Coals

20050808Coals.jpg
It's a week old already, and a lot of you have probably read this already, but the New York Times visits Coals, a grilled-pizza joint in the Morris Park section of the Bronx.

Peter Meehan, whose lede is built around the mispronunciation of New York Yankee Al Leiter's name, writes:

Coals is unlike any other pizza place in the borough - or in the rest of the city, for that matter - in that it looks for inspiration to Rhode Island, not to Italy. And the pies it slings are not coal oven, wood oven or oven baked at all. They are grilled.

Bill Etzel, the restaurant's chef, said he knew after his first trip to Al Forno, the restaurant in Providence, R.I., that is widely credited with pioneering grilled pizza, that he wanted to bring it home to the Bronx. He bode his time, working the pizza station at Waldy Malouf's Beacon and traveling with his business partner, Paul Harnish, to, in Mr. Harnish's words, "anywhere that served grilled pizza within 300 miles" of New York City.

Maybe I'm not reading closely enough here, but, uh, isn't Coals not unlike Gonzo, which has been doing grilled pizza since 2002?

Eh. Let's not quibble. Is it any good?

All of Coals' pizzas (and two of its desserts) start out as lumps of pizza dough made with white flour, whole wheat flour and cornmeal. The whole wheat imbues the finished crust with a fuller flavor than some other pizzas; the finely ground cornmeal lends an appealingly gritty textural note. Overnight fermentation of the dough imparts an appreciable tang that's amplified by the charred flavor from the grill.

The pizzas, stretched by hand, range from almost oval to nearly rectangular in shape; all are striped with tar-black grill marks and speckled with tiny burst air bubbles on both sides. The best bets are pizzas that count tomato among their toppings - they add a balancing sweet note - and those that aren't overloaded, dragging the dough down with them.

Mr. Meehan recommends the Margherita, the Pure Bliss (tomato, fontina, ricotta, and a basil pesto) and the Al Leiter (tomato, fontina, mozzarella, and a three-herb blend), the name of which I'm sure he'll never forget how to pronounce.

Coals

Address: 1888 Eastchester Road, Bronx NY 10461
Phone: 718-823-7002

Slice on grilled pizza: Grill Skills
Pizza on a Grill in the Bronx [New York Times]
The Attempted Alfornication of NYC [Eater]
Crust for Life [New York]

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