SUMMER PIZZA READING: Pizza City by Pete Genovese

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I first met Pete Genovese in 2006 when I was a member of a day-long pizza quest for New Jersey’s largest newspaper, The Star Ledger. Every summer Saturday, Pete loads the car, dubbed the Munchmobile, with a group of carefully-selected eaters to test a specific food within the state. This guy knows every angle of NJ and he’s very selective when it comes to food. He has a special love for pizza, which led to a 6 month long pizza-only stretch of adventuring at the tail end of 2009. I was fortunate enough to be on the team for over 300 pizzerias across the Garden State. Pete dropped a book called A Slice of Jersey with stories and reviews of all the pizzerias we visited. But his thirst was not quenched. Pete undertook a mission of epic proportions with a book project about New York City pizza and that book is finally here in the form of Pizza City: The Ultimate Guide to New York’s Favorite Food.

There are plenty of book about pizza. Trust me, I have at least one copy of each of them. Most go into the funky quirky tidbits of pizza history and folklore but Pizza City cuts right to what’s most interesting: the people behind the pizza. It covers the most popular slice shops and pie palaces but also takes the time to profile lesser-known pizzerias. Take John’s in Elmhurst, Queens. It’s a small place on the corner run by a mother-daughter team. I’ve had the pizza and wasn’t blown away by it, but the place has a real charm you can’t duplicate.

There’s also a review section of 250 pizzerias but it’s more for context than reviews of the pizza. Pete writes about what was going on while he was eating his slice. I like that. Everyone has different taste and you can’t base your opinion on his, so Pete gives you the info and lets you find out for yourself whether or not it’s the greatest slice on Earth.

Full disclosure: there’s a section about me and my pizza tour. But regardless of that, the book’s still good! He also profiles other pizza enthusiasts and bloggers so you get a real sense of how crazy the pizza scene gets.

This book belongs on the shelf of every pizza fan… actually every human, because it shakes a food we take for granted down to what’s important: people, pride and heart.

*Buy the book Pizza City: The Ultimate Guide to New York’s Favorite Food by Pete Genovese

Winter Reading List

It may not feel like Winter in New York, but there is no avoiding the deep chill that is sure to come. And when that day arrives, you’ll want nothing more than a cozy fire and a good book about pizza. Fear not, dear slice-o-phile, for there are several fantastic reads at your local book shoppery that promise to keep you warm while nature does her thing. Here’s a roundup of some books I’ve been spending time with lately…

1. Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg, M.D., and Zoe Francois (St Martin’s Press)

Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day is exactly what it sounds like. This is the latest in a series about hassle-free bread baking and it’s totally awesome. Baking pizza is an extremely practical way to feed yourself AND heat yourself. The book makes you feel like a jerk for wasting so much of your life not making pizza at home with its ridiculously simple dough recipes. No complicated steps or fancy words, just simple ingredients that combine to make dough that sits in your refrigerator until you’re ready to bake.

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