Point/Counterpoint: Slice up your cravings with Antonio’s

By Mike Fox

Everyone has a favorite slice or combination. For me, it’s chicken-bacon-ranch and one honey mustard. The wide range of flavors available at Antonio’s Pizza appeals to any bizarre craving one might develop. The small uptown institution has served its insane concoctions for years to University of Massachusetts students. I personally know a number of alums who make it their first culinary stop when returning to town.

But I’ll be honest here – I don’t need to convince anyone that Antonio’s is great. It’s simply a fact, and there’s no arguing against it. However, I am here today to prove to you why Antonio’s is superior to that other delicious Amherst food staple, Wings over Amherst.

First, we must look at atmosphere. Five nights a week (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday), the bars empty out at 1 a.m. and everyone pours into Antonio’s. What occurs is something known as “Club Sidewalk.” A combination of people from all of Amherst’s uptown establishments, it really is the place where everyone’s at. The festive atmosphere ensures that the party continues for another hour. And of course, it’s all centered around getting a slice.

The Hangar (the home of Wings) is a fine establishment, but let’s face it, the place is tucked away from anything else, somewhere on University Drive. If you want to go and eat at Wings, it requires you to plan your whole night around it. Antonio’s is instantly accessible at the end of the night.

What about delivery? Yes, I acknowledge that Wings is by far the best delivery option, but let me blow your mind: For all you juniors and seniors, do you remember back two years ago that when you ordered Wings, the cases seemed a bit larger? The chicken sandwich had two strips of chicken instead of one “sandwichized” strip. Wings, like many businesses in the food industry, has fallen victim to the economy and has had to subtly downsize. Now let me ask you, how do you downsize a slice of pizza?

Antonio’s is still a massive slice to be reckoned with.

I, for one, will admit that either ordering Wings or getting a slice of Antonio’s is often done after a night of festivities. After a “long night of festivities,” how on Earth are you going to deal with sticky fingers? You’ll probably fall asleep with Wings sauce stuck to yourself, failing to recognize after a “long night of festivities” how you appear.

All that needs to be said about this is Antonio’s has a crust. A slice of pizza is infinitely easier to handle when your senses are dimmed. Well, unless your senses are really dimmed. But when I want a snack, I want it to be easily handled. I don’t want to have to go through an entire roll of paper towels just to satisfy my craving. Such a notion is ludicrous.

Antonio’s, little may you know, has another location in Providence, R.I. However, it is still an extreme rarity and truly a pride to Amherst. How many locations do you think Wings has? Well, it’s in 10 states, with just six locations alone in Massachusetts. Now I will not begrudge their success, but this demonstrates that Antonio’s is truly more unique and able to inspire UMass pride. Wings may have started here, but Antonio’s is truly of here.

But all the rest of this is window dressing. Let’s get down to what really matters.

Taste.

A friend of mine said comparing pizza to wings is like comparing apples to oranges, two completely different things. So let’s analyze based on how each food can satisfy taste cravings.

Fried chicken has something about it – the texture, the slight crunch, the tender white meat. Additionally, the range of spices at Wings is undoubtedly impressive. But you know what? You can only satisfy one, maybe two, at most three cravings in one bite.

Let’s look at the chicken-bacon-ranch slice from Antonio’s. Bacon is universally acknowledged as a superfood. Simply put, it is pure, distilled flavor, in a tasty, salty snap. Chicken, well, who doesn’t love it? And Ranch is a miracle dressing. Smooth, creamy, with a bit of bite. Underlining it all, you have a nice, warm, doughy crust.

Read those two passages over again. Antonio’s is famous because in one slice it can satisfy every craving you have. Wings, while great, is limited in scope.

I love Wings and Antonio’s. But when I’m in need of an easily accessible craving that is truly unique to Amherst, it’s a slice. As for lines, I think we’ve all been craving it enough to order a hot cheese slice up front.

Mike Fox is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at [email protected]