That's Not Paulie Gee!
Because our party was small (me, my wife, and SE/Slice photographer Jessica Leibowitz), Paulie let us try our hand at stretching dough. He says that if there's time he'll try to teach guests the "Egyptian" dough-stretching technique. Believe me, it's harder than it looks. It's likely that all guests will be able to top dough rounds that Paulie stretches out.
To get things started and so you're not starving (the meal starts at 1pm, while the staff is prepping for service), Paulie makes the first one or two pizzas while he tells you about his history, his techniques, his pizza philosophy—but not his tomatoes. I tried to get it out of him. But as you may know, he burns the labels from his tomato cans to keep them top secret.
In Ricotta Da Vita
The first pie up was the In Ricotta Da Vita—Italian tomatoes, sweet Italian fennel sausage or house-made vegan fennel sausage (we went with vegan), pecorino Romano, ricotta dollops, arugula, and extra virgin olive oil. You can also get it as the Ricotta Da Vegan, which uses house-made cashew ricotta. The vegan sausage was pretty damn good. I could even see myself subbing it in on my "Famous Original A."
No Crowd, Plenty of Leftovers
Paulie Gee's is usually packed. Not so here. Our lunch for four (Jessica is behind the camera for this photo) gave us plenty of room to pile half-finished pizzas at the end of the communal table. Any unfinished pizza gets boxed up for you to take home, and Paulie is pretty generous about making as many pizzas as you can eat, even if you haven't finished the previous pies.
If you guessed that Girl Slice did better with her pizza, you were right. To my knowledge, she's never stretched a pizza before, and she picked it up in no time, even killing it with the "Egyptian move."
Topping It Off
She chose to make the Spectacle 261, Paulie's tribute to Roberta's "Speckenwolf" pie: fior di latte, speck, cremini mushrooms, sliced onions. She did well with the topping balance, too.
Paulie Does the Bake
While you might get to top and/or stretch your pizza, you won't get to work the oven. Most wood-oven newbies burn their first few pies. For that reason, you'll have to leave it to Paulie and just watch from the sidelines.
The Spectacle 261
I think Girl Slice's pizza looks pretty good. You? She requested half the pizza be speck free, since she's avoiding cured meats. No biggie. That's more speck for me, Paulie, and Jessica.
Cuttin' It Up
So how did I do? I started with a Hellboy (sauce, mozzarella, hot soppressata, and Mike's Hot Honey). In stretching, I flubbed it a bit on the Egyptian move. It's not how I stretch it at home, and it was unfamiliar to me. I did better on my second pie, but on the first one I made the dough a little too thin.
But it still looked and tasted good.
For my second and last pizza, I tried my hand at the Cherry Jones (mozzarella, gorgonzola, prosciutto, dried Bing cherries, honey). Again, only half with prosciutto. On this one, I used too much cheese. D'oh! In the end, Girl Slice did better with her one pizza than I did on both of mine. Maybe she's the one in our family who should be dreaming of opening a pizzeria ;)
For dessert, we all ate some chocolate pots de crème, made by Paulie Gee pizzaiola Daniela.
We went home with one box of leftovers and photog Jessica went home with another. Honestly, I don't know how I could have eaten any more pizza after this.