Author Topic: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!  (Read 56409 times)

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Offline norma427

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #275 on: March 10, 2012, 09:37:10 PM »
Norma


Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #276 on: March 10, 2012, 11:58:01 PM »
Thank you for all the pictures Norma.  I won't be able to upload any until I get back tomorrow.  Until then here are a few thoughts on the places we visited.

Day 1

Artichoke -  we had their square pie which had lots of flavor and character.  A bit on the salty side but it didn't bother me.  Thick flavorful sauce, buttery cheese, crunchy fried crust. Not too thick of a crust.  Crust could have been a bit more tender but I enjoyed it.

Totonno's - I know Kelly and Dave said it has been better, but for me this was a decent pie.  The crust had good texture and was done right.  Nice crispiness to the rim and bottom, crumb had good texture and wasn't too dry or overly moist.  Sauce and cheese combo could use a bit more salt and flavor.  The mildness of this pie was accentuated and contrasted bye Artichoke's bold salty flavor.   Overall, a very decent slice IMO.

Nathans - I didn't know better and chose the chili cheese dog.  Good dog, but you need 2 for a decent size meal. One is more like a Scooby snack.  Dogs had good flavor but should be a bit bigger.

L&B - square pie but quite different from Artichoke.  Thicker crust, but softer and a bit lighter in texture.  Good sauce, but cheese was lost in the sauce somewhere.  Not too oily.  Well balance flavor, with slightly less character than Artichoke's pie.  Bottom crust not as dark.   Dough slightly thick for me with the slightest layer of slightly underbaked dough under the sauce, but it wasn't offensive.  I would prefer a slightly thinner pie to bring more balance, but I was told that Sicillian pies can be even thicker.  Overall, very good.  I favored this square slightly over Artichoke's square pie.

I was impress with how many pies they were pumping out in the small space they had.  Very little sitting room and the place was packed on a Friday afternoon, but I like the feel of these small busy places.  It's a high volume place.  Get in, get your pie, and get out!

New Park - good slice pie.  Frank, Nick, and I got lost and showed up a bit late.  I had a reheated slice which added a bit more crisp to an already well done pie.  I like an extra crispy pie so it didn't bother me.  Most memorable thing here is they toss a handful of sea salt into the oven and bake on top of the salt.  The bottom crusts gets impregnated by the salt and adds a nice flavor and texture to a good NY slice.   Very good and I will play around with salting my peel for this affect.   Salted bottom aside, I liked this slice more than Totonno's for it's improved texture, crisp, overall flavor.   Slightly thick for a NY slice, but it was good NY pizza.
  
Roberta's - very cool garage atmosphere.  Looks more like a college watering hole than a pizzeria.  Cool place to bring friends.  Great pizza with a worthy crust.  Strays off the traditional NP path a bit by mixing 00 and KASG (Sir Galahad) flour, but their crust is still very NP.   Interesting topping combinations.  My first introduction to honey on a pie and i loved it, goes well with salty toppings.  Craig and I enjoyed the kale pie more than the others in the group.  They paired capers with sausage which I don't think anyone cared for.  Capers, perhaps shouldn't be placed on a pie.  They also sent out a few calzonnes on the house, which were also good.  The crust had a nice puff and texture, but despite the flour mix, it was closer to the Amano pie in texture and thinness than the Forcella classic NP pies.

Barboncino - nice atmosphere and packed on a Friday night.  Beautiful SF oven.  Crust was okay, could be more tender if I am being picky.  I enjoyed the fresh toppings.  Clam pie was pretty good.  On the thinner side for NP, but decent.  Not half bad, but could be better.

Forcella - nice classy place as well.  Pizzaiolo came out and talked with us.  We had not been there 5 min, when I looked towards the oven and see John, slapping out a pie! Nice fresh ingredients.  They sent out pies with the crust folded over and stuffed with arugula, prosuitto, cheese, and truffle oil.  Good stuff.  I also like the fried pizza.  Good representation of NP pies with a soft puffy rim and slightly thicker center than Amano's.  Very classic NP IMO.

Best - very thin NY slice.  Almost too thin and meager for me.  Cheese was a bit scarce, but this small hole in the wall was crowded.  I spoke with some locals eating pizza outside, and asked why they eat here.  Best local pizza was the response they gave me.  I think they would probably change their minds if they went on the pizza tour.  Just okay for me and not memorable.

Paulie Gees - what can I say?  Paulie is a very generous host.  I was honored that we had 3 restaurant owners and pizza makers hang out with us during the tour.  Paulie, Frank, and Nick.   Paulie's place was packed, very busy, and he still made room for our large group next to the oven.  Loved the topping combinations.  Mike's hot honey was a hit with the group.  I suspect many on the tour will add honey on their pies if they aren't doing it already.  I know I will.  Very fresh, creative topping combinations.  Crust could be lighter for me, but again you guys know how picky I am.  Very lively and  comfortable atmosphere with a beautiful SF oven.  I would definitely go out of my way to come say hi and eat at Paulie's.  Paulie was so kind to give the group so much attention.  He is a true gentleman.  Thank you so much Paulie!

Day 2

Amano - we were the first ones there when they opened.  Very spacious restaurant with a contemporary feel to it.  Beautiful twin Acunto ovens.  Knowledgeable staff as I was able to chat pizza with a few of the guys before we sat and ate.  Along with keste, they claim a very authentic and true NP experience.  One of my aims for this trip was to experience true NP.  We order 2 pies, buffala and one with house made mozz and soprasetta.  Both were excellent pies.  Ovens were definitely up to temps, and the crust was very good, but quite different from Forcella's crust.  Lighter crust (slightly more open crumb) and thinner in the center compared to Forcella.  I think I prefer a slightly thicker center, slightly...  I think Forcella's was probably more true to a classic pie, but I enjoyed this one more.  It was very well balanced between the crust, sauce, and cheese.  Everything was well balanced.  I wanted a bit more flavor in the sauce or for it to have more pop.  The bufala was good with a nice tang to it.  The soprasetta was also very good.  I was happy to have this experience and could easily recommend Amano for a true NP experience.

Pizzatown - what can I say?  Easily my favorite of the slice joints.  Scott was excited to show me this place and I am glad he did.  I'm not sure if it was so so for the others or not, but this pie was very good for me.  Proper thinness factor, nice crispy bottom and crust with a soft crumb.  Not dry and not overly moist.  Good balance of sauce and cheese.  Decent cheese.  Sauce perhaps could be a bit more flavorful, but it worked well with the rest of the pie none the less.  This is a definite must try to make it out to eat again.  I was very jealous to hear that Frank lives about a mile away and grew up on this pizza.
The guy behind the counter was a bit of a pizza nazi and razzed me in true NY fashion which I got a kick out of.  Scott got an order of the fried zeppolies which were good albeit a bit doughy.

Vesta - what can I say?  To reiterate Gene's post, Frank rolled out the red carpet for us.  It was like being guests in his home.  Frank trucked some of us around and took part in the tour, then graciously opened up his restaurant to the lot of us pizza nerds.  There was no hesitation on his part.  Showed us the dough, the mixer, the ovens, the mozz, ingredients, the works.  Taught a few of us how to do Paulie's Egyptian technique.  Let us bake pies if we wanted.  Who does that seriously?  Frank, that's who.   Again, the restaurant is beautiful and spacious.  Nice warm, clean, comfortable atmosphere. Beautiful twin SF ovens, very cool place.  The pizza - good pizza.  Very good topping  combinations.  Fresh, fresh ingredients.  Great house made pepperoni and cheese.  Frank served us some killer pies.  One had vodka sauce and blackened shrimp - awesome!  The pistachio pesto pie with onions was also really good.  Dessert was fried pizza balls stuffed with strawberries and served with a side of gelatto.  Very good.  I had a few and loved the gelatto.  I think Bob had the rest of the first plate!  ;D.  Gene also got behind the peel and baked up a wonderul looking pie. Thank you so much Frank.

Mr. Bruno's - Vesta's did us in.  We ate so much at Vesta, the remaining few of us collectively decided to forego Mr. Bruno's square pie.  Had Artichoke's and L&B's squares been lackluster, I would have pushed for visiting Mr. Bruno's.  But I opted out at the end, as I was literally stuffed beyond decency.

All in all, this trip was really more than I could hope for.  A huge thanks to all the folks that made it possible and a phenomenal tour.  To Scott, for all the time and effort he put into organizing such an awesome tour.  For driving us around and being such a knowledgeable and caring guide.  Scott made sure everyone knew where they were going and got there safely.  Thanks to all the heavy hitters that showed up, including Paulie, Frank, and Nick.  Thank you Bob for my pizza tour T-shirt.   It was really fantastic to meet everyone (and in no particular order) Craig, Bob, Scott, Steve & Norma, Gene & John C. (both had me laughing a lot), Kelly, Dave, Adam, John W., Nick, Frank, and Paulie.  I was lucky to be a part of this tour and felt as though I was among long time friends.  A definite must for those who like pizza.  We ate a ton of great pizza and food, were in the company of friends, and I learned a lot.  Thank you all!

Gratefully,
Chau
« Last Edit: March 16, 2012, 11:40:07 PM by Jackie Tran »

Offline norma427

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #277 on: March 11, 2012, 12:24:45 AM »
Great write-up Chau!  ;D

I didnít see John C. was up with Giulo Adriani at Forcella, but got part of it on video.



Norma

Offline dmcavanagh

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #278 on: March 11, 2012, 01:38:54 AM »
Norma and Tran Man, thanks for the pictures, damn, wish I could have been there to meet you guys. Maybe another time. Gives us more if you got them! 8)
Rest In Peace - November 1, 2014

Offline jever4321

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #279 on: March 11, 2012, 09:57:55 AM »
Loving the pictures and write ups. How awesome that everyone put in the effort to get together. Sounds like it was very rewarding. Thanks for sharing it with those of us that didn't go.
-Jay

Offline andreguidon

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #280 on: March 11, 2012, 10:32:37 AM »
WOW, what a great pizza trip.... wen i make it to NY i hope to go to some of these places... Nice video with Giulio, very nice guy, he was my instructor wen i took the VPN course. Congrats to all off you guys!!
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Offline Ev

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #281 on: March 11, 2012, 11:11:57 AM »
Here are my pictures.

Offline Ev

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #282 on: March 11, 2012, 11:14:01 AM »
more

Offline Ev

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #283 on: March 11, 2012, 11:16:03 AM »
more


Offline Ev

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #284 on: March 11, 2012, 11:18:08 AM »
more

Offline Ev

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #285 on: March 11, 2012, 11:19:54 AM »
more

Offline Ev

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #286 on: March 11, 2012, 11:21:13 AM »
and a couple more

Offline pizzablogger

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #287 on: March 11, 2012, 02:42:00 PM »
I didn't take many pics.....
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Offline pizzablogger

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #288 on: March 11, 2012, 02:43:02 PM »
More....

The parquet floor effect from so many slices being cut in the L&B Spumoni trays is pretty cool....
"It's Baltimore, gentlemen, the gods will not save you." --Burrell

Offline pizzablogger

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #289 on: March 11, 2012, 02:45:13 PM »
Even with the bottom of some slices being clearly burnt, New Park was a visit I am glad I made.

Seeing the pizza maker side-arm a heavy handful of salt (he did three tosses of salt per salting session) directly into the empty oven chamber was very interesting. You can see the granules of salt on the upskirt.

Definitely gonna try this with a lemon topped pizza....would be good with sweeter dessert pies as well.

The 20" pies cooked very fast here......I stopwatched timed one at just under 3 minutes (2:54ish....I was distracted as the pie came outta the oven, but Craig noticed it was in the 2:54ish range as he looked at my phone when the pie was pulled).
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Offline communist

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #290 on: March 11, 2012, 08:41:35 PM »
Great photos and reviews!  Thanks & keep them coming!  My read is that, for NY slice ( not neopolitan ) Pizza Town has the early lead!  Interesting that Best didn't do it for you Chau

Offline Grimaldi

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #291 on: March 11, 2012, 09:58:23 PM »
You guys are fanatics! Thanks for sharing some of your NYC adventure. Can anybody give a description of the ovens in the pics? It look to me like a Farrara, an a Acuna, maybe an Ambrogi, a hand built...? What temps were they running, what kind of wood, etc.?


Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #292 on: March 11, 2012, 10:38:08 PM »
Great photos and reviews!  Thanks & keep them coming!  My read is that, for NY slice ( not neopolitan ) Pizza Town has the early lead!  Interesting that Best didn't do it for you Chau

Mark, from what I have read and just tasted, it appears that there are 2 categories to the NY slice.  One with a softer, more blonde rim, softer bottom that is less brown and crispy.  If this is so, I would put Best into this category.  Now that I think of it, I clearly remember Best's crust and crumb.  The crumb was rather dense, soft and slightly chewy, although the rim was very small and not large.   It's as though this crust had no oil in it and a moderately low hydration.  

The 2nd (sub)category for the NY slice style clearly has a crispy crunchy bottom.  Still foldable, but clearly cracks when you fold it.  It may soften up as it sits, but out of the oven it is crispy and even dark as seen by the bottom shot of New Park's slice.  Now I think that pie was ordered extra crispy or well done, so it was perhaps baked that way on purpose, but even if it wasn't baked so dark, it would have still been crispy on the bottom.   This was also true of Pizza town's and Totonno's pie.   The Totonno's pie we ordered (and can be seen in Norma's pics) is not as dark as they normally serve.  This one I clocked at 5 minutes while Scott timed one just under 6minutes.   The one we had was clearly crispy as well when it was sliced.  I could hear it from across the room.  If they normally bake em darker, then the crispiness would be even more so. This can't be a coincidence.   This crispiness, I favor and crave.  This seems to be in direct contrast from the description of slices that I have read about NY slices with the crust light blonde or even white and a very soft bottom.  Now if you take one of these crispy pies, par bake it light, let it sit in a display counter, then do a really quick reheat at low temps, then I can see the lost of crispiness and what folks would describe as just foldable and soft.  Perhaps Scott and others can clear this up for me.    

I probably shouldn't have said better or best, but according to my taste, I much preferred Pizza Town and New Park, and even Totonno's over Best.    
I hope other's will chime in on what their favorites were among the different styles and places.  

You guys are fanatics! Thanks for sharing some of your NYC adventure. Can anybody give a description of the ovens in the pics? It look to me like a Farrara, an a Acuna, maybe an Ambrogi, a hand built...? What temps were they running, what kind of wood, etc.?

Grimaldi, perhaps others who are familar with ovens can tell you what each place uses.   As far as temps, I didn't see anyone check temps with an IR gun at any of the places.  In working with the ovens daily, I'm sure the oven guys get a feel for the temps and how the oven is baking on any particular night based on the size of the coals and fire so checking temps is not needed.  Most of the NP pies were baked between 70s and sub 2 minutes, which should put their temps between 800-900F or so.  That is only a rough range.  I only asked about wood at Vesta, and Frank said they use a mixture of hardwoods.  I'm sure hard wood is hard wood though as long as it is seasoned wood.  As far as I know, the different woods do not impart different flavors to the crust.   As far as a smokiness to the pies from WFO's, there is a distinct char flavor from the pies from wood fire ovens, but I am fairly certain it is due to the char and leoparding spots on the crust as oppose to any smokiness that the pie takes on from being domed or in direct contact with the smoke in the oven.  The distinct taste of char is favored by some that can be easily confused for "smokiness" from WFOs.  

Chau
« Last Edit: March 11, 2012, 10:43:16 PM by Jackie Tran »

Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #293 on: March 11, 2012, 11:03:50 PM »
A few pics taken outside of Artichoke and their square pie.

"Frah-ghileh....hmmm must be Italian"   (from A Christmas Story)  :-D
« Last Edit: March 11, 2012, 11:05:50 PM by Jackie Tran »

Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #294 on: March 11, 2012, 11:06:58 PM »
Totonno's

Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #295 on: March 11, 2012, 11:08:42 PM »
L&B

Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #296 on: March 11, 2012, 11:12:34 PM »
Roberta's.  This one had capers on it.  :-X

Pic 2 - John holding a Barbincino clam pie.

Pic 3 - Forcella pie.  I think this one was one of the Fried pies but I'm not sure now.

Pic 4 - Pie from Paulie's.  Bake time 1:30
« Last Edit: March 12, 2012, 12:48:09 AM by Jackie Tran »

Offline norma427

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #297 on: March 11, 2012, 11:15:57 PM »
Chau,

I know all of us like different pizzas and have our ideas what an ideal slice of NY style should be like.  I didnít try Best Pizza this time, because I had tried Best Pizza recently two times and wanted to save my pizza overload for the next place.  I wouldnít say Best Pizza was the best NY style I have ever eaten either, but thought it was good the last two times I tried it.  What I remember from years ago (from pizza businesses near my home, the old school ones that arenít around any more in my area anymore that I can find) is the taste of the NY style pizzas were one of the most delicious things I have ever tasted.  I am still in search of trying to make those same pizzas.  I have no idea if it was the flour they used, the cheese, or if they used longer fermentations, but I really donít believe it was from a longer fermentation.  The slices were crispy on the bottom, but not too much, were foldable, and didnít have big oven springs like some of the pies members make here on the forum.  To me really big oven spring really isnít a real NY style pizza, but then that might just be me, because I also like oven spring in my pizzas.  I think it is really confusing to really be able to explain how a real NY style pie should be.  I keep trying to recall all the pizza I ate in my area years ago, and for some reason really canít tell how I think they should be.  I have also tried some really great NY style pizzas in Brooklyn, but they werenít any of the pizzeria I have visited lately.  Maybe my mind is getting foggy.  :-D

Edit:  Chau,  Sorry I butted in when you were posting your pictures, please continue.  :-[ Your pictures look great!   ;D

Norma
« Last Edit: March 11, 2012, 11:24:54 PM by norma427 »

Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #298 on: March 11, 2012, 11:19:24 PM »
Pics 1 & 2 - Pizza town - ma favorite of the slice pies.

Pic 3 and so forth - Vesta Vodka sauce with blackened shrimp, pistachio pesto with onions and smoked mozz, & in house pepperoni and mozz.

Sadly I did not have my camera for the Amano pie.  Craig or Gene, can you post that one?

Offline Bobino414

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #299 on: March 11, 2012, 11:28:45 PM »
What a fun time. 

Best part about the tour was putting faces and personalities to their blogs.

All should know of the great effort put out by Scott 123 in selecting the pizza places, arranging transportation, and keeping us all together.

I was able to stay with the group from 11 am until 4pm on Friday.  During that time we visited four  places, one being Nathanís on Coney Island-Iíll skip the details on that one. 

Although Artichhoke was the first stop I want to skip to L & B Spumoni Gardens.  This place is incredibly busy.  They have five four deck ovens and each shelf is subdivided horizontally to double their capacity.  Next to the ovens were about 25 assembled pies ready for baking.  We got a square pie-think Sicilian.  The pie had a very thin layer of fried crust which I expect in this type. Sauce was mildly flavored; the cheese was just there.  Strangely no component overpowered any other so it resulted in an overall balanced pie.  Not the best Sicilian but I would eat it again.

Back to the first stop Artichoke.  This place had a clear advantage as it was the first stop and we were hungry.  Although I donít like heavily fried pies like Pizza Hut, this puppy tasted very good.  It was thinner than the typical Sicilian.  Bottom was charred and oily but tasty and pleasingly crunchy.  The taste of the tomatoes on this pie was dominant and exploded with flavor.  The cheese was just there.  So of the first two square pies we I had I would prefer to revisit Artichoke.  This place has no tables or chairs so prepare yourself for a vertical dining experience.

New Park pizza I would consider a NY slice style with tweaking.  It was foldable and floppy but when held semivertically I could not get it to drip oil onto the plate.   The cheese had some flavor, sauce was generic; I think they didnít want it to get in the way.  Now on to the crust;  the bottom was burned to a crisp-apparently requested by a tour member.  I like some char but this was over the top; I wouldnít have served this pie.  So I took my first bite; boy was that salty.  Then I found out they purposely toss salt into the oven and bake the pie on top.  So the first bite was a surprise-burnt plus salt.  Second bite burnt plus salt.  There was no third bite.  I think I took in my weekly allotment of NaCl in two bites.

Totonnoís is more about history and less about consistency.  Some members remember having better pies there than what we had.  The pie was very thin and crispy.  Crust flavor from some char, uncooked pulverized tomatoes, fresh mozz and topped with Pecorino.  So if you like a very thin crispy old style NY pie, you might like this place. I had a chance to talk to the owner outside while she was taking a break.  She is very proud to serveĒ the best pie in NY.Ē  All recipes came from her grandfather and of course they are a secret.  I think she should keep them a secret.

At this point I had to leave the group.  For the Saturday tour in NJ I told Scott I had a scheduling conflict and couldnít make it.  He told me no excuses, I could not miss the visit to Vesta.  Boy was he right.  You have already heard people sing the praises of Frank the owner of Vesta, but they are not singing loud enough.  He is an absolute gem.  He trained in culinary school before venturing into pizza; so he can think outside the disk.  I cannot imagine anyone being more friendly and open about his operation and methodology.  We spent time in the kitchen as he explained his formulas and work flow.  Next out to our reserved table where he served up some very tasty pies-see previous reports, and drinks.  Then it was on to the ovens and prep area where we opened up some dough balls; some baked their  own pies.  For dessert he made doughnuts out of pizza dough filled with fresh strawberries and bananas; this was good stuff !!  I will definitely go back.

So once again, thanks to all who came from far and wide to take part in this adventure and especially to Scott for all his work.

Kelly, sorry you missed your bus but at least it gave you the opportunity to eat another slice.

Chau, the picture on you shirt is for display purposes only, please donít eat it.

We need to do this again.