Unlike steak — which is famously hard to photograph — pizza looks good on film. All the elements we love are visible. You can tell the cheese’s consistency, make solid guesses about the flavor of the sauce, and get a sense of how the crust tastes. You can also learn about the texture. The savvy viewer can garner a pretty good idea, just by the way a pizza moves from hand to mouth, what it would be like to take a bite.
This is particularly easy when the pizza is seen wobbling through the air, flung by a meth cook who’s being stonewalled by his wife. Or being scraped off of the cook’s Heisenhouse a day later. I’m certain of this because I’ve watched the scene in question, from Breaking Bad, a half dozens of times. And I’m pretty sure that the pie we’re looking at is the best pizza in film and TV history.
I want to be clear that before making that claim I thought about it very seriously. Probably too seriously according to Uproxx‘s Brian Grubb and Alan Sepinwall, neither of whom were particularly intrigued by how the pizza tasted.
Still, I pushed on and did my due diligence. After all, people love to argue over film and TV and they love to argue about food. A writer can’t risk calling a shot this big and then be proven wrong by the first commenter. Especially with something as sacred as pizza.
Truth be told, there were some close also-rans. I think the pizzas that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ate always looked particularly appetizing, the pizza at Sal’s Famous in Do The Right Thing appeared pretty spot on, and I have a particular sweet spot for Spicoli’s slice in Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
But no one beats the roof pizza. The crust is speckled with cheese and char spots. The sauce is just the right red for me to deduce that it’s made from canned tomatoes, with few additions. The pepperoni is curling at the edges just so. Most importantly, it’s not overly uniform.
Complete homogeneity isn’t as delicious-looking as you might think. In fact, the worst ever movie pizza is the most theoretically flawless one. It’s the dehydrated pie from Back to the Future Part II. Pre-sliced? No air bubbles? Thick, bready crust? Jesse Pinkman would not be impressed with the food scientists of the future.