Author Topic: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!  (Read 38214 times)

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Offline Jet_deck

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #360 on: March 19, 2012, 02:33:09 PM »
Some pictures from Vesta.  Frank restored this 100 year old building. Franks homemade pepperoni was the best I have ever had.
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Offline Jet_deck

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #361 on: March 19, 2012, 02:36:52 PM »
more pics.
Her mind is Tiffany-twisted, she got the Mercedes bends

Offline dmcavanagh

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #362 on: March 19, 2012, 03:18:12 PM »
TXCraig1
Thanks for the info, finally putting names and faces together. I knew who you were from your SLICE/Pizza Obsessive interview. Don't wanna meet some of these guys in a dark alley! :-D

Offline Ev

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #363 on: March 19, 2012, 07:30:21 PM »
Yeah, I just gotta get to Vesta one of these days! :'(

Offline Jet_deck

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #364 on: March 21, 2012, 01:43:08 PM »
I wanted to tell a funny story from Best Pizza.  Scott ordered for the group; there wasn't any seating available so we were all kinda standing around visiting and looking at the tomatoes and yeast and stuff on their shelves.  At some point Scott walked up to me and asked if I wanted to try a slice of cheese pizza.  He had them take a normal size slice and cut it into about thirds.  I said sure.  I had no paper plate or napkin so I was kinda holding it with both hands.  Scott turned away to offer someone else a piece.  I took a huge bite, when I hear Scott say-- Don't eat it yet, it's still way to hot.  So by this time the molten volcano of mozz had melted to the roof of my mouth.  My eyes kinda teared up in pain and I walked over to the counter and made some kind of jesture that the guy handed me a plate.  My 3rd degree burn on the roof of my mouth took about 3 days to wear off.  :-D
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Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #365 on: March 21, 2012, 02:11:48 PM »
I constantly burn myself with hot pizza.  I hate waiting for pizza to cool down. 

Offline johnnydoubleu

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #366 on: March 21, 2012, 02:21:42 PM »
It's a tough slog guys, but we'll get through it -- burnt mouths and all! :)

Offline scott123

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #367 on: March 23, 2012, 09:59:44 AM »
Two weeks later and I'm only getting around to jotting my thoughts down now. It was a lot to digest- both literally and figuratively!

Anyway, before I move on to my reviews, I wanted to thank everyone for their contribution. None of this could have happened without some tremendous generosity by many parties.  The drivers- Nick, Frank, John, David- you guys are amazing. Nick, you drove all the way from Connecticut, then drove all day, stayed at a hotel, and then drove the next day.  That was a gargantuan effort. Frank, you juggled driving AND hosting.  I tip my hat to all of you.

Adam, your 'in' at Forcella paid off- in a huge way.

Kelly, Adam, Paulie, JohnW, JohnC, Craig (and anyone else I'm forgetting), your input on the itinerary was a godsend.

Last, but not least, Chau, thanks for instigating this.  You put all this motion.  I don't even want to think what you, Craig, Gene and Bob shelled out for air fare.  The distance you all traveled (everyone traveled) gave this event an epic scope.

Next... my thoughts on the pizza.

Offline scott123

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #368 on: March 23, 2012, 10:20:26 AM »
Thanks to my excursions in recent months, my perception of great pizza has expanded. I'm much more open to a variety of toppings, I'm learning to see particular variations as positive traits rather than faults and I'm beginning to be a little less NY style centric.  This all being said, I'm not sticking a flower in my hair, dropping acid and singing kumbaya. My foundation has been rocked, but it hasn't crumbled. At its core are values that will never change.

Toward the top of my core value list is the inherent superiority of longer fermented dough.  When NY was going through it's golden age of pizza 20 years ago, every pizzeria wasn't perfect.  The ovens were more powerful, so the bake times, for the most part, were respectable, but nobody really understood the benefits of longer fermentation.  Most still don't.  To John Q. Pizzeria Owner, you use enough yeast so the dough is ready when you need it- if the logistics work out to a day of fermentation or an hour, to him (and, let's face it, many of his customers), it makes no difference. You'd have some shops whose logistics fared better with same days, while others would make the dough the day before.  The day before places would usually sell more pizza, but I think you'd be hard pressed to find an owner that knew why.

Fast forward 20 years and you still have pizzeria guys that don't understand the benefits of longer fermentation.  This is, imo, why pizza is so incredibly mediocre today- because you had so many owners that didn't understand what made their pizza great, they couldn't take the necessary steps to safeguard it.  Oven manufacturers started making weaker ovens, and, rather than saying 'wait a sec, a fast bake time is integral to the greatness of my pizza' the owners just rolled over and bought the weaker ovens. Fermentation took a similar route. Because these owners didn't see the great pizza/longer fermentation connection, they didn't fight the trend towards same day doughs.

Fortunately, we know better.  While countless areas of pizzamaking are hotly contested, no one on this forum, after making an overnight dough ever comes back and says "You know what, I prefer the blandness of my two hour dough."  Never happens.

This is the information age.  I know it's unrealistic to expect Dom Demarco to go online and learn about fermentation, but, at some point, someone had to tell the guy that longer fermentation produces a better tasting crust.  And for him to ignore that information is unforgivable.  And, imo, it's equally unforgivable for the guys/gals at Totonno's to be as clueless.

Bottom line, no matter how much my pizza horizons expand, I will never be able to tolerate a short fermented tasteless crust.

A second core value of mine is excess char. We make a lot of fun of Americans who call slightly charred pizza burnt, but, truly burnt pizza can be an issue. Unless a pizzeria is marketing to a specific niche demographic that's seeking out an excessive amount of char, there's a quantity of char, that, if you surpass it, you betray your customer. New Park completely crossed this line.

Now... when Paulie first mentioned New Park to me a while back, I did my homework and pulled up countless images of their 'well done' pies.  They have a very long history of doing well done pies that aren't burnt, so I don't blame Paulie in the slightest.  This poor excuse for a pizza was entirely New Park's fault.  Kelly was able to reverse engineer a non burnt slice in his head, but I just couldn't look past the fault.  I really wish I could have picked up a regular slice, but, with all the pizzas we were eating, it just felt like too much.

Those are, by far, the two greatest black marks of the trip.  Any other issues I might have had are just small nits/personal preferences.

Speaking of personal preferences, I'm not entirely certain where I stand with pan pizza.  It's possible that I just haven't had the right pan pizza, but, right now, from the places I've gone to, I like it, but it doesn't send my heart soaring.  It's difficult, because pan pizza is such a crowd favorite and I'm pretty proud of my accessible palate, but I have to go with my gut, and, right now, the feeling I get when I walk into L&B isn't the same level of excitement when I walk up to the window at pizza town- or for that matter, the exhilaration I'm finding myself experiencing at one of the Neapolitan(ish) places.

Take Artichoke- I liked the square, a lot, but I can't help but think that if you took those toppings and put them on a pizza town or a Vesta dough, it might be better- not 'different' but better. I can compartmentalize Neapolitan and appreciate it's differences/see it for what it is, but I can't do the same thing with pan pizza. It's just too inherently similar to NY style not to be judged side by side.

Don't get me wrong, I'll keep eating/trying squares, in the hopes one will eventually blow me away, but right now, I haven't had one that could hold a torch to a great slice.

Those are the bigger themes that have been playing out in my head since the trip.  From here on out, let's go pizzeria by pizzeria.

Roberta's

Roberta's hasn't gotten glowing reviews on this site, so I wasn't expecting it to be all that wonderful, but, at the same time, I was aware that Paulie had been inspired by them, so I knew they couldn't be all bad.  I ended up being impressed.  Very impressed.  As much as I still hate King Arthur flour  ;), I was incredibly pleased by Roberta's choice to use an 00/Sir Galahad blend. Talk about thinking outside the box!  The tenderness from the lower protein flour really shined through. If I've got a Bee Sting in front of me next to a Hellboy, I'm going for the Hellboy, but the Bee Sting is still an extremely respectable pizza. Now, the Beastmaster has the dubious honor of being the worst pizza I've ever consumed, but I think that has more to do with my own personal issue with melted gorgonzola than anything else, so I don't put that in the loss column. When I think of Roberta's, my mind immediately zeros in on a tender, flavorful crust, that, when combined with the right toppings, is one of the better Neo-NY hybrids that NY has to offer.

Barboncino

Ron's a really great guy and he/his staff went to great lengths to accommodate us, but his pizza did not meet my expectations.  The Village Voice missed the mark.  It was good and it certainly deserves it's place in the NY Neapolitan landscape, but I can't at this point, say it was better than Keste. Or, for that matter, better than Forcella, Motorino, Paulie Gee's or Robertas. The crust was a little on the dry side. It also probably didn't help that we went to Forcella right after, where the crust is considerably more moist. One of the realities of Neapolitan pizza is that you're at the mercy of whoever is forming skins/tending the oven that evening and none of the NY places (that I know of) have owners behind the counter (at least not by themselves), so you're going to get variations from different employees.  I would like to think that we just caught Ron on a bad night.

Forcella

Forcella blew me away.  Everyone was incredibly accommodating throughout the day and night, but Giulio went above and beyond his duties as a host.  I remember reading about Olio a while back and feeling like the way it was being marketed was a bit pretentious.  Forcella, the restaurant, and Giulio, the person, are the complete antithesis of pretentious. I am so pleased that Giulio has found a better outlet for his talents and that we could experience it firsthand.  After Motorino and Keste (and my time here), I was under the impression that I had a pretty good idea of Neapolitan pizza, but this took that preconception and obliterated it. That crust was SO moist! With that much water it gets difficult to avoid gum lines with fast bakes and this was cooked through. I can't really say, at this point, if it's my favorite Neapolitan pizza in NY, but it's definitely in the running.  If Giulio ever did a brussels sprouts or a lardo pizza, I think, for me, he could beat out Motorino and Keste. Maybe.

I guess I could try to appreciate all the Neapolitan places for what each offers, but I was raised on pizza being very competitive, so that's difficult  :) Long before Iron Chef ever aired, the pizzerias of my youth waged battle with each other for County, State and Regional bragging rights.

Best

One of the aspects of these trips that I've noticed is that the pizza tastes a bit better after I've brought a slice home and re-warmed it.  I think it has less to do with re-warming having any benefit and more from the fact that I can sit down and appreciate the pizza with a greater focus. Anyway, the white pizza I had taken home from Best tasted quite a bit better than the white pizza I had in person. The sesame seeds were still a nice touch, but the caramelized onions were a bit scant and my slice ended up being a bit bland. I still have the same feelings about the red slice- liked it, but miss the oregano.  Now that I've had a couple slices I'm also coming to the conclusion that the cheese is too sparse. I know Frank is trying to do something different, but, come on, don't be stingy with the cheese :) It's still a really solid NY slice, but, if I go back, I think I'm taking a page out of Adam's book and trying a sandwich.

Paulie Gee's

Paulie's hosting abilities are, by now, quite legendary, so I don't think I have to focus too much on how incredibly gracious and generous he was.  Paulie is the man.

As you all know, I've had nits with Paulie's pizza in the past.  We've all had some good laughs joking about bench flour, but, joking aside, Paulie brought his A game that night.  The bench flour was indiscernible and the undercrust char (that had previously been pretty extreme) was absolutely perfect. With those two issues resolved, for me, that puts Paulie's pizza into the running for best in NY.  I still think wistfully of Roberto's lardo and Motorino's brussel sprouts, but that Hellboy is holding an equally important place in my heart. And that speck pie is also a contender. Between the person and the pizza, if I make it to Brooklyn, I'm not missing Paulie Gees.

NJ leg thoughts to come...
« Last Edit: March 23, 2012, 11:19:30 AM by scott123 »

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #369 on: March 23, 2012, 10:47:42 AM »
Nice write up Scott.

FYI - I read recently that KA is coming out with a bleached and brominated HG flour aimed at the NY slice market...
Pizza is not bread.


Offline scott123

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #370 on: March 23, 2012, 11:48:35 AM »
FYI - I read recently that KA is coming out with a bleached and brominated HG flour aimed at the NY slice market...

KA is going to start selling bromated flour?! What the heck are they smoking? Do they really think they're going to make inroads into such an incredibly saturated market with a product that's more costly than anything out there?

So... does this mean that KA will take back all the bad things they say about bromate?  ;D

Offline Don K

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #371 on: March 23, 2012, 12:01:55 PM »
When NY was going through it's golden age of pizza 20 years ago, every pizzeria wasn't perfect.  The ovens were more powerful, so the bake times, for the most part, were respectable, but nobody really understood the benefits of longer fermentation.  Most still don't.  To John Q. Pizzeria Owner, you use enough yeast so the dough is ready when you need it- if the logistics work out to a day of fermentation or an hour, to him (and, let's face it, many of his customers), it makes no difference. You'd have some shops whose logistics fared better with same days, while others would make the dough the day before.  The day before places would usually sell more pizza, but I think you'd be hard pressed to find an owner that knew why.

Fast forward 20 years and you still have pizzeria guys that don't understand the benefits of longer fermentation.  This is, imo, why pizza is so incredibly mediocre today- because you had so many owners that didn't understand what made their pizza great, they couldn't take the necessary steps to safeguard it.  Oven manufacturers started making weaker ovens, and, rather than saying 'wait a sec, a fast bake time is integral to the greatness of my pizza' the owners just rolled over and bought the weaker ovens. Fermentation took a similar route. Because these owners didn't see the great pizza/longer fermentation connection, they didn't fight the trend towards same day doughs.
I'm just curious...This "Golden Age" that you speak of...do you mean 20 years ago and long before, or was there some pinnacle reached in the 1990's and things have since declined?
« Last Edit: March 23, 2012, 01:33:50 PM by Colonel_Klink »
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Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #372 on: March 23, 2012, 12:17:01 PM »
KA is going to start selling bromated flour?! What the heck are they smoking? Do they really think they're going to make inroads into such an incredibly saturated market with a product that's more costly than anything out there?

So... does this mean that KA will take back all the bad things they say about bromate?  ;D


 ;)
« Last Edit: March 23, 2012, 04:16:58 PM by TXCraig1 »
Pizza is not bread.

Offline scott123

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #373 on: March 23, 2012, 12:54:25 PM »
I'm just curious...This "Golden Age" that you speak of...do you mean 20 years ago and long before, or was there some pinnacle reached in the 1990's and things have since declined.

I can't speak for pre-1975, but I do know, that as you go further back, you start getting into the pre-high gluten flour era (pre-1970?), which may (or maybe not) have impacted the quality of the pizza. From my own experience, I can only vouch that 1975-90 was a magical time, with everything taking a downward turn after that.

Offline scott123

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #374 on: March 23, 2012, 12:57:33 PM »
Amano

Amano's crust is as good as Keste, but they drop the ball on the toppings.  No lardo, no brussels sprouts. They've got the spicy sopresata, but no hot honey :) Keste can have purely Italian ingredients and still haunt my dreams, so why can't Amano?

Pizza Town

Michelle Tomo makes a better pizza then her brother, Bruce.  Her brother is equally as talented at busting balls "Hey, you guys ever ordered beverages before?" but his pizzas are a bit smaller and don't have the same flair.  I can't really put my finger on it, but something's missing. It's not like he can't make pizza at all- out of 10, I'd give her a 9 and him an 8, but I was a bit dissappointed that the rest of the group didn't get to see Pizza Town at the top of it's game.

Vesta

I have recently come to the conclusion that wisdom has a flavor.  In other words, if someone's done their homework, you can taste it in the pizza.  I can taste the wisdom in Frank's pizza. I think I've got his new slogan "A little bit of brain in every bite." :)

In my last review, I stated that Frank's pizza was the best pizza in NJ, so my expectations were high on this second visit.  Long story short, he did not dissappoint. I continue to stand by those words.  Brussels sprouts, pancetta and lardo may haunt my dreams, but the pistachio pesto smoked mozzerella pie haunts my waking moments as well. I can't even type this without tilting my head back and wishing I had a slice in hand. And my whistfullness doesn't only relate to the pesto or mozz- when I close my eyes, what plays most predominantly in my mind is the golden brown crust that I believe might have some hard cheese sprinkled on it.

He did a longer baked crispier crust and a shorter baked softer crust.  Both were superb.  No matter how you bake it up, that dough is a winner.

The shrimp, this time around, were a bit bolder tasting than the last outing. Since I prefer a milder tasting shrimp, this was a bit of a disappointment for me.  I don't blame Frank, though.  That's the nature of shrimp. Honestly, with the pepperoni pie and the pistachio pesto, the third pie could have been covered in dog crap and I'd still be singing Frank's praises.  

Frank doesn't make his own pepperoni, so I have to give some credit to the salumeria that produces it, but he did discover this product, and he brought it to our attention, and for that, he gets major props.  Before this, I thought Hormel Rosa was good.  What little did I know? One day, you think you know something, you take a trip to Vesta and you figure out that what you thought you knew was just a tip of a small iceberg. Hormel rosa is like a Honda Civic, while Frank's pepperoni is the Starship Enterprise- at warp speed.

Engage!
« Last Edit: March 23, 2012, 01:38:14 PM by scott123 »

Offline dmcavanagh

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #375 on: March 23, 2012, 03:01:40 PM »
Scott123

Great write up of your thoughts on the pies you guys all enjoyed on the resent crawl. Wish I could've been there, maybe next time.

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #376 on: March 23, 2012, 04:15:37 PM »
The latest from King Arthur...
« Last Edit: March 23, 2012, 04:21:21 PM by TXCraig1 »
Pizza is not bread.

Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #377 on: March 23, 2012, 04:24:23 PM »
You are too funny Craig! This is great.  :-D  For all those who love KA and hate bromates.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2012, 06:27:01 PM by Jackie Tran »

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #378 on: March 23, 2012, 04:36:22 PM »
The KA tech people reccomend using the Perrier water with extra benzene with this flour.
Pizza is not bread.

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Chau's Coming to New York! Tour Time!!!!
« Reply #379 on: March 23, 2012, 04:37:20 PM »
This is great.  :-D  For all those who love KA and hate bromates.

Actually, they designed it for those who hate KA but love bromate...
Pizza is not bread.