"We should celebrate and praise crust diversity on pizza, not bury it."

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[Photograph: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

Here on Slice we write a lot about the importance of a pizza's crust and with good reason. Crust is where good pizza begins and ends. I usually take my first bite of crust only. I know it's unconventional, downright weird to some people, but no pizza that can be considered great can have a sub par crust. That said, it is my considered opinion that great pizza crust comes in all shapes and sizes. I am not a thin-crust man, or a medium-crust man, and I'm certainly not an advocate of thick crust by any means. I am an honest, righteous crust-loving man.

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Extra cheese between the pan and pizza creates Burt's crispy, caramelized, cheesy crust. [Photograph: Daniel Zemans]

That means I love the crust at Burt's Place in deepest, darkest suburban Chicago. Yes, Burt Katz's crust is thick, but it's also crisp and caramelized and cheesy on the outside, tender on the inside, and most importantly it's got a wonderful oily, salty, and yeasty flavor all by itself. Burt's crust has all the characteristics of great bread (even with the addition of cheese to the crust), and that's just the point. If great pizza is first and foremost great bread, then Burt's qualifies.

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Una Pizza Napoletana crust is airy, springy, and elastic. [Photograph: Carey Jones]

On the other end of the pizza crust spectrum is Anthony Mangieri's cloud-like, again crispy on the outside, tender on the inside crust at Una Pizza Napoletana in San Francisco, which is neither thick nor thin. It's just right, and that's my point.

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The crust at Pizzeria Bianco is balanced between thick and thin. [Photograph: Robyn Lee]

Chris Bianco's crust is thinner than Anthony Mangieri's, but it is surely as righteous. Mathieu Palombino's crust at Motorino is thicker than Chris' or Anthony's, but no one would dispute that Mathieu's crust is anything less than extraordinary.

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Motornio's crust is bready, but crisp and chewy. [Photograph: NIck Solares]

And you could say the same thing about any of the other great pizzas around the country, like the thinnish gorgeous crusts at Apizza Scholls in Portland, Oregon or the Consiglieri family at Sally's in New Haven, or the more bread-like crusts at Nick Lesson's Great Lake in Chicago, and Matt Molina and Nancy Silverton's Mozza in Los Angeles, or at Rick Katz's Picco in Boston, or at Zuppardi's in West Haven. Thick or thin or in between, these aforementioned crusts are all just right and seriously delicious, as opposed to wrong and bad. These organically fit right into the pizza they are a part of, and that's the way it should be. We should celebrate and praise crust diversity on pizza, not bury it.

In the end, great pizza crust is not a size thing, it's a heart and soul thing. Amen.

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