Sleep Deprivation and Pizza: A Match Made in Heaven

Column by Ian Stout
Ian Stout - Jeff Li

Last weekend I had the pleasure of visiting “Ian’s Pizza” in Madison, Wisc. How I ended up in the restaurant at two in the morning is a mystery, but one thing is for certain: I’m glad I shambled into Ian’s Pizza that fateful night and not just for the namesake.
Rewind to Saturday night, stage ‘stuck in a traffic jam’ set and ready for inaction. Chris Kottke [’17] sat determined at the steering wheel. His eyes were glazed and his hands twitched with a fever, undecided as to whether they should slam on the horn or fist bump along to the blaring rock music echoing in the distance. The clock struck 11 p.m. An hour had passed since we left “JJO Sonic Boom,” Wisconsin’s finest metal music festival and we had driven exactly five feet out of the parking lot. Cars sat idling, strewn in a senseless, apocalyptic jumble. Hope of escape flickered like a dying candle, and Chris grew evermore restless.
When all seemed lost and silence simmered in a pit of exhaustion, a lone voice echoed from the passenger seat. Megan Treichel [’17] declared “We should get pizza after this.” Chris’s ears perked up and he raised his slumped back straight as a rod. Each person’s stomach gave a collective groan of approval. Meat was back on the menu. By that point my eyelids felt as if someone had poured concrete into them, causing me to drift into a vision of pizza slices dancing through my head in orchestrated merriment. The pepperoni piece sang a mean tenor.
I woke up to shouts and a blinding, artificial light bearing down on my face. “Ian’s closes in 30 minutes!” Megan shouted. I opened my eyes and saw concrete walls on every side. Megan and Chris had already left the car and were running out of the parking garage, and Greg Eastman [’19] seemed less than eager to fireman-carry me to the restaurant. Stone Age hunters worked for their food, so why couldn’t I? I dragged myself out of the car.
At “Ian’s” door, a line of red-clad college students stretched into the street, illuminated by a massive fluorescent sign in the shape of a pizza slice. Stone Age hunters had to be patient for their food, I recalled.
“Ian’s Pizza” sells its pizza by the slice, and upon entering the restaurant I was greeted by a vast array of different pizzas lay before me, each saucier and more outlandish than the next. Megan and Chris took up the roles of Lewis and Clark for the night and each recommended their personal favorites. Megan pointed out the macaroni and cheese pizza covered in melted cheese and served on a bed of cream. Chris’s pick was the buffalo chicken pizza, a saucy alliance between cheese and chicken. I was feeling the ‘por que no los dos?’ life that night and decided to order one of each.
The server heated up the chosen pieces and set them on the counter, and my two slices sat nestled together on a paper plate. The grease had already begun to melt through the bottom like “Aliens” corrosive spit—a challenge to my hunter’s mettle. I was not so easily daunted.
The macaroni pizza was first on the chopping block. The smell of freshly baked cheese wafted into my nose and took me back 10 years—a simpler time when I woke up after a six-hour nap to my grandmother’s cooking. Macaroni and cheese lay nestled together with a smooth cream sauce on top of a crispy, crunchy crust. I was pleasantly surprised by the cream sauce, which both held the macaroni together and melded the taste of the crust with the smooth, homey cheese sauce for which every good mac-and-cheese strives. More importantly, it prepared me for the life-changing slice that came next…
The buffalo chicken pizza hit my taste buds with an onslaught of tanginess. Where the macaroni and cheese pizza had drifted with a demure cheesiness across my tongue, the buffalo chicken pizza’s flavor popped with a strong bleu cheese zing into a warm, savory taste of barbecue. My taste buds were taken on a journey from the North’s handcrafted cheeses into a double-layered, chicken-stuffed bite out of the South. This was a pizza that could have ended the Civil War.
But don’t just take it from me.
“It was some of the best pizza I have ever had, and by far the best pizza place for three in the morning,” Eastman said.
There you have it: if you happen to be driving through Wisconsin or simply want to visit a new city, check out “Ian’s Pizza” in Madison!