It might not be apparent on the surface, but Mardi Gras is rooted in religious tradition. French for “Fat Tuesday,” Mardi Gras is the last hoorah of gluttony before the start of Lenten season.
Of course, the world of independent pizza offers up plenty of Lent-friendly options. The ever-popular cauliflower crust pizza, for example, cuts out most of the carbs while delivering the deliciousness we all know and love. Shop menus also include heaps of healthy salads, a garden’s worth of fresh veggie topping options, and, sometimes, the merger of the two in the form of salad pizzas.
That’s all well, and good, and good-for-you, but that’s not the sort of thing we’ve got in mind for Mardi Gras. This is a time for indulgence – a little bit of sin to exorcise your demons before embarking on your best behavior.
Feed your wild side on Mardi Gras with the most wonderfully gluttonous options that pizzerias have to offer:
Buffalo chicken and ranch pizzas
Fried chicken. Ranch dressing. Melty mozzarella cheese. If a buffalo chicken pie is wrong, we don’t want to be right.
You may feel conflicted about the virtues of ranch on pizza. Your friends may tell you that it’s wrong to lust for a creamy dressing on top of your already decadent slice. You might carry packets of ranch dressing on your person in secrecy, like a chainsmoker pocketing their “last pack” of Reds.
Fear not. There is no judgement when it comes to pizza, especially on Mardi Gras. Order your buffalo chicken & ranch pie with pride and, if you’re in Queens, New York, get yours topped off with Cool Ranch Doritos from Krave It.
Mozzarella en carozza
What could be better than mozzarella sticks for crispy and cheesy indulgence? How about an entire deep-fried grilled cheese sandwich?
It sounds like a frankenfood befitting of a boardwalk or state fair, but mozzarella en carozza is an authentic Southern Italian dish that delivers gooey goodness with every bite. Whether stuffed with a bit of prosciutto or ‘nduja, drizzled with swirls of pesto, or just served “plain” with marinara, it’s guaranteed to be a party in your mouth.
It’s true that the calzone is basically an inverted pizza; you can get your fix of crust, cheese, and ample toppings on a standard pie. However, this half-moon pizza purse showcases those components in gloriously wicked fashion when met with knives or incisors. And, thanks to its fortress of dough, the calzone is able to pack pounds of pizza fixins within its walls. It contains an entire pizza’s worth of deliciousness in one vessel that’s designed to be enjoyed by you, and you alone.
You can get even more gluttonous with panzarotti, the fried version of the calzone that turns white paper bags translucent and demands a whole stack of napkins thanks to its deliciously greasy exterior. If you’re in the Garden State, you can throw double birds at salads with the Triple Threat – calzone, pizza, and garlic knots all rolled into one – from Joe’s Rotisseria.
Pasta on pizza
Trying to decide between your two favorite go-tos for a carb overload? Why choose?
Penne alla vodka need not be limited to your pasta bowl – it’s pure magic as a pizza topping, too. Ditto for ravioli, spaghetti, and lasagna. The best way to celebrate on the cusp of lent, however, might just be beads of mac n’ cheese atop a thick layer of mozz and dough.
No meal is complete without something sweet and your Mardi Gras throwdown wouldn’t be truly depraved without a proper dessert. Local shops offer up a number of satisfying solutions – ice cream, tiramisu, and doughnuts, just to name a few.
But, in our book, there’s no better way to go hard than with crunchy cannolis. Made with tubes of freshly fried pastry dough overflowing with luscious ricotta cream and bookended by chocolate chips, cannolis are effectively four different desserts all rolled into one.
If your shop serves the mini variety, we recommend ordering at least two per person to cap off your Mardi Gras dinner. If your shop has the larger ones on the menu, we suggest doubling up anyway, just to be on the safe side.