Saturday, May 10, 2008

The New York Pizza Question

I’ve said before that I’m a big fan of Bridges Brick Oven Pizza. But I’ve always been a little confused by their claim to be authentic New York style. The Bridges pizza just doesn’t jibe with my experience as a NY teenager who spent many afternoons at the local pizzeria after school with a Coke and a slice.

So on our recent trip to Brooklyn, we assigned ourselves the task to discover the truth about New York pizza. We started by setting our sights on two pizzerias considered by many sources to be among the best: Lucali’s and Grimaldi’s.

Both pizzas were excellent. And yes, it turns out that our own Bridges Brick Oven pizza is definitely in the same category as these: the fresh mozzarella, the thin crust slightly charred in spots from the brick oven, the toppings that move past the usual pepperoni or sausage. But none of these is the pizza of my memory, the pizza I always associated with “New York style”: thin crust with a puffy edge, topped with shredded mozzarella (and rarely anything else, certainly not artichokes or broccoli or chicken), and floppy enough to fold in half. And when you held it vertically from the crust, it would drip a significant amount of oil and the cheese would slide off.

Well, I was glad to discover this pizza does still exist. It’s sold by the slice by many pizzerias throughout the city, and we managed to sneak in a few slices for a quick lunch one day (yes, we ate a lot of pizza this trip). So I guess this means that New York style pizza has some significant variations. In the same way that there is more than one way to make Chicago deep dish pizza, there’s more than one kind of authentic NY pizza. And yes, these days it’s likely to be sporting a wider variety of toppings, some leaves of fresh basil, and the slices of fresh mozzarella instead of shredded, but the crust underneath is still thin, the edge still puffy, and it’s still best eaten right out of the pizza oven, with the cheese hot enough to burn the roof of your mouth.

I’d be interested in hearing what New Yorkers (current and former) consider to be the hallmarks of authentic New York style pizza. Comments, anyone?

First stop, Lucali's. That's their pie at the top, and here's the brick oven:

Next stop, Grimaldi's, right under the Brooklyn Bridge. They're famous for their coal-fired brick oven.


COD said...

I believe the thin pie with the puffy crust that you generally fold over to eat is often called Brooklyn style. If you are ever in Leesburg VA make sure you eat at Giovanni's. It as close to real NY pizza as I have had anywhere in the DC area.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I think the brick oven is more trendy and not the real New York style pizza. The thin pie, puffy crust that can be folded is the real thing. Whether you find it in Brooklyn, Bronx or on Long Island. You know it is the real thing and it taste the best when the oil drips out the fold. Yummy-- I am getting hungry.