And what kind of pizza did you want to make?
I was entranced by the wood-burning oven and had just come back from Naples and all that shit, but I honestly felt that for me, my objective wasn't to do Neapolitan pizza exactly like it was done there. It was to use that as a reference, something I respected immensely, but I think the most Italian or Neapolitan thing you can do is look around your surroundings and your demographic and then figure out what that means. When I'm in Naples, I want ripe tomatoes and flour from Abbruzzo or wherever it comes from, but when I came back I wasn't going to do that exactly.
I love the fire, the artisanal components, and I just wanted to bring integrity to it without following too many rules. You know, I always tell people, "The best pizza is the one that you like, not the one I tell you to like." Mine isn't better or worse. We can be on best of lists and people can talk about snipping the basil 30 seconds before they put it on the pie, but the only thing that really matters is that primal reaction when you put it in front of someone and they say, "This is fucking delicious." Nothing else matters.
Editor's Note: Here we have the first of many reviews to come from Long Island native, Josh Wigler. He'll be giving us the lowdown on all the saucy, cheesy, crusty stuff out Long Island way. Let's give him a Slice warm welcome! —MS
[Photographs: Nick Fiore]
At Little Vincent's Pizza in Huntington, the cold cheese is king.
It's a slice that's not much different from the basic oven-cooked plain that Little V's pumps out regularly, with one key difference: the mountain of cold, shredded mozzarella that coats the slice. The newly added cheese melts immediately where it makes contact with the hot, browned mozzarella beneath. But the pile is high, and as a result, there's a contingent of cold cheese that refuses to melt. What you get is a pizza with fresh new layers of tangy cheese both hot and cold; a slice that is decidedly not for the lactose intolerant.
625 West Crossville Road, Roswell, GA, 30075 (map); 770-993-7944; yourpie.com Pizza type: Neapolitan-inspired... except for that whole "ingredients applied sparingly" thing Oven type: Gas-fired "brick-facade" oven The Skinny: Fun family-friendly chain with a "Subway" approach to pizza Price: 10-inch pizza, $6.50 base (some toppings +$1)
When you're a semi-professional eater, you're constantly asked for the lowdown on pretty much any restaurant that comes up in conversation. Often, what people really want is a one-line "elevator pitch" encapsulation of the place in question. Call it a byproduct of our headline-ticker, bullet-point, status-update society, but it seems that fewer words is better for many folks, and hitting the highlights in under 140 characters is often the ultimate goal. So when I find myself describing Your Pie to someone who's never been, I usually end up whipping out the same lazy analogy. "It's like Subway, but with pizza."
Domino's announced its gluten-free pizza on Monday morning (which I reviewed Monday night), so I figured I'd bookend the week with a look at some fancy-pants gluten-free pizza.
For at least a couple years now, Don Antonio's sister restaurant, Kesté, has been offering gluten-free pies—originally on Monday and Tuesdays only, but now that they're available all week long at Don Antonio, Kesté has followed suit.
First things first, Osteria is hardly a pizzeria. Modeling itself on the Italian osteria concept, this Philadelphia restaurant serves pastas, grilled meats, gorgeous salumi and antipasti, and a handful of really quality pizzas.
The Lombarda has been on the menu at Osteria since day one. And thinking back to 2007, it was a time when topping a pizza with an oozy, baked egg was pretty revolutionary. Taking a the time that Chefs Marc Vetri and Jeff Michaud spent cooking in the Lombardia region of Italy this pie is topped with two regional specialties, house made cotechino sausage spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg and nutty Bitto cheese, along with fresh fresh mozzarella made by DiBruno Bothers, and a swipe of tomato sauce. Oh, and then there's that egg.
About halfway through the pizza's time in the oven, it's yanked out and topped with an egg that cooks to that perfect moment of set white-runny yolk. Finished with a scattering of finely chopped rosemary, parsley, and thyme, there's something about this pizza that just screams breakfast. And that something probably has to do with the genius combo of egg and sausage and pizza. Who doesn't want all three of those guys for breakfast?
Editor's Note: Please welcome Casey Barber, editor of Good. Food. Stories.. Casey will be sending pizza intel from the Garden State. Today, she's starting in Clifton, NJ.
[Photograph: Casey Barber]
Strip mall pizza places are a dime a dozen in the Jersey 'burbs. So what makes me go back to Villa Roma time and again when I've got more counter joints than I can count on both hands within a mile radius of my kitchen? The Absolut pizza ($15), slathered with vodka sauce instead of regular tomato sauce, turns a basic, unassuming takeout pie into a classy affair.
I'm a girl who could stick a straw in a stockpot of vodka sauce and drink it like a milkshake, and this is quality gravy, with well-balanced creaminess that brings out the tomatoes' tangy sweetness. Though there's nothing rhapsodic about the crust—flimsy in the center and sturdily chewy near the edge, with a trace of metallic char from the deck ovens—it serves its purpose as a vehicle for the sauce.
If you've been peeking at My Pie Monday, then you've most likely noticed the nicely rounded beauts produced by Slice'r Atmast. Her pies have a signature look and she's got some tricks up her baking sleeves that you can learn a little bit more about during this week's Pizza Obsessives Q&A.—MS
I suppose I lean toward Neapolitan, or "neo" Neapolitan. Though I'd never kick a good square of Sicilian off of my plate.
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've given this a lot of thought, and I think the first pizza I remember eating was Pizza Hut deep dish. My family would go to Pizza Hut during the summer, usually after spending the day at the local pool, baking in the sun. The pizza was salty, crunchy, and a little doughy. I loved it then but can't say it's anything like what I look for now in a good slice.
Now I want quality, balanced toppings, with the emphasis on a well-made crust. The dough for a pizza is its foundation. If the dough is not solid, the entire pizza will fail. So, if that's evolution, then I guess I've evolved.
What's your favorite topping or topping combination?
I'm a sucker for buffalo mozz, preserved meat, and a stinky vegetable. By stinky vegetable, I mean the cruciferous ones: brussels sprouts, cauliflower, shaved cabbage. These get beautifully caramelized under high heat, give off the right amount of moisture to make sauce unnecessary, and play well with the saltiness of the meat and creaminess of the cheese.
24443 Gratiot Avenue Eastpointe, MI 48021 (map); 586-777-5391; cloverleafrestaurant.com Pizza Style: Detroit-style The Skinny: One of the oldest pizzerias in Detroit, started by the man who introduced the world to Detroit-style pizza, Cloverleaf will scratch a pizza-loving itch but ultimately falls short of other local competition. Price: Small (4 pieces) start at $6.65; Large (8 pieces) start at $12.05
I was faced with a bit of a pizzalemma on my recent trip to Detroit. I'd already been to Buddy's (reviewed here by Adam), Loui's (reviewed here by Maggie), and Niki's (reviewed here by me), which meant there was one Detroit-style pizza legend for me to visit: Cloverleaf Bar & Restaurant. Gus Guerra owned a bar called Buddy's Rendevous when he added pizza to the menu in 1946, purportedly relying on a recipe that came from his Sicilian mother-in-law's recipe. Just seven years later, Guerra sold Buddy's and set up shop across town with Cloverleaf. Today's Cloverleaf is still owned by the Guerra family and is going strong.