Looks like such a great time
. You guys hit up some killer places! Paulie is such a character
. Roberto so gracious
. Best so kick-ass new skool-oldschool
. Joe's is pretty delicious right from the oven
but as you guys noticed/noted it isn't quite in the same league as the other venues you chose.
Although Kesté is pretty great it did/does strike me and my better half as being on the salty end dough wise for sure. That said, everyone experiences salt a bit differently which in part explains peoples preference for say 2.2% vs 3% or whatever. I wish there was one perfect salt level for dough but in my efforts to find it I have realized that it depends a lot on the toppings and who is eating it.
As far as bench flour -- less tastes better to me
. At Paulie's they have such a volume of pies that have to move around in such a short time and basically they can't afford to have any sticking anywhere. So the hydration of the dough and the amount of bench flour reflects those needs. If you/one could crack out as many pies as he does with less bench flour, that would be great I would think. It just might not be that easy. Paulie has seemed pretty pragmatic about this sort of thing and I am sure it is for a good reason. I try to use (and prefer) as little bench flour as possible since the finished crust is less acrid and tastes better -- to me, but I would use more if certain other factors required it. Not a style thing but a necessity thing.