As I stood in line at the K & 14th St NW location of &pizza, ready to order my usual Farmer's Daughter, I kept seeing the paraphernalia they had collected around about the Reuben pizza. I'm a lover of all things Reuben. But a pizza? What? And that sauerkraut is one of the toppings? It sounded like a gimmick. "You really have a Reuben pizza? How does that work?" I ask the pizza artist preparing to serve me.
"It works," he said. "There was a guy who came in here, said he has to try every Reuben he sees, Reuben anything. He tried that pizza and said it was one of his favorites."
"Huh," was all I could say to that. Was he telling me a tall tale? Was he describing a time-traveling me from the future? Was he seeing my future? I fit the description, honestly. I was shamefully addicted to the insane Lay's Reuben chips after all. "All right, let's give it a try."
I've never looked back. Everything about this pizza shouldn't work as a pizza. Thousand Island-esque pizza sauce, passing sauerkraut through a toaster oven with sliced corned beef all sound like a recipe for disaster. IT IS NOT. It is a recipe for miracles. How the pizza works is simple, they slice it in five horizontal strips so that you fold them over and create five mini (or not so mini if we're being honest) Reuben sandwiches. Reuben sandwiches that would leave purists with some very conflicted feelings, as everything about what I just described is something that would probably get a New York establishment firebombed by overenthusiastic Reuben zealots.
While it's weird at first eating it on the flatbread-like crust, you get over it because those four Reuben pizza hybrid are like being smacked by five uppercuts of savory excellence. The sauerkraut, corned beef, unique and tangy slaw they add on, and the bottom layer of sauce combine in the same way the Reuben sandwich's odd flavor alchemy does. The only thing I miss is the rye bread, but you can't have it all.
By all indications, the Reuben pizza is a limited time only affair. Perhaps that pizza artist had divined my future. If so, I should ask him when I'll have to say goodbye. I've been enjoying it and will be sorry to see it go, but I know the mad pizza tacticians at &pizza will roll out something compelling next. I won't want to say goodbye to my strange, Frankenstein monster of a friend the Reuben pizza. Cobbled together from a deli masterpiece and flatbread pizza sorcery, it's one of a kind. Irreplaceable.