Vinny, I agree that American chains are ruining pizza, but I heartily disagree that Americans didn't, at some point, improve upon pizza or that great pizzerias, at the present time, have to be run by Italians.
When pizza was 'brought' here, it was expensive and scarce. It was American ingenuity and drive that mass produced the deck oven and made pizza available for many, and it was the second and third generation Italian Americans that fine tuned pizza to perfection to work with these ovens. It was also American (most likely midwestern) scientists that developed flours that performed better at these lower temps.
Lorenzos is a shining testament of what America did for pizza. Pre-chain American pizza is the best food the world has ever seen (imho
). For the last 30 years, the chains have been ruining pizza, but, in no way has America ruined pizza from the time when it was brought here.
And the idea that in order for a pizzeria to be great, the owner has to be Italian, is preposterous. 30 years ago, maybe, but not today. I know plenty of Italian Americans that don't know the first thing about making great pizza and I know plenty of non Italian Americans that know everything and apply this knowledge masterfully. If you were down in Tampa and walked by Wood Fired Pizza, owned by Peter Taylor, without going in, you'd be seriously missing out. If you were in Portland and didn't swing by Brian Spangler's Apizza Scholls, again, your preconceptions would be doing you a great disservice. At this point, great pizza has nothing to do with race.