November 2, 2012
Sandy may have knocked out all power in lower Manhattan but it can’t possibly slow down the city’s pizza habit. Here’s how some pizzerias in Lower Manhattan are dealing with having no power.
Lombardi’s on Spring Street is using a car battery to power a few lights so the kitchen staff can see what they’re doing. Good thing 115 year old coal fired ovens need no power.
Joe’s Pizza on Carmine Street uses gas ovens, so they work just fine sans electricity. All they need are a couple flashlights so they can tell when each pie is perfectly baked. I had a slice, it was excellent!
John’s of Bleecker St has no power but they DO have an amazing sign indicating so.
Keste on Bleecker St is so romantic with candles lighting the way. Wood fired ovens need no power to churn out deliciousness.
Pizza Box on Bleecker Street uses these cool (Pixar) flashlights to light their display.
Yesterday’s pizza tour hit Forcella, where we enjoyed a combination of wood fired pizza, candles, flashlights and owner Giulio Adriani.
Newbies Cowboy Pizza on Clinton St made their dough in Long Island and closed when it ran out, just before sundown.
Last night I ate slice #501 for 2012. It happened at Nicoletta, Michael White’s new pizza spot in the East Village. I had the Carbonara, which like the pasta dish of the same name features pancetta, black pepper and egg. ROCK!
September 13, 2012
Things got intense during a Science of Pizza event at an event in the Bronx!
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!
Here’s the full schedule:
Thursday, September 27 @ City Island 4 PM – SCIENCE
Thursday, October 4 @ Morningside Heights 5:30 PM - HISTORY
Thursday, October 11 @ 67th Street 5:30 PM (feat. John Arena)
Monday, October 22 @ Inwood 4 PM - SCIENCE
Monday, October 29 @ Richmondtown 6:30 PM - HISTORY
Monday, November 5 @ Yorkville 3:30 PM - SCIENCE
Wednesday, November 7 @ Epiphany 4 PM - SCIENCE
Tuesday, November 13 @ Hunt’s Point 4 PM – SCIENCE
Tuesday, November 20 @ Mulberry Street 4 PM – SCIENCE
Tuesday, November 27 @ Heiksell @ 4 pm – SCIENCE
Saturday, December 8 @ Morris Park 2:30 PM - HISTORY
Wednesday, December 19 @ Mulberry Street 5:30 PM - HISTORY
Kids learn about conduction, convection, radiation and moisture during this demo.
Sal from Pugsley’s Pizza in the Bronx explains his pizza passion by playing the saxophone in the middle of a public library!
These kids are keeping their eyes on the pie as it experiences oven spring!
Interested in having me do a science or history focused pizza demo in your school or library? Just contact me through the Scott’s Pizza Tours website!
July 11, 2012
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.
May 8, 2012
Calling all vegans, vegetarians and food explorers:
I’ll be hosting a very special pizza tour on Saturday, June 2 that will visit four pizzerias in Manhattan and Brooklyn for slices of 100% animal-free pizza. Our stops include Neapolitan, Roman and New York style pizzerias. We’ll talk all about pizza history (including how some of the earliest pizzas were actually vegan) as we cruise around in the Big Yellow Pizza Bus. It is going to be insane!!!
WHEN: Saturday, June 2
WHERE: Starts and ends in Greenwich Village
HOW: $60 tickets available online through Zerve or by phone at 800-979-3370
WHAT: All pizza and animal-free goody bags are included; 4 pizzeria stops by bus
WHY: Because everybody deserves good pizza
This vegan pizza tour isn’t just about finding places that offer cheese alternatives, it’s about well-made dough topped with deliciousness that doesn’t need cheese to have a good time. I am not personally vegan, so I’m going to take you out for pizza that tastes great without compromising. Some of these pizzas aren’t overtly vegan, they just happen to not have cheese, meat, honey, eggs, etc on the ingredient list. The idea of the tour is for both vegans and non-vegans to share the same pizza because it’s the ultimate communal food!
I started doing it for my vegan brother when he would come for a visit and we found a solid lineup of pizzerias that both of us loved! I run this tour just about every six months, so join us for a special afternoon packed with animal-free flavor.
February 23, 2012
Here’s a reallyyyyyyy early reference to pizza in the December 6, 1903 edition of the New York Tribune. It’s part of a larger article about how much Italians love hot foods (there’s a section that defines pepperoni as hot peppers rather than the later Americanized cured meat) and includes some rather controversial remnants from our lost pizza past. The article doesn’t mention a restaurant name, so it’s unclear whether this is a bakery, pizzeria or somebody’s house. What is clear is that the author directly compares Italian pizza to American pie, making it the earliest reference to pizza as a pie that I have ever seen. We use this slang in the Northeast, but people outside the area always ask me why I call pizza a pie. Here’s why!
But there’s a lot more mind-blowing info in this tiny paragraph. The article indicates a method of dough stretching that is more or less outlawed in both Naples and New York City pizzerias today: the rolling pin. In Naples, all pizza dough is extended by hand with special care taken to preserve the gases of fermentation. New York pizza makers tend to use more muscle with their dough stretching because American flour is much stronger than its European counterpart. But nobody currently making New York or Neapolitan style pizza even owns a rolling pin.
The instructions also say to roll out the dough to an inch thick. WOW, that’s not thin crust at all! Could it have been a typo? A misunderstanding? Lost in translation? Just the wrong person to interview for the article? We may never know, but what’s certain is that pizza has never been a food with strict definition — that’s what makes it so wonderful!
Read the Full New York Tribune Article
February 20, 2012
Here’s a chart of last week’s pizza intake. Looks like I overshot my limit of 15 slices.
Sometime last year I started keeping track of how much pizza I was eating. It’s not part of a crazy cleansing diet or anything but I figured it might make sense to limit my intake so I don’t risk burning out. In 2009 alone I visited about 400 different pizzerias and ate over 1300 slices. Probably not the best idea, so now I try to stick to a maximum of 15 slices per week. I chose 15 because there are 16 slices in 2 whole pies, so 15 is less than 2 whole pies. It’s really just a psychological trick to make me think I’m not eating that much pizza.
Until recently, I’ve just been keeping a running tally in my head. That worked pretty well until my homeslice Nick from PizzaRules.com turned me on to Daytum, a sweet data tracking app/website. I use a free version that lets me plug in any data I want and organize it into neat charts and graphs. The data is all public in the free version but you can make it private by upgrading for a small fee.
The above chart shows a a blue graph, which is an enlarged version of the highlighted section of the smaller gray graph below. I only highlighted the last week because I track my slices on a Monday - Friday schedule. You can see a short list of pizzerias I visited with the number of slices consumed to the left. Looks like I ate at 8 pizzerias, logged in the data from each and gobbled 18 total slices. So much for that limit. Keep in mind that I physically enter 15 - 25 pizzerias per week with my New York Pizza Tours so I have to restrain myself all the time. It’s especially hard when I’m going out for extracurricular (ie non-tour) pizza. (5 slices at Speedy Romeo, 4 at Don Antonio, 4 at Roberta’s…. yikes!)
I’ll try to post a weekly slice graph every Monday!
February 15, 2012
Three great calendars from three extremely different pizzerias.
Of all the trends hitting the pizza scene lately, the buzz word of 2012 thus far seems to be calendar. Three of the city’s most varied pizzerias each decided to welcome the new year with their very own custom-made wall calendars. And these aren’t lame calendars either, they’re extremely well designed with as much personality as the pizzerias themselves. Here’s a look at what’s to come in 2012 through the eyes of John’s of Bleecker Street, L’asso and Two Boots.
Each month features a still from a famous New York City movie with one major modification: main characters faces have been replaced with those of the pizzeria staff! There’s even a caption with ever page that ties John’s Pizzeria into the film’s plot. It’s pretty goofy but hilarious, especially if you go there often enough to recognize the staff. A company called Three Room Press has made the calendars for John’s Pizzeria since 2011 and it looks like it’s becoming a tradition.
This caption says: “If only The Warriors had made it back to Coney Island without stopping to eat some John’s of Bleecker Street, they might have had a chance. But on the other hand, what a way to go!”
December 9, 2011
Hopes were not high as Jeff and I approached the pizzeria. Jeff is a food lover, food blogger, food hunter and recently converted tour guide (check him out at his awesome food website). He created the Real Pizza of New York mobile app, which helps users find the standout pizzerias on NYC. It’s legit. As we are cut from the same cloth, Jeff and I sometimes check out pizzerias together. Last month, Jeff and I met on Arthur Ave in the Bronx to check out a recently-converted coal-fired bakery to see how the pizza-o-meter registered. After our main course, Jeff mentioned another place in the neighborhood that might be worth a visit. The name Pugsley’s didn’t ring a bell, but somebody had apparently told me about it because it was right there on my hit list. It was right there at the bottom — lowest priority possible.
When we turned onto 191st Street there was not a single business in site. I started to doubt Jeff’s sense of direction (even though it’s thousands of times better than mine) when we stumbled upon a sign from the heavens. Well, it was technically on the ground but it most certainly was a sign. The image of a slice within a circle was carved into the sidewalk cement. Either this was the place or someone was dealing illegal slices nearby.
The building is set back several meters and looks nothing like any pizzeria in the city; it felt like the Fratelli’s restaurant from the Goonies. We crept up the stairs, afraid of an imagined alarm system set to warn Bronxonians when a couple of pizza junkies were snooping about. But no alarm went off by the time we opened the front door. Instead, we were welcomed by the most beautiful site I’ve ever seen in a pizzeria.
The interior was like nothing I had ever seen. There weren’t any checkered tablecloths. No statuettes of mustachioed Italian men. No typical signage or menus. I don’t even remember seeing an oven in there. It’s more like an interactive piece of folk art than an eatery, but several indicators revealed that there was indeed some food to be had. Handmade signage adorns all walls, surfaces, empty spaces, crowded spaces, etc. But instead of offering combos and food deals, the signage merely uses food as a subplot to the main concern of this pizzeria: happiness.
December 3, 2011
That’s right kiddies, I’m doing another vegan pizza tour on December 10 starting at 11:45am on the Bowery in NYC. We’ll be hitting three pizzerias around the Lower East Side and Greenwich Village, each of which features a different animal-free pizza style. We’ll make our way to each stop on foot and everybody gets a slice per stop PLUS a sweet vegan-friendly goody bag, all included with your $35 ticket.
Tickets must be purchased in advance through our online ticketing agent, so please sign up if you’d like to join us. I’m keeping the group pretty small, so grab your ticket fast!
Saturday, December 10
11:45am - approximately 2:30pm
$35 ticket fee (includes pizza and Pizza Tour Survival Kit)
NYC Vegan Pizza Tour - Buy Your Ticket Here