Cafe Society

Mouthing Off

Read-letter daze: In response to a statement I made that Parker lacks "decent pizza" (Mouthing Off, November 21), the owner of a Parker pizzeria wrote to ask if I'd eaten at her Mak's Pizza, Subs & Ice Cream, at 10841 South Parker Road. "If you have not been to Mak's," said Roxana Torres, "you may have caused significant damage to a struggling independent business that relies on restaurant critics' opinions." Torres then went on to say that Mike Boyles likes Mak's pizza. Well, I don't, and that's why I made the statement.

Parker is the town closest to my home, and I've eaten at every restaurant there. So when Mak's sent a menu to the office months ago, I was delighted to see that a non-chain had come into the area, and I hurried to try it. While I liked Mak's sauce and thought the pizza had a good cheese-to-sauce ratio, I didn't like the crust. Either it was just not a good recipe or the dough had been frozen, because it had a floury flavor and a breadlike consistency. Giving Mak's the benefit of the doubt, though, I went back and took out a large plain pie ($11.95). Same deal--the sauce is really good, but it can't overcome the shortcomings of the crust.

The only local place I hadn't tried was Pizza Nizza in the Safeway Center, but then my father-in-law picked up a pizza there during a recent visit. It tasted cheap, but it wasn't--a large plain cost $14. It was so awful that I ate one slice and, even though I was hungry, told my father-in-law it was all his. He didn't eat it, either, and the leftovers sat in the refrigerator until I finally fed them to the dog. And although I used to like Pudge Bros. Pizza, whose Aurora location (15430 East Smoky Hill Road) I've visited several times, after three bad pies at the Parker spot (17860 Cottonwood Drive), I've given up. The first one was burned (at least when I called to complain, they told me I could have another); the second had so little cheese on it that the topping looked like lace; and the third was burned again. So, like I said, I'm really looking forward to the impending arrival of Parker's own Bourbon Street Pizzabar and Grill come spring.

I'm as serious about burgers as I am about pizza, so I was tickled by the Post-it note attached to a copy of my burger roundup ("Born to Bun," October 31). In my review of My Brother's Bar, I'd said that a lean burger patty has to be "watched closely to make sure the juices don't escape." The note asked, "Does watching it keep it from escaping?" It was signed "From an anonymous reader who always enjoys your columns, but that's just silly!" Well, I'm glad this anonymous chicken doesn't cook my burgers. Of course just watching it doesn't keep the juices from escaping, but if the grill man (or woman) doesn't watch it (as in "pay attention"), they will escape. As a former Wendy's employee (hey, summer job during high school), I learned more than I ever wanted to know about cooking burgers. And any grill person worth his salt knows that the best way to cook a burger is one that comes only with practice: You have to learn exactly when the first side is done so that the patty is flipped only once; the other side then collects all the greasy juices in the nooks and crannies. When the second side's done, you can just plop the juicy burger onto a bun, which will then absorb the liquid. Yum.

I've seen many a cook think he looks cool flipping the patty over and over like he knows what he's doing, and every time he mindlessly flips and squishes the thing with a spatula, valuable juice runs off the grill. Unless, of course, he pays attention, which is what I meant. Sorry for the confusion, anonymous.


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Kyle Wagner
Contact: Kyle Wagner