It’s said the first pizza delivery was made in the late 19th Century to Italy’s Queen Margherita — and Neapolitan pizza joints still make the basil-and-tomato pie named for her. Everybody assumes it was delivered because the royal didn’t want to be seen eating peasant food among the commoners, but I’m guessing she just wanted to stay home and watch the game.
When the NBA playoffs are on, I know I’m too caught up in the action to cook or go out to dinner. Professional sports may not be solely responsible for turning restaurant delivery into a nearly $60 billion per year industry in the U.S., but Papa John hangs out with Peyton Manning, so safe to say they can take some credit.
With a friend over to watch a game last week, I put in a call to Berkeley Pizza — one of my favorites in the city — which delivers with a $2 charge. I didn’t think much about who would be bringing the large pie to my door, just that it would be loaded with thick mozzarella and chunky tomato sauce when it arrived.
Then I got a call back from a delivery guy. The order-taker had misspelled the name of my street, so he couldn’t find it on a map. Easy to clear up, and he was on his way. But the name of the delivery service he worked for piqued my interest.
Courier Collective. I looked it up and learned that it’s a North Park–based bicycle courier service. Apparently when they’re not hustling things like important business documents, these bike couriers are working with a handful of North Park restaurants to deliver food within a couple mile radius. Along with Berkeley, they work with a growing list of eateries including Encontro, Streetcar Merchants, and Fat Boy’s Deli.
Two concerns crossed my mind: How long would this bike ride take? And would my pizza be smashed up after being strapped to the back of a cyclist weaving his way through busy North Park streets?
I’m barely within delivery range, but he showed up quickly. Berkeley’s deep-dish pies take a half hour or more to cook, so getting a knock on my door after just 45 minutes blew my mind. It’s crazy to think this will be the norm but impressive to know it’s possible.
Especially since the pizza was fully intact — in better shape than some I’ve had delivered in a car. I don’t know how he did it, and I don’t care. The only problem I had with the whole thing is that some fit cyclist was out there muscling food across the city while my lazy countenance swilled beer in front of the TV. Like I’m the Queen Margherita.