Author Topic: Luzzo's Pizzeria Review  (Read 14664 times)

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Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: Luzzo's Pizzeria Review
« Reply #20 on: June 16, 2006, 09:07:23 AM »
Wow, Marco, that is really interesting. I would guess that the fuel has to be the most expensive ingredient in the pizza.

I have had a chance to use California olive wood in my BBQ pit and I liked it very much - burned very hot and the coal bed did last a long time - but it is nothing I can easily obtain. Pecans are a major crop in this region, so getting well-seasoned pecan wood is very easy, as is oak. I just fired up my oven and am enjoying the sweet smell of pecan and oak wood.

Bill/SFNM


Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Luzzo's Pizzeria Review
« Reply #21 on: July 08, 2006, 04:52:02 PM »
For more photos of Luzzo's pizzas, see http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=luzzo%27s+pizza.

Peter

Offline David

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Re: Luzzo's Pizzeria Review
« Reply #22 on: September 06, 2006, 10:58:10 AM »
My Wife and I stopped in for lunch yesterday at Luzzo's.Predictably I had a Margherita and she had a Sausage,both with Bufala.This was my first time here and although i found it good,I must admit i was not exactly "Blown Away".
This is deffinitely one of the lightest Pizzas i have had,but I thought that the crust lacked flavor and was somewhat bland.It had the light crispness and soft chew on the cornicone that we associate with this type of pizza,but I was expecting something more pronounced either in texture or flavor from the san felice?The airiness of the cornicone was easily better than any I  have ever had at UPN .The bottom of the pizza was very soft ,though almost "Leathery" for want of a better term.I was sat far away from the oven,so didn't pay any attention to the timing or methods used during prep.The single leaf of Basil was obviously added after the pizza left the oven and very little olive oil was apparent.I enjoyed the quite acidic taste of the Tomatoes used,and the tangy bufala.Personally I like my pizza to be a "Molten Pool" of combined cheese/tomatoes/Evoo. (as found @UPN).Here it was not the case.I expect that due to the higher temperature of the Coal Oven,the crust was cooked faster than the cheese and as such had left  little firm mounds of chewy semi melted buffala to adorn the surface,another case for Wood v Coal IMO.Overall I would say that although I enjoyed my lunch,i left somewhat underwhelmed.To date,the best Neapolitan style pie I have had in a restaurant in the US has been at IL Pizzaiolo in Pittsburgh  which could only have been improved IMO with a slightly hotter oven (again for lunch).
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Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Luzzo's Pizzeria Review
« Reply #23 on: September 24, 2006, 01:16:28 PM »
During my recent visit to NYC I had a chance to try Luzzo’s. About a week before, I had visited Una Pizza Napoletana so I was anxious to compare the pizzas produced by both places. I arrived at Luzzo’s at around 5 PM on a Saturday night. At that time of evening, I was only the second patron in the restaurant. For those who are interested, the restaurant is fairly long and narrow, with seating for about 60-70 people. In front of the oven itself, there are larger tables that can accommodate larger groups. Since Luzzo’s takes reservations, that is the area to book for larger groups. Unlike UPN, which basically has Anthony Mangieri and a couple of waitpersons, Luzzo’s has a much larger staff. Given the comparative sizes of the two restaurants, this should not be surprising.

I was hoping to meet and speak about pizza with the owner Michael, but he was scheduled to arrive after I left the restaurant. The pizza maker who was then on duty said he did not speak English. So I cannot add to whatever is already known about the Luzzo pizza dough.

As I did at UPN, I ordered the Pizza Margherita with bufala di mozzarella cheese. I pretty much agree with David’s analysis of the pizza, except that I appear to have liked the pizza more than David did. The cheese was indeed chewier than at UPN, but the tart flavor of the tomato sauce (which was present in abundance) and the softness, lightness, and airiness of the crust were quite pleasing. I agree with David that the crust was not as flavorful as at UPN, but it was still nice.

As between the UPN and Luzzo’s Margherita pizzas, I would give the nod to UPN, mainly because I preferred the Caputo crust to the San Felice crust and the more delicate nature of the bufala. However, since the prices at Luzzo’s are lower than at UPN, by several dollars a pie, one may be able to argue that Luzzo’s is a better value. I would be perfectly satisfied with either pizza.

Peter

Offline pftaylor

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Re: Luzzo's Pizzeria Review
« Reply #24 on: November 29, 2006, 04:10:45 PM »
I had the wonderful opportunity to collaborate with a certain moderator of this board over the Thanksgiving holiday. Where did we decide to meet? You guessed it - Luzzo's in the East Village.

And Una Pizza Napoletana. I finally had the pleasure of tasting Anthony's pies.

Oh, and for good measure I managed to say hi to Charlie at Naples 45 where my family ordered a 1/2 meter Margherita and a white pie.

Finally, my family wondered up to Spanish Harlem on our way back to La Guardia and we devoured a couple of Jose's latest.

Over the coming days, I will submit pictures and subjective thoughts of the other pizzas in the original threads for their establishments but know this - my revised rank order is as follows based upon this visit:
1) Luzzo's
2) Patsy's
3) Naples 45
4) UPN

We ordered a couple of pies from Michael and he did not disappoint us with the quality of his pies. The abundant char was emblematic of an elite NY style pie. As a result, his crust was the best of the bunch. While I could not denote any additional flavoring due to his odd preferment process, it must of added somehow to the complex texture which led the pack. Wafer thin exterior with a silly soft middle - just like I imagined. He has switched to using only high quality fresh bufala cheese which was astronomically priced according to Michael. His choice of tomatoes produced the best balanced overall flavor I encountered during my trip.

My pizza savvy friend tried his best to pin Michael down on his exact dough formula and mixing process but I'm still uncertain if I can properly convey what I heard. Suffice to say that Michael admitted to intentionally deceiving another senior member of this board who prides himself on making authentic NY style pies. As Michael so eloquently put it "I will always keep one secret about my recipe. No one will ever really know what I'm doing."

Perhaps my dining companion will choose to illuminate the membership on our experience. My summation would be that Michael is having fun making pies the way his grandmother instructed him to. Other than that, I'm not sure I would trust anything as fact. His story changed at least three times in front of me.

All I know is his grandmother clearly knew best.
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Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Luzzo's Pizzeria Review
« Reply #25 on: November 29, 2006, 05:18:20 PM »
If I had known that pftaylor was planning on writing up his visits to UPN and Luzzo's, I would have allowed him to identify me as the moderator who dined with him and his family. As it was, it gave all of us an opportunity to compare and critique the different pizzas and to try to decipher the dough formulations.

What surprised me most was how bland the crusts were at UPN and Luzzo's. The Luzzo's crust had a nice flavor imparted by the coal-fired oven, and the sauce, cheese and toppings were fine, but otherwise the two crusts were lacking in real flavors of fermentation. Since others have reported in the past on getting more flavorful crusts at both pizzerias, this leads me to believe that it may be difficult to consistently reproduce flavorful crusts in a commercial setting, at least at UPN and Luzzo's where both purport to use methods that are calculated to produce flavorful crusts. Anthony Mangieri at UPN says that he uses a locally produced starter and old dough as part of his methodology, whereas it appears that Miguel at Luzzo's uses what I would describe as a biga-like preferment and possibly old dough at later stages in the dough production. Understandably, as pftaylor reported, Miguel was reluctant to reveal all of his secrets. I would have thought that all of those secrets would have produced better overall flavors in the crusts.

Peter

Offline varasano

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Re: Luzzo's Pizzeria Review
« Reply #26 on: November 29, 2006, 05:32:19 PM »
Michael admitted to intentionally deceiving another senior member of this board who prides himself on making authentic NY style pies.

LOL... I guess that would be  Me :-)  But we knew some of it was B.S.  We had just concluded that the dough was a 24 or less warm rise or possibly a 2 day rise if it was IDY only. He came over and said it was a 5 day cold rise with a natural starter.  Both from a texture and flavor standpoint, that seemed really impossible to us...  So who knows what he's doing. His texture was great. But the flavor was flat.   The pie at UPN was the best brick oven we had.

But DiFara's was really way, way ahead overall.  One of the best, maybe the best, pie I've ever eaten.

Jeff

Offline scott r

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Re: Luzzo's Pizzeria Review
« Reply #27 on: November 29, 2006, 05:53:52 PM »
Pete-zza,   did you prefer luzzo's to UPN like PFT did?


I know I didn't taste any wild yeast in the Luzzo's pie, but I have always tasted an abundance of it in UPN's pies. They have always been almost too sour, close to what you would find in a typical san fran sour dough loaf of bread.  When I chatted with Anthony he told me about how a number of times he had come in to the pizzeria to find the dough was not rising properly because of the instability of using wild yeast (starter).  I wonder if he has decided to switch to commercial yeast to stop the chances of taking such a huge financial loss.  I doubt he would admit to this since the starter is sort of his niche in the market.

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Luzzo's Pizzeria Review
« Reply #28 on: November 29, 2006, 06:55:40 PM »
scott,

I personally give a slight nod to the UPN dough/pizza, although the most recent UPN pizza wasn't as good as the last one I tried. On a price basis, I would say that the Luzzo's pizza is a better value. I really liked the sausage pizza at Luzzo's.

When I was using the Caputo 00 flour and what I then called a biga (a natural biga made from wild Texas yeast), along with room temperature fermentation, I thought the crust flavors were much superior to what I got at both UPN and Luzzo's during the most recent visits. I don't want to impugn the skills of either Anthony or Miguel but if I were in their shoes I would want to figure out how to consistently achieve more pronounced crust flavors from fermentation, much like I suspect is achieved by the master pizza makers in Naples who use starters. I think I would hire someone with commercial sourdough breadmaking skills to instruct me on how to achieve that consistency of results. I would strive for something less than the San Francisco sourdough flavor, which I like for sourdough bread but not for a pizza crust.

Like Jeff and pftaylor, I came away with the feeling that some of what Miguel said didn't compute. The impression I got was that Miguel started out with something like a classic biga (with flour, water and commercial yeast, either fresh yeast or IDY, but with a materially longer room temperature fermentation than normal) and ultimately a portion of each dough production was allowed to ferment at room temperature and be used in a later dough production, much in the manner of old dough. There would be no use of a natural starter, or cold fermentation beyond delaying fermentation for dough inventory management purposes. The life cycle of the dough used to make pizzas would be 2-3 days or so. All of this is of little consequence if the final results are average at best. My recollection is that Miguel got his ideas from his grandmother, who, unless she was a professional baker, may have used unconventional techniques.

What impressed me most about Miguel occurred on my last day in NYC before heading back to the airport. I had spent some time in the lower East side at another restaurant close by to Luzzo's. As I was headed back to my hotel and walking toward Luzzo's, I happened to see Miguel come out of his pizzeria, with a young lady, and get into a very nice white automobile. He retracted the roof (it was unseasonably warm) and proceeded to pull out from his parking space at breakneck speed, creating a roar of sonic proportions. I couldn't help noticing the emblem on the front of the hood--it was a Ferrari 8).

Peter

Offline pftaylor

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Re: Luzzo's Pizzeria Review
« Reply #29 on: November 29, 2006, 07:56:25 PM »
Michael first said "I use flour, salt, water and a nine day old chunk of dough plus a tiny bit of IDY."
I listened closely as Pete-zza dug deeper.
Then he said "I use sugar for browning. Sometimes honey."
I laughed out loud.
He continued "honey is better than sugar for the color but I use a handful of sugar when mixing."
Sure ya do Michael. Which one is it? No sugar, sugar, or honey?
Oh that's right you were hoping to deceive us like you tried with varasano.

Well hope is not a strategy. 

It was pretty hard for me to accept much of what he said when he claims that crust can't brown without sugar. I suppose his 800 degree oven is incapable of browning crust.

More discourse.
"I raise dough at room temperature.
I use a refrigerator.
I don't use a refrigerator.
I use a refrigerator for retarding old dough.
I use a refrigerator for raising dough."
Huh?
Yikes! It was all I could do to stay composed.

More nonsense;
"I sit a chunk of dough out at room temperature for eight days."
No, I'm sure I heard nine.
Then I heard it could be three if they are busy. Oops, it really depends on the weather.
It was like I was standing in front of Sybil and different personalities were taking over depending on the question Pete-zza asked.

The bottom line is that his crust is lacking flavor. My humble opinion says the following;
First, the amount of salt he uses is way too low.
Second,  the biga/mother/chef chunk of dough, combined with IDY, produces a crust which tastes like the dough was raised for a very short period of time. Either same day or next day. I have eaten way too many same day or next day pies not to notice the similarity. Don't believe me? Look at the photographs and count the number of bubbles which are a sure sign of an immature dough. So, should we believe Michael or our lying eyes.

Michael's overt attempt at deception didn't pass the giggle test. Of course, after learning that he drives a hot Italian sports car perhaps he truly has the last laugh.
« Last Edit: November 29, 2006, 07:58:27 PM by pftaylor »
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Offline David

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Re: Luzzo's Pizzeria Review
« Reply #30 on: November 29, 2006, 08:43:15 PM »

Sure ya do Michael. Which one is it? No sugar, sugar, or honey?


Brings to mind something a  provocatively clad saleswoman said to me on one of my early visits to the Big Apple in my youth:

"Sorry Sugar........No Money,No Honey "? ;)
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Offline pftaylor

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Re: Luzzo's Pizzeria Review
« Reply #31 on: November 29, 2006, 08:49:08 PM »
Since I have never been able to eat at UPN before this trip, I just realized that I have not started a dedicated thread. So I will insert my thoughts and photographs in this thread.

Anthony claims he doesn't care what anyone says about him or how he makes his pies. Yet he mentioned someone told him pizzanapoletana was saying bad things about him. Perhaps Anthony doesn't care what others say, but he clearly listens. I clarified what pizzanapoletana has mentioned on this site about his oven being problematic and left it at that.

That brief exchange explained everything I would need to know about Anthony. He really doesn't care about how others view his efforts. He has, is, and always will make pies his way according to his rules. He appreciated Chris Bianco's kind words about his attention to detail replicating Neapolitan pies. But then he complained
that he wasn't making any money at his chosen profession. He went on to boast that Chris surely makes more money than he. The guy just didn't seem happy.

Truth be told, I was underwhelmed by Anthony's pies but overwhelmed by his prices. $21 for a 12" pie is a bit much even for NYC. It wouldn't of been if he delivered what his menu described in intimate detail. We ordered a Margherita and a White pie and from the looks of things we didn't get his best effort. On this night, the oven was not hot enough. Hey, perhaps pizzanapoletana was on to something with his oven critique. Or maybe the oven didn't have time to build up its operating temperature. Either way, for $21 a pie, I deserved better. I deserved the level of attention that Chris Bianco pays to every facet of his operation. Anthony is not in the same league. His menu says he is but his actions dictate otherwise. Point in fact - he ran out to a local store to buy supplies for the evening. Now I don't know what he bought but my sense is he had to have something to operate the store for the night. Afterall, he held up the opening of the store by at least 10 minutes so they must have been important. If those locally bought ingredients found their way onto the menu somehow then I am really disappointed.

The crust had less flavor than Luzzo's which is quite a feat since Luzzo's tasted like cardboard. In defense of Luzzo's everything else is done so right that in total, the finished product is the best I have ever eaten in NYC.

I am one of the few members (perhaps the only) who have eaten at Bianco's, Luzzo's and Una Pizza Napoletana. I can without hesitation state that Luzzo's and UPN are not in the same universe with Bianco's. My memory tells me that the following things seemed wrong (for my tastebuds):
1) The Margherita had too much fluid in the middle. The cheese slid off the pie too easily.
2) The cheese had little flavor. What flavor it had was not fresh.
3) The crust had slightly too much salt.
4) The top of the pie had way too much salt.
5) The olive oil on top of the pie was borderline rancid.
6) The oven was not hot enough
7) The crust had no oven spring whatsoever.
8) I intentionally left a slice on my plate to see what would happen over time thereby allowing the slice to cool off completely. The answer was not good. The crust turned hard.
9) Lack of value. Look, I travel all over the country eating pies and this was the first time I felt someone's hand in my pocket.
10) Though not his direct fault, the stench emanating from some unknown source engulfed the crowd of people lined up waiting for his store to open. He dismissed it as coming from the nearby French restaurant. Several people were on the verge of gagging.

In summary, I came to Una Pizza Napoletana expecting a perfectionist like Chris Bianco. I am sad to say that I came away with the belief that his high prices pay for the shortened hours of operation due to some other more important activities than pizza which is clearly no longer his passion.

My only question is, was it ever?
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Offline David

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Re: Luzzo's Pizzeria Review
« Reply #32 on: November 29, 2006, 08:55:59 PM »
When I was using the Caputo 00 flour and what I then called a biga (a natural biga made from wild Texas yeast), along with room temperature fermentation, I thought the crust flavors were much superior to what I got at both UPN and Luzzo's during the most recent visits. Peter

Peter,
Just a thought,but as you a comparing the flavor you acquired in your home domestic oven and items produced at much higher temps in wood and coal/wood fired ovens,don't your think that the charring can overcome and even dominate the crust flavor?The pies photographed above (@ Luzzo ) look over charred to my eyes and are much darker than any I've tried in Naples.Similarly many times I've tried the pizza at UPN the bottom was burnt and bitter,totally throwing off any possible subtelties of flavor.
« Last Edit: November 29, 2006, 09:08:27 PM by David »
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Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Luzzo's Pizzeria Review
« Reply #33 on: November 29, 2006, 09:17:08 PM »
David,

You raise a valid point, and one that I tried to take into account by peeling back the crust to taste only the center of the crust/crumb and not the part that was directly subjected to the high oven heat. In other words, I tried to taste only the crumb to determine its flavor. I do this at the rim and at the center, where there is somewhat less carbonization of the crust because the sauce and cheese cover the crust. I'd like to think that it is possible to have a combination of both a natural crust flavor and the flavors contributed by wood or coal.

One of the pizzas (the one with the sausage) had considerably more charring than the other pie, which made it more difficult to separate out all the flavors but the flavors were lacking in the crust for the simpler Margherita pie, which used the same dough as the sausage pie.

Peter

Offline November

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Re: Luzzo's Pizzeria Review
« Reply #34 on: November 29, 2006, 09:22:59 PM »
I believe it is Beech (Fagus sylvatica), which as I said before, IS THE BEST wood to burn in a pizza oven.

I would agree that European beech is better than Red oak, but Shagbark hickory (Carya ovata) has about 17% higher energy density than even beech.  It's one of the reasons hickory is so popular in slow-roast barbecue pits.

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Offline David

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Re: Luzzo's Pizzeria Review
« Reply #35 on: November 29, 2006, 09:33:04 PM »
In summary, I came to Una Pizza Napoletana expecting a perfectionist like Chris Bianco. I am sad to say that I came away with the belief that his high prices pay for the shortened hours of operation due to some other more important activities than pizza which is clearly no longer his passion.

My only question is, was it ever?


Ouch !...............

I think he probably really doesn't care what people say about him as long at the rent is paid and there are people prepared to pay his prices.I think you really do need a tremendous belief and passion (Or very deep pockets !) to do what he has done with his blinkered vision of limited menu,hours etc. - not once but twice.I admire that,and though I've been disappointed with my last couple of visits  (somewhat like I'd been to New York and got Mugged) you can't take that away from him.I don't think his pizza is worth $20+,but then again I'm not sure that today any Pizza is ?
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Offline David

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Re: Luzzo's Pizzeria Review
« Reply #36 on: November 29, 2006, 10:24:12 PM »

I am one of the few members (perhaps the only) who have eaten at Bianco's, Luzzo's and Una Pizza Napoletana. I can without hesitation state that Luzzo's and UPN are not in the same universe with Bianco's.

PFT,
      It may be unfair to ask but as an outspoken critic ,where do Spacca Napoli , A16 and Setto Bello sit in the mix?
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Offline pizzanapoletana

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Re: Luzzo's Pizzeria Review
« Reply #37 on: November 30, 2006, 05:50:07 AM »
Please be minful of what these guys tells you...

Luzzo doesn't use a starter, biga etc... The texuture comes from something else. Also, the blandness at Luzzo is also due to less use of salt in the dough (did anyone notice?) > Anyone care to comment on how they felt after eating at Luzzo (digestive system wise)?

UPN use a starters (at least when I visited in 2004) and both for his methodology and final results, I would not call his dough a pizza dough, just a BREAD dough.

A starter or a special fermentation in the dough can definetelly be perceived by the taste buds.. I can say for sure that also at Patsy's there is no starter (and again, it was my second worst tasted pizza in NYC just behind a slice joint we tried on our way out of Manathan- that end up flying outside the woindow of the car)

Ciao

Offline pftaylor

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Re: Luzzo's Pizzeria Review
« Reply #38 on: November 30, 2006, 06:07:02 AM »
David,
Fair question. I can not comment on A16 as I have not had the opportunity to eat their pizza but my expectation would be that the ingredients would be the show since they are located in California. If that turned out to not be the case, I would be disappointed like I unfortunately was at UPN with Anthony's seemingly lazy attitude toward his business. I really wonder if Anthony doesn't have salads on the menu because he is such a pizza purist or if he simply doesn't want to expand the menu thereby expanding his work effort. He made an odd remark to me about Chris Bianco making more money than him because Chris has salads on the menu and he doesn't. I came away with the distinct impression that he considered salads but chose not to for some reason that really didn't have anything to do with running his restaurant. People expect to have salads on the menu along with other starters but the notion of offering a full menu seems repulsive to him. Funny thing though, he has not-so-moderately priced wines on the menu. So exceptions to his rule do exist when it suits him. I do not want to be overly critical on this point but everywhere I looked, I saw evidence of his limited interest in running his business. Get in and get out...

If Anthony is on the downside of his pizza career then Brad/Sumeri at Settebello - Pizzeria Napoletana is on a definite upswing. Brad instantly knew the things he wanted to improve on and had identified a plan on how to get there. I have no doubt that as time passes Brad will ascend higher and higher up the pizza mountain. The primary reason - his obvious passion to pizza. Brad is a good business man to boot and will probably end up making a nice living with his passion. Not bad work if you can get it.

Jonathan Goldsmith at Spacca Napoli in Chicago is a horse of a different color. Jonathan is a pure business man who fell in love with pizza and decided to open a restaurant dedicated to the style he loves - Neapolitan. He is a tinker of sorts and is constantly trying to improve his product but he really has to rely on others to get him there. Businessmen call that approach creating leverage. Some of his reliance on others has gotten him mixed results(in his words) but he will continue to improve his product over time due to his belief that he can always improve. His restaurant is modeled after Trianon in Naples. His claim to fame is that he opened his wallet wide and paid for the best-of-the-best of everything in order to make authentic Neapolitan pizza. First, he ordered a handmade oven from one of the oldest (if not the oldest) Naples based oven making families, then he brought over Nella from the Naples area, paid big bucks for a diving arm mixer, and basically did whatever it took to make Neapolitan pie right from the very beginning.

One place that you didn't ask me to comment on but deserves inclusion is Naples 45 where Charlie Restivo works. Naples 45 doesn't make 100% authentic Neapolitan pizza like what Anthony, Sumeri, and Jonathan are trying to do. What makes Naples 45 so special is the scale with which they execute their business plan. Would you believe they have nearly three hundred tables? Taken in that light, the scale that Charlie executes his business plan on is astounding. Charlie makes the best high volume Neapolitan pie I'm aware of. As an aside, Charlie would make an excellent partner for a pizza venture if anyone is considering opening up a Neapolitan restaurant in NYC. His understanding of how to successfully manage a large operation would be priceless.
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Offline David

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Re: Luzzo's Pizzeria Review
« Reply #39 on: November 30, 2006, 09:04:04 AM »
Thanks PFT.Yes I didn't add Naples 45,as they were already in your list.I was glad to see that you gave them some recognition however.I think that although they may not be great,they do not deserve the bad rap they have recieved by some IMO.They are consistent  in what they offer and do provide good value in comparison.I would far prefer  a "lunchtime special" priced Pizza from them than a couple of slices from any of the current Manhattan slice joints I can think of at present.
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