Comedian Aziz Ansari ("Master of None," "Parks & Recreation") does this thing when he eats a great plate of food.
His eyes roll into the back of his head, and he leans back into his chair as if to say, "This is the greatest thing I've experienced." Then, he does one of those high-pitched exclamations.
Of course, because Ansari is a famous comedian, when we see him eating something revelatory, it's from a famous restaurant in some city or country known for food. The audience is left there sitting, wondering, "Well, damn Sam, how can I get me some of that?"
If you're anywhere near Bread & Circus Provisions in Lafayette, you can regularly experience what Ansari does.
Starting out as chef Manny Augello's playground, the small restaurant has turned into an upscale pizza joint with a wood-fired oven in the kitchen. The menu has been updated time and time again, showing off Augello's knack for flavor combinations. Better still are the casual, late-night parties where the kitchen crew makes the burgers from the animated hit "Bob's Burgers," and weekly happy-hour service from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday.
It was on a whim I returned to Bread & Circus at 5 p.m. on a Saturday before the monthly downtown Artwalk.
I still have dreams about what I ate.
For the uninitiated, happy-hour service at Bread & Circus can be overwhelming. It's almost like a slice of New York in the center of Cajun country. But it's not overly difficult, and you want to deal with the (small) learning curve.
You head to the counter to place your order, then find a table and wait. The water and drinks are in a small cooler to the left of the counter. If you want some water, you'll get a big, old liquor bottle full of it and bring it to your table. OK, you're initiated. Let's order something.
The menu offers snacks and pizzas meant for sharing at a discounted price. My guest and I tried a little bit of everything.
First, we tried the angry meatballs ($12), made of aged veal, pork and beef and served in a white Arrabbiata sauce with peppers and onions. The plate of three was nice and flavorful, but what followed overshadowed this meaty introduction.
After a few bites of the panelle panini ($7), I was convinced I had eaten one of best sandwiches I had ever had. This sandwich comes on a sesame seed baguette and is topped with chick pea flour fritters, bits of ricotta, a lemon squeeze and arugula. It's like eating a savory funnel cake, but it's the best savory funnel cake you've ever tasted.
Every bite of this sandwich was followed by that Ansari-like reaction — eyes rolling in the back of your head, celebratory profanity and savoring the next bite.
How do you go bigger? How do you get better? You order a signature pizza pie. These 14-inch monsters come cut in fourths and boast nontraditional toppings. We went with the Garibaldi ($8), topped with ricotta, spinach and balsamic reduction. The big, fluffy crust was doused in a garlic-butter sauce.
We had to let it cool down a bit before we dug in, but once we did, the pizza was met with another round of celebrations.
Such is the case with the best things in life. You take something familiar and add a little bit of "what the hell" to make it your own and you get something better. During happy hour, Augello and his crew have taken stuff all food-lovers know — pizza, paninis, small plates — and said, "OK, you've had theirs, here's ours."
Given my experience, I'm always going to side with Bread & Circus.
Bread & Circus Provisions
258 Bendel Road, Lafayette
HOURS: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 11 a.m. to midnight Saturday; closed Sunday and Monday; Happy hour is 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday
INFO: bandcprovisions.com or (337) 408-3930
PROS: This is some of the best food I've eaten all year. I still have dreams about the Panelle Panini.
CONS: Layout and not knowing beforehand what happy hour is like can be overwhelming, but it's worth the learning curve (which is small).