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There comes a time in every professional athlete's life when she begins to realize she can only take so many moonsaults and Mongolian chops, and she must start looking at the future. For Lisa Marie Varon, who wrestles professionally under the name "Tara" and has been known to torment vanquished opponents with a living tarantula, that means parlaying a still popular career into a Jake Lamotta-style front-of-the-house gig at Squared Circle, the wrestling-themed pizza and burger bar she owns with her husband. Actually, the wrestling aspect is pretty toned down—just some framed photos and memorabilia, live wrestling action on the flat screens, and the charismatic Varon herself, working the snug room, posing for photos, kissing babies, and chatting up the fan club.
The menu, dominated by 11 specialty pizzas and eight Juicy Lucys, is characterized by a level of bombast and excess that peaks on a deep-dish pie cooked in pans greased with duck fat, and a burger stuffed with peanut butter and topped with bananas, bacon, and ricotta. One needs to train for something like that, so I started with the fundamentals. Both the traditional and thin crusts are decent enough, but nothing earth shattering, and not too terribly different from each other. The former is a bit doughier, but they both could use a hotter oven to crisp things up, particularly on overloaded pies like the proprietress's namesake Lisa Marie, with port-caramelized onions, blue cheese, prosciutto, apples, and arugula, or—God help you—the "Kentucky Bourbon," with mashed potatoes, barbecue sauce, and pulled pork.
The burgers are a bit more special: wonderfully sloppy, (mostly) Merkts cheddar-stuffed monsters smashed flat on the griddle to produce a crusty exterior that forms stable platforms for mountains of toppings. But even the most basic "Big Vic" (pictured) needs a sturdier, more sizable bun to contain these precarious constructions. The only liability is that these can't be cooked medium rare—otherwise the cheese won't melt. But that's forgivable under the circumstances, since the cheesy molten core provides plenty of moisture.