Why does NY City have the largest concentration of the most famous pizzerias anywhere outside of Italy? Why does NYC have so many fantastic pizzerias, compared to the rest of the country?
I have heard it said over and over, “It’s the water!” as though NYC water had some magical properties to it. But that myth is easy to debunk. If New York’s water were the secret to its great pizza, there would not be great pizza elsewhere, and we all know that is not true. Not only is there great pizza all over the USA (just not in the numbers NY has), but there’s also great pizza everywhere in the world—especially in the pizza capital of the world, Naples.
There are two reasons why NY has so many great pizzerias compared to other parts of the country. Continue reading “It’s the Culture”
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.
Continue reading “Random Thoughts on Pizza”
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”
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.
Continue reading “Pizza Pilgrimage V – Six Days in the Fridge”
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”
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.
Continue reading “Schenectady Slices”
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.
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”
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.
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”
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.
Continue reading “Making Great Pizza at Home”