Archive for January, 2012

Pizza ala Coen

Today is a very important day. It’s the birthday of THE Papa Don of Friday Night Casserole fame. So I figured it would be the perfect time to pay homage to Papa Don’s favorite food ingredient in any recipe:  hamburger.

My Dad loves hamburger…in spaghetti sauce, whipped into a fancy meatloaf, in Porcupine Balls, in Sloppy Joes or just by itself…wait! never by itself; it would certainly need some Heinz Ketchup. So why the “Pizza ala Coen” post you ask?

When I was a kid, Mary Ann made homemade pizza. Not a doctored-up frozen pizza—of course, I don’t even remember frozen pizza then. I do remember ‘pizza in a box’ though. I believe it was Chef Boyardee. There was a pouch of dough stuff and a can of pizza sauce…basically bland tomato paste. You were on your own for toppings. Oh look, here it is:


I don’t remember the cheese part. Probably for good reason. I don’t think Mary Ann ever used Chef Boyardee more than once. We did eat a lot of Nujo’s Pizza in Vallejo though. That was the best pizza in the area when I was a kid—in fact, Nujo’s is still alive and kicking on Georgia Street. I was sad to leave Nujo’s behind when we moved to Napa in the early ‘70s, that is, until we discovered Silverado Trail Pizzeria. I can still taste the greasy deliciousness of those large pizza pies. Yes, they were on the famous Silverado Trail in Napa. Unfortunately, they’re closed now. I’m not sure how long ago they closed their business, but it was a sad, sad day for pizza lovers. I’m not kidding when I say they had the best pizza I ever ate…probably better than any pizza from New York or Chicago—though I’ve never had a pizza from New York or Chicago. I’m just saying.

The combination pizzas at Silverado Trail Pizzeria left an impression on me, and if I close my eyes and try really hard, I can still taste them. The same is true for Mary Ann’s “Pizza ala Coen.” She made her pizzas from scratch, and Pizza ala Coen featured Papa Don’s favorite ingredient: hamburger. And onions. You’d think little kids would turn their noses up at that combination, but it was quite the contrary. We loved Pizza ala Coen. Especially when served up with large glasses of RC Cola.

I found my original copy of her infamous pizza recipe. I copied it from Mary Ann’s, and mine cheats with a prepared roll mix for the pizza dough. Sue me. This is actually a simple recipe, so the next time you think you need to order pizza delivery, give this one a try:

These days I add mushrooms and onions to my pizza, but back in the day, Pizza ala Coen featured hamburger and onion. If you like the original recipe, you can thank Papa Don, as he was obviously the inspiration. And since my Dad thinks I post goofy ‘old’ pictures of him on this blog, I dug up a few smooth pics in honor of his birthday. Happy Birthday King Cool!  (I imagine we probably promised you many years ago that we wouldn’t call you that anymore, but I think it’s appropriate today.) Love ya Dad!

Papa Don cutting a rug with his sister-in-law Terry

Papa Don’s first passport shot. I think it’s smooth. I may get a comment from him that he doesn’t like it.

Papa Don dancing (again), this time with Phyllis. He’s looking like a bad-motha-shut-your-mouth with that hat.

Jay always sneaks into the background when people are taking pictures. Here’s Papa Don giving him a taste of his own medicine. This is where I get my sense of humor. Thanks Dad! Happy, Happy Birthday!


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