BEST PIZZA - 2000
There are roller-coaster addicts, people who find the thrills and chills of life on the twisting rails so irresistible that they dedicate their every waking moment to that amusement. Now, we don't condone such behavior, but ever since we started going to Punch, at least we understand it: Pass through the doors and you'll sit there and wait and wait while others feast on the most heavenly smelling pizzas--the Puttanesca, say, with anchovies, capers, imported saracene olives, onions, and oregano, or the alla panna, with cream, prosciutto, onion, and Parmesan. Then you'll wait some more, because Punch doesn't accept reservations (except on some weeknights for large parties), and you'll no doubt have forgotten to call ahead to put your name on the list. Once seated, you get to order, and peruse a tempting, bargain-filled Italian wine list. Still, you wait. Finally, the best conceivable pizza arrives: The crust has the scent and heft of wood fire, the sauce is juicy and fresh, the herbs have just been torn, the toppings are of the highest quality...in short, every bite is swooningly good. From then on it's devastating: You either move to the neighborhood or spend the rest of your life chasing the dragon, the quadruple-loop eight-mile megacoaster of pizza joints.