A Love Letter to Zachary’s Pizza

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I moved to New York a little over a year ago, and I can tell you that since moving here I have learned a lot of things about myself and about the world and about everything else. But mostly I have learned two things:

  1. The Bagels in New York are everything people say they are, and more. They are chewy, starchy perfection. I would die for them. If you told me the secret to New York bagels was that they are made with toilet water, I would be like: “Damn. I guess I’m just going to keep slurping down toilet water all day every day.”
  2. The Pizza in New York is a god damn lie.

New York Pizza is too oily and too thin and is served in ridiculously impractical sizes. I shouldn’t have to pick between eating one slice and still feeling hungry or eating two slices and feeling like death. And people that insist on pizza being foldable are, among other things, corny as hell.

“Yeah, but what does a Californian know about real pizza?!” You might dumbly blather. “I bet you eat pizza with a fork and knife! With, like, kale or broccoli or some other gross vegetable on it!! And they probably don’t even serve it on like six or seven of the thinnest paper plates you’ve ever seen!!!”

At this point you are likely foaming at the mouth and profusely sweating at the thought of any amount of disparagement directed at your precious grease sled. Well, fear not, bozo, because this isn’t about you, and it’s not about your sorry ass excuse for pizza, either.

This is about a pizza —nay, a meal— that’s actually worth talking about. It is a celebration. It is my heart in a metal tray, served table side on a perfectly sized stool. It is a confession of love for the East Bay’s own, Zachary’s pizza.

Dear Zachary,

First of all, thank you. Your pizza, long minted the stuff of Bay Area legend, is truly an experience. The long wait time and snug dining area is somehow made charming when the steamy morsel arrives. Plunging the pie tool into the deep red sauce for the first slice, and carefully placing it—melted cheese stretching in tow—on my plate, forces me to tap into a laser-like focus that I save for these exact occasions. I hold my breath and my eyes widen and I think about how this is probably not all that different from the type of focus required of my hunter-gatherer ancestors when they sought nourishment.

When people visit from out of town, you are at the top of my list. Part of me is insistent in making believers out of those who furrow their brow at the mention of California “deep dish” pizza. One of the few things I love more than your pizza is proving any and all #h8rz wrong. You know the ones. People that think that it is sacrilegious to eat any type of pizza with a fork and a knife, or those that swear that no deep dish outside of Chicago can do the form justice. Yeah, those ones. The other (less petty) part of me just knows that a trip to Zachary’s never fails. It pleases any and all crowds. The service and food and atmosphere are always perfect. Being in Zachary’s is like being in the pizzeria you used to go to after little league games, only about a thousand times better.  You are, by my count, all the way undefeated.

It is for these reasons and a thousand others, sweet baby angel Zachary, that I write you this letter of love. It is why, after all of these cold nights in what is supposed to be the pizza mecca of the world, I still long for the warm depths of a Zachary’s Special. Like the Pokemon cards that I didn’t know I would miss until mom locked them in the storage unit (which we all know means she threw them out, that monster). God bless you Zachary, for in the world of darkness and uncertainty that we live in, you are a beacon of light.

Forever and Always,


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Jesse McGrath

Jesse McGrath

Jesse McGrath is a writer, comedian, educator and all-around sweetheart. Born and raised in the Bay Area and educated at San Francisco State, he recently migrated out east to Brooklyn. English teacher during the day, full-time delinquent every time else.

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