About four-tenths of a mile from the square at downtown Mountain View lies Tommy's Famous, one of the hidden treasures of the pizza world.
It's a cinderblock building warmed by candlelight, music on the stereo and closed-captioned television programs so you can enjoy the tunes and read the news, too.
In the kitchen, you can watch the cook artfully throwing the dough in the air, spinning it on the off-centered access of his fist, then throwing it again.
The premises are presided over by Tommy, who is clearly a character. Tommy takes the orders, sitting down next to you for a spell if you haven't quite made up you mind, ("Don't let me rush you now.") Tommy brings your pizza to the table, and Tommy makes sure that you always have a fresh Coke on hand, served in a 12-ounce can, with a flexi-straw, inserted by Tommy, of course.
And, then there is the food, which is great by any standard, but especially by the declining standard of American pizza.
We ordered one of "Uncle Vito's Calzones," containing a luxurious blend of cheeses so fresh and stringy you'll be tempted to see how many times you can wrap it around your fork. The golden crust was topped with a blend of Italian herbs and Parmesan cheese, with a side of rich pizza sauce that seemed to be laced with red wine. The entire effect was dazzling, and we were left wondering just how good the pepperoni, veggie, ham and mushroom and sausage, pepper and onion Calzones might be.
The other member of our party was enthralled by a 12-inch pizza with shiitake mushrooms that were grown in the good earth of Stone County. The shiitakes infused the entire pizza with an exceptional fragrance and flavor unavailable in most pizzerias. Other "gourmet" toppings available include garlic, pesto and "bianca," whatever that might be.
The house special is a pizza that includes pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, onions and bell peppers. Then there is the veggie pizza, with zucchini, broccoli, mushrooms, red onion and green olives, and, not to be outdone, the "fatboy" version, featuring pepperoni, sausage, ham, bacon, bell peppers, onion, green and black olives and pepperoncinis if you so desire.
Whole wheat crust is available for an extra 35 cents.
In addition to the Italian offerings, Tommy's offers a lineup of hickory-smoked pit barbecue, which is sort of interesting, because you don't often get to experience the aromas of barbecue and pizza in the same joint.
We didn't try it, but the barbecue is supposed to be as good as the pizza, and you can buy it by the pound, by the sandwich, or still clinging to the ribs.
Tommy will probably want to know your name, and he'll ask how you found out about his restaurant. He's not being nosey, mind you, just neighborly. And it's kind of refreshing, actually, to find someone who really cares about quality and service.
Highway 66 West