Location: Stavanger, Norway
It's no secret that we're living through an era rife with challenge right now—a period where practically everything gets challenged, debated, parsed, distorted, re-packaged for political gain, and then recorded and posted for online posterity. Tension lies among practically every people, nation, tribe and tongue, but I come with an offering of hope: Nye La Piazza. Where else in the world besides Norway can a small-business owner from Morocco serve Italian food to Americans (and others?) Norway is home to the Nobel Prize and apparently the crossroads for peace and goodwill to people everywhere. I shudder at the thought of where global relations might be if not for that overcast day in 2010, when glad international tidings came to us in the form of a delightful calzone, a pod-shaped pizza with the crust on the outside. Our group sampled the traditional pies too, but the calzones won this day, and our world has been a better and safer place for it. It was diplomacy by pizza.
Then again, perhaps all was not well during our visit. My daughter had the privilege (burden?) of working here for a year or two, and offers this rare glimpse behind the curtain:
"The proprietor, Mustafa, was just an average passionate, gesticulative, volatile, intense, crazy-eyed North African, constantly dismayed that his menagerie of unskilled laborers from a smattering of foreign lands did not consistently display a level of impeccable professionalism one would expect of Michelin-starred dining."
That's probably all true, but I will add this: a pizza or calzone like this can not be crafted by the hands of unskilled labor. It was perfectly prepared, artfully served, and our party left this mini-U.N. retreat extremely satisfied. But in typically sorrowful fashion, the good times could not last, as Nye La Piazza has now been closed for several years. So, this promising ray of hope for the nations was merely a candle in the wind, but in my mind, its flame will burn brightly forever. (8 of 10 stars)