Editor's note: In honor of National Pizza Month (aka October), the Serious Eats editors, staff, and Slice writers will top off our regular content with their deepest thoughts on all things cheesy, saucy, and crusty.
I wasn't all that well acquainted with garlic knots until moving to New York, where I started to encounter them at every corner sliceria. Little strips of dough tucked around garlic, drenched in butter and oil? An amazing notion even without the parmesan and parsley scattered on top.
But while the pizza scene is enjoying a renaissance, the garlic knot scene (yes, I said "garlic knot scene") has not followed suit.
There are places that do them brilliantly. Brooklyn's Best Pizza, inspired by classic NYC slice joints, does soft, olive oli-drizzled, parmesan-sprinkled versions we're crazy about. Parm in Manhattan's Nolita, a cheffed-up Italian-American counter that pays serious attention to things like chicken parm sandwiches and baked ziti, does "pizza knots," fried (fried!) pizza dough with a scattering of herbs. And some more traditional slice places like Brooklyn's Pizzeria Cotto Bene (pictured below) do great ones, too.
But really, I want good garlic knots anywhere I can get good pizza. They're so simple, for a place that already has the dough part down, but they satisfy such a different craving. Is it excessive to want half a dozen warm, drippy garlic knots before my pizza shows up? Perhaps, but I don't really care. I love the way the knotted dough gives you so many different little moments in the same piece: the crusty outside, pillowy, almost-doughy inside; the parts that taste like pizza crust, the parts that are all cheese and oil. I love the way some bites slay you with garlic, and others are mild enough to balance it out. And I love how, once they disappear from your paper bag, they're an excuse to eat what they leave behind: a fatty, salty collection of garlic bits.
I can just imagine an "artisanal" garlic knot vendor opening up a food truck or a market stall... but hey, as long as I can still get a handful for a dollar or two, I wouldn't mind a bit. Any other garlic knot fanatics out there? And where do you get good ones?