We start every Sunday NYC Pizza Bus tour at Lombardi’s in Soho. It’s a perfect launching point for about a million reasons, but it does hamper our ability to visit faraway lands. But there are some magical days in which New York’s epic traffic lets up just enough to make such fantastic jaunts possible. Labor Day weekend is one of those magical times in which this city empties and Big Yellow School Buses are free to cruise as they wish. We use this opportunity to venture to the often forgotten borough of Staten Island, a borough that I strongly feel has some of the best pizzeria in all of NYC.
Here we have Bus Driver Patrick showing that he’s not at all worried about our first dramatic encounter: an accident on the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. No problem, we made our way as planned and hit Staten Island Stop #1 - Joe and Pat’s Pizzeria. This place opened in 1960 and their pizza is iconic. It’s the perfect slice. Thin and crispy with the perfect cheese-to-sauce ratio (CSR).
Joe and Pat’s is such a great spot, Staten Island pizza obsessive Mikey Rodriguez decided to meet us there just before heading to his shift making pizza at Two Boots on Avenue A. Mikey’s sporting his Slice Out Hunger shirt, representing our annual $1 slice fundraiser for New Yorkers who have trouble affording food.
Next up was Nunzio’s on Hylan Blvd. This place originally opened in 1942, when it was located in South Beach. It was relocated in 1960 and enjoyed its new digs until Hurricane Sandy came in and destroyed most of the dining room and pizzeria equipment. Even without a dime from Uncle Sam, Nunzio’s managed to open just over a month after the storm.
A victorious spirit envelops the tour crew as the first beautiful pizza arrives. Another pie that isn’t smattered with cheese! Just enough to make its presence known, but not enough to obscure the deliciously herbaceous sauce.
Our final stop before heading back to Manhattan was International Pizza Challenge champion Goodfella’s Pizza. This place consistently wins pizza competitions — and I know first hand because I’m usually judging them! The place has a unique oven that rotates so the pizza maker doesn’t have to do it himself. These guys actually install the ovens in other pizzerias through their own oven company.
Goodfella’s has the unique distinction of being the pizzeria that hosted the controversial “Forkgate" incident. Mayor Bill Deblasio. Just to refresh your memory, newly minted NYC mayor Bill Deblasio used a fork to eat a slice of pizza and everybody freaked out. Who cares? Bored journalists care. I guess there’s just not that much to cover these days, right??? Anyway, they auctioned off the fork for charity but the winner gave it right back. The good folks at Goodfella’s framed it, police evidence bag and all!
Here’s pizza tour guest / pizza tour guide Cedric Sparkman posing with the infamous fork. What an end to an amazing pizza journey! We had so much fun, we decided to take a ridiculous selfie with the help of my new Selfie On A Stick!
Our Sunday bus tours begin and end in Soho with four pizzeria stops in Manhattan and at least one outer borough. Stops and boroughs change weekly, so get on the mailing list and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for updates on where we’re heading next. You can find tickets and info at www.ScottsPizzaTours.com.
Step 1: Buy lots of cheap pizza from a crappy $1 slice joint in the Village. Chill the pizza so it congeals.
(Step 1.5: Get the pizza home on the subway without anyone snatching it!)
Step 2: Dump slices into a bucket.
Step 3: Set up a camera so you can capture the beautiful moment. BONUS: Set up pizza boxes, including the empty pizza boxes from the crappy $1 pizza place.
Step 4: Make a video of yourself dumping the pizza on your head. Classy.
Step 5: Salvage the slices since you cleverly used a plastic tablecloth to cover your gross apartment floor.
NOTE: I found a couple other folks who filled buckets with pizza. Both of them are better videos than mine so definitely check them out!
This image is from the greatest pizza website ever, Slice!
That’s right. Today is National Cheese Pizza Day. Its origins are unclear, but its meaning certainly is. I know what you’re thinking: “How did National Cheese Pizza Day sneak up on me so fast this year?” Well, we have busy lives and sometimes these things just pop up. You’re probably also wondering what other pizza celebration days you’re missing from you calendar. Well here you go:
September 5 is National Cheese Pizza Day
October is National Pizza Month
October 11 is National Sausage Pizza Day
November 12 is National Pizza with Everything But Anchovies Day
February 9 is National Pizza Day
June 11 is the anniversary of the naming of the Pizza Margherita
I’m sure you’ll find a way to celebrate pizza the other eight months of the year. ENJOY!
Tomato season is short. In California’s Central Valley, canners have about seventy days to harvest and pack the entire season’s crop. Most people don’t realize that pizzerias all over the planet use canned tomatoes rather than fresh. Think about it; tomato season is short, so the “fresh” tomatoes you buy in March are far from what you’ll get coming off the vine in August. What’s wrong with off-season tomatoes? First of all, flavor is never the concern when breeding tomatoes. They’re grown to be tough enough to handle the rigors of the road. Secondly, they’re often grown in water (Canada) or in sand (Florida), so vital nutrients have to be added artificially. The industrial practices in the fresh tomato industry are also pretty bad, but you’ll have to read a book like Barry Estabrook’s Tomatoland for the full scoop on that.
The canned tomato doesn’t get its due, so I decided to take a quick trip out to Modesto, Ca for a first-hand look at how some of our favorite pizza tomatoes are grown, harvested and canned. I visited farms and facilities used by Stanislaus Food Products, one of the country’s leading tomato companies and certainly the most popular in the New York area. I personally love their products, which often take top honors at our annual tomato tastings (see here, here and here).
First we headed out to a farm that was in the midst of being harvested. Farmers in Modesto use amazing machines that harvest an entire vine in one shot. Check out this video for a better look at the machine. It has three sets of “eyes” that discard tomatoes that aren’t the correct color. The machines look for a bright red - you know TOMATO COLOR!