I've had Lou T on my list of candidates for a Pizza Obsessives interview since Slice started doing these earlier this year. With his singlehanded invention of My Pie Monday, I figured this was a great time to put the man in the hot seat. Buckle up, folks! —The Mgmt.
Name: Lou T
Location: Jersey Shore
Website: None.... yet ;) I registered passionoftheslice.com
What type of pizza do you prefer?
Neapolitan and a good New York–style are my personal favorites.
The Pizza Cognition Theory states that "the first slice of pizza a child sees and tastes ... becomes, for him, pizza." Do you remember your first slice? Where was it from, is the place still around, and if so, does it hold up? On that note, has your taste in pizza evolved over time?
I don't remember my first slice of pizza, but I do remember opinions I held or things I did to pizza that friends and family saw as uncommon. For example, I remember pulling off a lot of the cheese on pizzas or not wanting extra, not getting excessive toppings, and asking for more "well done" pies. These habits lead me to believe I've always had a predisposition for a particular type of pizza, and I think it happened to be the minimalist Neapolitan style. I wouldn't call it an evolution...more of a discovery of the great pizzas out there as time went by.
What's your favorite topping or topping combination?
This is tough. I'm not huge on toppings in general, so I'd have to say a masterful Margherita. There's something about the simplicity and combination of high-quality ingredients and care put into the pizza that always keeps me coming back.
Where do you go for pizza in your area?
The pizza in my area is, for the most part, terrible. I'd prefer to make it at home, but the closest thing to a good New York–style pie I've found anywhere close to me is from Villagio. There's some good pizza on the various boardwalks, too. I consider it boardwalk pizza—I think it has its own category.
I make it a point to try any pizza place within reasonable driving distance—I'm actually thinking of doing a blog about it.
Um, yes. Please move from thinking to blogging! That's a great URL you've got. ... Um, let's see, where were we? Ah, yes.... We know you make pizza at home. How? What's your set-up? What recipe(s) do you use?
I'll include the recipe and method for my "My Pie Monday" pie. I'm currently limited to my home oven, but I'm aching for more heat. Actually, I email "PizzaHacker" Jeff about his PizzaForge once every two weeks because I'm impatient, haha.
How often do you make pizza?
Typically once a week, sometimes more. I usually make between 2 to 4 pizzas each time.
What's your favorite topping or topping combination to make?
I'm sticking to the basics right now. Margheritas, marinaras, filletis, and biancas. Of these, my personal favorite is the filleti with fresh tomato; it's got me wanting to make a sauce of fresh tomatoes rather than the canned San Marzano because the flavor is so much more vibrant. I've tried soppressata a few times, and a take on a Paulie Gee arugula pie. Once I get a crust I'm consistently happy with, I'll branch out.
I'd be more inclined to experiment with the crust (ie, a whole wheat or blended wheat crust) in conjunction with different toppings. The crust is the heart of the pizza. For example, a whole wheat blend may better complement one topping, whereas another crust with vital wheat gluten and a chewier texture may better complement another.
Do you cook for friends/neighbors?
Not yet, but I want to. It's hard to do with a home oven, unfortunately.
What does your family think of your pizza madness?
They found the obsession nonsensical and nearly comical—until they actually tried the pizza. Prior to letting them taste, they thought pizza was just crust, sauce, and cheese and there wasn't much one could do to change it. It's a good feeling to know you can induce involuntary food cravings in people :)
What's most important to you: crust, sauce, or cheese?
The crust, by far. It's the most difficult thing to perfect, in my opinion. I also tend to think sauce is overlooked. In my limited experience, I'd choose to use Jersey fresh beefsteak tomatoes over the canned, imported, DOP San Marzano. It's more work, but the difference is undeniable.
Anything you'd like to get off your chest?
I am not a pizza purist, but I do believe all components of a pizza should receive equal respect. Don't mask a poor crust with excessive toppings, please.
What one thing should NEVER go on a pizza?
Weirdest pizza you've ever eaten?
I've tried one with jalapeño, Tex-Mex chili, and cheddar cheese. I don't think I'll be trying it again any time soon....
What's the farthest you've traveled for pizza?
Believe it or not, I've never traveled a significant distance specifically for pizza. I've found reasons to visit high-profile places while I was in the area, though. I suppose when your state borders New York, you take things for granted.
I am, however, looking to change this in the future. A trip to Italy is not out of the question. It's on my bucket list.
Now, who would you like to see interviewed next?
href="http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u= 205">Pete-za over on pizzamaking.com/forum. He is the guru of making pizza at home. He does everything from New York to Chicago to a cracker crust we developed based on the Mark Bittman matzo recipe! Did you know he developed a Di Fara clone?
Pete-za is definitely on my list. Thanks for the nudge — I think you've asked about getting him in the hot seat before. I'll reach out to him and see if he'd be into it. And, thanks for being a good sport here, Lou! It's been fun getting to read all (or at least many) of your thoughts on pizza in one place. Hasta la pizza!