The Guilty Pleasure: Where To Get It: Oregano's Pizza Bistro, 9 locations valleywide Price: $5 (cheap!) What It Really Costs: Snobby friends will see your Foursquare checkin and respond, "Oh God, you ate where?!"
One of my favorite things about Phoenix foodies is their love/hate relationship with Oregano's. As far as I can tell, it's mostly hate. People wonder how the hell there's still an hour wait even though there's now nine locations Valleywide. They think the pizza isn't as good as other places with only one or two locations. Most of the time, the mere mention of Oregano's around food folks is met with a disdainful sneer and sigh.
That is, until you mention the pizza cookie. Scowls suddenly give way to a gleam in the eye, and excited yammering about how it's one of the best things they ever ate. I don't blame them for the sudden change of heart. It's one of my favorite sweet treats in town. And, now that I've mentioned it, probably you remember it's yours, too.
The whole secret to the pizza cookie (I know, everyone calls it a pizzookie; the restaurant/brewery chain BJ's trademarked that term. So, at Oregano's, pizza cookie it is. A rose by any other name...) is the pizza oven. The radiant heat from the pizza stone concentrates the heat at the bottom of the cookie's pan. The bottom gets all crispy and caramelized, while the top stays gooey and underbaked. A few scoops of vanilla ice cream on top are a perfect neutral foil. What more could you ask?
If you're wondering how to reconcile your love of the pizza cookie with your dread of that perpetual wait, keep in mind that it's a lot easier to get in once the dinner rush has died down. And, the newly relocated digs in the old Sugar Daddy's space on Scottsdale is huge, with enough seating to keep up with all but the most massive of crowds. I recently went to that one at 8 PM on a weekday and got right in.
Chain-disdaining foodies, get over it and go enjoy that pizza cookie already! I won't tell if you end up getting a pizza while you're there.