of pizza; the fucker gave me the smallest slice possible. If the pizza was a pie chart for what people would do if they found a million dollars, the fucker gave me the 'donate to charity' slice. I would like to exchange this for the 'keep it'! " I miss Mitch...

In addition to pizza they offer a large variety of delicious foods. Calzones, Cheese Pretzels, Borekas, wraps, soups, salads, fish, hot entrees, etc etc etc. I always say, the true sign of a good Chinese place is when Chinese people fill up a majority of the restaurant. A kosher place on the other hand is good when most of the tables are filled with non-Jews. You go to a place like J2 (see above bad pizza reference) and will rarely see a non-Jew in the whole place. RS for instance won't even step foot in there. But thats more out of her fear towards rats. But thats another story altogether.

So when I got the email yesterday from Aviva I quickly checked the calendar to make sure it wasn't April Fool's Day. And when I realized it was not I got to work getting to the bottom of the story. My little buddy RB called the Vaad of Flatbush who certifies Megabite kosher. They told us that Eli the owner was selling his restaurant to a non-Jew. Some kashruth authories' rules are more stringent than others. Their rules insist the owner must be Jewish. I figure it probably has to do with overseeing ordering of ingredients and factors like whether or not it will be open on Saturday, the Sabbath.

My hope is that they will become certified with another organization. RS has already volunteered to be the mashgiach. When I told others in my office one grown man almost broke down and cried. His response was what?! WHAT?! This affects lots of people who depend on Megabite. I've met people who eat there for lunch 3-5 times a week. The variety is good and the prices aren't bad. The food is tasty and the employees are friendly. We will miss you Meiku, and Miguel, and Daniel, and Hugo (who always remembers to cut my slices in half). Hopefully we will meet again!

I have begun a petition to keep them kosher. Please visit and sign petition at this address Mega, we will miss you so! Shabbat Shalom!


Drew_Kaplan said...

That is unfortunate.
Good call about Pizza Cave (92nd) - good pizza.

Nili said...

Hey, aren't you lactose intolerant?

Josh said...

I almost took a date to Megabyte once. She told me the hechsher was no good (Vaad of Flatbush, What?!?) We went to Circa instead. It was our last date.

SusQHB said...

Nili and her keen memory are correct. I am in fact a lactard. I didn't add that bit of information but I do in fact OD on lactaid before I eat my Megabite pizza. It doesn't stop me from getting sick...but the food is so good its worth it! Sign the damn petition!

SusQHB said...

The time has come. I received the following kashrus alert over email. I guess the good old days are over. No more HOT Lunch Dates. Sniff. Don't forget to sign the petition: Even if you've never been, support good food! Sign it!

The following kashrus alert is from the Vaad of Flatbush on June 13, 2006.

Megabite Cafe, 55 West 38th Street NY,NY. There has been a change in ownership and any use of the Vaad's name or kashrus symbol after this date is unauthorized.

IY"H in the times of Moshiach, there will once again be a Megabite! May we all do mitzvos to hasten the coming of Moshiach speedily in our days. Amen!