Author Topic: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!  (Read 40614 times)

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Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #300 on: March 11, 2012, 11:42:09 PM »

Chau, the picture on you shirt is for display purposes only, please don’t eat it.

We need to do this again.


Too late, it's gone!  JK Bob.  I will save the shirt for someday when I make an outrageous claim, get proven wrong, and have to eat the shirt off my back!  :-D   Yes, next tour may have to take place in Italy! Someday...


Offline Bobino414

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #301 on: March 11, 2012, 11:48:50 PM »
The longer you wait the less crispy the shirt

Offline chickenparm

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #302 on: March 12, 2012, 12:44:45 AM »
 8)

Love the stories and the pics.Missing Ny Myself and hope to get there someday!

 :pizza:
-Bill

Offline pizzablogger

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #303 on: March 12, 2012, 07:53:53 AM »
So, with old man winter throwing some crotchety lashings of windy cold into the early March air, the morning started off with my 6:30am bus arriving late in Baltimore. Did not depart until nearly 7:30.

I got to NYC too late to join the folks at Artichoke, which is one of my favorite squares. It was Artichoke, along with DiFara, which influenced me to add a little more olive oil to my pan and achieve more of a crunchier outside shell in my square. Sorry I missed the crew here.

After a D Train ride to Coney Island, Totonno's was just opening when I arrived, with Paulie Gee, Johnny W, Norma and Steve already there. Totonno's was nice and warm inside....to which one of our group mentioned "I think it's warmer in this room than it is in that oven". The rest of the crew spilled inside and it was great to put a face to everyone's names.

For some reason the bench flour used this day was off the chain.  Without a slotted peel to launch the pizzas, far too much bench flour was left on the finished pizzas....giving some slices the look of a cracked riverbed that has gone far too long without rain. The flavor note it left was a tad bitter for me. The lip was more of the brown of an everyday NY-Style slice, without the darkish caramel-licorice hues that typify the Totonno's pizza. Granted, you are eating a youngish dough at Totonno's when eating pies early in the operating schedule, but the flavor profile of the crust was off....anemic compared to two previous trips. And there was much more of a dried out, rigid crunch to my slices that is not the norm.....a testament to the lower temps in the oven.

In short, I was very disappointed and would not make a trip out to Coney Island to eat the pizza served on this day. And I've heard the pies lately look more like what we were served. Not a good omen if true. Pics of the heavy benchflour on my slice and a comparison of the pizza we were served and a pic I took from a visit to Totonno's on 4/15/2010. Different pies.

L&B is what it always is. It is never a square that drops the total flavor bomb of the Artichoke or DiFara squares, it has more finesse....I personally really like the contrast in style. A slight undercooked gumline just below the sauce as Chau mentioned...characteristic of the square here. As Bob mentioned, the cheese does get lost under the sauce, but I really like the clean, bright sauce on this pie. I'm not a big fan of overly herbed sauces on a Sicilian. The clean sauce and the light crumb with the saltier hits from the pecorino do it for me personally. If I was forced to choose one, I would likely choose the Artichoke or DiFara square, but it really is a subjective case of apples versus oranges. The being said, L&B remains one of my benchmarks for the style.

New Park. The burnt undercarriage was a bummer, but I still really enjoyed this pizza because I could envision what it would taste like if the top was cooked just as it was with the bottom not cooked so much. Nothing extraordinary about the sauce or cheese, but of a good quality. Sauce could have perhaps used a touch of oregano and a competent mozzarella (Grande?). To me, for the NY-Style, the top of the pie was baked dead on.....cheese just starting to brown and the oil just starting to seperate. I personally do not like it when oil freely drips off of the pizza during a vertical hold and thought the New Park bake in this aspect was about spot on. The bottom was burnt.....I would not have been happy serving this personally because of the burn.....and yet surprisingly I really liked the pizza none-the-less. The crispy shell with the soft crumb was nice. Perhaps a tad thick, but not too thick. I can't wait to try this again without the burnt bottom. Scott, you have no idea how lucky you are having places like Pizza Town and this so close. In a NY-Style pizza wasteland like Baltimore, even with the burnt bottom, the New Park pie would be akin to a USS New Jersey class battleship doing battle against a tug boat.

In my pizza world fantasy, places like New Park, Best, Joe's (on a good day), Sacco (on a good day), etc. represent what a baseline pizza should be. Not necessarily earth shattering, but just really dependably solid, tasty and well executed pizza. Such a seemingly simple and beautiful thing (nothing simple about it in reality). It really effing pisses me off that douchebag chain pizza is the model for so many mom-and-pop independents in many parts when these types of proud shops should be the model.  

I really cannot wait to try Pizza Town now. Probably as excited to eat NY-Style pizza at P-Town as I have been to eat that style anywhere.

Was great to meet everyone, although not enough time to chat with everyone. That's what next time is for!  :)

EDIT: Actually, it was Craig and Gene waiting at Totonno's, not Norma and Steve.
« Last Edit: March 12, 2012, 09:17:26 AM by pizzablogger »
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Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #304 on: March 12, 2012, 09:17:59 AM »
There has got to be more photos and feedback from this massive NYC pizza tour, no  ???  But, maybe the pizza-hangover needs to wear off first...  ;D

I'm headed out of town. It will be a week or so before I get my pictures up.

CL
Pizza is not bread.

Offline norma427

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #305 on: March 12, 2012, 09:22:01 AM »
EDIT:  All the photo’s I took of pizza businesses we visited are going to be edited because Chau asked me to edit them to reflect where each place was so members won’t get confused on which pictures belong with which pizza places we visited.  I thought I had all the pictures of the pizza businesses in order, but will add names on them.  If anyone is interested, they go back though my pictures it should reflect the editing.

Norma
« Last Edit: March 12, 2012, 12:18:32 PM by norma427 »
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Offline akuban

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #306 on: March 12, 2012, 10:10:34 AM »
Wow. Just now checking in and clicking through 5 pages of post-tour posts. Wow.

Thanks to Scott123 for organizing. I wish I could have gone all of Friday, but for me it was more about meeting the folks who I've only known by name. Truly an honor to meet all of you, and thanks for inviting me along.

I have a few pics I'll have to go through and edit and then will post. When I get home tonight -- group photo at Paulie Gee's and some of John making a pie at Forcella.

I don't know what's going on with Totonno's. In most of the shots the top looks underdone. In some, the bottom looks burned -- but then I see Kelly's shot and it does look too bench-flour-y.

I can only imagine how much pizza everyone must have eaten pre-Forcella, judging by the smart way everyone else was sampling. I felt like a bogartin' pizza hog eating the final slices of more than one pie ;)

Now ... what city is next for pizza marauders?
ˇHasta la pizza!

Offline pizzablogger

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #307 on: March 12, 2012, 10:12:24 AM »
Wow. Just now checking in and clicking through 5 pages of post-tour posts. Wow.

Thanks to Scott123 for organizing. I wish I could have gone all of Friday, but for me it was more about meeting the folks who I've only known by name. Truly an honor to meet all of you, and thanks for inviting me along.

I have a few pics I'll have to go through and edit and then will post. When I get home tonight -- group photo at Paulie Gee's and some of John making a pie at Forcella.

I don't know what's going on with Totonno's. In most of the shots the top looks underdone. In some, the bottom looks burned -- but then I see Kelly's shot and it does look too bench-flour-y.

I can only imagine how much pizza everyone must have eaten pre-Forcella, judging by the smart way everyone else was sampling. I felt like a bogartin' pizza hog eating the final slices of more than one pie ;)

Now ... what city is next for pizza marauders?

San Francisco
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Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #308 on: March 12, 2012, 10:30:31 AM »
Now that I think about it, I do recall thinking there was too much bench flour at Totonno's.  It could definitely be due to pressing out 2-3 balls at one time and letting them sit while making pies.  It gives opportunity for for the bench flour to cake on the wetter underside of the dough.

Offline johnnydoubleu

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #309 on: March 12, 2012, 12:10:21 PM »
Guys I'd like to help clarify a few things...

First, Chau, The Totonno's pies that have historically been far better than what we got tended to have some char and blackenening but were less golden. This indicates that in the past the oven was running hotter and the bake times shorter. These better pies from the past that I speak of were actually considerably less crispy then what we got -- not more so. Don't want you to be under wrong impressions of what Totonno's typical pie used to be/should be.

Kelly, the "gum line" at L&B is simply the cheese melting in the top of the dough -- something I think contributes to the uniqueness of this slice. Or did you notic something else? I think people forget there is cheese on the L&B square, if not very much.

--

My other thoughts are that the hype around Barboncino is mostly the result of the press needing to/wanting to annoint another Nearlypolitan pizzeria as the second coming. The Roberta's pies don't really look at all impressive...

In the end it makes me thing that those of use that are making really excellent pies ourselves (most of us it seems) would be able to compete and/or outcompete these guys on pie quality. I also continue to think that making a killer square is a niche that has a fair bit of room left for some to enter into and it is a good way of differentiating a place from all the thin crust places. As many of you know, I think a well executed grandma is the pie to beat. It sort of contains most of the elements that I like in other styles all rolled into one.

I also found it interesting but unsurprising that the Jersey places fared so well.

--

Finally, I really wanted to make it to Paulie's to celebrate with y'all, but I was busy supervising and litter training (and I have been successful -- w00t!) my newly adopted orphan kitten, Marty.

Here is a pic of Marty resting with his big brother Cooper (Cooper being sooo large and kinda a brute further required my supervision of the boys):

http://twitpic.com/8v7cu0



Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #310 on: March 12, 2012, 12:32:08 PM »
John w., thank you for your insights.  Good to know why you guys were so disappointed with Totonno's.  I can definitely see now why a hotter and quicker bake would result in a darker but softer crust and bottom.  Their normal bake times must be right at the magic 4 min marker Scott talks about.  It sounds like the oven this time just needed to be heated longer or have a bigger pile of coal as it was lacking top heat and not bottom heat.   The extra minute to 2min bake can definitely dry a pie out considering the nature of coal ovens.  I like crispy bottoms, I guess I'm just strange that way.  ;D

Crust issues aside, was their sauce and cheese and different than it normally was?  I thought it was a bit lacking but it could just be my heavily salted palate.

I would think the slice places have to find that proper balance between quality and quantity to be able to survive and be profitable.

Did anyone happen to get a bake time for pizza town?

Very cute kitty.  Good luck with Marty.
« Last Edit: March 12, 2012, 01:42:54 PM by Jackie Tran »

Offline johnnydoubleu

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #311 on: March 12, 2012, 12:44:34 PM »
Chau, the sauce and cheese at Totonno's were the same but...here is the thing...if ever there was a pie that the sum exceeded the individual components the Totonno's pie was it. At its best, it is light and scarfable with a slightly floppy and chewy crust (the kind that tugs a little when you bite in). It had been a minimalism that worked.

I also was thinking about Vesta and that you liked it quite a bit. It looks kinda bready (not in a bad way at all per se). I had an interesting convo with Craig about pizza vs bread at Totonno's. Since Craig indicated he is not a fan of "bread-like" pizza (as I think you and I are, when it is well executed), I wonder how he felt Vesta compared to Forcella for example.

Thanks for the comment about Marty -- he has brought a lot of joy to our (my lady and I) lives! :)

--

Who do you guys think had the best sauce of the day/s? The best cheese? The best crust? Why?

Offline pizzablogger

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #312 on: March 12, 2012, 01:01:59 PM »

Crust issues aside, was their sauce and cheese and different than it normally was?  I thought it was a bit lacking but it could just be my heavily salted palate.

Like me, it's likely a bit of both for you.

I quickly mentioned to Craig when we first arrived at Totonno's and were waiting for the rest of the group to show up that my prediction was much of the group may be underwhelmed by Totonno's because they will feel it is underseasoned.

A meaningful amount of us in the tour group are using salt amounts in the 2.50%-3.00% range in our dough and often adding more salt....either to the tomatoes while making sauce or (and!) sprinkling some on top of the pizza while dressing the skins prior to launch.

Totonno's is using straight tomatoes with no salt added and I have not seen salt being added while making the pizzas. The only additional salty note comes from the sprinkling of Pecorino while dressing the skins.  Add in a dough that is much less salty than what many of us use and you have a pizza that is underseasoned when compared to what I usually make.....what many of us usually make and when compared to the newer Neapolitan style pizzerias.

That being said, I liked the Totonno's pizzas for their unpretentious, straight forward lack of bullsh&%t. A workman's crust with a good, medium light crumb and a nice snap-chew and flavor from the coloration in the crust, clean, bright sauce made from unadultered good quality tomatoes, a good mozzarella providing more texture than flavor and some needed saltiness from the Pecorino (Lawrence, when at Totonno's, can be a tad heavy handed with the Pecorino). The sauce-cheese ratio always spot on.

Like Johnny W said, definitely a study in minamalist construction. And almost certainly the closest modern day example of what the pizzas that Gennaro Lombardi, Anthony "Totonno" Pero, Luigino and John Sasso were making in NYC in the early 1900s.

Hopefully our visit was the exception, not the rule. --K
« Last Edit: March 12, 2012, 01:03:30 PM by pizzablogger »
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Offline johnnydoubleu

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #313 on: March 12, 2012, 01:08:32 PM »
Just for the sake of comparison, IMO, the (lowly ;)) Lo Duca plain slice undercrust compares favorably (pic taken with an "antique", lo-fi 3GS) to the vaunted Pizzatown (when Lo Duca is firing on all cylinders, which is most of the time). Note the almost complete lack of bench flour, prominent microblisters and nice color.

There is no perfect slice. Timing is everything! :)

Offline pizzablogger

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #314 on: March 12, 2012, 01:17:11 PM »
My last quip on the Totonno's visit. Everyone has a bad day, but as I mentioned previously, word is that recent pies all are similar to what we had.

Cookie takes her perch right in the back near the oven (and knows how to make a mean pie herself). There is no way you can tell me she does not notice the visable difference in the pizzas when they come out looking like what we were served.

I would also be somewhat surprised if she is following anything said about her on the internets. Some of these older places may have the weight of history working against them in some instances....maybe feeling they can rely on that alone to bring people in. I can tell you Paulie and Mary Ann are very cognizant of what people are saying about Paulie Gee's.

"We use all of my grandfather's recipes". Relatively meaningless, as the real mettle is in the execution of the recipe.....and with her right there where the pies are made, one has to wonder.

Again, it could be a blip on the radar and I hope so. Warm summer days lie ahead and no trip to ride the Cyclone is complete without a pie from Totonno's rumbling around in your stomach! --K
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Offline johnnydoubleu

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #315 on: March 12, 2012, 01:21:03 PM »
(To) add to that perfect day scenario at Coney -- a pistachio soft serve cone from Denny's on Surf Ave and a stroll on the Brighton section of the beach to gawk at the pretty Russian and Brooklyn girls. :)

Also (at Luna Park proper), the is not to be missed either and complements the Cyclone well.

Oh, and I agree, no way Cookie doesn't know the pies are different. I wonder if their Manhattan foray has had a negative effect on Totonno's Coney pies? :( For shame.
« Last Edit: March 12, 2012, 01:30:12 PM by johnnydoubleu »

Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #316 on: March 12, 2012, 01:57:57 PM »
Chau, the sauce and cheese at Totonno's were the same but...here is the thing...if ever there was a pie that the sum exceeded the individual components the Totonno's pie was it. At its best, it is light and scarfable with a slightly floppy and chewy crust (the kind that tugs a little when you bite in). It had been a minimalism that worked.

I also was thinking about Vesta and that you liked it quite a bit. It looks kinda bready (not in a bad way at all per se). I had an interesting convo with Craig about pizza vs bread at Totonno's. Since Craig indicated he is not a fan of "bread-like" pizza (as I think you and I are, when it is well executed), I wonder how he felt Vesta compared to Forcella for example.

Thanks for the comment about Marty -- he has brought a lot of joy to our (my lady and I) lives! :)

The topic of bread vs pizza is a loaded one.  While they both share a lot in common, I tend to agree with Craig that pizza crust should not be bready, or dense, or tough.  I love a light texture, and airy (not a must but preferred) crumb.  The crust I like has a bit of a crisp, even on NP initially and definitely crispier for NY.  For pan or squares, the crunchiness of the bottom fulfills that need for me.   While I agree with Craig, I think he is also a die hard NP fan, and anything else probably gets tossed into the bread category.   Craig called L&b bread with sauce which he could eat often, while I thought it was a well executed square pizza.  while L&b doesn't really fit the traditional mold of pizza compared to NP or slice pizza, it has the basic components and is well executed, ie not heavy in texture or chew and not heavy on the stomach.  It was definitely light for it's thickness and not bready.   I can also see myself describing the crust as a light textured foccaccia type bread.  Regardless, it was light and delicious.  ;D

But when we talk about bread, we also have light and heavy breads.  I am not a fan of heavy sourdough breads.  I like my breads as light as possible, but I also like sourdoughs that are on the lighter side.  So if I get pizza crust that is light in texture, I'm happy.  If the texture is a bit heavy or a bit too chewy, I call it bready.

So to me, pizza and bread are quite different in their execution.  Vesta, for me is more about the really freshness of the ingredients and the great topping combinations. The pepperoni and fresh mozz pie, Frank baked it less so it was softer, which made the pie better.  Both Craig and I noted this and Frank said that he also personally prefers to bake his dough less.  However, to appease the American palate, they bake the pies at slightly lower temps and longer so customers would be happier.   Frank had me laughing because he said if you bake it less, customers send back the pies.  When he baked them more, they give you fist bumps and head nods in agreement.  Frank also baked one of his doughs at 800F plus which really made the crust shine in tenderness IMO, but again I understand why he doesn't serve it like so and definitely won't fault him or anyone else.

So for places with crust that are on the heavy side, I definitely understand it if they were doing that purposefully because customers were requesting it.

I think we pizza nerds get really picky, but for average customers, it's all really good pizza.
« Last Edit: March 12, 2012, 02:43:49 PM by Jackie Tran »

Offline pizzablogger

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #317 on: March 12, 2012, 02:06:41 PM »

I think we pizza nerds get really picky, but for average customers, it's all really good pizza.


Ya think?  That's the understatement of the week.  :D

Yes, for the average person it's all really good pizza indeed....and who can really argue that at the end of the day?

Craig calling L&B good bread that he can eat often has me thinking those long, blazing hot summers in Houston have baked one too many brain cells.  :P
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Offline Don K

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #318 on: March 12, 2012, 03:55:44 PM »
Wow, what a fantastic tour! I wish I could have joined you, it looks like you all had a blast. Thanks for all of the mouth-watering pictures.

In all of the times that I've visited NYC, I've never been to any of those places (except Nathan's). You guys have got me wanting to visit again.

Judging by the pictures alone, this was my favorite. Is this Paulie Gee's? It looks incredible.
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Offline akuban

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #319 on: March 12, 2012, 03:58:33 PM »
Judging by the pictures alone, this was my favorite. Is this Paulie Gee's? It looks incredible.

Yes. That's the Hellboy. Hot soppressata with a drizzle of Mike's Hot Honey.
ˇHasta la pizza!


 

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