That Hometown Taste: A slice of nostalgia and cauliflower

Photo by Crystal Apilado/Winters Express

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There are some meals that don’t taste quite as delicious, unless it’s being made by the original cook. From noshes to home-cooked dishes, some things just don’t taste as good as home.

I’ve developed quite a list that is as specific to my Grandmama’s sopa de fideo, to local eats like Dean’s Frostie mocha shake and fries, or the huevos rancheros from Tomats (Cuidado! That plate is hot). I’ve yet to find a suitable replacement for any of these, and I have tried to create my own to no avail. My efforts are mediocre at best. I’ll have to keep trying.

Recently, my family was traveling up north for a trip to Mt. Shasta. We all needed lunch and a break from the car, so we stopped at the Pizza Factory in Dunsmuir. It’s a signature sauce recipe, so technically it should all taste the same. But it was just OK. I was left wishing for the nostalgia of the Pizza Factory taste of home.

We’ve been to at least four other California locations over the years and I’m still not convinced they taste as delicious. I never thought of myself as being too sentimental (or snobbish) about pizza, but I guess I’m a Winters Pizza Factory gal.

Perhaps it’s the memories of hanging out with friends during lunch or after school. Maybe it’s happy memories of seeing friends behind the counter. It could even be the fact that Pizza Factory has always been so supportive of youth in the community (no matter who the owner was).

Ever since Chuck Pearce took the local Pizza Factory under his care, it’s blossomed into a new eatery. I’m not complaining, because I’ve enjoyed the changes, and my family still enjoys the pizza, so it’s a win-win.

Whatever the root of my nostalgia, I was a bit jealous when my husband took the children and his parents out to eat at Pizza Factory last Thursday. I was in the middle of putting together the graduation edition, plus I had a school board meeting to attend. I wasn’t going anywhere.

He came home and I asked what he had ordered. That’s when I found out there is a new cauliflower crust at our Pizza Factory. I decided we were definitely going to be getting pizza for lunch come Monday.

I guess it has been a while since I ordered pizza, but the menu has grown. My household is now part vegetarian and part carnivore. Seeing more meat-free options made it exciting.

We got a half-pepperoni and half black olives for the kids to split. My husband wanted to try the pesto sun-dried tomato and garlic. I was split on that and the artichoke and garlic, so I ordered a mini pizza because I have yet to say “no” to artichoke hearts.

Walking in to pick it up made me feel a happiness about which I had almost forgotten. It’s possible I’ve been stuck in my house working way too much these days. Nothing quite beats the feel of those brick walls and the Pizza Factory logo. Even with the taps of beer and wine and newer furnishings, it still brings a homey vibe.

I made a note that we needed to eat there on a non-work day — the tap for the Berryessa Gap wines beckoned to me. If you’re curious, it’s a choice of the Gap 2020 Sauvignon Blanc or a 2020 Gozar. I didn’t examine closely to see if it was the white or the Rosé. I guess I’ll have to go back and check it out.

The growlers with the Pizza Factory logo also caught my eye. At this point I not only felt like a kid in a toy store, but I also felt out of the loop. How did I not know that they had growlers?

Once home I took a bite and it was blissfully delicious. I then realized I hadn’t ordered the cauliflower crust that had initially been the catalyst of my visit there.

I’ll have to return, and be better prepared next time.

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