Oh, hey. I wish I were on here more often and would see this stuff AS IT CAME UP. GARGH. Anyway ... I haven't been looking to EXACTLY clone Star. It's just been one point of inspiration as I develop my bar pie recipe. The other big inspiration point has been Colony Grill. But, yeah, Star's crust is what I was originally shooting for when I started bar-pie-ing.
I'm sorry to self-link here, but at the bottom of this post is an embedded Google spreadsheet where I keep most of my notes from bar-pie testing: http://www.famousoriginala.com/bar-pizza-no-5/
Or, here, for ease of use: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AkBVGPxLbvzxdGI1WFNsSmdUZTJ5LWp3bUlZVmZnOXc&usp=sharing
(You'll see that I've tried various ratios of semolina-AP flour, from the RVAfoodie.com recipe's very high semolina percentage to 100% AP flour. IT's a bit confusing because I have 2 tabs on that spreadsheet. One is where it's just BAR PIES. The other is where I became inspired by the DKM Thin Crust recipe and then started a tab to record that. UNFORTUNATELY, I then went back to the RVAfoodie.com recipe variations abut kept recording them in the "Thin Crust" tab.)
ANYWAY ... For both the bar pies I love (Star and Colony), the thing they have in common is that they start in an oiled pan and are turned out onto the oven floor at some point. ChicagoBob mentions that 3 minutes in oiled pan is probably not enough to give it any kind of frying/burnishing effect, and he's right. In my Slice review, I think I've mistakenly mentioned that the crust gets sort of fried, but I no longer think that that is the case. The cheese near the rim does, but any greasiness of the crust must be from the cheese dripping down onto the serving pan.
I've only had Star on three occasions. On two, the pizzas we got were pretty crisp but could still be folded. The last time I went, it was pretty flaccid and not crisp at all and I was a bit disappointed. BUT, it's hard to base things on just three visits and 9 pies or so. Whatever Walter's saying about the nature is way more reliable intel, I'd think.
AT BEST in my home trials, I think the pizza I linked to here was the one that came out near the best. The one pictured on that post on Famous Original A (No. 5) was made on an ALUMINUM pan set on a 1/2" thick steel that was preheated for a good 45 minutes in 550°F oven. Aluminum has given me the cheese effect I like ("crispies" as I think ChicagoBob calls the browned cheese spots, and even the lattice effect as seen on Colony Grill pies). But I noticed that Colony seems to cook in stacking steel pans (per a video I found on YouTube), so I bought some of those to try and have been cooking in those since.
When I started out down this path, I was cooking the first 10 or so on aluminum pans. FOR THOSE, I would wait to transfer it to the steel just long enough that the pizza "set up" and could be flicked off — much like they do at Star. That usually took 3 or 4 minutes.
Now that I'm using steel pans (12" Allied Metal Spinning stacking steel Blackbuster pans), it takes 8 minutes or so before I can move the pizza from pan to steel because it has to set up much more in order to get a peel in there. If it's too soft, it just makes a big mess and you end up with scrambled pizza.
BUT, this is not altogether bad, because I've found that the pizza bottom can burn very quickly and easily once it's out on the steel. It would be interesting to watch them at Star and see what the pan-to-hearth ratio is. I'm thinking that might be ... if not a crucial factor, at least a big one. SOMEONE MUCH MORE KNOWLEDGEABLE tHAN ME should weigh in -- I always thought the turning out was less about actual cooking than it was about just giving it a last-minute bump in crispness.
RIGHT NOW AT HOME, I do about 8 minutes in pan (550°F on my 1/4" thick steel) before it's set enough to transfer. At that point, I put it on the steel for about 2 minutes more. Anything past that, and it burns.
ANYWAY. That's where I am for a STAR-LIKE pizza. Not an exact clone, but a Star-inspired pie.
A COUPLE MONTHS AGO, I started thinking about some of the other pizza crusts I really enjoy, and that's what led me to the DKM Thin Crust thread here. I started playing with that in hopes of getting that great cracker crust effect. I'm still not 100% satisfied with my attempts at DKM Thin Crust, but I think I know what I'm doing wrong there (not thin enough) and just need to practice a little bit.
In the meantime, I attended Johnny W's pizza pop-in at Lo Duca and something he said there really resonated with me. And that was about the amount of olive oil used in the pans for pan pizzas. Namely, it sounded like he used a buttload of it. So I tried doing the same myself with a basic grandma sheet pizza a couple Sundays ago. I knew that John did a long proof in the pan, so I did similar. (This is something we do in the prep kitchen at Paulie Gee's—just take a couple old doughs, oil the crap out of a sheet pan, and throw the doughs in there and let them proof in a ton of oil.) When I cooked this pizza, it had a GREAT burnished bottom, crisp and chewy and fried. If I would have gottne this pizza at a pizzeria, I would have been very happy. And this was all by accident -- well, that and more oil than I normally would have used, thanks to Johhny's remark.
ANYWAY, so what I'm thinking of trying now is a very thin crust pizza (like cracker-crust TF) proofed in a pan with A LOT of oil. Just to see where that takes me. It probably won't work, but that's what one of my next experiments will be.
IN SUMMATION, I have no frickin' idea what I want!!! Well, I kind of do, in my imagination, but it may be that some of the qualities I want are mutually exclusive.
Sorry for the long response. This is a lot of stuff I've had on my mind the last year or so. I really wish I had, like, 2 to 4 weeks of test-kitchen time.
Lastly, this is how my bar pies have evolved over the course of nearly a year (newest at top): http://www.flickr.com/photos/slice/sets/72157633300473291
BLAH BLAH BLAH. Sorry for the length!