Random Thoughts on Pizza

I’ve eaten pizza in four of the top ten pizzerias in America. Soon, I’ll be making the trip to NYC to check the fifth and possibly a sixth off that list.

I have plans to spend a weekend in Brooklyn, and a weekend in Boston to eat pizza. I hope to make the trek to New Haven again and explore more of the pizza there. (I have eaten at Pepe’s.)

I’ve driven as far as 2 1/2 hours one way just to eat pizza at a single pizzeria, and then I turned around and came right back.

I’ve eaten at every single Neapolitan style pizza joint within a 2-hour radius of Albany. Every. Single. One.

I’ve eaten at 95% of pizzerias that have a wood oven in the area (that I’m aware of), and at most of the wood-fired pizza trucks. If I discover a pizzeria that has a wood oven and I haven’t been, I usually go immediately.

I’ve eaten pizza at well more than 100 local places and counting.

I just spent a weekend in Buffalo, the primary impetus to go there was to eat the pizza at Jay’s Artisan, a fantastic Neapolitan style pizza joint.

I once talked my wife into spending a weekend in Syracuse to go shopping at its giant mall, but I secretly wanted to go to eat pizza.

I put all of that out there not to toot my own horn, but to list my credentials. My opinions are based on a fair amount of experience. One can disagree with me (and you should!), but my opinions are not born out of ignorance.

The best pizza in the Capital Region is Anna’s Wood Fired in Latham.

The most underrated pizza in the Capital Region is Restaurant Navona in Albany.

The most overrated pizza in the Capital Region is Marino’s in Schenectady.

The best pizza you’ve not eaten is the pan pizza at Talk of the Town in Glens Falls.

The best place to ‘hang out’ while eating pizza is DeFazio’s in Troy.

DeFazio’s is the only pizzeria in the area that’s neither underrated nor overrated.

The best hidden gem in the Capital Region is Pizza Works in Burnt Hills.

85% of pizza in the Greater Albany area is mediocre. One of those mediocre places is probably your favorite.

All truly great pizza is cooked in a wood oven.

It is impossible to make a great pizza without the super high temps (500 degrees Celsius and above) of a wood oven (except in some cases a coal oven).

Great pizza is light.

Great pizza is tender.

Most people have never eaten truly great pizza, and have no idea what it is.

All great pizza has at least some char.

New York City is the pizza capital of the US.

NY style pizza is overrated.

Naples Italy is the pizza capital of the world.

Neopolitan style pizza is the most delicious style of pizza.

Pan pizza is underrated.

Takeout hurts pizza.

Delivery hurts pizza more than takeout.

If you’ve not eaten deep dish pizza in Chicago (I have) you’ve not eaten deep dish.

The Uno chain’s deep dish is crap.

Domino’s is an abomination, and the worst pizza I’ve ever eaten.

Blaze Pizza is good. If you take into consideration a pie is less than 9 bucks, then it’s excellent.

Supermarket frozen pizza is terrible.

Utica tomato pie is delicious and should be eaten room temp. I hate room temp pizza, but I like tomato pie.

Loading a pie down with too much cheese is the number one mistake most pizza makers make.

Loading a pie down with too many toppings and/or too much sauce is the number two mistake most pizza makers make.

10 thoughts on “Random Thoughts on Pizza

  1. The two places I want to get pizza at in the Boston area are Stoked (the owner is sometimes on the pizza forum and seems like a great guy) and Mortadella Head (some of the stuff on their Instagram feed looks pretty interesting). Haven’t been to either place to sample the pies yet. I’m not one of the people that love Pizzeria Regina.

    That last time I got pizza from Marino’s it was straight up not good and I’ve stopped recommending it to people. Same could be said for the I Love NY in Niskayuna. While it wasn’t great during that slice tour, it was better than it is now.

    I’ve only been to Anna’s and Navona once. I should revisit both of them sometime.

    I’ve also only been to Blaze once. I can see the appeal but I hate that Blaze is teaching a generation of kids that it is good pizza. I felt like it was more a pizza topped burrito skin. Sure there is worse pizza out there, but the 85% of mediocre pizza shops you mention have set the bar pretty low.

    I drove through Utica this week. Didn’t have time to stop for tomato pie or Utica greens. I’m always disappointed when I have to drive past those exits without stopping.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You should set up a pizza tour of your own, even if it takes all day to accomplish. I would love to visit 5 pizza places that are tops in your mind.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Agreed that Pizza Works is an underrated gem. It was convenience alone that saw us stopping in after a CYO basketball tournament — extremely pleased with the results and we’ve returned whenever we find ourselves on Route 50.

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  4. Shouldn’t great pizza have a CHEWY crust, thanks to good gluten development?

    I don’t know about Burnt Hills, but the pizza at the now-closed Pizza Works in Saratoga was extremely mediocre.

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  5. There is no doubt you have changed my entire perspective on pizza. The char on the crust, the incredible crispy/light results that come only from a wood fired oven. I have also tried pies with ingredients I would have never tried before!

    As a kid from Western, NY Pontillo’s was always my favorite. Very thick slices, potent and delicious tomato sauce, loads of cheese. My family favorite was pepperoni and black olives 🙂 For me a pepperoni pizza is just bliss.

    So there is wood fired/Neopolitan pizza and American pizza. New York Style/Chicago style. Thick and thin crust. Pan pizza. Everyone has a favorite. You can order many different cuts of steak, with various preparation styles and sauces too.

    Anna’s and Navona (both I have experienced because of your recommendation) are INCREDIBLE. The crust, the char, the creative toppings and combinations, all make for an incredible culinary experience.

    That said, the American pizzeria, with a standard oven, which uses loads of cheese and of course Pepporoni (which I guarantee is the most popular in this country) is still a favorite of mine. Just like our Buffalo Bills you stick with them 🙂 I still say a Pepperoni Pie from Marino’s is awesome and if I am in the mood for that style it is my go to.

    Pizza Hut gets my vote for the worst 🙂 Cicci’s pizza buffet was pretty brutal too lol

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