Pizza Obsessives: Kevin Hayes, Slice Westchester Contributor
You may know Kevin Hayes as the guy holdin' it down just north of New York City in Westchester County. He's turned in some mouthwatering reviews (like this one on the Lincoln Lounge, which looks downright inhalable) and, we hope, has more to come. Let's get him in the hot seat. —AK
Name: Kevin Hayes
Location: The Bronx, New York
What type of pizza do you prefer?
This is supposed to be an easy question, right? At this point, I think I'm pizza agnostic. I'm happy to eat anything from a New York slice to grilled pizza to a New Haven pie to Sullivan Street's room-temp slice. When done well, it seems that most pizza genres make me pretty happy.
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 the first slice I had, but it was almost certainly from Catania's Pizza in Yonkers. It's an NYC-style slice joint, a little heavy on the cheese. I had it again about a year ago to see if it would encourage me to write my own "Remembrance of Things Past." It didn't, but it remains a solid slice of pizza. As for evolving taste - see above.
What's your favorite topping or topping combination?
Sausage, but please make it crumbled. If, in addition to sausage, fresh garlic makes an appearance, I won't complain.
Where do you go for pizza in your area?
I'm lucky enough to live about ten minutes from both Louis and Ernie's in the Bronx and Johnny's in Mt. Vernon.
Do you make pizza at home? If so, how? What recipes do you use?
I went through a fairly obsessive pizza-making phase. I had a sourdough starter, approximately a thousand kinds of flour, fresh mozzarella from Casa Della Mozzarella on Arthur Ave., tiles from Home Depot in my oven..and then I became a father. Pizza at home has since been downgraded to: dough from a local shop, a quick San Marzano tomato sauce, shrink-wrapped whole-milk mozzarella and whatever toppings the house feels like. I do still pull out the Home Depot tiles.
What one thing should NEVER go on a pizza?
I don't like even the idea of Hawaiian pizza.
Most unusual pizza you've ever eaten?
There's a spot on Fordham Road in the Bronx called Gyro King that tops plain slices with gyro meat and tzatziki sauce. It isn't good - but it is amazing.
What's the farthest you've traveled for pizza?
132 miles (according to Google maps). My wife and I went to Old Forge, Pa. for a pizza crawl. Have I mentioned my wife is terrific?
Anything you'd like to get off your chest?
A confession: despite nearly a decade of promising to do so, I've yet to go to Staten Island to eat pizza. I've been to Pennsylvania to eat pizza, but not one of the five boroughs? It fills me with shame.
Who would you like to see interviewed next?
The ghost of Gennaro Lombardi.