### Author Topic: Joe's on Carmine St.  (Read 35364 times)

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#### scott123

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##### Re: Joe's on Carmine St.
« Reply #25 on: October 17, 2011, 08:20:52 PM »
Peter, with the clarifying statements and the persuasive arguments you made, I was just about to completely acquiesce to your entire line of reasoning.  And then I read this:

http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,14928.msg157122.html#msg157122

How does this fit into November's equation? Mondako, at 12.5% protein, has a 'published' AV of 55% and Power flour, at 13.5%, has an AV of 65%?

#### Pete-zza

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##### Re: Joe's on Carmine St.
« Reply #26 on: October 17, 2011, 08:57:16 PM »
scott123,

Hahaha.

I think there was a miscommunication somewhere. If you look at page 8 of the Pendleton booklet at http://www.pfmills.com/filebin/pdf/technical_informational_booklet_v1-opt.pdf, you will see that the rated absorption value for the Mondako flour is 62%, not 55%. Also, the Mondako flour has a protein content of 11.9%, not 12.5%. Maybe Norma can get clarification on the numbers. I know that Pendleton sells a pizza flour mix under the Mondako name, as indicated at http://www.pfmills.com/mondako-pizza-mix-products-19.php, but I wouldn't think that such a mix would have an absorption value of 55% either.

I took a stab at calculating a Ph value for the Pendleton Power flour at Reply 537 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,14928.msg157114.html#msg157114. I had to guess at the value for Pf for that flour.

Peter

« Last Edit: October 17, 2011, 09:00:32 PM by Pete-zza »

#### scott123

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##### Re: Joe's on Carmine St.
« Reply #27 on: October 17, 2011, 09:20:22 PM »
Alright, Peter, that being the case, I'm entirely on board.  Ph is a little too similar to Ph (level of acidity), but I can live with it.  From this point forward, I'm coining the acronym CAV (calculated absorption value).  It may not be perfectly exact, but, for flour companies that don't publish absorption values (or for companies that publish absorption values that are a bit outside the norm), it will be a useful tool for switching between flours.

Anyone up for putting together an absorption value calculation tool?

#### Pete-zza

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##### Re: Joe's on Carmine St.
« Reply #28 on: October 17, 2011, 09:36:54 PM »
Anyone up for putting together an absorption value calculation tool?

scott123,

Originally it was November's intention to create the tool, which he planned to call a Hydration Calculator. But, the pressures of his job prevented him from doing so. As it is, the man gets very little sleep. Since the tool is November's, he should be the one to decide on whether and how it should be implemented.

Peter
« Last Edit: October 17, 2011, 09:59:33 PM by Pete-zza »

#### November

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##### Re: Joe's on Carmine St.
« Reply #29 on: October 20, 2011, 07:44:48 AM »
Anyone up for putting together an absorption value calculation tool?

Inventory: (1) bell, (2) whistles.

#### Pete-zza

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##### Re: Joe's on Carmine St.
« Reply #30 on: October 20, 2011, 09:23:52 AM »
See the Tool Selection pull-down menu at http://foodsim.toastguard.com/, where November has added a Hydration Calculator. I wiil start a new thread to announce the new tool later today.

Thank you, November. The new tool is much appreciated.

Peter

#### norma427

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##### Re: Joe's on Carmine St.
« Reply #31 on: October 20, 2011, 09:52:35 AM »
Inventory: (1) bell, (2) whistles.

Thank you November!

Norma

#### scott123

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##### Re: Joe's on Carmine St.
« Reply #32 on: October 20, 2011, 03:28:27 PM »
Yes, indeed, thanks.  That's fantastic having a tool that can do that.

#### scott123

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##### Re: Joe's on Carmine St.
« Reply #33 on: October 20, 2011, 03:31:35 PM »
Sean, I found an interesting reference to Joe's in an old article posted in another thread:

Quote
JOE'S PIZZA Giuseppi Vitale, who owns Joe's with his father-in-law, Pino Pozzuoli, mastered the art of dough-making at the G&amp;G Bakery in Brooklyn. He is a slice purist: no heroes or pasta are served in his restaurants. Mr. Vitale says his motto is "pride, knowledge and ingredients." It's worth it to have both a regular slice and a fresh mozzarella slice here, just to taste the difference. They both have superbly crisp crust. 233 Bleecker Street (Carmine Street), Greenwich Village, (212) 366-1182, and 7 Carmine Street (Avenue of the Americas) in the Village, (212) 255-3946.

I have to admit, the bakery experience is interesting.  There's a lot of bakeries that do same day doughs for everything, but it could translate into a willingness for Joe's to go outside the norm with an extended ferment. Maybe. It's been years since I've been there, but I recall it was a very flavorful crust.
« Last Edit: October 20, 2011, 03:49:01 PM by scott123 »

#### norma427

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##### Re: Joe's on Carmine St.
« Reply #34 on: October 20, 2011, 05:03:10 PM »
Sean,

I know I might have gone to Joe’s on a day that the pizza wasn’t done right.  I have seen comments on Joe’s since then on Slice and those comments were fine.  I never said this before but the crust on the pizza I ate was so bad I threw it in the trash.  That is one thing I hardly ever do.  I told Steve about that and he just laughed and said the crust had to be bad for me to throw it in the trash.

I think with all Scott 123’s help you will be able to make a much better pizza than I had at Joe’s.

Norma

#### PizzaSean

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##### Re: Joe's on Carmine St.
« Reply #35 on: October 21, 2011, 11:21:48 PM »
Norma -

Thanks for all the links!  It is too bad that you didn't have a great experience there.  I have had slices that were great and slices that were okay there, so I can attest to the fact that it's not always at peak performance.  That said, the thing that has places like Joe's on my mind so much and keeps me coming back is just how much of a wonderful pizza aroma they get coming off their pies and even out into the street.  For some reason it seems few and far between that a pizza place can just drag you in off the street with their smell.  A lot of times when I'm not sure about a new place, I'll just walk in for a minute, sniff the air, look at the pies and make my decision like that haha... I guess that's the plus side of having a lot to choose from, even if a lot of it is not great.

And I agree that with the help of scott123 I'll be doing quite well!  He's becoming a household name around here...

Scott-

Thanks for the article, I can't read it right now, but I'm looking forward to it.

Pics coming!

#### paulo.vllrr

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##### Re: Joe's on Carmine St.
« Reply #36 on: May 02, 2013, 03:32:30 AM »
Sean,

I know this thread has been inactive for awhile but I'm trying to do a clone of a Joe's "good day" dough for a new pizzeria in Mexico City. I've already tried a bunch of other NY style recipes from PMF and other websites but after 12 visits to new york and over 40 pizzerias I believe that a Joe-ish type of dough is what Mexico City is really looking for in a pizza and can't (even remotely) get. I'm doing one to two tests per week and would be happy to post all my results with pictures as well as dough formultations and oven setup if you're interested. Let me know!

#### Pete-zza

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##### Re: Joe's on Carmine St.
« Reply #37 on: May 02, 2013, 09:15:18 AM »
I'm doing one to two tests per week and would be happy to post all my results with pictures as well as dough formultations and oven setup if you're interested. Let me know!
Paulo,

I'm sure our members would be very interested in seeing your results to date.

Peter

#### Jackie Tran

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##### Re: Joe's on Carmine St.
« Reply #38 on: May 02, 2013, 10:00:21 AM »
Yes Paolo, we would love to see your pies.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2013, 10:05:56 AM by Jackie Tran »

#### paulo.vllrr

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##### Re: Joe's on Carmine St.
« Reply #39 on: May 02, 2013, 01:49:27 PM »
Great, I'll start doing a weekly posting of pics and info this weekend. Any feedback or recommendations will be greatly appreciated!

#### pythonic

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##### Re: Joe's on Carmine St.
« Reply #40 on: May 02, 2013, 02:25:29 PM »
Wow you see how light they went on that shredded mozz in that first pie?
If you can dodge a wrench you can dodge a ball.

#### paulo.vllrr

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##### Re: Joe's on Carmine St.
« Reply #41 on: May 02, 2013, 02:53:41 PM »
Pythonic,

I've been to a lot of slice joints around NYC and have never seen anyone else put as little low-moisture mozz on a pie as Joe's. But it somehow works, the crust is super thin and more cheese might throw off the slice's balance, but that's just my opinion. Getting Grande cheese down to mexico city (me being their only customer in the country) is very expensive so I may have to take a page from Joe's book and go extra light on the cheese!

#### paulo.vllrr

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##### Re: Joe's on Carmine St.
« Reply #42 on: May 06, 2013, 03:18:40 AM »
This dough formulation was made using a mixture of one user's observations of Joe's dough, my own judgement after much reading for a relatively small amount of yeast, and various opinions from various threads concerning kneading and proofing/fermenting techniques.

Flour (100%):        269.92 g  |  9.52 oz | 0.6 lbs
Water (62%):        167.35 g  |  5.9 oz | 0.37 lbs
Cake Yeast (.5%): 1.35 g | 0.05 oz | 0 lbs |
Salt (1.8%):        4.86 g | 0.17 oz | 0.01 lbs | 0.87 tsp | 0.29 tbsp
Oil (2%):                5.4 g | 0.19 oz | 0.01 lbs | 1.2 tsp | 0.4 tbsp
Total (166.3%):       448.88 g | 15.83 oz | 0.99 lbs | TF = 0.07
Single Ball:       224.44 g | 7.92 oz | 0.49 lbs

12 inch pies, the TF is 0.07. 18 hour bulk cold ferment with a reball/2 hour individual rise before baking.

The flour I used is a "premium" mexican brand of flour called Harinas Elizondo. This is their high-gluten flour which is at 14.7%. I did three identical trials comparing this flour to some smuggled KASL and at least to my very amateur pizza palate (as well as 4 others), we couldn't taste any significant differences.

My oven setup is a standard gas oven (no broiler) which goes up to 500F with a 14x16 1/2 inch steel plate on the bottom shelf. I've left the oven unopened on max on a very hot day for an hour and a half and my IR scanner reads 529F as the max temperature. First pie is a cherry tomato, roasted garlic, basil and OO with a 4 minute bake time. Second is a garlic shrimp pie with a 3:40 bake time. As far as the crust, flavor was good (In my personal opinion cake yeast tastes better than IDY) with decent oven spring, although a little bit too chewy/leathery. I had never gotten any amount of chewiness (which I want) before but this was a little bit much. I also believe that for the specific crust I'm looking for I'm going to have to get a 1/4 inch steel plate so my pizzas will last a few minutes longer for browning and crunch purposes, as well as char reduction on the undercarriage. Not saying that there's anything wrong with a 3:40 bake time in a home oven, but it's just not what I'm looking for right now. Something looking more like this is the goal: http://slice.seriouseats.com/archives/2011/02/famous-joes-pizza-greenwich-village-manhattan-nyc.html

Thank you Peter and Jackie Tran for you invitation to participate in the thread, any and all opinions are greatly appreciated!

Paulo

#### Pete-zza

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##### Re: Joe's on Carmine St.
« Reply #43 on: May 06, 2013, 10:34:25 AM »
Paulo,

Your pizzas look very good and quite tasty.

Can you tell us more about how you make your dough, including the machine you used to make your dough and the mixing/kneading speeds and times? And did you note the finished dough temperature? Also, can you tell us which of the flours shown at the Harinas Elizondo website at http://www.harinaselizondo.com/productos.htm you are using? Is it the Alta Proteina flour? At 14.7% protein, if measured as it is in the U.S., that would be high for a high-protein, high-gluten flour in the U.S., where high-gluten flours tend to max out at about 14.2%. All else being equal, the 14.7% protein content of your flour, together with possible kneading issues, could account for some of the chewiness you mentioned, although there could be other factors as noted below.

If your flour is a true 14.7% flour, and assuming that there are no kneading issues, you could offset the chewiness by going to a somewhat lower protein flour, or you could blend a lower protein content flour in with your present flour. You could also increase the hydration of your present dough by a percent or two.

It also seems to me that 0.50% fresh yeast may be a bit low for an 18-hour cold fermented dough even though that quantity and the fermentation window are in line with a typical dough formulation for a NY style such as given, for example, at the PMQ Recipe bank at http://www.pmq.com/Recipe-Bank/index.php/name/New-York-Style-Pizza/record/57724/.

Maybe once you provide more detail on how you make your dough, we can provide more specific guidance.

Peter

#### paulo.vllrr

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##### Re: Joe's on Carmine St.
« Reply #44 on: May 06, 2013, 03:50:00 PM »
Peter,

Thank you for the input and positive comments.

This batch of dough was made using the following process: Crumble fresh yeast and salt into flour and mix. Place room temperature bottled water into a Hamilton Beach Stand Mixer:
http://www.amazon.com/Hamilton-Beach-Eclectrics-63221-All-Metal/dp/B000308BUI/?tag=pizzamaking-20

The #1 speed on this mixer is very similar, if not identical to the #1 speed on a standard Kitchenaid mixer. Place half of flour into the water and on speed #1 mix for one minute using the dough hook attachment. Gradually add in the rest of the flour over the next  4 minutes while still mixing on #1. Add light olive oil (Fillipo Berio) and continue to mix on #1 for  5 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes and then hand knead for 1 minute on a very lightly floured surface. Place into a sealed container in a 20F refrigerator. 2 hours before baking I scaled, balled and let rise at room temperature. Hand stretched to 12 inches, dressed and baked. Unfortunately my IR scanner was borrowed for the weekend and I couldn’t get the dough temperature, but I’ll make sure to get the readings for all future tests.  Also, if you think my kneading/mixing process is off I would love to hear about suggested improvements.

Yes, the flour I use is the Alta Proteína. But I’m confused, when I went to the factory the salesperson who sold it to me said 14.7%, but on their website pdf it says 13.6%. I just sent them an e-mail to get this straightened out.

I know there are many factors coming into play, but what would your first recommendation be as far as protein percentage for this particular style. Should I be shooting for 14.2% or maybe a little lower? I plan to try different hydration percentages also in my next tests.

And as far as the yeast goes, I realize this is a very low percentage. But last time I went to NY and tried about 12 different pizzas all my favorites had very little oven spring and were a bit denser than the usual extra-airy crusts you find in say chain-pizza. Do you think getting that flat-ish cornicione I’m aiming for has more to do with my flour protein %, kneading and baking process and not so much the yeast %?

Paulo

#### Pete-zza

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##### Re: Joe's on Carmine St.
« Reply #45 on: May 07, 2013, 09:53:40 AM »
Paulo,

Is the 20F temperature you mentioned for your refrigerator an error? That temperature would be below freezing.

As for the 13.6% protein number you mentioned, that would be a good protein number for a NY style. Many of the NY style pizza places in the metro NYC area use a higher protein flour, with the All Trumps high-gluten flour being a big favorite, but some people will contend that a lower protein content flour produces a better crust that is not as chewy or leathery. If the 13.6% figure is correct, then I would stay with that. In that case, I don't think I would change the hydration value at this point.

I think your dough preparation is OK but I think I would make a few changes. First, I would dissolve the salt in the water rather than adding it to the flour along with the cake yeast. The cake yeast shouldn't be materially adversely affected by brief contact with salt but adding and stirring the salt in with the water more fully disperses the salt in the water and in the final dough. Second, unless storage space is a problem, which it could be in a commercial setting where large numbers of dough balls are needed, I would do the division and balling of the dough balls up front, right after coming out of the mixer, rather than the next day, after it has cold fermented in bulk for 18 hours. It is possible that two hours of tempering at room temperature right after forming into balls (after 18 hours of cold fermentation in bulk) may be too short. That could result in a dough that is a bit more elastic and harder to open and not quite ready for baking. That could lead to a crust that is a bit on the dense side. Third, if you want to stay with 0.50% cake yeast, you might consider extending the cold fermentation period to 24 hours, or even longer. Otherwise, I might be inclined to consider using more cake yeast. As you might imagine, some experimentation might be require to achieve the proper balance between yeast quantity and fermentation time. I am not a big believer in making too many changes at once, so you might first make the first two adjustments mentioned above, and keep everything else the same until you see the effect of the two changes.

I do not have any experience using a steel plate or a gas oven for baking so I am not a good one to comment on how to achieve the results you are looking for when using a steel plate, especially with no broiler. However, from what I have read, a temperature of around 600 degrees F for the steel plate would seem to be a good temperature to use without burning the bottom of the crust.

Out of curiosity, when you visited the pizzerias in NYC, did you note whether the dough balls were cold fermented, or were they based on a same-day dough, possibly fermented at ambient temperature? Also, are you conducting your tests for personal reasons or are you considering opening up a pizzeria?

Peter

#### paulo.vllrr

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##### Re: Joe's on Carmine St.
« Reply #46 on: May 07, 2013, 04:43:47 PM »
Peter,

Let me get to your last question first since I think it's the most relevant: Yes, I will be opening a pizzeria in Mexico City sometime in the next 12-18 months. The time frame depends on when I get the crust perfected and when I finish securing the investment. I currently own a small baked goods manufacture and distribution operation, also here in Mexico City.

Now about the refrigerator temperature, I'm also learning how to make ice cream and got my notes confused, that's my freezer temperature. I have a small refrigerator I only use for pizza cold fermenting and ingredient storage, that is at 37F.

I was confirmed this morning that the Alta Proteína flour is at 13.6% protein percent. I'm glad to hear you would recommend sticking to that, the same food services company that will be getting the cheese to my importer also has All Trumps,, but flour is heavy and the transport company charges by weight and volume. Between using DOP San Marzanos (or maybe the Cento Certified, still not sure) and Grande Whole Milk Mozzarella my pie is expensive enough. The Alta Proteína Flour is readily available here in MC and I can't tell a relevant difference in flavor from KASL.

Concerning dough preparation: I will try your recommended salt in water changes to my dough preparation. I'm very stubborn on getting the pizza as good as I possibly can, so I'll make sure that we have enough storage space for dough scaling and balling right out of the mixer.  Second, most of my previous pizza trials have been made doing a 3 day cold ferment and none of them had been difficult to work with, this particular dough was a nightmare to open up. I think I'll keep trying with a 36-72 hour cold ferment on my next tests. And third, this was my first try using cake yeast. I'll take your advice since I am quite the amateur here and change the first things before moving my cake yeast %. I'll post my results when I have them.

As far as the steel plate, I'll be getting a plate half as thick this weekend and see if that'll give me a little more time for browning and crunchiness, although my goal is to have a professional deck oven by the summer. I've really liked how some of your crusts have looked, especially the Lehmann VWG Slice picture at Reply#65 on this thread: http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,576.60.html. One of my favorite pizza crusts in NY is a place called "Best Pizza" in Brooklyn, your hole structure and oven spring looks uncannily similar. (picture of comparison below). What kind of oven setup do you use?

The NYC pizzerias I visited and was able to get information from seem to vary when it comes to dough fermentation. Most of this information you already know but at Difara they’re using a same day dough which from what I understood is room temp fermented, but no one else I asked is doing that. Places like Joe’s use an overnight cold ferment with a longer room temperature ferment, Roberto the mexican pizzaiolo at Joe’s told me the dough “is made throughout the day and gets taken out of the fridge after 20-some hours and is left out between 2-3 hours, usually”. There’s also places like Ana Maria’s in Brooklyn which sell a ridiculous amount of pies a day and their pizzaiolo told me that dough is usually fermented about two days , but sometimes gets taken out ahead of time because of demand. I also have other examples from other pizzerias but the main point is I’ve found information going from same day room temperature ferments up to 3 day cold ferments and everything in between. The only thing the really good pizzerias seem to agree on is using MOSTLY quality ingredients. Sorry if my answer is incomplete, let me ask my friend Scott (Scott’s Pizza Tours) about it, he should know more about it then me.

And lastly, last night I had another pizza trial. I made two batches, both the exact same dough formulation/mixing process as my last test except one with cake yeast and the other with IDY. Also, instead of overnight I did a 3 day-cold ferment with a scale/ball coming out of the mixer and a 2 hour room temperature rise before baking. The first two pictures are the cake yeast dough, second two are IDY. The taste of the first was very good but texture was kind of soft and chewy. Texture of the second was the closest I’ve gotten to the classic NY street slice, but not much flavor.

Paulo

#### Pete-zza

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##### Re: Joe's on Carmine St.
« Reply #47 on: May 07, 2013, 06:33:01 PM »
Paulo,

I suspected that you were planning on starting a pizzeria in Mexico City. The reason I asked is because I was planning on citing a post that describes how to make a cold fermented dough such as a NY style dough in a commercial setting. Now that you have confirmed my suspicions, that post is Reply 18 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,7499.msg64554/topicseen.html#msg64554. As you will see from that post, the procedure presumes using either cake yeast or IDY. In recent years, IDY has become more popular among pizza operators who specialize in the NY style, but there are some who have grown up in the business using cake yeast and gotten so used to it that they find it hard to break that habit and go to the use of IDY. Or they simply prefer the use of cake yeast for their operations and the results achieved using cake yeast. Of course, if one were to use the procedures of Reply 18 referenced above with ADY, the ADY would have to be properly prehydrated before using it to make dough. Since the procedure described in Reply 18 is intended to be general in nature, there is no dough formulation given. But the dough formulation you posted should fit that procedure quite nicely. Of course, you will have to tweak a few things along the way, such as the yeast quantity (and maybe even type) and the fermentation window. The refrigerator temperature you mentioned (37 degrees F) is just about perfect for your application.

The fermentation protocols that you mentioned from your trips to NYC seem to be pretty standard. You won't often see fermentation windows that go beyond about three days. All else being equal, you will find that there is a correlation between yeast quantity and the duration of the fermentation window. That relationship is what you will have to play around with until you are satisfied with your results. Adding a commercial deck oven to the mix will also be a big improvement, although with a steel plate to use in the meantime you should be able to come closer to what you want than if you were using a pizza stone in a home oven for your test doughs. Using a commercial mixer will also be a big improvement over a home stand mixer.

What you propose to do sounds exciting. Have you decided on which style of NY pizza you want to make? Dom DeMarco makes what some of us call an "elite" NY style pizza. There are several others who specialize in the same style, usually using coal-fired ovens (Dom DeMarco uses a deck oven), but there are far more pizza operators who specialize in the "street" style of NY pizza, or slices. The San Marzano tomatoes you mentioned, whether DOP or not, are most closely aligned with the elite NY style. Usually, those pizzas use a fresh mozzarella. And that mozzarella can be soft or dry. And it might well be low moisture part-skim. Quality seems to attach itself more to the elite style than to the street style although it seems that both styles have declined in quality in recent years. I'm sure you have a pretty good idea as to what your are looking for. My comments are intended only to get a better idea as to where you want or plan to go with your pizzeria.

I have travelled to Mexico several times in recent years (in the Puerto Vallarta area) and it is hard to find quality pizza places. A good part of the problem is finding the right flours with the right protein content. It looks like you have good sources from an ingredients standpoint.

Peter

#### Pete-zza

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##### Re: Joe's on Carmine St.
« Reply #48 on: May 07, 2013, 09:27:57 PM »
Paulo,

After my last post, I did a forum search on Joe's since my recollection is that one of our members, scott123, previously used a photo of Joe's as his avatar. I also recalled that several of our members visited Joe's as part of a tour last year of well-known NYC pizzerias. I then did a search for photos of Joe's pizzas. One of those pizzas showed the use of fresh mozzarella. Several years ago, one of our members, JasonZA, who worked for Mozzarella Fresca, a producer of fresh mozzarella at the retail level, asked the members for their opinions and questions about their fresh mozzarella. I wondered at the time whether the NYC slice joints used fresh mozzarella cheese. scott r said yes (that was back in 2006). What scott r said was confirmed by JasonZA. In case you are interested, you can see the exchanges at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,2294.msg20119.html#msg20119.

Maybe scott r and/or scott123 can offer more on the Joe's pizza than I. However, as best I can tell there is not much in the way of information on their pizzas to do an easy reverse engineering or clone.

Peter

#### scott123

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##### Re: Joe's on Carmine St.
« Reply #49 on: May 07, 2013, 10:15:42 PM »
I wondered at the time whether the NYC slice joints used fresh mozzarella cheese. scott r said yes (that was back in 2006). What scott r said was confirmed by JasonZA.

The coal places (aka 'elite') all use fior di latte (fresh mozz), with one or two offering the option of fresh or aged.  Joe's offers a fresh option, but the aged slices outsell the fresh ones by a factor of about 100 to 1.  Coal is associated with fresh, while slices are associated with aged.  Fresh mozz really doesn't work well on a typical 4-7 minute NY style slice because the longer baking time tends to be hard on it and it curdles.  Best uses fresh with a 4 minute bake, and they use a fior di latte with seemingly good stability, but, imo, it could be considerably better with an aged Grande or a Grande clone.

Paulo, steel has no place in a broilerless oven.  It speeds up the rate at which the bottom of the pizza bakes.  This is great when you can match this breakneck speed on the top with the use of a broiler, but, without the broiler, you're going to have incredibly pale tops and charred bottoms.  Both Best and Joe's have plenty of top color- color which you're not presently getting.

1/4" plate will do nothing to resolve this heat imbalance.  A gas oven without a broiler in the main compartment is, by far, the hardest configuration to get great NY style pizza out of. I haven't timed a Joe's pie recently, although I'm pretty sure it's less than 7 minutes.  I have timed Best's, though, and they're at 4. I promise you that you will never achieve a balanced 4 minute bake with steel in an oven without a broiler- and, believe me, you want to hit that Best bake time.

Because of your exposure to this forum, you're in a unique position to produce a pizza that's better than Joe's and Best.  Best is a flavor-deprived same day ferment, but with a fast bake that produces a great puffy texture, while Joe's has a slightly longer bake time and somewhat careless doughmaking techniques, both of which rob the dough from treasured oven spring, but, at the same time,  Joe's produces pretty good flavor with their longer ferment.

Both of these outfits are dropping the ball somewhere.  If you want a world class NY slice, your goal should be to piece together the best of both worlds- Best's oven thermodynamics (a 4 minute bake), Joe's multi day ferment along with your own conscientious approach to proper fermentation and gluten development.

Matching Best's 4 minute bake, though- a balanced 4 minute bake with good color on the top and not too much char underneath, matching that with your oven isn't going to be easy.  A lot of people have tried and failed.  At a minimum, you want a lower conductivity hearth material such as fibrament or unglazed quarry tiles.  That won't get you to 4 minutes, but it should get you to a balanced 7 minute bake at your oven's peak temp.  To hit 4, you want to do something like this:

http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,21503.msg217026.html#msg217026

Re; your flour choice. Fermentation produces gluten.  The longer the fermentation, the greater the gluten development (to a point).  Very high gluten (13.5%+) flours can produce tender crumbs with same day ferments, but... fermentation produces flavor, so same day ferments tend to be flavorless.  If you want flavor AND less propensity for toughness, you want multi day ferments with a slightly lower protein flour.  For NY, 12.7-13.2% is ideal.  Harinas Elizondo seems like a quality miller- they should have something 13ish.  That's what you should be using.

Re; sauce.  For the style of pizza you're making, imported Italian tomatoes are a waste of time.  They just don't have the intensity of flavor to stand up to extended bake times.  Mexico is renowned for their tomatoes.  You should be able to track down a local tomato that puts Italian tomatoes to shame. Get a can of every brand of local tomato that your wholesaler carries and taste test each until you find the best. The goal should be a crushed tomato that's sweet yet tart, thick/not watery and robustly flavored.

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