Zagat recently named Michael's Pizzeria in Long Beach one of the highest-rated pizzeria in the country. We went to see how it stacked up and ended up wondering: Is this new rash of best-of lists hurting or helping the promotion of truly great pizza?
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Ask a Washingtonian for recommendations on where newcomers should eat and more likely than not their list will include 2Amys and Standard. Shining stars of comforting Italian and neighborhood charm, respectively, it's hard to imagine any product of a collaboration of the two teams would be anything less than stellar. And sure enough, when 2Amys founders Peter Pastan and Amy Morgan teamed up with Standard co-owners Tad Curtz and David Rosner to quietly open Etto, they didn't disappoint.
Who knew Woodstock, Georgia was a legit pizza destination town? The tiny hamlet is on the extreme edge of what can just barely be called the metro Atlanta area: a full thirty miles from Centennial Olympic Park and admittedly way off the beaten path for most Atlanta pizza fanatics. True, this northwestern 'burb is on serious Slice'rs' radar screens thanks to the world-class pies at Vingenzo's. But about 1,000 feet away, FireStone Wood Fired Pizza & Grill is doing the California-style pie thing with similarly stellar results
A Brooklynite myself, I'll admit to a tinge of favoritism when I declare that there's no better borough for pizza. Or, to be a little more diplomatic, let's say that it's home to the city's greatest concentration of top notch pies. We've got the classics, like Totonno's, Grimaldi's, and Di Fara, along with a slew of (relative) newcomers—Roberta's, Paulie Gee's, and Best Pizza, to name just a few. And, of course, there's Franny's. We finally made it over to their new-and-improved location to check in on their pies.
We'd already made up our minds to order a chicken roll (that'd be thin-cut strips of fried chicken rolled up in pizza dough, baked, and served with sauce for dipping). But then we heard one of the girls in front of us—the skinniest one, no less—order a "ravioli pizza please."
Uh... what? Surely she means "ravioli, pizza, please," right?.
Nope. She meant ravioli pizza. As in ricotta ravioli baked on top of pizza. As in cheese-stuffed carbs, placed on top of carbs, covered in more cheese, topped with some extra cheese for good measure. Oh, and then baked.
There's hope for gluten-free pizza lovers: Salugo Pizzeria's crispy GF crust is gussied up with high-quality toppings, from spicy sopressata to fresh, sautéed spinach.
Cucina Asellina should be killing it in Atlanta. But sadly, their much-ballyhooed pizzas left my palate underwhelmed, and my wallet overextended.
Is flatbread pizza? The debate is certainly nothing new. But at Full of Life Flatbread in Los Alamos, the self-styled flatbread makers don't worry too much about labels. Instead, they focus on ingredients. Here's a look at the ten pies that emerged most recently from the 20-ton, 900º masonry oven that hulks along one wall in the open dining room.
Oh, what a difference a decade makes. Ten years ago, Village Pizzeria was one of LA's top shops. Today, it's barely discussed in pizza circles. But did it change or did we? We returned after a long sabbatical to find out for ourselves.
It was with no small amount of excitement that multiple friends—from die-hard pizza aficionados in New York City to fellow expats who have been living a rather bleak, pizza-less existence—barraged me with the news that Motorino was opening its first international outpost here in Hong Kong. Needless to say, I was eager to see how the famed New York pizzeria was faring in its early weeks abroad.
We set out for Coney Island last weekend for a long overdue taste of Totonno's. The pizzeria has only been open for a matter of weeks, since completing post-Sandy repairs, but they haven't skipped a beat. The pies? Better than ever.
Millie's Old World, a snazzy new spot on Morristown's main drag, has not one, but two types of ovens. The first, a wood-fired import from Naples, is capable of churning out Neapolitan pizzas in 90 seconds flat; the second, a coal-burning oven, yields a chewier (but equally flavorful) crust. Why not pick just one style of pizza? According to Marlene Carrabba, mother of sibling owners Vince and Brandon, her boys each had a favorite and couldn't choose between the two. So, in true Jersey style, they went with both.
"Variety's the very spice of life," says William Cowper and all your cliché filled friends. At Los Angeles' The Pizza Studio, variety may not be the spice of your life, but it is the key to pleasing a lot of people and selling a lot of pizzas.
In San Diego's South Park neighborhood, pizzeria Buona Forchetta is knocking out 21 varieties of Neapolitan-style pies, all baked in a sparkling Stefano Ferrara wood-fired pizza oven.
Sweet potato mousse crust? Check. Crab, bacon, salsa, and blue cheese dressing on the same pizza? Double check. What about cookie dough crust? You betcha. That can only mean one thing: We went to Mr. Pizza so you wouldn't have to. You're welcome.
I walked into Prato, a modern Italian trattoria in Winter Park Florida, sure that I could at least get a decent beer. But my hopes for great pizza took a big plunge when our waitress proudly proclaimed "we bake our pizzas all the way at 500 degrees in a brick oven imported from Tuscany." "500°," "brick oven," and "Tuscany" are not three words that you generally want to hear when ordering pizza. Luckily, I was proven wrong.
Conte's in Princeton is the kind of place that remains unchanged by trends or the passage of time. No freshly made, hand-pulled mozzarella blankets the pies; no artisanal hand-milled flour goes into the crust; and the craziest topping on the menu is anchovy. And that's why people love it.
"Cheffy" is a word that can go a couple different ways. To some, it means high-quality, ingredient-driven food that's sometimes complex, but always skillfully prepared. Others use it dismissively, and even pejoratively, to write off fare that they view as pretentious, esoteric, or overly complicated. No matter where you come out on the usage, I can assure you of one thing: Gjelina serves cheffy pizza.
At Hot Italian, each pizza has been named for, well, a hot Italian. Do the actual pizzas live up to the pretty faces that have been attached to them on the menu?
Hollywood Pies is a bit of an enigma in the L.A. pizza scene, so we sent in not one, but two correspondents to get the full story...and argue about vegetarianism and its role in Chicago style.