Bad Chain Restaurants XIII – Domino’s Deception​

I had a good friend who worked at Domino’s Pizza in the mid-’90s. He worked the late shift and was left in charge. On occasion, he’d invite me to hang out with him. I got to spend time behind the counter watching the delivery drivers come and go, watch my buddy make the pizzas, and he’d also let me make my own pizza. I’ll never forget the contraption they used that would apply the cheese pellets (and they were indeed pellets). You’d load the proper amount of cheese into an elevated cone, then slide the pizza under, press the release button, and bam! A perfectly cheesed pizza.

At the time, I ate Domino’s pizza and would order a pie for delivery now and then.

But that was more than 20 years ago, and it wasn’t too long after that I met my wife, who was instrumental in nudging me toward learning to appreciate better food. She loathes Domino’s, and I haven’t eaten it since.

Recently, I decided it was time to revisit the chain. Admittedly, I fell victim to their marketing, and the idea of eating a pizza with a soft doughy crust, that’s sweetly sauced, and with a generous amount of cheese appealed to me.

I may have temporarily lost my mind. Continue reading “Bad Chain Restaurants XIII – Domino’s Deception​”

Pizza Pilgrimage V – Six Days in the Fridge

Have you seen the video series Upstate Old School Vic Christopher is doing for Two Buttons Deep? In the first episode, he visits O’Scugnizzo’s Pizzeria in Utica. O’Scug’s makes a form of Utica tomato pie, and the place is the second oldest continually operating pizzeria in the US. The video is less than four minutes long. It’s worth a watch.

Barely one week after Vic’s video was posted, Daniel B. and I had some business together in Central NY (more about that at a later date), and after seeing the video, both of us were curious to visit O’Scug’s and experience the pizza.

I was not impressed, and frankly, perplexed as to why O’Scug’s is popular.

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My Favorite Pizza in the 518

Notice the title of this post is not “The Best Pizza in the 518.” “Best” is subjective, and when it comes to pizza, everyone has their favorite style or favorite pizza joint. I’m willing to accept that my favorites are not necessarily the best, but instead, merely those I like most. I’m sure it won’t be hard for anyone to take issue with my favorites, and that’s fine. You are welcome to disagree with me.

With one exception, my favorite pizzas are all cooked in a wood oven. To produce the light, tender, and chared crusts I prefer, requires temps of 800 degrees or higher, temperatures a wood oven has no problem reaching. Wood also imparts some flavor into the crust. Wood oven = more flavor.

So, without further ado, my favorite pizza in the Greater Capital Region:

Continue reading “My Favorite Pizza in the 518”

Schenectady Slices

NY style pizza. It’s a thing. It’s also a particular thing. I think the average pizza eater is confused as to what it is. NY Style pizza is not just round thinner pizza, and I’m probably guilty of making that incorrect assumption in the past as well.

NY slices are another thing altogether. The pizza is cooked ahead of time, then when ordered the triangle is thrown back into the oven to be reheated. The bottom of the pizza crisps up, making for a crunchy crust. Eating a reheated slice is not quite the same as eating one fresh out of the oven.

Having participated in FUSSYlittleBLOG’s Tour de Slice Schenectady, I’ve come to realize that NY style slices don’t get me excited. Not that they aren’t tasty, they are, and their popularity is a testament to that, but given my druthers, they wouldn’t be my first choice.

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Pizza Pilgrimage IV – Dinosaur Pizza

Back in March, I stumbled on a Syracuse-based news article that profiled one of the owners of Dinosaur BBQ. The article focused on the new pizza place they were opening directly across the street from the original Dinosaur location; Apizza Regionale.

According to the article, they’re cooking the pizzas in a wood-fired oven imported from Naples. They claim to have cooked one thousand test pizzas before opening. They’re going for Neapolitan style pizza, made with ingredients sourced from New York State producers. The flour for the dough, for example, comes from a mill in Ithica.

Impressive.

I ‘m a sucker for Neapolitan style pizza, and it made for a great excuse to make a day trip out to Syracuse to try the pizza, and visit a couple of other iconic places since I’d be out that way. Wegman’s immediately came to mind as a must stop. And since I’d be passing through Utica, I thought it’d also be cool make a detour there and have chicken riggies and Utica greens for lunch.

Things didn’t quite work out as I had envisioned. It’s a day I won’t soon forget.

Continue reading “Pizza Pilgrimage IV – Dinosaur Pizza”

Staycationaurant V – The Tap House at Catamount Glass

It’s been months since I wrote a Staycationaurant post on the blog. If you’ll remember, staycationaurant is the corny term I created by mashing together the words staycation and restaurant. I’ve defined it as a vacation day (or days), in which I while away the hours eating at interesting or unique places. For today’s post, I think I’ve found a business that qualifies as both the former and the latter.

This past Tuesday I had most of the day to myself, and it was beautiful; a drive was in order. I started thinking about which direction to head out of Albany. Vermont came to mind. Bennington is just one hour from Albany, and if you’ve been, you know what a lovely place it is. I decided to search for restaurants in the area. I discovered The Tap House at Catamount Glass.

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Pizza Pilgrimage III – Volturno

Currently, I’m a fan of Neopolitan style pizza. I’m fascinated with it mainly because I love its bubbly charred crust. When done right the crust is light and airy, with a delightfully soft and tender chew, but it still has crispness due to the super hot wood fired oven in which it’s cooked. Toppings are usually kept to a minimum and applied with a light hand because the crust is the star (though that’s not always the case of course).

It’s important that you call it Neopolitan style. Because to be a true Neopolitan pizza, the restaurant must be VPN certified by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana [link] which sets strict guidelines on ovens, ingredients, and techniques used for those claiming to serve true Neopolitan pies. Interestingly, there are surprisingly few VPN certified pizzerias in America, only about 75, and only two in NY State, both in NY City.

There’s controversy surrounding the VPN certification because it doesn’t necessarily ensure one makes great pizza, and it’s viewed as a marketing gimmick by some because there are many pizzerias that are not certified but are making fantastic Neopolitan style pizza. Serious Eats has a good piece on the subject if you’re interested in reading more about it.

Volturno is not VPN certified, but they are making top notch Neopolitan style pizza.

Continue reading “Pizza Pilgrimage III – Volturno”

Making Great Pizza at Home

I was going to title this post “Making Better Pizza at Home” because I don’t quite think my homemade pizza would qualify as great. However, grading it on a relative scale, and though I have a ways to go yet, I do think it’s possible to make great pizza at home.

I’ve discovered 3 secrets to making very good pizza at home, and using those 3 methods, anyone can make pizza close to something you’d get at a decent pizzeria.
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Manhattan Copycats

I’m slowly becoming more and more enamored with simple foods. And I’ve discovered simple foods generally are created on a triune foundation. Three components that come together to make delicious magic. I want to elaborate on this more at some point and hope to write a full post about it in the future.

I found myself with the opportunity to spend a full day in Manhattan,  and I decided while I was there I would eat a couple of copycat items that are attempting to elevate themselves above their inspiration. I found a restaurant that’s making copycat Five Guys burgers, and one that’s making a copycat Chik-Fil-A sandwich.

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Pizza Pilgrimage II – Fried Pizza

Did you know fried pizza is a thing?

Yes, fried pizza. I know it sounds gratuitous, but stick with me. I first discovered it a couple of months ago. I was surprised to learn it’s not new, it’s been around for awhile. And it’s not gimmicky, as though it were something you’d find at a carnival food stand. Trust me, it’s a heck of a lot better than it sounds. I’m even inclined to use the “D” word—delicious—and that wouldn’t be an embellishment for the sake of dramatic effect. In fact, I’d love to see an Albany area establishment create a fried pizza of their own. More about that in a moment.
Continue reading “Pizza Pilgrimage II – Fried Pizza”