Location: Ocean City, New Jersey
Everyone knows that pizza is always an appropriate choice for dinner, but there are certain times when it's the obvious choice. It has an uncanny ability to provide a tiny measure of comfort when there is none other to be found; maybe during those lonely moments when nothing else around you feels normal, or if you just need to pause during a time of uncertainty. That's when a simple slice of pizza can feel healing. Our family felt this when visiting Three Brothers from Italy. It was the day after 9/11.
Ocean City is a tourist's mecca just south of Atlantic City, and we enjoyed a happily situated hotel overlooking the boardwalk with sweeping views of the ocean. A constant flow of pedestrians, bicyclists and surreys buzzed underneath our second-story balcony, even though most of the shops had been closed since the attack. Dozens of stores hawking t-shirts, fudge, and yes, pizza lined the boardwalk, but we were semi-quarantined that first day in town. We had left New York City the night of September 10, pulling our rental car out of the World Trade Center parking garage, and headed downshore for 4-5 days of beach life, but like everyone else, we sat dumbstruck watching the events unfold on TV the morning after our arrival. Eventually, we headed to the beach and attempted to somewhat normalize an unspeakably abnormal day, and spent the first night dining in the hotel restaurant, since the rest of the town was essentially closed down.
But by the second night, the town had been re-lit and that's where we found a distraction in the amusement park, go-carts, balloons, deep-fried Twinkies, and duh...pizza. The volume at 3BFI was certainly impressive; one slice easily dwarfed my five-year-old's head, and two slices would satisfy the appetite of even the most aggressive consumer. It was good, solid, no-frills pizza at a moment in time when it was desperately needed. We wandered around the eastern seaboard for another two weeks and enjoyed an enormous swath of history, scenery, and tomfoolery. And our dine-in pizza on the balcony offered a little bit of all of those. (8 of 10 stars)