I took a mini New Haven ish trip yesterday. Wanted to hit three places, got to two. I wanted to hit ZUPPARDI'S, COLONY GRILL AND ROSELAND APPIZA. Couldn't make it to Roseland. I really wanted to see if it was as good as people say....as well as IF they really charged as much as I read about....but someother time I guess.
If you read up on Slice, ZUPPARDI'S is a NON wooster street pizzeria, one that DOESN'T have a coal oven, put has been listed as the best place in CT several times. I've been to Pepe's, Sally's, and Modern....with modern my fav, but NONE of the three are places I am in love with.
Zuppardi's uses 4 ft Bakers Bride gas ovens. I've only worked with 6 footers, so I guess they are 120,000 BTU units also. Zuppardi's is best known for two pies...the fresh, shucked TO ORDER, clam pie....and their sausage pie, with the sausage made in house.
For being a place started in the 30's, it was cleaner and a tiny bit more modern than I thought it would be. The place was empty when we got there, a little past 2 inthe afternoon. Since the guy I was with didn't want clams, we got a largre sausage pizza. Before describing it and asking my usual questions, I gotta tell you....I WAS THE SINGLE BEST PIZZA I HAVE EVER EATEN.
SIZE: 18". Not quite round, which is totally NH.
CRUST. INCREDIBLE. Unbelieveable. Stupendous. For me. I know that others here would think that, but for me, heaven. It was GB (I know Scott hates this) BUT, with plenty of char, in spots....the way I like it. Not the whole rim, but some big bubbles were charred perfectly. They use semolina to coat their peel before placing on the skin. Im not a big semolina fan, but it worked. This crust, TASTED, SMELLED, AND LOOKED like old fashioned italian peasant bread...it even had the small cracks in parts of the crust, just like ciabatta or pugliese cracks as it cools!! The slice could be picked up and it stood straight, no drooping until at least half the pie was finished. It had incredible texture, flavor, crispy but then chewy....just like Italian bread.
Now, last evening, the crust was totally soft, soggy..I WAS a bit dissappointed in that, but I mention it because it may give a clue on fermentation. The crust was thin, but thicker than other NH style places.....typically, a 21-24oz ball will get you an 18 inch pizza, from the looks, I think it may have been 26-27 oz....though that seems a lot....
I tried to looks for empty flour bags, but I couldn't see any...my guess, a bread flour simply because, as scott and Chau have pointed out, as well as Lehmann, the crust was chewy as heck the next day.
But, the crust was SO different, could I have POSSIBLY have eaten a warm fermentation, same day dough?? Id be SHOCKED, but is was so different.......flavor was there, so MAYBE a preferment....but then again..this place has been around for nearly a century....old ways of doing things, preferment seems out of place.....don't know.
SAUCE. Im a big, huge sauce fan, and the sauce was tasty...just not alot of it, which was a dissappointment.
CHEESE. Whole milk, low moisture dry mozz, shredded...and a heavy hand....which would normally turn me off, since I am not a mozz fan, and I prefer fresh mozz loaf. But this mooz was very, very tasty. Knowing NH places, it probably was Calabro, a local cheese maker, but it didn't taste like it. Again, it was very good mooz.
SAUSAGE. Very, very good.....great actually. Made in house, I tasted pork, salt and fennel, just as it should be. But it was saltier than mine, and I realize that its a good thing. And the way they placed in on the pie is right down my ally. LARGE chunks.... not itty bitty pieces, because the pizza maker is afraid of it being raw. And it wasn't perfectly placed on each pie, it was scattered, some pieces getting more mooz than others....Its a rule, in the biz, that every slice should be the same...but I don't like that, in someway it make a pie look too mechanized, I guess.
No fresh basil, no oregano....these I wished they put on, but in keeping with NH, they weren't present.
A great pizza.....overall, probably the BEST non NY style pie I have ever eaten. Now, how do I start deciphering that dough??
COLONY GRILL. Well, the colony grill, to me, is the best example of HOW diverse pizza can be. Its an example of how one person can LOVE a pie that other people can simply shake their heads at. It was the ANTITHESIS of Zuppardi's. Paper thin crust, cheese that I can't even describe as cheese, perfect little balls of sausage, that tasted fine, just to small and too even. Colony grill is known as a HOT OIL PIZA. The thing was drenched in it, and I like oily pizza, so I didn't mind. And it WAS spicy. My guess is that they buy a hot pepper, called STINGERS. I believe that these come packed in oil, and they drain the oil to use on their pies. The dough seem actually fried in this oil. It only came in one size. And there was NO OVENSPRING, AT ALL, to speak of. It comes in one 12 size. I can see how some people like it...I didn't HATE IT, i can understand wolfing one down with a few beers. I would guess the dough ball for a 12 inch pie was around 8 oz.
My whole thing is that THIS pie is consistantly rated top ten. TOP TEN....meaning that its a favorite pie for many, many people. And I think the diversity of opinions is more pronounced in pizza than other food group.
So, any ideas of this beautiful dough would be appreciated. Im gonna make warm fermentation dough on Thurday. I'll put a poolish together on Wed. I'' make two small batches in the am, one with preferment, and another straight fresh yeast dough, finishing them a room temp Thursday morn and balling them, skin them and bake em Thursday night. Im not expecting anything great, but you never know.
Next time I go to Zuppardi's, next week, Im gonna feast on the FRESH SCHUCKED clam pie, I can't wait. So if any of you are in the West haven area, read up about them on Slice and then head out....you will love it...and understand what I am raving about.
Thanks again to any replies.