Jonathan, in order to give you my thoughts on cheese, I need to provide you with a little background.
My coal/neo-ny journey has been pretty circuitous. I grew up eating NY style and have always had a heavy bias towards it. Between the use of fresh mozz- which I never found as flavorful as aged, the lack of quality control from coal ovens, and lackluster experiences at Totonno's, Lombardi's and John's, not only had I pretty much written it off, I was pretty happy about writing it off because it made my life simpler. Up until 6 months ago, I probably would have either ignored this thread or tried to talk you into making something more NYish.
And then I had Pepe's- and that turned my world upside down. With my first bite, I understood coal. As much grief as I've given Reinhart for his inauthentic recipes and lack of cultural awareness, his praise for Pepe's in AP is right on the money. Pepe's is a notch better than anything that I've had in this area, and this was on a day when the cheese was off it's game and the rim was so incinerated, I couldn't eat it. But the non rim area. Oh man oh man oh man. My best descriptor is 'quaffable.' You start eating, you're happy, then, before you know it, it's gone and you're saying "what happened? I want more."
I've seen bake time numbers for Pepe's that range from 3-7 (coal ovens tend to be all over the map), so we could probably have a lengthy discussion as to whether or not Pepe's qualifies as neo-ny, but, if that pie was 3 minutes and you could produce something similar (perhaps with a crust that isn't incinerated), you would be an award winning, very wealthy man. And the cheese on this pie was... drum roll please
Aged brick/grande clone. Bear in mind, my thoughts on coal/neo-ny have evolved/are evolving, but I am still incredibly biased when it comes to fior di latte on anything but Neapolitan. I've spent a lot of time trying to make the perfect pizza dough, but very few things in this world can touch the buttery flavor and smell given off by a quality Grande clone. If I could wear it as cologne I would
You just don't get that depth of flavor and richness from fior di latte.
Speaking of evolving thoughts, 4 years ago I had nice things to say about private label supermarket cheese. Man, was I wrong. Cheese has seasonal fluctuations, so, on rare occasions, you might find a private label cheese that's excellent, but my days of recommending supermarket cheese are long gone. A lot of home bakers have no choice but to go the supermarket route, and there are ways to spruce up inferior cheese (such as adding fat to it), but I now know the difference and that difference is substantial. Within the last year, I've also become aware of the differences between food service brands. I used to say 'Grande clones,' but now I say 'quality grande clones,' because not all grande clones are of comparable quality. Even Grande has had it's issues.
I'm not just recommending aged brick, I'm doing a little aged brick dance
As far as which aged brick... well... lately, I've heard one or two stories of Grande having quality control issues. Same with Polly-O food service. I would try both, though, as when they're at the top of their game, nothing can touch them.
And, just for the record, coal/neo-ny places do fresh and aged, so there really is no precedent as to which is more popular for the style.
The sauce for Neo should be a quality San Marzano canned tomato hand blended gently. For NY, it can be San Marzano- again, only if it's of good quality, but it's far more frequently a quality California tomato, again hand blended, lightly sweetened with either oregano and/or a tiny amount of fresh basil and sometimes some garlic powder or fresh garlic. The oregano can go in the sauce or tossed on the pie prior to baking- I'm still deciding which I prefer. I should also note that Pepe's, like other New Haven pizzerias, was oregano-less. While I have gone into great lengths nailing Best Pizza (Brooklyn) for their omission of oregano, I didn't miss the oregano on Pepe's. I think a big part of not missing the oregano was being wowed by the romano, which I'm trying to incorporate into my own pies, with, so far, mixed results (I think my romano is too expensive/too overpowering).
The key with sauce is simplicity. If you've got a good tomato, you really shouldn't need much more. Everything should augment the tomato. If you can taste an ingredient other than tomato (such as garlic), you've used too much.