Yes, this is a real thing. For those of you who aren’t powerful enough to apply pressure to an old timey pizza cutter, this is your solution. There are a few listed on ebay right now so hurry before supplies of this discontinued item vanish! Best part? It’s not even cordless — you have to plug it into a wall.
I’m super excited to be running a series of programs at NYPL branches around the city over the next few months. Every HISTORY program will feature a live interview with a pizza maker local to the host branch. We’ll talk all about the past, present and future of pizza in NYC and beyond! SCIENCE programs involve live demonstrations of pizza from raw materials to ingredients to finished product. HISTORY events are designed for all ages and SCIENCE events are more geared toward younger folk.
I’ll be posting more specifics about each event on Twitter, so be sure to stay in the loop!
In the world of food gadgetry, no piece of gear is more iconic than the pizza slicer. The mere sight of a circular blade cradled in a handle holds no mystery as to its use, however the story of its evolution is far more layered. The concept of serving pizza by the slice is fairly new (post-WWII) but the genetic material for the contemporary circular pizza blade can be found scattered across the past three centuries.
Our journey begins with the invention of the mezzaluna (half moon) by Silvio Pacitti in 1708. There’s not much information floating around about this fellow, but we can safely assume he was born and lived on the Italian peninsula, the southern region of which birthed our beloved pizza. He was the Ron Popeil of his time, having invented something extremely simple to make food preparation easier. While most standard knives cut by dragging across their subject, the mezzaluna has a rounded blade that impacts its target with a downward motion as it rolls across. This creates a clean incision without disrupting the material being cut.
Originally available in small sizes with either a single or double blade, the mezzaluna was initially intended for vegetable and herb chopping. Pizzerias in the Midwest now employ larger versions to cut both thick and cracker-thin pizzas quickly and evenly. While it may not be as popular as its wheeled counterpart, the mezzaluna certainly predates it. The image above shows a modern version of the mezzaluna used for cutting deep dish pizza, a style which didn’t emerge until the 1940s. The task of splitting such a thick product is obviously a job smaller tools aren’t cut out for.
I made this pizza on the grill over the weekend using the two-zone method. It just means you only supply heat to half your grill so you can move the pie from direct to indirect heat as you please. The results were pretty good but you really have to keep your eye on the pie. You begin by cooking JUST the dough directly over the heat source. Once it’s nice and bubbly, flip the dough and apply your toppings. By the time you’re done, the second side of the dough should be in good shape and you can slide the pie off the heat and close the lid so the toppings melt from indirect heat.
Coals are in the rear of the grill so I can control how much heat is getting to my pie.
This is the only signage with correct spelling at Pugsley’s in the Bronx.
Check with your destination pizzeria before heading out for a slice safari this month, lots of Italian-owned pizzerias close for a chunk of August. Sam’s on Court Street (Brooklyn) is closed all month, Zero Otto Nove was closed for a week, Mario’s on Arthur Ave closes after this weekend and I’m sure there are a ton more. But even though it’s depressing to find a locked gate at your favorite pizzeria, Pugsley’s on 191st St in the Bronx seems to have found the most lovely way of dishing out the bad news.
I don’t usually get excited about animated GIFs because they make my head spin but this website of animated pizza GIFs has some true gems. This one of Rudy Huxtible eating a slice of pizza is mesmerizing. I can’t stop watching it.
Intense moments at a New York slice shop. [Photographs: Omar Qadir]
Remember when pizza wasn’t academic? Most of us entered the fray based solely on simplicity; not an “authentic” Pizza Margherita or anything with kale and green garlic, just a regular old slice that made us happy. There was no talk of fermentation time or rare tomato varieties, only a feeling of comfort within our souls. But the journey took a turn down a rabbit hole and we kept going, leaving every Spartan thought in the past. Every now and again there’s a moment of simplicity that refocuses everything, even if just for a brief time. That moment happened for me behind the counter at a slice shop across the street from Penn Station in Manhattan. For my third and final (for now) mission as an Undercover Pizza Lover, I spent the last week of April slinging slices at one of the busiest pizzerias in New York City.
NY Pizza Suprema is so obvious it may as well be invisible. (You can catch up on past Slice coverage of Suprema here.) The large red lettering outside the place is gaudy enough that locals often walk right by, writing it off as just another average slice shop. Its location across from Madison Square Garden/Penn Station positions Suprema in a culinary dead-zone. Then there’s the name—not even something boring-yet-personal like Joe’s or John’s—it’s about as anonymous as you can get. Employees wear khaki pants and striped shirts so stereotypically “New York pizza” that it must be a gimmick. But it’s not. Every Suprema employee has worn these shirts since the late 1960’s. It’s a statement about honor and integrity that owner Joe Riggio takes very seriously.
Yes, I did actually grow a mustache to fit in with the counter staff.
When I first stepped behind the business side of the counter, I felt an immediate sense of achievement. It was the realization of a dream I never knew I had. As a kid, I always admired the guys behind the pizza counter more than the ones making the pies. We had direct interaction and they were responsible for delivering the slice into my hands. It was strange to be in that position after spending so long on the other side, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. The uniform gave me a sense of pride, as if I belonged to a group. I have to admit it was a bit of a power trip to have people lined up for something over which I had control, but I did my best to get everyone what they needed.
Oh France, what had you done now? My homeslice Katie brought these back from me from a recent trip abroad and I’m sort of perplexed. We have all sorts of pizza-flavored chips and snacks in the United States, but it takes the French to put a bunch of tiny pizzas in a bag? I’m ashamed.Katie said they even had several competing brands, one of which was called “Minizza.” Well done, France.