BEST PIZZA - 2001
Sometimes it seems like Punch isn't playing fair. It's Michael Jordan playing in the sixth-grade playoffs, and the would-be competitors just lie down on the gym floor and cry. But what else can they do? Punch has that wood-fired oven, the imported San Marzano tomatoes, a couple of fail-safe recipes, and a habit of snapping up cases of low-priced Italian wines whenever there's an outstanding vintage. Can Punch help it if there's a series of systems in place that sets it six feet above the rest of the pack? Maybe all of Punch's left-in-the-dust competitors should just be happy that this endlessly popular restaurant refuses to expand beyond its single location, and that getting a table can be so trying sometimes that lots of would-be Punch fans stay home. When you're desperately overmatched, sometimes the only solace is to be found in clichés: Be thankful for what you have, it could always be worse, they could franchise.