Pizza Obsessives: Jason Feirman of 'I Dream of Pizza'
There seems to be a lot of pizza bloggers out there, and there are, but it's a small, mad, pizza-crazy world, as you'd imagine. Here's our friend Jason Feirman of I Dream of Pizza. Sit down in the hot seat, Jason! —The Mgmt.
You're the guy behind I Dream of Pizza. (I love that title.) When did you start blogging about the crusty, saucy, cheesy stuff?
I started I Dream Of Pizza in November 2008.
I hate this question myself, so it's fun to subject someone else to it: WHY PIZZA?!?
Pizza has always been my favorite food. In early 2008, I started a Pizza Club (see below) and decided I needed an outlet to recap our adventures. I thought the blog would focus on Pizza Club with the occasional news item thrown in here and there. But soon I found myself overwhelmed with pizza content. Sometimes people ask me how I can find enough pizza-related content to fill my blog throughout the week. It's never a problem. It's more difficult to decide what goes up each day. There's so much material that never makes it onto the site.
So, yeah. Pizza Club. How does a pizza-lover get in on that action?
I started Pizza Club in 2008 as a way for me and my friends to try as many noteworthy pizza places as possible. I've always believed that pizza is best enjoyed with a big group of people. I love it when I'm able to go somewhere with Pizza Club and we can tell the waitress that we'd like one of every pie on the menu. We meet about once a month and the day of the week varies. Some of my favorite Pizza Club gatherings this year have included Roberta's, Totonno's, and Paulie Gee's. Many of them are open to everyone, but some are limited due to the size of a particular restaurant. People are welcome to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if they'd like to join. Novice pizza-eaters are welcome!
What type of pizza do you prefer?
For starters, anything fresh always has an edge over pizza that's reheated. I'd say that a Neapolitan-style pie is currently my pizza of choice. That being said, my idea of heaven still involves accidentally being locked inside of Di Fara, where I will be forced to eat Dom DeMarco's pies for every meal of the day. And hell? Well that's probably a combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell.
What's been your favorite pizzeria you've eaten at so far?
Di Fara. Di Fara. And Di Fara. Not sure anything will ever top that in my book. Going there changed the way I think about not only pizza but all food.
You make pizza at home, right? How? What recipes do you use?
Yes! I recently bought my first pizza stone and have begun experimenting in the kitchen. You can read about my first experience here. I'm impressed with the type of crust I've been able to achieve in my home oven. I guess my favorite part about making pizza at home is the fact that I'm in control. I can customize each pie to my liking and experiment with different ingredients. So far, I've kept things simple, but as I become more comfortable, I'm planning on trying out some more adventurous topping combinations.
What's most important to you: crust, sauce, or cheese?
This is the toughest question people ask me. Rather than pleading the Fifth, I'm going to go ahead and say the crust. Without a good crust, you're left with matzo pizza. I think you can get away with mediocre cheese or sauce, but a mediocre crust is harder to sell me on. Also, it's possible to make a great pie without any cheese at all. And it's possible to make a great pie without any sauce at all. But you can't make a pie without a crust. It's the most essential aspect of every pizza.
How often do you eat pizza?
Pizza somehow finds its way into my system about every other day — usually three or four times a week.
What's the farthest you've traveled for pizza?
I haven't traveled anywhere too far solely for pizza yet, but in January I'm going to Naples with Scott Wiener from Scott's Pizza Tours with the primary goal of eating some awesome pizza. I have eaten pizza in Argentina and Israel over the past year and always make it a point to try pizza whenever I travel. Some people collect snow globes. I collect grease stains.
Any highlights in your young career as a pizza blogger?
There are a lot to choose from. I was very grateful to have been featured in a New York Times article earlier this year about the proliferation of 99¢ slices of pizza in New York City. I think in some ways it legitimized what I do. I started I Dream of Pizza as a hobby and never imagined I'd be considered a go-to "pizza expert." It's exciting though. The fact that my readership is always growing motivates me to put a lot more thought and effort into the content that goes up on the site.
What's up with The NYC Pizza Run? Doing it next year?
Back in September, I organized New York's first ever food run: The NYC Pizza Run. It was a 2.25-mile race during which participants had to stop and eat pizza at checkpoints throughout the course. The event sold out in a week, and a portion of the proceeds benefited the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. I'm excited to start working on next year's event soon.
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?
I have absolutely no recollection of my first slice of pizza. But as a young boy, every Sunday evening my family would drive to Cabin John Mini Mall in Potomac, Maryland, and order a pie from Jerry's Subs & Pizza. It's one of a handful of places in the area that will forever taste amazing to me, although I haven't been back there in quite some time. The Washington, D.C., area is an exciting place for pizza lovers to be right now. Pizza has always been an important food there, but only recently have high quality pizza places been opening on a regular basis. I recently tried RedRocks and loved it. And I really enjoyed Spike Mendelsohn's new place, We the Pizza, which opened in July.
Has your taste in pizza evolved over time?
I think it has. When I was young, I think all pizza tasted good to me because I didn't know any better. In college, I think all pizza tasted good to me because I was usually drunk. And now, you might find me analyzing the sauce to cheese ratio on a particular slice. So yes... I'd say I've come a long way!
What's your favorite topping or topping combination?
When I'm in a simple mood, I'll go for mushrooms or perhaps a quattro formaggi. Some great pies I've had recently include the Cherry Jones pie from Paulie Gee's (fior di latte, gorgonzola, dried bing cherries, and proscuitto di parma) and the brussels sprouts pie from Motorino (fior di latte, pancetta afumicatta, garlic, Parmigiano-reggiano).
Where do you go for pizza in your neighborhood?
I'm fortunate enough to live in an area with great pizza close by. Artichoke Basille's is across the street from my apartment, so that's where I typically go for a quick slice. To avoid the lines, I suggest not going during dinnertime or on Saturday at 2 a.m. I love the new the branch of South Brooklyn Pizza, which recently opened a few blocks away.
Anything you'd like to get off your chest?
Yes! I just want to say thank you to everyone who visits sites like Slice and I Dream of Pizza each day. I've gotten to interact with such great people within the pizza community over the past two years — some online and many in person. It's an honor to be part of such a strong community and hopefully we'll all have the opportunity to continue to bond over our love for pizza for many years to come.
Now: Who would *you* like to see interviewed next?
Michelangelo of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fame.
Um, yeah. I don't think that's gonna happen. ;) ... Thanks for playing along, Jason. And continued success in the new year!