Author Topic: Pizzamaking Fanatics 2012 NYC Tour – Joe’s, Keste, Paulie Gee’s, Best, Motorino  (Read 13449 times)

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Offline TXCraig1

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What a blast with a great bunch of folks coming together from five different states to meet, eat, and talk pizza. If you missed it this year, you don’t want to miss it again next year!

First and foremost, it was great to meet everyone, and as a bonus, we had some incredible hospitality from our hosts, received some wonderful pizza making insights, and ate some great pies too. I say “some” – we gorged ourselves.  It was almost obscene (in a very good way).

We started at Joe’s on Carmine for an obligatory quick slice on our way to Keste around the corner. I thought it was OK, but that’s about it. This was also reinforced later in the night.
« Last Edit: January 06, 2012, 03:20:16 AM by TXCraig1 »
Pizza is not bread.


Offline TXCraig1

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Keste was wonderful all the way around. Roberto was an incredibly gracious host. I think the only time he left our table was to bake a Mast’Nicola pie for us – I’m still reliving that one with its luscious lardo melted in glorious pools of its sweet fat surrounded by salty grated hard cheese on his very flavorful crust.

We started with some of his house made mozzarella which was excellent. He then invited us back to the oven and let us feel and taste his raw dough. It was marginally saltier than mine. I’m going to guess it was >3% - probably 3.2-3.5%. It was slightly sticky and very supple with ample flavor. This flavor really shined under the Regina Margherita and became a seamless element of the over the top, completely hedonistic, bliss that was the burrata pie I don’t think is on his menu. And, speaking of over the top, hedonistic bliss, the Nutella pie we had for desert was just insanely good.

After we ate, Roberto took us downstairs and gave us a firsthand look into his process. It was very cool. The whole night, for that matter was an incredible stream of insights and pizza wisdom.  It was fascinating to hear his thoughts on the living nature of the dough and how it must be treated to maximize what it has to offer. It was a perfect way to kick off this incredible evening.
Pizza is not bread.

Offline TXCraig1

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More Keste:
Pizza is not bread.

Offline TXCraig1

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From Keste, we headed off to Brooklyn to Paulie Gee’s. As with Keste, we had an incredibly gracious host in Paulie. Not only did he regale us with his wisdom and stories for just about the whole time we were there, he expertly selected our pies for us, and he did us right. (Larry was a little disappointed that Paulie wouldn’t let us get a Margherita – but we made it up to him at Motorino).  The selection he chose was perfect; a Delboy - red pie with incredible Berkshire Sopressata, a Greenpointer – white with arugula, EVOO, lemon juice (I don't think they did on this pie, but I saw them put several pies topped with arugula into the oven as opposed to adding the arugula after. I need to try this), In Ricotta Da Vita – tomatoes, sausage, ricotta, arugula, Hellified Porkpie White – pork squared with Mike’s hot honey, and Cherry Jones (we had an interesting discussion with Paulie on the origin of the name) – gorgonzola prosciutto, dried cherries, orange blossom honey.  (These are just quick descriptions; check out his menu for a full list of toppings and to see the other innovative offerings).

My overall impression of Paulie Gee’s was just about exactly the same as the last time I ate there a couple weeks ago – and that’s a good thing. It was consistent. As I noted in my last review, his pies are his signature. You know they are his pies from both the distinctive look and the incredible flavor combinations with ingredients that play off each other so well and combinations you won’t find anyplace else. (I was happy to see a Roberta’s pie on his menu however – who knows – maybe someday I’ll want to put a Paulie Gee’s pie on my menu…). The pies we had at Paulie’s really covered the whole spectrum of rich, salty, spicy, savory, and sweet. It was a pure pleasure.

One thing we all immediately picked up on at PG’s is how much bench flour they use. They open the balls in four and then sprinkle more flour on the skins at least two more time and in some cases three before topping and baking. Here many of us are trying to use less flour and we see this? What are we to think? My only other comment is that his oven is HOT. I timed the pies at 65 seconds, but I also got a few peeks under the pies as they baked from the vantage point of my chair. They were fully charred on the bottom in what I would estimate to be not much more than 30 seconds. If you forced me to find something wrong with the pies, the only thing I might be able to point to is that shy underside (as John calls it) was perhaps a little too charred on some of the pies.

So far, we were batting about 10,000 with these two stops. If we ended the night right then, it would have been an incredible success, but we weren’t done yet.
« Last Edit: January 06, 2012, 03:07:10 AM by TXCraig1 »
Pizza is not bread.

Offline TXCraig1

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More PG's:
Pizza is not bread.

Offline TXCraig1

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More PG's:
Pizza is not bread.

Offline TXCraig1

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Our next stop was Best Pizza.

As I hinted above, Best really reinforced that Joe’s was just OK. Best was best. The crust is different from any pie I’ve had before. When you pick it up it light in a way I have not experienced. It’s light in density and weight, but it has the body you would expect from a denser, heavier crust. This lets them make the crust (just a very little) thicker, but it still carries itself like a super thin crust. It is a great pie.

Talking to Frank, it’s clear that they really care about what they are doing. They use the best ingredients and have a solid focus on quality in all aspect of the pie. I would highly recommend this place for a slice if you are anywhere near.
« Last Edit: January 06, 2012, 09:38:19 AM by TXCraig1 »
Pizza is not bread.

Offline TXCraig1

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Last, but not least, was Motorino. While we didn’t have the hosts and hospitality we enjoyed at Keste and Paulie Gee’s, we did have some excellent pies. Brussels Sprouts, Clam pie, and a fix for Larry’s Margherita withdrawal. This was my third visit to Motorino in the past couple months, and it just doesn’t disappoint.

I thought the crust at Motorino was just a little more tender than Keste, but probably a tiny bit less flavorful. It had a good bit less salt, so it’s a little hard to say for sure. The Brussels sprout pie was awesome as always. The margherita was great – both were perfectly charred top and bottom. The clam pie was good – but nothing compared to a Franny’s clam pie.

Probably the most interesting thing for me at Motorino was the way they handled the dough. A couple hours earlier, we were discussing the importance of gently opening the dough balls, and here the guy making the pies must have been mad at the dough as he was literally beating the hell out of it – pounding it – slamming it. I felt sorry for the dough. He also spun it over his head throwing it up and catching it in the middle. There is no way you could do this with my dough, and I doubt you could do it with Roberto’s either. Paulie’s guys were gentle with their dough too, but it was clearly much more difficult to open than mine.

The pies were great, the gracious hospitality we received was more than we could have asked for, and meeting the great people who came together on this trip was the most fun I’ve had in a long time. It was an awesome outing, and I’m happy so many were able to make it.

I can’t wait to hear the other’s comments on our stops and see their pictures.

Craig
« Last Edit: January 06, 2012, 03:24:10 AM by TXCraig1 »
Pizza is not bread.

Offline TXCraig1

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More Motorino:
Pizza is not bread.

Offline Jackie Tran

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Nice write up Craig.  I feel as though I really missed out!  :(  Oh well, maybe next year.  It sounds like a wonderful time was had by all and some really great pies.  The pies in the photos look awesome even though I know that pictures usually can not fully capture how they look in person let alone the tastes and textures.   

Thanks for sharing your trip with the rest of us who couldn't make it.

Chau
« Last Edit: January 06, 2012, 08:31:46 AM by Jackie Tran »


Online norma427

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Craig,

Thanks for the great write-up of the NYC Tour of Joe’s, Keste, Paulie Gee’s, Best. and Motorino.  :) I also had a blast and got to try many pizzas I never tried before. 

I have a great time meeting all of you and talking pizza.  I will post more later today.

Thanks everyone!  ;D

Norma
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Offline pauliegee

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Thanks again for making us part of your tour.  It was truly an honor and a great pleasure spending time with such serious pizza enthusiasts.  I'm going to have to join you on your other stops next time.  Especially if you make New Park one of your stops.  Maybe you can get Kelly to find his way up from Baltimore.

Thanks again,

PG

Offline pizzablogger

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Great recap and pictures Craig!  :D

BTW, the pie with the arugula going on pre-bake was likely the Arugula Schmoogula. One of my favorites at 60GPA.

Best Pizza really is a benchmark pizza for NY-Style pizza IMO. I need to get a slice from Patsy's EH and then immediately go to Best Pizza for a slice next time in NYC. Norma, how was the consistency of Best Pizza between your two recent visits?

Great to see the group was treated so well by Roberto and by Paulie, who is always a great host.

I definitely need to make it next time. And visiting other pizzerias with Paulie is always a blast...you might think he would tire of it now that he owns a pizzeria, but he is constantly visiting other pizza joints. A true enthusiast's enthusiast and all around kick ass person.

Looking forward to everyone else's take on the day. -k
« Last Edit: January 06, 2012, 09:22:54 AM by pizzablogger »
"It's Baltimore, gentlemen, the gods will not save you." --Burrell

Offline JConk007

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Craig!
Bravo!! I had only my cheap camera phone  :'(  so I was counting on you and Norma to put forth the wonderful display of Pizzas and Hospitality we Devoured last night. It was like a beauty pagent with all the flashes going off as each pie entered the runway area of our table   :P
and as you mentioned it was really great to meet everyone!!  I will post my few and some thoughts later as well
Thank you so much for putting this together!! Only 364 days (or less) to go til next gathering. Maybe we can start to get our $ collection $  to get aspecial  mystery guest Pete-zza along ??

Hope you visit for other reasons besides pizza come to fruition as well !!

Oh NO PIZZA today  :-D
JOHN
« Last Edit: January 06, 2012, 10:15:59 AM by JConk007 »
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Offline TXCraig1

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It was like a beauty pagent with all the flashes going off as each pie entered the runway area of our table   :P

I hadn't thought about it, but that is exactly what it was like.

CL
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Offline dellavecchia

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Just incredible. If I did not have a board meeting last night, I would have joined you. Put me down for next year.

John

Online norma427

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Norma, how was the consistency of Best Pizza between your two recent visits?

Great to see the group was treated so well by Roberto and by Paulie, who is always a great host.


Kelly,

The consistency of Best Pizza was the same as I posted in my other thread.  I thought Best Pizza was great again.

Paulie and Roberto were great hosts.  :)

Norma
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Online norma427

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Joe’s Pizza

I thought Joe’s pizza was very good on this visit.  The pie had just come out of the oven and as can been seen on the pictures, there was a nice crumb, nice oven spring, great bottom crust browning, and over all Joe’s was so much better than my last visit.

Norma
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Online norma427

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Norma
Always working and looking for new information!

Online norma427

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Norma
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