Author Topic: Pizzamaking Fanatics 2012 NYC Tour – Joe’s, Keste, Paulie Gee’s, Best, Motorino  (Read 17363 times)

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Offline pizzablogger

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Wow, looks like a great time was had by all, wish I was there! Did anyone happen to find a tomato can label  at Paulie Gee's :-D

 ;)
"It's Baltimore, gentlemen, the gods will not save you." --Burrell


Offline olsonmatt

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So cool!  Very impressive hitting all those spots. 

Offline dmcavanagh

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Pizzablogger

        Does that mean you did???!!! ;)
Rest In Peace - November 1, 2014

Offline Ev

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Let me just say what a pleasure it was to meet and spend time with such a nice group of people. Their passion and appreciation for art of pizza is matched only by the graciousness and generosity of our hosts, specifically Roberto and Paulie. Salute!
 I do not possess the descriptive eloquence to fully portray the culinary attributes of the evenings fare to any further exactitude than what has previously been stated. ;) I'll let the photos above speak for themselves. Truly, each pizza was as good as it looks, if not better.
 It was an honor to be included in the evenings festivities. Y'all really should have been there! ;D

Offline TXCraig1

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Btw,can someone put some names to the faces in some of the photos? I recognize maybe 2 or 3.
 :)

Bill here you go:
Pizza is not bread. Craig's Neapolitan Garage

scott123

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That's not me. That's an imposter pretending to be me. That guy's way too goofy looking to be me.
« Last Edit: January 06, 2012, 04:52:27 PM by scott123 »

Offline TXCraig1

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Maybe, but he's smart enough to be you!  ;D
Pizza is not bread. Craig's Neapolitan Garage

Offline chickenparm

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Craig,
Thanks for posting up the picture with the names of everyone.
 8)

-Bill

Offline pizzablogger

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That's not me. That's an imposter pretending to be me. That guy's way too goofy looking to be me.

If I would have shown up the goofy title would have been all mine, so no worries mate.  :)
"It's Baltimore, gentlemen, the gods will not save you." --Burrell


scott123

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Getting back to the topic at hand,  ;D because of the massive scope of last night's experience, it's impossible for me to capture the entire experience in one post. I think the best way is to split it up into styles- first NY, then Neapolitan.

Here's my thoughts on the NY style places we went to, Joe's and Best.

As I've said elsewhere, my last trip to Joe's was probably 10 years ago, and, at the time, the quality had ebbed a bit from recent years. Compared to the nose dive that most slice places have taken in the last 15 years, Joe's is really not that bad.  Compared to what it was 15 years ago, it's pretty darn mediocre pizza. Manhattan has always been renowned for crap slices, and if that's still the case, then Joes might still be one of the better options for Manhattanites, but as I told everyone else last night, remember what this tastes like when you go to Best, because the difference will be night and day.

And the difference was night and day. Best was a far superior slice in many ways- not all ;) but many.

I haven't tasted slices from every pizzeria in the area, but, compared to the places I have been, I think I might go as far as to say that Best's crust is the best crust that I've tasted in 15 years (excluding my own ;) ). I was hoping to film an entire bake, but the space was kind of cramped, so I ended up getting the owner (Frank) in the shot and he wasn't too hot on being filmed, so I stopped. No biggie.  The most important thing was getting the bake time, which I timed to the second- 3:30.

Best's crust is very thin, crisp, light and tender- I'd almost go as far as to call it delicate. Achieving a crisp crust at 3:30 is no easy task. I gravitate towards softer crusts, so I don't bake crisp, fast baked crusts myself, but I have helped others in this quest and, with that short a time, it's difficult to evaporate just enough moisture to have a tender, somewhat moist crumb with a crisp exterior- and a crisp exterior that stays crisp as the pizza cools to a temperature suitable to eat.

I think the secret here is thickness factor.  Best is an extremely thin pizza- definitely no higher than .07, maybe even as low as .065.

As I said, I don't make crisp pizza, but, if I did, this is what I'd have to shoot for, and, after eating this last night, I might need to venture into a crispier territory.

You may notice that I've spent a lot of time talking about the crust.  The crust was truly a work of art.  The toppings... not so much.  I trash Difaras all the time for being so topping centric and ignoring the depth of crust flavor achieved through longer fermentation, but it doesn't belittle the importance of good toppings. I think the most glaring omission is oregano. These pies had no oregano on them or in the sauce.  The sauce was, from what I can tell, only tomatoes- a good quality tomato, but no oregano, no basil, no sugar and, if it had salt, it was a very light touch. I know that Neapolitan pizza eaters are extremely comfortable with this type of simplicity, but not us slice guys. I've talked about how strongly I resonate with Frank Pinello's vision of a return to NY style's glory days of decades past, but, in any decade that I'm aware of, oregano was a player.

I find it kind of amusing how at the two pizzerias with the best crusts I've had in the NY metro area, Best and Pizzatown, both dropped the ball on the oregano, with Pizzatown clocking in with an obscene amount and Best having none at all. Nick (Gabaghool) talks quite a bit about New Haven's hate affair with oregano as well.  I really don't see how it needs to be that complicated. I mean, come on.  A lot of things are up for debate- I know full well that nobody is ever going to 'win' the bromate discussion, but the concept that oregano is good on non Neapolitan pizza shouldn't really be debatable.

Now, in all fairness, I should say that I'm judging this as a slice place.  It is baked in a WFO, but, as far as I'm concerned, it's the same kind of crust you'd find in hotter electric and gas deck ovens of the 70s and 80s. If Frank wants to classify this as a coal/vintage slice hybrid (or even NH style), then I might give him a bit more leeway on the sauce. Maybe ;)  I should also say that I got a white slice to go, and, while I'm generally not much of a white slice guy, this, brought home cold and warmed slightly in the microwave, was excellent.  From a perspective of toppings, imo, white is much better than red. Lastly, I know everyone raves about the grandma pie, but pickled veggies are a bit too sophisticated for my simpler meat and potatoes kind of palate.

In conclusion, I think that Best's crust makes it a must visit destination for any slice lovers in the NY area, and that I was so impressed with it that it's getting me thinking of venturing into crispy crusts myself, but as a vintage slice obsessive, I think they drop the ball with the toppings.

Offline JConk007

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Me Me  My turn ! Larry is probably still on a bus!  ;D
First off if any of you were jealous of not being there well, YOU SHOULD BE!  :P
Just kidding guys and gals but really it was great I will follow thorder and put up my similar cheap camera phone pics and comments. I ate more pizza in NY than I have in 23 years of living in NJ! I time my ride home from Montorino at about only  35-38 minutes at 49 degrees! bottom line with no traffic its a piec of cake to get in there for a real Neapolitan pizza or great NY slice.  
Keste Magnificent I loved the way Roberto who as mentioned was very gracious and a great host   descibed the differnce in dough which is food and say a steak whicjh is also food answer The dough is alive!! My personal favorite Pizza of the night ! Glad to see also he has good taste in Mixers. The  same mecnosud as Larry and I just a bigger brother. He also emphasized the importance of having a system which he sure has dialed in!! I am working on that everytime I do a party as he mentions you learn something new every day. Funny thing there was when craig ate the raw dough Monkey see Monkey do and yes you could taste the saltiness. I have never done that but i really likedd the direct taste method. heres the oven and house special Burrata Mozz pie delish!
« Last Edit: January 06, 2012, 07:25:02 PM by JConk007 »
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Offline JConk007

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Paulie Gee,
Cool thing about this place is the vibe. Barnish, hipish, darkish, very coolish. and then theres Paulie! who also admitted to using a mecnosud fork mixer :) I was bit taken aback by his chuckwagon comment when I showed him a pic of my mobile. But think he realized I was serious when I showed him what comes out of the chuckwagon. Hes a special guy and very very  passionate about what he does! and even though Scott pried on the fermentation and tomatoes he held out. I think thats really great to keep the mystique.H also spoke highly of Keste and Roberto which shows what a true gentleman he is!  I like his theory on the secret tomatoes.  Get a bunch of tomatoes, peel the label off the can, try them all and pic the one you like best  ! Perfect!  Larry asked if he thinks he did the right thing and emphatic 100% yes was the reply, never doubted for a second. He selected some great pies for us and they came out fast and furious. The biggest difference between here and Keste was the beautiful pronounced leoparding and the amount of bench flour used here. I am working hard to use as little as possible but this pizza  shows it not as big and issue when done right. great crazy cool names for all pies. We had
Greenpointer (Street its on) - Fiore D latte, tomatoes ,arugula, O Oil and shaved parm fresh lemon juice
Delboy -Fiore d latte sopressata (awesome stuff) shaved parm reg
In Ricotta Davita  tomato sausage ricotta a oevoo
Cherry Jones FDL,Gorgonzola prosciutto DE parmedried big cherries orange blossom Honey really enjoyed that one! great stop!!thanks Paulie!!! I'll Be Back!
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Offline JConk007

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Best
WOW!! best street slice I ever had blew away Joes which I forgot to mention earlier, as  I was so underimpressed I got to take a slice home and broke my earlier promise of no pizza because I did not want it to go bad of course
I Love to Flirt with Fire! www.flirtingwithfirepizza.com

Offline JConk007

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Montorino ,Another wow!! with the 2 new pies to me Brussel sprouts and clam never had either and cant wait to have them again!
Place is so small as Norma mentioned the Dough is made at a local bakery.
Difference here was the Pizziaolo was slapping and beating  the dough spinning and tosssing.... Roberto may have had a heart attack if he saw this guy slapping but tell you what it  stil came out great !!
Another noticable difference to me here  was the shy under side,  nice leoparding on coricione with a much lighter char than the mobile stephano oven at Paulies. Craig pointed out how Oven was very well broken in The  hearth was beat to death but man what a finished product!  
John
« Last Edit: January 06, 2012, 10:55:32 PM by JConk007 »
I Love to Flirt with Fire! www.flirtingwithfirepizza.com

Offline Essen1

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Man, I gotta say I envy you guys.

Seems like everybody had an absolute blast. Great stuff and awesome write-ups. Not to mention the pictures. Wonderful.

Next time we need to hold one here on the left coast  ;D
Mike

"Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new."  - Albert Einstein

Offline TXCraig1

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Man, I gotta say I envy you guys.

Seems like everybody had an absolute blast. Great stuff and awesome write-ups. Not to mention the pictures. Wonderful.

Next time we need to hold one here on the left coast  ;D

Mike, I'll be there!

Craig
Pizza is not bread. Craig's Neapolitan Garage

scott123

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I was bit taken aback by his chuckwagon comment when I showed him a pic of my mobile.

I heard him say 'chuckwagon' but didn't catch the context and thought to myself "did he just say that about John's oven?"

I guess he did ;D As much as the term's a bit jarring, he's kind of right. John, as beautiful as your oven is (as far as mobile ovens go, it's one of the best looking, imo), the dark cart and white ceiling do give it a slightly chuckwagon-y appearance.



Offline Ev

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Yeah, and he called mine a dog house! :-D  I'm over it already.

Offline thezaman

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 dear pizza enthusiasts, i want to thank all of you for a wonderful evening! that was the most comfortable i have ever felt with a group of people i have never met in my life. i guess our passion for pizza makes us family because that is what i got from every one.
  i felt that Roberto ,Paulie, and the young man at best pizza{ i know he is the founder just do not know his name}, are passionate at what they do.that is why they connected with all of us and made us welcome.the interesting connection especially with paulie is that what they are doing is something any one of us could do. we all have passion, good product,and a story. Craig's garage, Johns,fully equipped garage with portable covered wagon,sorry i know that is a sore subject ,but had to throw that in  :-D. this goes for many of the members on the site.i know there are a lot that have graduated from hobby to business. lets face it there are subtle differences in the pies we tasted both NY style, and Neapolitan style what we do is not far off . turning the home recipient into a business is not easy and it is a big risk, it has been done by many here!
  my thoughts on the pizza, didn't partake in joes  i was a little late, had it before thought it was good. keste's pizza was outstanding ,baked to perfection. i believe this is what you get in Naples. will know more in March as that is when i will taste first hand pizza from Naples. that is another subject as i need recommendations on Naples as well as Rome. i though Roberto was a very gracious host and his passion is from the heart!! he is a really good man and takes his pizza very serious. his philosophy is to make adjustments in you raw product to fit your environment. forget the water, altitude temperatures . a good pizza maker will know how to adjust for all factors. may be old school,but i like it. thank you Roberto!
 Paulie, this guy is a character in a great way, this personality is what it takes, i Kidd john because he has that same aggressive trait. he says it like it is. and that is the kind of person that is fun to talk to, ask a questions of, don't worry if you offend ,he will answer or will tell you not your business. for instance his tomatoes,he would not tell us what they were ,but gave us his recommendation on a worthy substitute.now why the hell would he not feed us a tomato, mozzarella  and basil pizza. probably the best way to compare his tomatoes to those of other wood fired pizzerias. he is into very creative toppings and pizzas and they were all very good,i am steeling his cherry jones, sorry but it knocked m socks off!!! yes you guys were right i had tears in my eyes because there was no margherita. last ,Pauli thanks for the lemon aid it was delicious. :chef:
 best pizza, wow really delicious slice don't know how to categorize it, as wood is not normal for a Ny slice it seemed to soften the dough and flavor it with a bit of similarity to neapolitan, it was delicious.the owner went out of his way to show us his local ingredients, coal transformed to wood oven.and was very open with questions. a great pizza.
 last is motorinos this was very good as well,not much interaction with management,but we were able to view the oven .our waiter was able to tell us the dough is now made for them at a bakery using motorinos formula and mixer. it used to be made a the Brooklyn store until it was closed.i like motorinos a lot. there dough is a little different than most less salt and i think they under seasoned the tomato sauce because they add sea salt as a final step.just my impression i may be way off.
 i was able to sample two other pizzas this week zerro ott novo  on Aurthur ave. in the bronx good pizza thinner than most, crisp crust very lite on tomato sauce, great cheese made by a cheese shop somewhere on the street.
Aurthur ave. is a scary place at night the street is safe, you have to ask the restaurant to call a cab as they are scarce.in the day time Aurthur  ave is a must visit. a great little Italy street with a lot of high quality stores of all types.
 on my way to NY i stopped at il pizziolo in Pittsburgh,  i have pictures and will put them up soon. this place makes a killer pizza. ron leaves nothing to chance every ingredient is chosen by how it contributes to the final product. it was delicious, his restaurant would do a big business in NY,it is that good.
 in closing thanks to all of you,i hope this was the first of many meetings!! Craig thanks for putting this together.thanks to Scott for the itinerary,also Scott,and john for driving! one more thing Scott i will be calling you you were just getting gone on slice style tips and we had to breakup the meeting,so you are warned.
 
« Last Edit: January 07, 2012, 11:37:23 AM by thezaman »

Offline TXCraig1

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dear pizza enthusiasts, i want to thank all of you for a wonderful evening! that was the most comfortable i have ever felt with a group of people i have never met in my life. i guess our passion for pizza makes us family because that is what i got from every one.
I couldn't agree more. I felt like I knew everyone already.

Quote
Paulie, this guy is a character in a great way, this personality is what it takes... now why the hell would he not feed us a tomato, mozzarella and basil pizza. 
Larry, I'm with you on this. A Margherita is my favorite pie too, notwithstanding, when I have a gracious host like Paulie, I'm going to let him be my guide.

CL
Pizza is not bread. Craig's Neapolitan Garage

Offline thezaman

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 Craig, ya, Paulie was a gracious host.last time in i had his equivalent to a margherita  and it was very good.i am glade we got to taste his uniquely creative pizzas.
 i want to know how your pizza differs in tastes using a starter,and do you ever make yeast risen pizza?

Offline TXCraig1

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i want to know how your pizza differs in tastes using a starter,and do you ever make yeast risen pizza?

I have not made a pizza with regular yeast in about 4 years. I find the sourdough (Ischia) flavor to be much more complex and hands down better tasting. There is a slight hint of sourness, but there are also more intense yeast flavors and it also seems to lend a somewhat creamy flavor.

CL
Pizza is not bread. Craig's Neapolitan Garage

Offline Essen1

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Mike, I'll be there!

Craig

Craig,

The S.F. Bay Area has seen some great pizza movement in the last 2-3 years with the openings of Flour & Water, Zero Zero, Pizzaiolo in Oakland, Tony's, Pizza Picco in Larkspur and, not to forget, UPN. The latest is Mozzeria.

The Artisan side with Gialina, Ragazza, Delfina, Pauline's, etc., is also covered.

Those are only a handful of places. Tomaso's in North Beach is another one that comes to mind with a WFO. Anyway, it's no match for New York but for a small town like SF is still good.

Maybe we can plan something for the summer. We'll see...
Mike

"Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new."  - Albert Einstein

Offline TXCraig1

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Mike, I have family in SF that happen to be borderline Neo fanatics. I love the pizza scene you have in SF but, I definitely have not spent enough time there. I'm looking forward to it.

Craig
Pizza is not bread. Craig's Neapolitan Garage

Offline thezaman

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mike, i would like to be included in this pizza tour. the listed restaurants are always reviewed with lots of praise. and i will not be happy until i experience una pizza napolitana. we may be able to get anthony to give us a few minutes.if you want to set up something i am in!!