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New York Style Pizza, what makes it one?


Chris Cognac
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Thanks, Irwin, but I was asking about this:

The Dough was left to raise naturally in large Wooden Throughs some were about 3 feet wide by 2 1/2 feet high and as much as 20 feet long.

This used to bedone at the DiFarias in Coney Island and once the days dough was done they'd close. The Father was the closest i've ever met to a Pizza perfectionst he would only open and start serving when everything was up to his expectations. I never had a Pie from there that wasn't up to my expectations.

DiFarias in Coney Island is different from DiFara's on 15th St. off Av. J?

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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As a New York native( born in the Bronx, raised in Queens and Freeport, L.I.), recalling my favorite pizza from my youth(Green Acres Shopping Center in Valley Stream), I would say that the 3 main features of NY classic(from the 1960's) pizza are: medium(but not very)thin crust, lots of cheese, and a generous amount of oil on top(don't know if it was from the cheese or added).

I agree with Irwin that the very best pizza in the US now is in New Haven.

Roz

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Thanks, Irwin, but I was asking about this:
The Dough was left to raise naturally in large Wooden Throughs some were about 3 feet wide by 2 1/2 feet high and as much as 20 feet long.

This used to bedone at the DiFarias in Coney Island and once the days dough was done they'd close. The Father was the closest i've ever met to a Pizza perfectionst he would only open and start serving when everything was up to his expectations. I never had a Pie from there that wasn't up to my expectations.

DiFarias in Coney Island is different from DiFara's on 15th St. off Av. J?

Michael:

Please excuse me for my making a mistake. :wub:

I don't know how I managed to mix up two of the best Pizza's in NYC environs.

I mixed up DiFarias without thinking with Totonno's in Coney Island.

I haven't been to either place for several years personally. The closest I come is receiving reports from my daughter who eats at one of the three places [L&B] or a pie is brought home every time they visit Brooklyn. My son-in-law says that the Pizza isn't quite same any more from Totonno's when I spoke to them tonight.

When my daughter was married, they had the Wedding Dinner on one of the Boats from Sheepshead Bay and the Reharsal dinner was a gift from L&B Spumoni that was very special. They even made Baked Clams as a gesture to me because it's one of my favorites.

Irwin :wacko::unsure:

I don't say that I do. But don't let it get around that I don't.

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Irwin, you are a fabulous poster and have my blanket forgiveness for all typing errors you have made and will ever make. :biggrin:

I just wanted clarity and now have it.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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My experience in Naples is that you can get Pizza Margherita, that plus prosciutto, and sometimes that plus mushrooms (I guess prosciutto and mushrooms would be possible), and that's it. I don't think you could find a pizzeria in Naples where you could get a pizza that's half artichoke and onion and half sausage and mushroom - or for that matter, half anything. I don't see how a Neapolitan-style pizza could effectively be made with half topped one way and the other half another.

Actually, the "Quattro Stagione" is a fairly popular Neapolitan pizza nowadays and is divided into 4 sections with different toppings. Michael, you must have eaten in different pizzerie than I did, My crusts weren't flimsy nor were they overly sauced.

Steve,

Where in the oven is the coal fire. In Naples the wood fire is in the same oven iopening as the pizza itself. The smoke rises above the pizza and vents up a flue so the pizza is not smokey.

I think we can debate the merits of various pizzerie and methods of production, but the overwhelming attribute of NYC style pizza to me at least is the Neapolitan (i.e. roundthin crust) style pizza by the slice. Yes, this is different than the pizza in Naples, Italy, which I do think is the best in the world.

I used to love to get a slice from "The Original Ray's" on 6th Ave. and 11th St. back in the late 70's and early 80's. It hasn't been the same for quite a while.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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My experience in Naples is that you can get Pizza Margherita, that plus prosciutto, and sometimes that plus mushrooms (I guess prosciutto and mushrooms would be possible), and that's it. I don't think you could find a pizzeria in Naples where you could get a pizza that's half artichoke and onion and half sausage and mushroom - or for that matter, half anything. I don't see how a Neapolitan-style pizza could effectively be made with half topped one way and the other half another.

Actually, the "Quattro Stagione" is a fairly popular Neapolitan pizza nowadays and is divided into 4 sections with different toppings. Michael, you must have eaten in different pizzerie than I did, My crusts weren't flimsy nor were they overly sauced.

I take your point on Quattro Stagione, but you seem to have misinterpreted my comments as negative toward Neapolitan pizza. I do not think that Neapolitan pizza is oversauced! I do, however, think that the crust is too thin and soft and there is too much sauce on the pizza for it to be appropriate to eat it without a knife and fork. Have you tried eating Neapolitan pizza with your hands on the street? You made a mess, right?

For the record, the pizzerie I can remember eating at in Naples are Trianon and the Antica Pizzeria Ponte d'Alba. Trianon is (or was) the most famous pizzeria in Naples, as I understand, and the other one has more offerings (good salad, etc.), and is slightly more formal. I haven't eaten at dozens and dozens of pizzerie in Naples, so I'm no expert in that respect.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Michael, I do agree with it being sartorially advantageous to eat a true Neapolitan pizza with utensils and at a table:laugh: Another difference is that neapolitan pizzas tend to be for one person.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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John, good point about Neapolitan pizzas being for one person. And even so, if you're pretty hungry, it makes good sense to have a salad as well.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Where in the oven is the coal fire. In Naples the wood fire is in the same oven iopening as the pizza itself. The smoke rises above the pizza and vents up a flue so the pizza is not smokey.

It depends on the oven. At Patsy's in Harlem, the coal is in a fire box below the oven. At Pepe's in New Haven, the coal is in the same chamber as the pizza.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Fat Guy, are you saying that L & B Spumoni Gardens is better than DiFara's? That would be pretty amazing to me.

L&B doesn't rank all that high in the grand scheme of best pizzerias, but it ranks number 1 within the style it pursues. There isn't anyplace else making a square slice in quite the same way. So, if you want to taste it, you have to go there -- you can't get out of it by going to DiFara's and Patsy's and Sally's a million times each. Until you go to L&B, you haven't tasted that style of pizza. Thus, for those who are very interested in pizza taxonomy, there's no escape. It also happens to be quite tasty.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Forks and knives for NYC pizza?!?! (we are the people in the next booth over and yes we are laughing at you hillbillies).

Anyway - in college in upstate NY, where the pizza is gawd-awful, a friend of mine from Merrick came up with his three things to look for to know that you had a good chance of getting a decent slice in an unfamilar shop - they are:

A. There is a picture of the Virgin Mary (or maybe Jesus or St Francis) hanging somewhere with in 5 feet of the oven.

B. There should be someone with one of the following names somewhere in the shop at all times (doesn't matter if they are the pizza maker, the counterman, deleivery guy, or the loud ever present customer that can nurse a coke for hours while bitchin' about the Mets - they just gotta be there) Vito, Vinny, Tony, Mikey, or Leo.

C. There is enough oil on the slice that when excuting the pizza fold (New Yorkers know what this is, it's why we don't need utensils), a big dollop of oil will drop on your shoes.

Now my honest opinion, NY Pizza has a lot to do w/ both the yeast AND the water AND the oven heat.

Edited by MRX (log)
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I don't buy the water argument, or at least I'd need to see serious evidence before taking it seriously. The water in various parts of New York City is hardly uniform. In particular, I believe parts of Queens don't even draw from the Croton/Catskill/Delaware system. But also distance from the source makes a big difference in terms of additive and sediment levels. Likewise, the water in New Jersey, Long Island, and Connecticut is totally different and these areas have always made top-quality bagels and pizza.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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B. There should be someone with one of the following names somewhere in the shop at all times (doesn't matter if they are the pizza maker, the counterman, deleivery guy, or the loud ever present customer that can nurse a coke for hours while bitchin' about the Mets - they just gotta be there) Vito, Vinny, Tony, Mikey, or Leo.

Leo?!!? In a pizza place? No way. You must have meant Frank.

slkinsy's pizza looks nice, but it's not what I remember as classic NY pizza. It's too red, so either the cheese is underneath or there's simply not enough cheese. Also, there's too much crust on the circumference of that circle. The sauce needs to be spread out more. And I agree with everyone that the crust has to be crisp, and thin enough that you can flip the narrow triangular part of the slice over before you bite into it. And it won't be so cheesey that cheese will ooze out the sides when you take that bite.

And it should cost 20 cents a slice. Lemme get two, please. :raz: And a coke.

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Well, to my knowledge, most of the water in the tristate area is "soft" where as most of the US has "hard" water.

Most water in NYC is soft, and some water in NYC is moderately hard. I believe 3 grains/gallon of CaCO3 is the dividing line between soft and moderately hard, and NYC water ranges from 1 to 5 grains depending on whether it comes from Catskill/Delaware (1 grain/gallon) or Croton (5 grains/gallon). More importantly, though, I don't understand what it is about the water that's supposed to have such an outsize impact on the quality of bread, and if it really is such a big deal a water softening system should do the trick. I just find it very hard to believe that if you loaded up a tanker truck with New York water and took it to Nebraska that it would make the pizza there suck any less. Also New York water itself has changed quite a bit since the early days of pizza and bagels. It is now chock full of additives. It doesn't even taste the same as it did when I was a kid.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Frank is certainly there, but instead of Leo it would be Lenny, a more common New York Italian derivative of Leonardo and as it turns out a very common name of good pizzerie.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Good luck finding a significant number of Italian-operated pizzerias in New York City. There might be an Italian owner somewhere in the chain of command, but the Greeks took over much of the market long ago and today the people making and serving pizza in NYC today are often Hispanic.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I just find it very hard to believe that if you loaded up a tanker truck with New York water and took it to Nebraska that it would make the pizza there suck any less. Also New York water itself has changed quite a bit since the early days of pizza and bagels. It is now chock full of additives. It doesn't even taste the same as it did when I was a kid.

You don't think the taste of the pizzas and bagels have changed? I kind of do. And regarding the tank truck, I didn't say that the water is the only thing. There were two other factors, the Heat and the Yeast. All three must be in harmony.

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Good luck finding a significant number of Italian-operated pizzerias in New York City. There might be an Italian owner somewhere in the chain of command, but the Greeks took over much of the market long ago and today the people making and serving pizza in NYC today are often Hispanic.

We know this, but still, having Lenny around, even if he doesn't work there, makes it a bit better. Plus most of the greek pizza places will never make the list of great pizza in NYC, the great ones are still, for the most part, Italian.

Edited by MRX (log)
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Maybe. I'm pretty sure Nick Angelis and his extended family are Greek. I'd have to dig out the old Eric Asimov pizza family-tree article to check which of the current crop of best places are Italian owned and/or operated. Ultimately, it's training not ethnicity that matters.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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OK so let me put a list of things New York in a pizza that I can use.

1. Thin crust

2. Wood fire oven, coal fire maybe, gas no way

3. Buffalo is better

4. Sauce under, not on top of cheese

5. stick to the basic toppings, no thai chicken w peanut sauce

6. oil on top so it drips on shoes

7. must have "bubbles and burned spots" on crust

8. have to be able to "fold" a slice

Feel free to add to this!

Moo, Cluck, Oink.....they all taste good!

The Hungry Detective

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1. Thin crust

Check

2. Wood fire oven, coal fire maybe, gas no way

Coal is the most traditional and tends to be used at the best of the old-style places. Gas is the most common and in use almost everywhere else. Wood is extremely rare here (I can only think of a couple of places that use it) and not really part of any New York tradition.

3. Buffalo is better

Maybe, but it is almost never used in NY pizza-making.

4. Sauce under, not on top of cheese

Check, though not a big deal either way.

5. stick to the basic toppings, no thai chicken w peanut sauce

6. oil on top so it drips on shoes

7. must have "bubbles and burned spots" on crust

8. have to be able to "fold" a slice

Check x 4.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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We don't have many places with coal ovens..in fat I have never even seen one. They all seem to be wood....maybe its a west coast thing as we dont use coal for much of anything. Heck I dont think I have ever even seen a piece of coal before, only stuff from Kingsford that I use in the BBQ.

Moo, Cluck, Oink.....they all taste good!

The Hungry Detective

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Haha. Different kind of coal. The Kingsford stuff is charcoal, made from wood (plus borax, nitrate, lime, and other stuff). The coal used in pizza ovens is anthracite coal, a fossil fuel that comes out of mines (mostly in Pennsylvania).

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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