I didn't usually encounter really crispy crust growing up, but I'm not saying it's wrong. He does a lot of things here I've never tried, but now I'm going to.
I had an Ooni, and after 5 or 6 meh attempts, I sold it. I also exited the r/ooni subreddit. I'm also out of love with the Neapolitan style baked at 700F+. Come at me.
I think a pizza steel preheated in a kitchen oven at 500F gives you a perfectly good pizza, and the fact that you can slide out the oven rack and use gravity to launch the pizza off the peel makes it a total win.
(On r/ooni, they advise turning the heat down or off when you actually launch. I'm going to try blowtorching my pizza steel to 700F, just to simulate this process. Stay tuned.)
I’ve eaten some fantastic artisan sourdough wonders here in London but nothing compares to being wasted as fuck and finding the one place that’s open at some ungodly hour after a heavy night of eating fuck all and getting your teeth into some greasy monster made of the worst possible ingredients.
What's drunk food in China, I wonder. Anyone?
If you look up "queso recipe" it often begins "take a pound of Velveeta."
Burrito has a lot smaller portion of meat then kebab because of the filling. It probably has fresh vegetables (great), beans (good), rice (ok). Sauces are less fatty too often being fresh hot salsas. Guacamole is good too.
Kebabs served in bread (doner, shawarma, gyros, shish) are grilled meat dripping in fat. The vegetables might be fresh but often are pickled and (usually mix of acid/salt pickles) making whole thing saltier. There are no fillers so you have more meat. Because of the meat fat proper kebab might not even use sauces but it often does and they are based around something very fatty too.
Kebab per weight is less balanced and less healthy than burrito.
Pizza is generally even worse its just thin bread with mountain of cheese and some tomatoes.
We can learn from our European brothers.
Broke, Single, Drunk, $1 Slices, Diarrhea, Regrets
Divorced, SVBed/FTXed, Weight gain Gym, Steak & Eggs, Productivity, Redemption Arc
Vested, Married, Primo Pizza, Carbs
That being said, the Chicago version is still better.
NYC pizza is a bad joke. As long as you're only paying $1 it's not that bad for the price. That price point and the places that offered it are going extinct unfortunately. The "slice" is dead.
Imagine having to fold your "pizza" because it's just a nasty mess of sauce and cheese.
Instead there’s this divide with crappy $1 joints (that are now a little more expensive) and good $4-5 slice joints that had to differentiate themselves. The workingman’s NY slice might not have long to live.
All that said, it sounds like maybe you’ve not had good NY pizza the way you’re describing it. The sauce and cheese should not be messy, it should be minimal. The fold is so you can walk down the street while eating it in one hand.
 Interstitial Cystitis + a lot of allergies
Have your books, watch your YT. Love the science behind the food aspect of it. My whole family does. I am proud to say my daughter, now in college, cooks a few nights a week because she grew up in a family that cooks. I have a challenge for you. In my 40s they figured out my heath issues turn out to be Celiacs. Fun. So do you think you could come up with a closes as possible recipe for NYC style pizza that is gluten free?
This place in Portland comes pretty close to getting it correct.
The Chinese food in Flushing or Sunset Park is incredible, for example.
I still haven't found anything that beats a Lou's pan pizza.
Keep going: the pies around central Jersey are a celebration of tomatoes. That said, not a New York slice (north shore included.)
Scott’s pizza tour ! (No affiliation.)
Coal-fired slices are rare, now. I tend to like a charred, crisp crust and simple toppings that can be bitten through. This is a city that cares about its pizza. We don’t run impostors out of town. But the pizza is great, and there is no single ideal. Buy it, fold it, and enjoy.
(Grimaldi’s and Joe’s. Di Fara and Lucali rub me like Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix, Arizona. Pizza isn’t a food for lines.)
I asked about a New York slice, which is a style of pizza that people rave on and on about, and has been cargo-culted across the U.S., but one I've never been particularly impressed with. Especially when compared to Chicago tavern style or deep dish.
They’re more New York than Naples.
> asked about a New York slice, which is a style of pizza that people rave on and on about, and has been cargo-culted across the U.S.
You’re being snotty about people trying to answer your questions.
Coal-fired pizza by the slice is a New York City invention. The crust is firmer than what’s served on the Gulf of Napoli, allowing it to be confidently held with one hand (folded).
> when compared to Chicago tavern style or deep dish
Try a New Jersey tomato pie. (They’re good.)
In my experience, a lot of Chicago pizza is more properly pie. Freshness of ingredients plays second fiddle to texture and presentation. That doesn’t mean it’s bad. But I want a crisp crust, not a bready one, and a slice, not a whole pie, and that’s an innovation of New York City.
(As others have mentioned, there is a definite atmosphere element to the experience. You don’t buy a slice to soberly cut up with a knife and fork for solo Wednesday weeknight dinner.)
There is a place near Midway called Palermo’s that I like.
Italian Fiesta is probably my favorite but the service is atrocious.
I don’t know even if the spots I picked are standouts. They just are the ones near where I am when it’s appropriate to eat pizza.
Unlike say Chicago bbq a topic on which I have opinions.
One of many bad habits I picked up from the locals in NYC. Working on it.
The pizza came on a typical aluminum pan, and you didn't get a plate for your slice. You would just put a napkin or two on the table. Messy but good!
The Cali Brothers Mill and Feed Store  was just around the corner on Stevens Creek. It had a drive-thru where you would drive inside the building to pick up your farm supplies. Different times!
Cali and Cicero's both mentioned in my book The Big Bucks.
For me, the pizza steel is also plenty good compared to the portable gas ovens. Some other tricks I use are adding diastatic malt powder to the dough, and par-baking the crust before adding the toppings, to let the middle get crisp.
When you par-bake, how long does it take you to then add the ingredients? Do you have to rush? Or is it better to take a few minutes, so the oven can re-heat itself?
My technique is to use a wooden pizza peel and liberally flour it before starting to form the dough-ball into a pie shape. I form the pie using my fists, so I have a chance to shake the extra flour off the crust before I start putting the sauce and toppings on it. I’ll also give the peel a good shake before I start saucing, just to make sure the dough isn’t sticking.
Doing all of the above, I haven’t accidentally turned a pizza into a ripped-up calzone for at least a few years.
Probably a good idea to stick with the hippie-looking brands / made in Western countries like If You Care, which use unbleached paper and silicone and presumably don't douse the paper in other chemicals.
The initial cook on the pan got the crust going, and so the oven time was mostly focused on the toppings.
I do so as quickly as I can, but of course it starts to cook the dough as I do; I've never seen that as a bad thing. If there's any holes where it stretched too thin, it holds it still allowing you to fix them too.
Someone got me a “super peel” which has a cloth gadget to drop the pizza. I wonder if it will work or incinerate.
(PS I am one of the people that matched your donation on twitter a few years ago. I miss you there but in retrospect leaving was a good idea.)
JT Costello's (more recently)
all served delicious crunchy thin crust with heavily spiced sauce cut thin and usually sent out covered in paper. Any bar that didnt serve frozen pizzas served a variation of this thin crust pie.
Notably, Gallina's Pizza and Lucca Pizza were both Neapolitan style.
How much in gas cost can making a couple of pizzas a week take?
Good to hear about your take on the Ooni—-I think I had started buying into the hype and was starting to eye one in next year or two. Your comment gave a nice reminder to work through some other approaches first.
After reading all that, I would notice that my kitchen oven pizza was excellent, while the Ooni had all sorts of issues.
We bought an ooni and I made probably 10-15 garbage pizzas. I read all the advice before, tried several recipes, tried metering the heat different ways and different rotation strategies. We returned it and I’m convinced now that it’s mostly hype. The pizzas never came out as good as the steel pizzas, and if you look at the pictures for the pizzas most people churn out, they’re overly burnt on top and the crust is barely done, even if you make it super windowpane to a ridiculous point.
I also tried naan, as a last-ditch attempt to save the Ooni. It was also lousy.
Didn’t know! We’d go there after little league and for Boy Scouts white elephant, the latter where, without exception, someone would pick a gorgeously-wrapped (once spray painted!) rock.
Pats in lake view has great cracker crust.
I’m looking to get a cast iron pizza pan but would love to know there’s a better option.
I turn the oven on as high as it goes and put the steel in and prep all the pizza toppings, then I switch the oven to the grill mode (or broiler in the US) then make the pizzas. It takes about 5 mins per pizza, so it’s a bit slower than the pizza oven but I can make the next pizza while the first is cooking so it’s fine.
My family say they prefer this to pizza made in the Ooni, I think they are both on par with each other but this is less hassle, cheaper than running the Ooni and less stressful because things don’t catch fire as fast.
Seriously, is it really supposedly that much better than my £15 cast iron 'stone'? (I put a lovely seasoning on it initially, but didn't look after it very well and it's all cracked and flaking off, so I need to start again really I think - I suppose it does save that maintenance work... but still, I could just buy a new one and start again several times for $120!)
edit: the issue is they only sell 'wholesale' quantities. 20' sticks, 4'x8' sheets
Personally the crust looks wrong. It's not a saltine, it's slightly thicker than that. There are pizza places that do that style, but try ordering the pizza from local Italian places and pizza spots that aren't "famous" (or for lack of a better way of saying it - trying too hard). That ultra crispy style is not the norm.
Giardiniera is definitely a modern innovation, though; growing up, I'd be surprised to see anything other than green peppers on a pizza.
Though I will debate you on the sausage location.
And even worse is that I am no historian and I'm probably wrong. But my direct experience contradicts a lot of the Chicago-washing of this article. For example Donato's in Columbus obviously made this style popular across the country far more than Chicago, and they weren't inspired by Vito & Nick's or something.
I bet someone right now is writing an article about how the pizza sandwich served at crappy pizza/bar places in the midwest was invented in Chicago too - even though it was probably independently invented in many locations.
We had to cut some bits from the article for length.
Chicago is the Big Apple of the Midwest so I guess they think everything originated from there. But I’m pretty sure tavern style either came from back east, or where I’m from along the Mississippi River.
Granted the non-paywall link hasn't loaded for me yet, so for all I know he claims the entire broad-country style was invented in Chicago. In which case, yes I agree with you.
The fortieth anniversary of his On Food is coming up in 2024.
Alton Brown is certainly another name I'd add to the mix. Good Eats was brilliant, and his I'm Only Here For The Food / More Food books are really good.
"I'm talking thinner-than-a-saltine thin, with a shatteringly crisp crackle and just enough structure to hold its own weight against a heavily seasoned sauce and a caramelized layer of mozzarella. It’s probably topped with hand-torn nubs of sausage, maybe a sprinkle of hot giardiniera. Forget the puffy, handlebarlike crust of a New York pie: Thin crust has sauce and cheese all the way to the edge — an edge that comes out extra crisp with a frizzle of nearly blackened cheese overhanging it."
It's a great side to beer, and a real treat I like to point out to visitors.
The photos in the article look just like normal pizza to me (maybe the topping looks a bit drier than usual).
EDIT: I don't see mozzarella on the photos. Not having it is not uncommon, for instance in France, but it's a must in an Italian restaraunt except for pizzas that don't have mozzarella by design e.g. marinara.
Bread flour instead of 00. Different crusts and shapes. Different cheese (dry instead of fresh mozzarella. Cow instead of Buffalo. Alternative cheeses like Wisconsin Brick cheese in Detroit style) and sauces.
I love a great Neapolitan or Roman style too. But I’m grateful for the distinct regional styles here and arguing about what’s better rather than what’s more authentic.
(also, Kenji is great!)
In short the upper middle class got tired ordering Pizza Hut and has co-opted the working class styles (New Haven, Detroit, tavern style, etc).
I'll put the thin crust of Home Run Inn up against any Chicago deep dish soup any day ... :)
I'm being intentionally provocative, but people really underestimate how many things need to work together to get GOOD pizza, even if you get the ingredients right--that's why I love articles like this from J. Kenji López-Alt.
I've made a handful...from when he originally repurposed the Jim Lahey recipe and then after when he abandoned that, I genuinely don't understand his popularity, somehow he has everyone convinced he is worth listening to.
Hey hey hey! waves hands in the air wildly
If it doesn't come from New Haven I ain't interested.
Besides, who wants to eat a saucy saltine. I like my gluten hydrated.
Seriously though, pizza science has such a weird intersection with computer-types. Why don't computer-types get all fired up about lasagna, or ice cream sundaes, or stir fry? Why only things like pizza, cast iron, and espresso?
There's stir fry enthusiasts though. Or at least wok users. You need wok hei and super hot burners, electric won't cut it etc...
I've also seen some intense breakdowns of pad Thai, like it wasn't a recent invention for tourism
(If they _were_ actually saying that Chicago thin crust is in fact better than New Haven thin crust, well then I don't need to try this pizza either to know that it's not. /s))
I'm from Chicago and I like deep dish, but these big thin slices are also good. It's obvious what the default is: when I was a kid "pizza" meant Giordano's or Eduardo's or Lou Malnati's or The Medici, or Unos or Dues, etc. Thin crust was called "thin crust." This article uses the same convention.
edit: I think there was an exception for Reggio's. Maybe we thought of it as "pizza" because it's so dense and advertised as a "butter crust."
Or because it's close to home and way more affordable? Also, while winter sucks, I'll take a Chicago summer over both those places every single year.
I grew up here as well. No one thinks deep dish immediately when talking about getting pizza. It feels more like a once or twice a year delicacy than anyone's go-to pizza.
(It would be this Chicago recipe, but if you live in Chicago you're never more than 20 minutes out from someone delivering a better version of it than you can make).
Edit - Wikipedia says that St Louis pizza crust doesn’t have yeast in it. Chicago thin crust definitely uses yeast.
Now that I think about it, it’s like a white, grainy, Velveeta. One of the biggest problems with a cracker-thin crust is that you need to eat twice as much (or more) to get full, and it’s not any cheaper, but Imo’s does lay strips of bacon across their Deluxe and I’m a basic bitch.
I've had Fox's, I've had a lot of Vito and Nicks (or Nick and Vitos, they listed in the phone book both ways), when really the best pizza is whatever is local and your parents bought you all the time as a kid. Which means Pinocchio's in Niles IL before it burned down the first time.