Homemade pizza is one of the larger letdowns of cooking. Even if you follow the directions for the crust perfectly, spend $30 on artisanal cheeses, and make your own tomato sauce, the process never seems worth the bother when you can order-in a pizza twice as good.

I have made some horrendous pizzas in my day, starting when I was around 7, and discovered that I could take an English muffin, cover it with ketchup and dried oregano, top it with a slice of American cheese, and stick it in the oven for a few minutes. (Seriously, God bless my father for eating these monstrosities without visibly gagging. He always waited until I left the room, proud as punch, before he… More…

I should start by revealing the location of my own perfect pizza: Denino’s Pizza Tavern, which has made its home on Port Richmond Avenue on Staten Island since 1937. The place is run by the family of the original founders, a fact that some claim contributes to the consistent quality of the pie throughout the decades. Staten Islanders, Bayonners, and Brooklynites alike have been eating here for generations, my family included.

Here’s a recent Friday night: The kitchen door swings open and out walks a waitress with a silver platter. The pizza arrives. I raise the first slice to my eager mouth and take a bite. As the thin, brick-oven crust, creamy mozzarella, and sweet but tangy sauce meet my taste buds, I can’t help but think: This must be the perfect pie. It’s the same epiphany I’ve had every time I’ve dined there over the past 10 years or… More…