About a year ago, I released a book called Viva La Pizza! The Art of the Pizza Box. It’s all about pizza boxes. History, art, technology…everything. The artists, the history of iconic images…everything. I ended up collecting so many pizza boxes in researching the book that I applied for, and received, a Guinness World Record.

It’s fun an all, but just because you have a world record doesn’t mean you’re in the Guinness Book of World Records. Only a chosen few get that level of prestige. I’m proud to announced that I have achieved that level. I got an email a couple days ago letting me know that I’m in the book and it’s already on shelves across the planet. It’s real. I saw it with my own eyes. I’m on Page 90. 

My Visit to a California Tomato Farm and Cannery

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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.  

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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).   

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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!

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PLY - Art Space / Pizzeria in Manchester, UK

A brand new art space is opening in Manchester next week and it’s going to be amazing! Why? Because when you’re exhausted from looking at amazing art, you can relax by the Stefano Ferrara oven and order yourself a pizza. 

Following Neapolitan tradition, the pizzas at PLY will bake in about 90 seconds! To celebrate their opening, PLY asked a bunch of people to submit 90 second films, each of which will play on loop at a pre-opening exhibition. I was honored to receive the invitation, so if you’re in Manchester and want some pizza with your art I strongly you suggest the masterpiece I shot in my living room in about 15 minutes. It’s a classic.It may or may not feature pizza boxes. 

PLY | 8 Stevenson Square | Manchester | M1 1FB
www.plymcr.co.uk

EVENING VIEW: Thursday, August 7, 6pm – 8pm
EXHIBITION: August 8-17, 6am – 11pm daily

I tasted a bunch of different frozen pizzas for BuzzFeed in an effort to answer one of the most common questions I get on pizza tours: WHAT’S THE BEST FROZEN PIZZA ON THE MARKET? 

Of course videos like this are made to be funny, but I want to clarify some technical questions that might pop into some of the more inquisitive pizza minds:

1. We baked each pizza according to the instructions on the box, so if a pie looks funky you can blame the pizza company. 

2. This does not represent every brand on the market, so don’t freak out because we didn’t try Tombstone or Freschetta or whatever your favorite frozen pizza may be. BuzzFeed brought 8 pies but one was microwave only (we only had an oven) and one got cut for time (Amy’s Organic, which I usually like but did not on this tasting). 

3. I grew up eating Ellio’s so I enjoyed it during this taste test even though I would never go out of my way to eat it.

4. I gave each pizza a rating out of 5 stars but none made it over 3.5 so they didn’t include them in the edit. 

5. Obviously frozen pizza should be judged on a different scale than fresh pies but since some these companies claim they deliver quality comparable to pizzeria products we really should hold them accountable. 

I did an interview with a cool new site called Pizza Life, run by my friend Gianluca Rottura. He’s a serious pizza lover and wine aficionado.  He has a killer wine store in NYC and a book about wine called Wine Made Easy. I’m super excited about this interview because it reveals some deep secrets, such as which concert I went to after eating a great slice of Sicilian pizza last summer. ENJOY!

Real Deep Dish Pizza Has Landed In New York

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I’ve been saying it for a while now: New York needs a deep dish pizzeria. The mark of a good pizza city is variety and while NYC has a good amount, we’re missing a very large piece of the pizza style pie. Yes, I’ve seen the various Daily Show pieces about how deep dish isn’t even pizza and I do feel strange being forced to eat my slice with a knife and fork, but every slice has its place and I truly believe deep dish pizza is an acceptable format.

Chicago has its fair share of New York style pizzerias, but most New Yorkers have never experienced deep dish pizza because we just don’t have access to it. Sure, there are a bunch of Pizzeria Uno (oops… I mean Uno Chicago Grill) locations around the city but they are only in pizza deserts where you have no other option. But all of that has changed. In the midst of all the Chicago-NYC pizza hubbub on The Daily Show, a tiny bar/restaurant opened in the Soho/South Village nook on Macdougal just south of Houston Street. Emmett’s has about six tables and a bar, not too dissimilar to the original Uno in Chicago. But there’s one major difference: Emmett’s makes a great pizza.

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The space is adorable, complete with a rad green glider bench out front. But there’s no loud proclamations boasting about deep dish pizza, it’s much more subtle. Two brothers run the place and they’re all about Chicago pride. It’s probably wise to keep the place understated. Tensions could produce a dangerous situation

I went with a crew of serious pizza enthusiasts. Jeff Orlick, creator of the Real Pizza of NYC app, “Famous Fat” Dave Freedenberg (sporting a brand new beard we all love but got pretty clogged with cheese), and Steph Mantis of Forever Pizza and Animal Butt Magnet fame. We ordered a traditional Chicago deep dish pizza with sausage, mushrooms, onions and peppers. It was the right choice. 

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Most wanna-be deep dish pizzas just have a thick crust, but that’s garbage. Emmett’s is the real deal, with a dense biscuity crust covered with stringy cheese, loads of toppings and a highly seasoned plum tomato sauce. I really enjoyed the robustness and zing of this sauce, it’s a great counterpoint to the usual laid back tomato of most New York pizza sauces. 

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I loved the chunky sausage. It was perfect for the pie and totally reminded me of the sausage I ate on Chicago pies in November. It balances the dense crust in a way thin crumbly sausage cannot. But the crust was the real telltale sign that whoever is back there making these pizzas has done some serious Chicago pizza homework. The owners are a pair of brothers from the Windy City and they clearly have their pizza act together in a way I really respect.

The rest of the team agreed and the four of us took down an entire large pie. That’s not a big deal for a NY style pizza, but more than one slice of this stuff creates a seriously different experience. But as you can see from the photo above, people in New York just cannot be restrained by the tyranny of a knife and fork. I think all of us went for the open-face hand-hold method for at least a portion of each slice. 

This is the perfect place to hole up on a cold night. It’s tiny, so get there early. Deep dish pies take a while to bake, but there’s a good beer selection to keep you company. If you get annoyed at the 45 minutes it takes to make your pizza, just remember it’s wayyyy shorter than the flight to Chicago.

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