Electric Oven vs Wood-Fired Brick Oven

I just found this photo I took of two identical margherita pizzas baked in different ovens at a pizzeria called 900 Degrees (RIP) in the West Village. The one on the left baked for 5 minutes and 33 seconds in a brick-lined electric deck oven, the one on the right baked for 1 minute and 24 seconds in a wood-fired brick oven.

Judging by these photos, the wood-fired pie looks way better. The lower temperature electric oven caused the fresh mozzarella to break down before the crust completely baked. You can see why pizza makers switched to low-moisture mozzarella when deck ovens became standard (besides the fact that they had a longer shelf life). The crust on the right looks more even and the cheese/sauce separation has remained intact.

But looks are only part of the picture — almost everyone on the tour that day preferred the taste of the pie on the left. BOOM!

First Reference to Pizza as a Pie?

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

Vegan Pizza Tour - Saturday, December 10

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!

Fast Details:
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

New SPT Water (anti)Bottles

I just ordered a bunch of neat SPT-branded water bottles from Vapur! These things are super rad refillable, BPA-free, freezable, fold-able, clip-able, half-liter pouches for all your beverage needs. I try to encourage folks to bring refillable water containers to tours rather than packaged bottled water because of the tremendously negative impact of plastic bottle manufacturing and disposal. This bottle is the perfect solution, especially for those interested in showing off their SPT pride!

To learn more about Vapur anti-bottles, visit their website.
To purchase your SPT Water (anti) Bottle, visit our web store.

EMERGENCY GIFT ALERT!

If you’re freaking out about last-minute gifts for people who love pizza and plan to be in NYC within the next 13 months, look no further than a Scott’s Pizza Tours gift certificate. I usually mail physical tickets, but today I’m firing up the old Photoshop to create PDFs of complete gift certificates to those in need. Just purchase your certificates through our Web Store and write PLEASE EMAIL in the “Instructions To Merchant” section. Be sure to let me know what to write in the TO and FROM sections of the certificate, otherwise I’ll just leave them blank. I’ll send these out by Christmas morning so they’ll be under the tree in time for the kiddies.

Gift certificates allow your loved ones to sign up for any public tour within the next 13 months. For more information on the tour, visit www.scottspizzatours.com and poke around at all the fun buttons!

NYC Pizza Safari: Learning to Love Your Vegan

 

       

Join me and my vegan brother Jonathan for a special walking tour on Monday, December 20 from 11:30 AM to 2 PM called NYC Pizza Safari: Learning to Love Your Vegan. Jon, who will be visiting from Los Angeles, dropped animal products from his diet about two years ago and I’ve been in shock ever since (after all, I survive mostly on pizza and ice cream). This tour will be my way of warming up to Jon’s food choices and I welcome other omnivores to join me in this quest for understanding. In preparing this tour, my goal was to find pizza that was delicious without the need for cheese or meat or any other animal derivatives. The result is a collection of four excellent pizza options in the West Village that will satisfy both vegans and omnivores alike.
Reserve your spot early, as tickets are extremely limited for this event!

Buy tickets for NYC Pizza Safari: Learning to Love Your Vegan