Friday, September 3, 2010

Stop 50

This past Sunday, the Hackknives made their annual summer pilgrimage to Stone Lake, a small, sandy bottom lake near Laporte, IN that Mrs. Hackknife fondly remembers visiting throughout her childhood. There's not much there other than a beach, small beachhouse, and playground, but it's good for small kids and we've enjoyed bringing ours there for a few hours each summer. This year, one of Mrs. Hackknife's colleagues at work highly recommended a pizza joint (called Stop 50) in nearby Michiana Shores, so we decided to make a detour there for dinner before heading home from the lake.

The place was a little hard to find. Our GPS was confused enough to have us turn across some railroad tracks where there was no crossing to be found. Luckily, a local gas station employee was able to point us in the right direction (she told me it was "back there in the trees"). Once we arrived, it was not exactly what I had expected. For those of you not familiar with Michiana Shores (it was my first visit, too), it appears to be a tiny Lake Michigan resort town perched on the Indiana side of the Michigan border catering mostly to moneyed Chicagoans (I noticed most of the license plates in the parking lot were from Illinois). The restaurant reflected this setting - instead of some roadhouse biker bar, it was small and actually quite upscale, clearly having been built within the last few years. If aliens were to transport the building to the middle of Lincoln Park, it would not look out of place.

Anyway, let's get to the food. While waiting in line for the men's room, I was quite surprised to see framed clippings from a March 2010 Rachael Ray magazine article listing this establishment (along with the likes of Great Lake and Burt's Pizza, two now-famous Chicago pizzerias known for their high-quality product and cantankerous owners) among the 4 top pizzerias in the Midwest. Normally, I would have picked up on this a long time ago via the local foodie media (well, maybe not since Rachael Ray is not exactly my idea of a respected food publication), but I missed this one somehow. In my humble opinion, the food lived up to the hype. We started with a platter of homemade breadsticks, charred to perfection in the wood-burning oven and served with house marinara sauce. Given that we were starving from having been out in the sun all afternoon, we probably would have eaten cardboard, but this was much better. Following that, the missus and I split a huge house salad, also very good. We ordered a margherita pizza (no basil) for the kids and a prosciutto, pistachio, mozzarella, and rosemary pizza for us, both of which were outstanding. Hackknife Jr. had been promised a dessert and he chose the Stop 50 S'mores, a giant marshmallow-and-chocolate platter melted in the wood-burning oven, which he promptly declared that he didn't like, leaving the remainder for Mrs. Hackknife, Hackknifette, and I to scarf up like vultures.

My sole word of caution is that you should be prepared for a table wait (again, it's a small, but popular place) and a decent wait for your pizza (they can only cook them one at a time in the wood-burning oven), which can be trouble if you're with hungry, tired kids (I speak from experience here). However, if you are in the area and are not in a terrible hurry, you must stop for pizza here. Don't argue with me. ...

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