Tell me about great pizza
December 2, 2008 5:46 PM   Subscribe

Tell me all about your favorite pizzas/pizzerias.

I'm helping a friend come up with fresh ideas for his pizzeria. And what better way to find out how people eat pizza in other latitudes.

So, please, tell me about what is great or special about the pizzas you love or what makes you go back to your local pizzeria.

Don't limit yourself to toppings. I'm also interested in ways pizzerias serve the pizza, the shape of it, if they put anything to the bread/dough or what people put on top of it (dressings/sauces/etc).
posted by edmz to Food & Drink (44 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I think this place has the best business model of any pizzeria I've seen. Simply put: they only do takeout (no deliveries, no eat-in), and they have no ovens. You get your made-to-order pizza uncooked, and cook it when you get home.
posted by Class Goat at 5:55 PM on December 2, 2008

It's all about the dough and unusual topping combos. The best pizza I've ever had is from an organic, vegetarian bakery. Their dough is fresh and tastes well, like it came out of a bakery. Interesting combos include jalapeno pepper + pineapple, sweet potato + basil, simple roasted onion. They sell out every day.
posted by Menomena at 5:58 PM on December 2, 2008

I only order pizza from one place in town. They don't look at me funny when I ask for my pizza without cheese and they load it up with yummy veggies to compensate for the lack of cheese.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 5:58 PM on December 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

One of my favorite places nearby uses "New York-filtered water"; they bought a filtering system that produces water of the same quality as NY's muni source, which a lot of people credit for the crust of NY pizza. And Arizona water is truly terrible, so this helps a lot.

The quality of the ingredients is hugely important. Another place who makes stellar wings uses the original Franks Red Hot recipe, but makes sure the wings are never frozen and it shows--they don't have that nasty, anemic, crispness that some bad wings have. They're meaty, juicy and good.

The former place also has a really great brand strategy in place. They're called NYPD Pizza, and they have great artwork, from their locations to their emails, to their websites. And great pizza, which really helps. They cost a bit more, but the pizza's so good, I don't mind. So having a bit of a brand around it helps, too. And delicious pizza.
posted by disillusioned at 5:59 PM on December 2, 2008

At my local joint you transact your business through an inch of plexiglass bulletproofing. It's called "Al's" but we joke that it's short for "Ali's" because of the large impressive photo of the hajj on the wall and the fact that none of the toppings include pork. What really counts is that the pizza is good and it's just a short walk away.
posted by exogenous at 6:11 PM on December 2, 2008

Piz'za-za of Hull, Quebec; I had a "Petite Nation" pizza there over fifteen years ago and it (still on the menu) had pesto, peppers, chevre, and sunflower seeds, long before pesto and chevre were unremarkable toppings, and it blew my mind.

A ball of dough in the middle (in lieu of a plastic thingy) is a sign of good eats.

Pix of Ottawa pies.

Sometimes pizza is not about pesto and chevre, though, and I just want dough and tomato sauce and a massive pile of not-too-shabby cheese; I regularly return to a place where 'double cheese' means something, and it comes out nice and chewy and browned and so on. The worst pizzas are the ones where the other toppings were critical because the crust, sauce, and cheese were lousy.
posted by kmennie at 6:12 PM on December 2, 2008

Apizza Scholls. Best pizza I have ever had, hands down (and I'm from the East Coast). Also featured on Tony Bourdain's Travel Channel show No Reservations. It's pretty hardcore, though; dough is never frozen, is kneaded and mixed by hand, and they close every night when they run out of dough (which means closing in the early evening some days).

Neapolitan pizza is big here; I think it feels more "artisan" to people since the crusts are often not round and the cheese is not heavy. It also seems that it's easier to stand out with this style of pizza than in the traditional NY pizzeria flat floppy slice (which I also love).
posted by proj at 6:13 PM on December 2, 2008

This might be too cheap an idea for a restaurant, but when my daughter developed a sensitivity to yeast, I started making individual sized pizza for her on flour tortillas, and we both loved them. (Yes, I know there are yeast-free dough recipes, but this is faster than making my own crust.)

The bottom layer is 2 flour tortillas, with a small amount of sauce and cheese in between; just enough to make them stick together to provide a solid base for the rest. On top of that, a generous helping of sauce, cheese mixture (cheddar & parmesan), then thin pepperoni slices followed by a light sprinkle of garlic salt and italian herbs.

In my home oven, the key is to bake for about 10 minutes, then broil until the pepperoni is crispy, the cheese is bubbly, and the edges of the tortillas start to brown. Slice into fourths and serve.

Not sure how this would scale for a restaurant, but everyone I served it to seemed to love it.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 6:19 PM on December 2, 2008

Shakespeare's Pizza. Dough made fresh several times daily. Brick bottom ovens. We slice our own pepperoni. We got a restaurant on the Hill in STL to make our Italian Sausage. We are the largest Jameson account in the midwest.

Yes, I work there, but it really is the best I've ever had.
posted by schyler523 at 6:26 PM on December 2, 2008 [2 favorites]

Like the previous poster said, it really is all about the water.

And it's the dough that is the key to a good pizza, just like the bread makes or breaks a sandwich.

I point you to this article about Ray's Pizza in yesterday's NY Times.

If you go to a city like Philadelphia- where the tap water is foul- it's really noticeable in foods like pizza and bagels - or baked products. Sorry but it's true.
posted by Zambrano at 6:38 PM on December 2, 2008

I am from Connecticut, home to some of the best pizza in the US. I think definitely, thin crust is the way to go. Also, I agree with others, high quality ingredients.

I also think it is key to think about the ratio of ingredients to the crust. I just had pizza that had too much sauce, too much cheese, making the crust soggy.

I really love it when the bottom is crunchy.
posted by hazyspring at 6:38 PM on December 2, 2008

IMHO nothing beats a Philadelphia style pepperoni pizza...thin crust, just the right amount of cheese and oil so you fold the slice slightly length-wise and aim it at your mouth...the bottom cooked just right with the dry flour texture contrasting with the moist top. It doesn't matter if the service is polite as long as the pizza tastes as good as I just described.
posted by forthright at 6:39 PM on December 2, 2008

As others have said, the dough and other ingredients that go into a pizza will mostly determine how good it is.

One other tip is that non-pizza items like bread sticks, if done really well, can actually be more popular than pizza at a pizzeria. A nearby bar/pizza joint has really great beer nuggets, and Pokey Sticks are famous in college towns across the country.
posted by burnmp3s at 6:45 PM on December 2, 2008

my sweetie loathes tomatoes and tomato sauce, so we are on a continual quest for the best white pizza to be had. the worst are the sauceless pizzas. the best often involve some kind of garlic alfredo sauce.
posted by rmd1023 at 6:52 PM on December 2, 2008

Lombardi's Pizza, 32 Spring Street, NYC, is the best I've ever had. The clam pizza is divine. I believe it's wood-fired.
posted by jgirl at 7:11 PM on December 2, 2008

When I have too many tomatoes, I make pizza sauce, using the recipe from The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving": tomato puree, lemon juice, oregano, pepper, salt, garlic powder (or some Penzey's pizza seasoning instead of those spices). I can the sauce and feast on it throughout the year. What makes this sauce so tasty is the fresh aroma and the lack of sweetness; I find most commercially-made sauces far too sugary for my taste. And when my husband makes quick mozzarella, we feast. A little basil on top and we have the perfect pizza.

I also make my own dough. Nothing special. Make in advance and freeze it, pull it out the morning before I want pizza for dinner. My non-bread-making friends are fascinated by dough and love seeing the shaping of the crust. So the visual element might be something to consider.

The crust dough also doubles as bread stick dough. Roll out, cut with pizza wheel, sprinkle and bake, then serve with warm pizza sauce or melted butter. Mmmmm.

I'm coming around to Peter Reinhart's bread builds and find that his advice to let dough sit overnight really does work. The flavor is just much better than I get with same-day make-and-bake.

Bread should be fun, and pizza even more so. Good luck to your friend!
posted by MonkeyToes at 7:26 PM on December 2, 2008

haha, Connecticut is also home to some of the worst pizza in the world! Although I am from NJ originally, so nothing but thin crust full Italian NY style appeals to me. I have issues with round pizza being cut into squares. It's illogical!

Anyway, my favorite pizza ever is a potato pie, which has:
sour cream mixture (I'm not sure if it's straight up sour cream or if they add anything here)
sliced potatoes
cheese (cheddar/mozz blend of some sort)

Another pizza I loved in NJ as a kid, but have never found again, was a dessert pizza. It had:
dough (perhaps sweet, I am not sure)
chocolate cream cheese mixture
cherry pie filling (I think you could get other flavors)
chocolate shavings
posted by smalls at 7:29 PM on December 2, 2008

What about a weekly dessert pizza? I've never had this, but it could be great.
Make a short crust (kind of a halfway between pizza & pie dough, then top it with rich, sweet ingredients, bake it to set the crust, then broil it until caramelizes:

Ingredient combos that would rock:
Brie, honey, apricot, & candied pecans
Thin slices of watermelon, a teeny bit of crumbled feta, & julienned mint leaves
Strawberry & nutella on a cocoa crust with walnuts
Peaches, brown sugar, and mini marshmallows with crushed almond cookies
Baked apple slices, caramel, chopped nuts, cinnamon
Crushed Skor bars & vanilla custard
Peanut butter, nutella, banana slices, and Oreo crumbs on top
Pineapple, mango (well-broiled to caramelize), with toasted almonds and creme fraiche
Banana slices & custard, sprinkled with rum & brown sugar then blowtorched to brulee the sugar
Dark chocolate ganache, dried cherries, & meringue bits
etc, etc., I'm making myself drool. Think of a creperie, but on thin buttery crust instead.
Ha ha, you could call it... a Sweetza!

For savoury pizzas, here is a list of my favourite pizza tropes (and, just in case you pass through, the names of the Toronto pizzerias who introduced me to 'em):

Bruschetta-marinated diced tomatoes as a topping (Amato)
White pizza with cream sauce, rosemary, and sliced potato as a topping (Amato)
Slightly dried-out pizza with uniformly crispy crust (Amato pizza is better by the slice than for delivery- the cooked pizza sits in an unheated display case and is warmed in a stone oven before being sold, which gives it a toothsome, slightly chewy/leathery texture that's amazing- I find that chain's delivery pizza too soggy)
Good condiments easily accessible for take-out slices (olive oil, garlic powder, chile flakes, oregano, parmesan, pesto, etc)
Oily, salty pesto applied with a brush after the pizza is cooked, oh my god (Massimo's)
Thin whole-wheat crust (Pizza Pizza)
Creamy garlic dipping sauce in little plastic tubs, for an extra $0.50 (Pizza Pizza)
Crumble bacon or sausage, as opposed to diced sausage or sliced strips of bacon (Pizza Hut)
Italia pop available (ie, Brio, Chinotto, Limonata, Aranciata, Orangina)
Pizzas get clever names: One place I visited once named theirs after Italian or Italian-American movie stars (DeNiro, Brando, Sofia, etc)
Good calzones & veal sandwiches.

This last point is nitpicky, I guess, but since you asked, here's a pizzeria peeve of mine:
Pizza toppings are frequently, for some reason, listed in what I think is the wrong order. Usually it's something like,
"tomato sauce, mozzerella, spinach, chicken".
I think it should be "chicken, spinach, mozzarella, sauce".
That the most strongly-flavoured, protein-rich, or otherwise noteworthy ingredient should be listed first. I hate scanning a list of 12 pizzas that all begin with "tomato sauce & cheese". It's annoying to try & figure out "what kind of pizza" each one is when the noteworthy ingredients are hidden mid-list. We call it "pepperoni pizza" for a reason- the protein topping is the noteworthy one, after which the standard cheese & sauce are implied.

Good lord, look how long that was. I am an obsessive little bunny.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 7:35 PM on December 2, 2008 [3 favorites]

Other places probably do this, but BeauJo's ("Colorado Mountain Pies") are made with a very thick doughy (wheat?) crust on the outer rim of the pizza, and the restaurant provides squeeze-bottles of honey on each table that you can drizzle over your leftover hunks of crust. I liked it.
posted by mattbucher at 7:39 PM on December 2, 2008

Good specials! Two of my favorites in town run some badass specials.
One has (had, actually) a great "happy-hour" from 4-6pm. Big slice of their gourmet combos and a microbrew for 7 bucks.
The other place has two for one slices on Sundays, with cheap beer and Bloody Mary specials.
posted by piedmont at 7:43 PM on December 2, 2008

The wood-fired pizzeria here has a pizza that I love. Spaghetti & meatball topped pizza. The pasta gets a little dried out on the edges, but it's still yummy. I'd link to them, but the owner doesn't believe in the internet.
posted by saffry at 7:47 PM on December 2, 2008

My local pizza place has brick walls that patrons are encouraged to write on. The messages people leave are typically like those left on trees, but it's a cool idea and it brings people there (and back in the future).

There are thousands of messages in the brick
posted by bradly at 8:05 PM on December 2, 2008

Dude, I wonder if that guy who likes the "cook it yourself" pizza has ever tasted a good pizza. Seriously, I'm not trying to be a dick. That just sounds like such a horrendous idea to me that I can't imagine how it could seem good. The only explanation I can come up with is that he's never had really delicious pizza and honestly that just bums me out. Baking a top-notch pizza at home with normal equipment is very difficult. In my experience, you have a high probability of doing permanent damage to your oven. Or grill. Or both.

My favorite pizza place, coincidentally, is also the best pizza place there is: Di Fara. What they do at Di Fara is simple: a magical old genius sloooowly puts your pizza together, bakes it, puts it on a counter, and calls out your name. I have seen this pizza reduce adults to tears. I've been told I have a tendency to exaggerate but this is the truth. Tears. It is actually more like going to communion than going out for pizza, and it takes just about as long.

Having crazy toppings on a pizza...that's a sign of a deep, deep flaw in the pizza. Its kind of like those dudes named "mysterio" or whatever that are into the "seduction" scene, or girls that wear so much makeup you can measure its thickness with a ruler: you can pile as much BBQ chicken as you want on there but you're just gilding the turd at the end of the day. Pizza is one of those things like pasta or tacos: the staple grain is the thing, the toppings are the backup singers. Think of it less like making a savory casserole and more like baking a big round loaf of bread. When your crust is so delicious that you start thinking, "man, if we put toppings on this, we might ruin it" then its a good time to start worrying about toppings. Hell, if I'm not mistaken, that guy who wrote that pizza book (Peter Reinhardt maybe?) found out that his favorite naples pizza place used food service topping ingredients. NAPLES! The man traveled the WORLD eating pizza and in the pizza world's own Kaaba he found food service mozz.

My theory is that if you make pizza this good, nothing else matters. I'm previewing now and looking at some of the other answers. Lombardi's (which I believe actually uses a coal-fired oven rather than wood) used to be a hole in the wall till a few years ago. Di Fara's looks pretty dumpy and has glacial service, and has little to recommend it beyond the pies. The famed New Haven joints people are repping above (the apizza powerhouses) are all dumps with frequently rough service. Everything follows from crust. If you get that right, you can make a million mistakes and out-of-towners will get off the freeway to try your pizza cause their friend's college roommate talked about it in his sleep ten years ago.

For the record, I'm slightly skeptical about the water thing with NYC pizza. New Yorkers love to brag about their water, but...a lot of times the water here is pretty gross, and its really inconsistent from place to place, which makes it hard to believe there's one magical "New York Water". Some blocks are too chlorinated or aerated, and the water has a kind of a sour taste that makes me think its really acidic, but that could be an effect of the slight carbonated taste. Basically all the water here tastes like it has lemon in it. I can hear my tap water fizz after I pour it into the glass. It's all at least reasonably tasty though which is more than I can say for a lot of local water supplies. Maybe foamy acid water is good for bread?

posted by jeb at 8:21 PM on December 2, 2008

my favorite pizza from a restaurant had some type of white sauce (alfredo maybe?) with chicken, tomatoes, artichokes and possibly other toppings with special cheese on top.

I am also a fan of dessert pizzas.
posted by silkygreenbelly at 8:26 PM on December 2, 2008

Also, I love it when pizzerias allow you to substitute toppings and or come up with your own combination.
posted by silkygreenbelly at 8:27 PM on December 2, 2008

My new favorite is in my neighborhood - it's called Onesto. As my wife says, it's the platonic idea of pizza. Not cracker-thin crust like "st. louis style" (I love it, but it throws people off), the crust is chewy, slightly crunchy, and despite being made of an organic whole-wheat flour tastes like a good French loaf, with butter and a hint of garlic. The toppings are straightforward - organic mozz cheese, tomato puree, etc. They serve oregano, basil, and parmesan on the side for sprinkling on top.

I think having really good, and really obviously high-quality ingredients is what makes it. That, and a bunch of local micro brews on tap.

(and definitely, props to Shakespeare's, mentioned above. It almost died when new owners mis-managed all the good workers away, but I hear it's back *proper*.)
posted by notsnot at 8:28 PM on December 2, 2008

For all I know, it might be the Domino's of France, but I really loved the topping combinations of Speed Rabbit Pizza. If your friend makes a curry pizza with chicken and potatoes, I am *so* there.

Locally, I really like the pizza from Cheeseboard (Berkeley) & Arizmendi Bakery (SF) because they have always have a different Pizza of the Day.

With regard to pizzerias in general, I think a good crust is really important, as well as an affordable price. Pizza can be surprisingly expensive, and I hate that.
posted by cucumberfresh at 8:34 PM on December 2, 2008

Pay attention to the ovens and to making sure they're consistent and very hot. Aside from the water theory, one thing that makes New York pizza very good (the best, along with some choice spots in NJ) is that most of the ovens are old. They're deeply seasoned and have been in use a long time. They work well. Good pizza requires a really high baking temperature, 500 or so if not a bit higher, so you can get that instant crackerlike crust that should be flaky/powdery on the bottom, with large bubbles on the outer ring of crust from rapidly risen yeast reacting to the very hot oven, and cheese that is softened and melting but just beginning to bubble and never tough or blackened. The cooking surface needs to be very well oiled or seasoned and hot hot hot; the oven has to recover quickly from the door's opening, and the ceiling has to be high enough not to scorch the top of the pizza.

A perfect margherita is the standard by which to judge a pizzeria. The basic tomato sauce and cheese would be second. If you do your basics delectably, then you can offer almost any other combination of toppings and be assured that the resulting pie will be good.

A word on sausage: Italian sausage is good on pizza, but quality matters. Choose a sausage you would eat all by itself, something succulent and pork-y and well spiced. And shape matters too. It freaks me out to find those obling, horizontal slices of 'sausage' on my pie. I don't know what that stuff is. I do know I've never seen it in any Italian butcher shop or salumeria. IT's no good. Instead, use the crumbled chunks of real, good-quality hot Italian pork sausage if you're going to offer a sausage topping.

My favorite pizza sauces include some nice juicy chunks of tomato that didn't get completely pureed.
posted by Miko at 8:35 PM on December 2, 2008

Interesting question. My favorite kind of pizzeria is the kind that serves the classic Brooklyn slice. I can't describe it really, but there's no mistaking it. I don't like any kind of unconventional toppings. When I go to a place that has weird toppings, I always assume that they can't make a decent slice so they are desperate to do something novel. I don't go for novelty. If they don't have the right crust, cheese, and sauce, then the pizzeria fails. Another thing that is important is balance of ingredients. Too doughy is bad, and so too is excessive cheesiness. Nothing is worse than a doughy slice that is oozing cheese. Also, extra points for pictures of famous Italians on the walls. One footnote, I've never had a decent slice of pizza in the Boston area. It all tastes like pita bread with ketchup and feta cheese. Disgusting.
posted by sswiller at 8:45 PM on December 2, 2008

Patsy's Pizza, at 118th and 1st in NYC. It's a fabulous place.

This website details the type of pizza (in extreme detail!) but also has an extensive list of great pizza places in NYC. Might be worth a look.
posted by firei at 8:58 PM on December 2, 2008

I make a lot of pizza at home, using homemade dough. My favorite topping combination consists of caramelized onions, gorgonzola and bacon - no sauce, just a light drizzle of olive oil. If you make pizza at home, try to make your own dough - it's really easy and makes your pizza much better than if you bought a package mix.

However, I had never really had amazing pizza until my boyfriend found this tiny dive hole-in-the-wall place in Lorton, Va. called Astoria Pizza. This place is an absolute dump, but their cheese pizza is absolutely to die for. Thin crust base, good quality cheese, light on the sauce. We travel many miles to Lorton for this pizza.

For me, the mark of a good pizza is how good it tastes with just the cheese. If your pizza tastes amazing with just cheese, it's an amazing piece of pizza. If you have to junk it up with pepperoni or red pepper flakes or whatever to make it taste good, then it's not a good piece of pizza.
posted by kerning at 9:14 PM on December 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

There are a couple of places in Melbourne (Mr Wolf in St Kilda springs to mind) that do gluten-free pizzas (they also do the real thing).

Pizza was the hardest thing to give up when I went wheat-free and so getting a gluten free pizza is like all my birthdays coming at once (and no they're not as good as the real thing, but when there are no other options...).
posted by prettypretty at 9:29 PM on December 2, 2008

La Val's in Berkeley. There are other pizzerias too in the near vicinity (well, duh, it's Cal), but that one I frequent fairly often. They have a great variety of pizza toppings, I love their thin crust, and that is also where I tasted my first "authentic" pizza (real Italian pizza, according to my brother who's been to Italy, don't have tomato sauce at all).
posted by curagea at 9:30 PM on December 2, 2008

What keeps me coming back? Consistently good pies and friendly service. Not too complicated.

My favorite pizza places are Two Boots on Ave A [Manhattan, that is] because of their slightly spicy sauce and a place called Renato's in Ridgewood, New Jersey.

The best pies are simple- tasty crust that crunches when you bite it but needs to be tugged hard to pull apart, a rich tomato sauce [I prefer mine rustic, with lots of tomato chunks and garlic], and good-quality mozzarella cheese. Top it off with some fresh herbs and you've got a winner.

Toppings are overrated!
posted by rachaelfaith at 9:49 PM on December 2, 2008

An oven with _high_ heat. Please don't make that soggy, gummy, undercooked crap that passes for pizza in 95% of this country.

However, that said, what I want in a pizza joint (as opposed to the pizza itself, which I think the previous posters have mostly covered):

It needs to look and feel local. Lowish ceilings, acoustic tile, or florescent type lights.
Plain walls with pictures of the sponsored Little League team (and some Perillo Tour posters, heh.)
Completely cheesy decor, straw-wrapped wine-bottles and those red plastic cups. A shelf of dusty trophies from the glory days of the Softball/Bowling team in the 80s.
A couple of arcade games you can play while waiting for your order (Ms. Pacman/Galaga combo machine for extra points).
Some teenagers running the counter, with a few slightly older kids cooking the pies.
Kind of the hole in the wall/hidden gem kind of feel.
Mostly pickup/delivery business with limited tables(10, 15?) if you just want to stop by on the way home. No 40 table monstrosities.

So, basically, I'm described the pizza joints of my youth in New York, but the key is it doesn't feel "created" or like some restaurant designers idea of what a pizzeria should be.
I don't want pizza with cutesy names, I don't want big microbrew tanks, I don't want chicken wings or brownies.
I just want a simple shop that does above average (it doesn't even have to be "the best pizza you ever had" every time), just consistently good pizza

Bonus points if you open this place near me, since the pizza hellhole that I'm in now could desperately use salvation.
posted by madajb at 10:51 PM on December 2, 2008

1) crust!
1a) Rocky Rococco's: a chain, but delicious doughy deep crust under a sweet tomato sauce!
1b) Sicilia's (Boston, MA): Imagine a thick slice of pizza, with crust on the bottom, and crust on top (with a thin cover of tomato sauce and maybe some topping). Most of the topping, sauce, and cheese, goes between those two layers.
2) dessert! Dessert pizzas are AWESOME. The Brazilians can teach you: cinnamon with banana, guava paste with white cheese, chocolate pudding-y (brigadeiro) ... !
3) rodizio! Again, the Brazilian's got it right. This is not just a pizza buffet this is beach boys coming around with a big pizza and whisky scissors and offering you one of any of the toppings on the menu. The thin crust and light cheese mean you can eat a pizza or 3/2 of one before feeling it. Special requests on toppings can be made, but you have to wait for them to cook.
posted by whatzit at 11:17 PM on December 2, 2008

other have said wood fire is the way to go and i agree.

also: pesto.
posted by Glibpaxman at 1:19 AM on December 3, 2008

This one, cheap but arguably great, pizza joint here makes a garlic ranch pizza. They mix ranch dressing and garlic sauce, add some mozzarella and bam! It's their most popular pizza. No meat, though.
posted by 913 at 1:24 AM on December 3, 2008

I always enjoyed a large Hottentot at Pappa's in Dunedin though I haven't been there in quite some time...
posted by fairmettle at 4:37 AM on December 3, 2008

A local pizza place serves "potato pizza" which features a regular pizza crust (i.e., regular ol' dough) with mashed potatoes, green onions, bacon and cheese on top. No tomato sauce. It's served with a small dish of sour cream for dipping. SO GOOD. Yes, it does put you into a carb coma afterward, but it's worth it...
posted by VioletU at 6:48 AM on December 3, 2008

Bells and whistles don't make great pizza. Toppings are irrelevant (CPK has plenty of original toppings and they suck and can make the pizza mushy with their accursed moisture). Pizza is all about the crust and the sauce, and the oven they're put into.

I like the raised dough pizzas that are worked with cornmeal (with unchlorinated water since chlorine wrecks the taste and yeast development). This dough is used for deep dish pizzas but can also become hand-tossed. This dough takes a day to raise but it's WAY worth it. These doughs do best in large commercial ovens that get HOT.

It seems to me that the older the oven, the better the pizza tastes. This is the "Uno's lesson." Uno's in Chicago is great. Uno's from chain stores with new ovens is not great.

Cracker crusts, which are unleavened and usually done in a wood stove, are good too. Lots of Italian places do this, often in places that have a wood stove for baking.

Tomato sauce is fresh tomatoes with a few ingredients: garlic, basil, marjoram (yes you can tell if it's not there), sometimes olive oil and some salt. That's it. For deep dish the pizza goes on top of any toppings and cheese, to keep the pizza crispy.

Yes I care a lot about pizza. Too much really.

Simple ingredients, but if they're high-quality and the dough is treated is magic.
posted by answergrape at 7:35 AM on December 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'm from New Haven so I'll chime in. Come here, go to Modern or Sally's or Pepe's, have the white clam pizza. Enjoy.

People don't go to pizza joints for the ambience or the service, they go for the pizza. Get that locked down and the rest will fall into place.

(I'm still shuddering about the comment above about the ranch dressing.)
posted by reptile at 8:33 AM on December 3, 2008

I love John's Pizza in NYC. Though they've gotten a bit inconsistent, their major appeal seems to be the thin crust that's served just a little bit burnt. Otherwise, I imagine it's all about top-flight sauce and a flavor balance honed by time.
posted by Doctor Suarez at 8:34 AM on December 3, 2008

Pizza by the meter: Pizza a Metro. I have only been to the original in Sorrento (a long time ago), but it looks like the owner has moved to the States and replicated the concept in Phoenix.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 8:44 AM on December 3, 2008

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