Tag Archives: Pizza

I8tonite: A New York Pizza Experience

Pepperoni Pizza

On a recent work trip to the Big Apple, I found myself working voraciously from one area of the boroughs to another, with only an opportunity to grab a quick slice of pizza for lunch, before hailing an Uber (Who takes cabs?) or jumping on the subway, repeating this action until dinner. I did this for five days. By the end of the trip, exhausted and not feeling well plus I felt bloated from the amounts of consumed dairy and wheat. (Yes. I  realized that milk products including trace amounts of butter and I are no longer friends.)

With this said, the trip provided me a rewarding experience that only Lactaid can cure the next time I venture forth with so much mozzarella. And, although, the New York slice, the version that you dab with a napkin to relieve of extra grease, rolling-up like a New York Times straphanger, is becoming extinct like said transit-rider, it still is served deliciously — and for me, gratefully.

On Quora – the internet answer for everything — someone tried to figure out the number of shops, reckoning it’s anywhere from 3200 to 32500.  Suffice it to say it’s a broad number. They even try and figure out how many per day a pizzaiolo must toss, bake and sell (about 50) to stay in business.

Whatever the case and take this with a grain of well-tossed salt hidden in the folds of rising dough, here are my selections for a few grand pizzas – in today’s Manhattan.

Prince Street Pizza

Formerly known as Ray’s when I lived was a poor New York student in the eighties, I would stumble by for a pepperoni slice after nightclubbing, something to soak up the alcohol. Purchased a decade ago, the existing owners kept the place alive and very much a Soho tradition. Instead of the fold-and-go variety of pies, they execute a Sicilian square loaded with small circles of spicy pepperoni. When baked onto one of the gooey delicacies, they become mini-cups of flavor, holding liquid fat, ready to drip down your chin or shirt. There are only a line and a counter so may do like a New Yorker and eat while walking.

27 Prince Street (between Elizabeth and Mott Streets)

(212) 966 – 4100

Princestreetpizza.com

Farinella

Days of cheese and pepperoni

 I came by the Romanesque pizza shop after Uber hightailing from a meeting in Brooklyn to Lexington and 78th only to be thirty minutes early. Rarely do opportunities arise with time on your side, so I sought out a quick place to eat and came across Farinella Pizza and Bakery.  Here the pies are elongated rather than round and the dough stretched rather than tossed. Regardless, it’s really delicious with a crispy under-carriage while it grips onto the selected toppings. The margherita is divine Italian simplicity at it’s best.

1132 Lexington Avenue (between 78th and 79th Streets)

New York, New York, 10075

(212) 327 – 2702

Champion’s

Pepperoni Pizza

Who knew that pizza – an import foodstuff brought over by Italian immigrants – could be so delicious in the hands of a Turk? Hakki Akdeniz worked for many years making $300 per week to learn the tasks of pizzaiolo trade. The outcome is a true slice of New York pizza. Folded in half, paper plate underneath – and a walk to the subway – or hanging out at one of the few tables. Eating the chewy dough and cheese with just that right amount of giving made me feel like all is right with the world – that Andy Warhol, Deelite and Nell’s where still around.

17 Cleveland Place, New York, New York

The end. Go eat.

(P.S. Apologies for the long space between posts. Life happens.)

A Grown-Up Pizza Party

I’m a little late to my first post of 2015. I actually caught up a couple of weeks ago but now I’m slagging behind. Two posts per week was way too demanding so I brought it down to one per week. That’s 52 entries per year. Geez….it’s a damn publishing house.

My friends keep saying what a great idea it was to have a pizza party for the holidays. The idea,  which incorporated 3 agendas: a housewarming, a birthday and a holiday, came across my mind because of a friend’s invitation to her 4th Annual Cookie exchange celebrating Hanukkah/ Christmas. As we know, even though you say to people you don’t need anything; inevitably and good-naturedly, guests will bring something. By having a themed event where it was around a particular food  guests could ….bake, buy or have their food delivered….it allowed partygoers to participate inexpensively in your new found home, birthday and holidays.

I’ve decided that a party is a very hard thing to have as an adult. We want them to be fun and full of conversation but we don’t want them to be drunken revelries or a rehash of our youth. We want our friends and family to meet and enjoy each other but without the sex in our parents bedroom or additional alcoholic inappropriateness which we used to think was charming when living in the East Village at the age of 21(or at least I did). No drugs just  fancy (and expensive) beers, wines and of course, a house drink. (In this case, Nick had his own “Cosmopolitan” recipe.) We want music but we don’t want it too loud so it drowns out the conversation and inevitably, no matter what you do, people still congregate in the kitchen or around the booze, even though the rest of the house is empty. There, of course, are the no-shows but then the tried and true stumble up the front porch, excited to be sharing your new life bringing, in this case, pizza.

And what pizza we had!  I believe that the pies were arguably some of LA’s best joints such as Hollywood Pies (Chicago deep-dish), Prime Pizza, Stella Barra, Pizzeria Mozza, Mulberry Street, Wolfgang Puck, Big Mama’s Pizza, and Vicolo (a frozen cornmeal crust, made out of San Francisco and associated to the legendary Hayes Grill). A few of my culinary friends even made their pizza such as Mark, who made a “flammchuken”  and Mary who made her own freshly made Arugula and Prosciutto Pizza with homemade dough. The pizza that we ate that night showcased some of the best food in the Los Angeles/West Hollywood/ Hollywood/ Pico-Robertson area. (Pasadena, Burbank, Glendale, The Valley….different areas, so don’t get your underwear in a bunch.) Each pizza was a standout.

Vicolo was a bit of a surprise when Donna pulled it out of a bag. It’s probably my favorite grocery store pizza. Living in San Francisco, I discovered Vicolo at my favorite grocery store, Falletti’s Foods on Broderick. It’s this buttery, cornmeal crust pizza found in a grocer’s aisle; not frozen but freshly shrink-wrapped. It has the honor to be associated to Patty Untermann, a former restaurant critic at the defunct San Francisco Examiner. (Untermann also owns the legendary Hayes Street Grill, a 35 year old Bay Area seafood icon , a great place to go before or after attending a concert at Davies Symphony Hall, a block away. )

My friend Shelley invited me to dinner with Kathy and Jeff when Stella Barra first opened. I got to meet the very young but accomplished Chef/ Owner Jeff Mahin, who talked to the table about his process of dough-making. Pizzeria Mozza, I attended the friends and family dinner and met Nancy a couple of times.

I could go on about my past experiences with some of these pizzas but it’s a new year and a new life. I now can look upon these gifts of food with new eyes and thoughts. Some people think of music with fond memories and food can bring up the same sense of personal history. If you’re in the Los Angeles area, you should stop and try at least one of these places.

Next year, I’m thinking Chinese food. Happy 2015!