Author Topic: Star Tavern NJ memories from former employee  (Read 5528 times)

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Offline JConk007

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Re: Star Tavern NJ memories from former employee
« Reply #40 on: January 24, 2014, 09:27:06 AM »
Adam back in 2009 I tried the Cracker in a WFO http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,8460.msg73234.html#msg73234
as well as a few NY I have come along a little bit  since then but that was a fine pizza.
In your big Stefano in Portland may find the, cool spot, or do em late night when the oven is a touch cooler ? Flame not really required. ? You have been to Kinchleys in NJ ??
O my goodness lets go back to 2008 ! guess there was more than Neapolitan ??   http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,7592.msg65136.html#msg65136
Cracker Crust my second favorite ! and sorry but having a fun morning of flashbacks now  :P  http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,7872.msg67509.html#msg67509 more cracker! If you have not tried thi DKM forum recipe um what are waiting for !!   I am drooling now and thanks to this thread  I am now making this this week AND heading to Star tavern !
« Last Edit: January 24, 2014, 09:39:55 AM by JConk007 »
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Offline akuban

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Re: Star Tavern NJ memories from former employee
« Reply #41 on: January 24, 2014, 11:42:51 AM »
What is the consensus as to the cause of the mottled cheese look on all these bar pies, minus Adam's latest attempt?  High-oil cheese? Conductive heat from the bottom not forming a skin on the cheese as radiation and convection from above would?

Adam, if Norma gets into the bar pie style, things will get crazy, fast.  She would certainly get you some hard data to mull over.


Wahoo88: My observation on the mottled look -- because I've actually been TRYING to create that (inspired by Colony Grill) -- if I am reading my cheese-industry websites correctly, it's got less to do with the actual fat/oil content than with something called "calcium cross-linking": http://www.culturecheesemag.com/autumn_iq_cheesemelting

Cheddar seems to "oil off" more readily than mozzarella, for instance. So to create the mottled texture and appearance, I've taken to using a blend of cheddar and mozzarella. The lovely thing about Colony Grill's pizzas is that the areas around the holes in the cheese are chewy-crisp BUT the there is still an underlying gooeyness to the cheese. It's a wonderful contrast.

ANYWAY, yes, the thinness contributes to it, since there is very little insulating the cheese from the baking surface. The oil renders from the cheese and bubbles up through it, essentially frying it as it breaks through the surface.

My latest attempt DIDN'T do this, I think, because I didn't dock the dough and so a lot of bubbles lifted the cheese out of contact with the steel. Also could have been that I used more cheese than I usually do, and so there was a greater mass to heat...
¡Hasta la pizza!

Offline akuban

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Re: Star Tavern NJ memories from former employee
« Reply #42 on: January 24, 2014, 11:48:26 AM »
Adam back in 2009 I tried the Cracker in a WFO http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,8460.msg73234.html#msg73234
as well as a few NY I have come along a little bit  since then but that was a fine pizza.
In your big Stefano in Portland may find the, cool spot, or do em late night when the oven is a touch cooler ? Flame not really required. ? You have been to Kinchleys in NJ ??
O my goodness lets go back to 2008 ! guess there was more than Neapolitan ??   http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,7592.msg65136.html#msg65136
Cracker Crust my second favorite ! and sorry but having a fun morning of flashbacks now  :P  http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,7872.msg67509.html#msg67509 more cracker! If you have not tried thi DKM forum recipe um what are waiting for !!   I am drooling now and thanks to this thread  I am now making this this week AND heading to Star tavern !


Thanks for the links! Yeah, I have thought about doing some bar pies in the WFO. And I probably will bring in my dough and pans to Paulie Gee's Greenpoint and try it there in the cool oven. A WFO, I would think, would not be impossible to do this in, but it's not the ideal oven for it. Too finicky trying to keep the temperature constant. The space I've been offered for my pop-up is actually a WFO joint. So I'll have to figure it out sooner or later. My thought was that, yes, fire it to temp (low–mid 600°Fs is what I was guessing for this style, as is backed up by Chicago Bob), and then let the fire die down. I've tried cooking grandma/pan pizza in a 650°F WFO WITH a live fire (right after starting the oven for the day at Paulie's) and it's a mixed bag. The top cooks beautifully but way faster than the bottom. So I'm thinking that a 650°F oven without live fire might be work well. But again, it's not as nice as setting a dial and forgetting it.
¡Hasta la pizza!

Offline akuban

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Re: Star Tavern NJ memories from former employee
« Reply #43 on: January 24, 2014, 11:57:21 AM »
And ... here is a photo of the grandma pie I cooked in the WFO. Paulie shot this. He/I didn't get an undercarriage. It was underdone in spots and nicely done in others. Strictly because of varying thickness in the pan. This was just a very haphazard ad hoc pizza I made for lunch during afternoon prep. No real skill/art going into it. Basically just mashed 3 doughs together, oiled the crap out of them and the pan, and let them rise in the pan for a couple hours. Topped it with sauce, Parm, gouda, and a tiny bit of mozz.

¡Hasta la pizza!

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Re: Star Tavern NJ memories from former employee
« Reply #44 on: January 24, 2014, 12:17:27 PM »
And ... here is a photo of the grandma pie I cooked in the WFO. Paulie shot this. He/I didn't get an undercarriage. It was underdone in spots and nicely done in others. Strictly because of varying thickness in the pan. This was just a very haphazard ad hoc pizza I made for lunch during afternoon prep. No real skill/art going into it. Basically just mashed 3 doughs together, oiled the crap out of them and the pan, and let them rise in the pan for a couple hours. Topped it with sauce, Parm, gouda, and a tiny bit of mozz.

Looking good there Adam - reminiscent of Adrienne's dare I say?

Offline akuban

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Re: Star Tavern NJ memories from former employee
« Reply #45 on: January 24, 2014, 02:21:55 PM »
Looking good there Adam - reminiscent of Adrienne's dare I say?

Well, looks can be deceiving. The short of it is that the TOP is reminiscent of Adrienne's. The bottom was somewhere between a mild disaster and just-OK.

The long answer is ... I used ~810 grams of dough for this (three 270g dough balls from the previous night's service). Not sure what size the pan was, sorry. (Standard baking pan.) WAY too much dough. The previous week I used 2 dough balls. They didn't quite fill out the pan -- but in retrospect I think that was due to other reasons than dough amount. I think 2 dough balls, ~540grams, is about right for this size pan.

The OTHER ISSUE is ... When I cooked the 540g pizza 3 Sundays ago, I did it in the kitchen's oven -- just a regular commercial kitchen oven. So ~550°F. I used a BUTTLOAD of olive oil in the pan and let the dough proof in the olive oil for a good 3 hours. As Hotsawce reminded me on a PG's shift, Kenji Lopez-Alt wrote something on Slice about oil absorbancy in the dough being the factor of burnishment/chewy-crispness in teh crust. With 3+ hours rising in the oil, the dough soaked up plenty and gave it a WONDERFUL chewy-crispness. In the end it was oily but not excessively so. That was the GOOD pizza.

The not-so-good one for 2 Sundays ago had A) too much dough and B) didn't sit in the oil long enough. I think it left too much oil in the pan and as a result was really greasy. A lot of people liked it when they had it, but almost everyone remarked on the grease. It was so much oil that I wouldn't serve it like that in a professional setting. You'd get too many people complaining about it and your napkin costs would be through the roof.

NOTE: I am largely talking out my ass here about pan-style pizza. I know there are members here with way more experience in this style. This is just my quick observation on the few pan pizzas I've made during prep shifts.
¡Hasta la pizza!

Offline waltertore

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Re: Star Tavern NJ memories from former employee
« Reply #46 on: January 24, 2014, 03:35:14 PM »
Hey Guys:  I have been corresponding with Gary the owner of Star.  He is a kind spirit and proud owner of a legendary pizzeria.  Turns out we probably ate pies together in the 80's but can't quite remember. Oh the good old days.....   Here is his response to one of our emails.  I never asked him to share anything.  I am old school from NJ and don't ask such things.  He voluntarily shared all this.  It is a wealth of info for you clone guys.  I have mentioned several times on the forum that I didn't think there was any semolina in the dough and I was right.  It is the oil process that gives it that unique taste.   Also I was happy to find out they use aluminum pans.  That is what I use when I do a star like pie on occasion. 

Walter,

I don't know where to begin. First I don't spend much time on blogs or forums unless they concern fishing reports.It was my son who saw your thread.He also keeps my website and Facebook page going.

As for a short history my dad purchased Star in 1980. I think we became the 4th family to own it since 1945.If you hung out at the Star in eighties and nineties I was the young jerk who drank too much. I have been the full time operator since 1988 the year my father passed and I stopped drinking in 1997.

Yes the family that made our dough also made it for Bunnies.Around 15 years ago the father of the dough family passed on and his son continued to make the dough for another couple of years.After that we commissioned it out to a local bakery.As someone on the thread mentioned our crust has been inconsistent.I am well aware of that and it has been driving me crazy.We however continue to garnish awards and top readers polls.It has been a false sense of security.we are also as busy as ever selling 10,000 pies a month .But as you said we pizza makers are most critical of our own product.

I do have the recipe and procedure from the original dough making family and recently began making the dough myself. It took me a few tries but I think I got it now.So I'm proud to say that our pie should once again meet my high standards. I do agree with Joe the dough is the foundation of excellence.

In order to help out some of your readers we do not currently use semolina.

The pans are aluminum, steel might work just as well but if you cook 100 pies an hour at peak your arms will fall off from the weight of the steel.

We use as little oil as possible on our pans.More oil just winds up in the ovens and your pie will fry not bake.The picture on thread is a good example of a pie frying not baking.In order to use less oil roll your dough just shy of your pan size.That way u won't need as much oil to keep it from springing back.Also,if your rolled pie is too short of pan size you will have to pull the edges to pan size.Which will result in fat edges and a thin middle not good.For better uniformity always roll your dough past its edges twice.Tell your readers to stop measuring 1/4 Inch 1/8 etc what u do is weigh your dough balls come up with a weight u like  for your size pie and stick with it.

Your forum's website has a good dough recipe from Tom Lehman.Check out his you tube videos on how to make dough ,very good.

Thirty years ago the Star used to have a table that had 30 built in wooden proofing drawers.

No one does that anymore we all use those %$# plastic nesting trays.Plastic is nonporous the wood used to help absorb the moisture out of the the dough as it fermented .

I think I'm just rambling now any questions keep in touch.

Look forward to meeting you in NJ.

BTW I am humbled by all the attention we get.

Thanks,

Gary

Offline Chicago Bob

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Re: Star Tavern NJ memories from former employee
« Reply #47 on: January 24, 2014, 03:48:50 PM »
Man...that guy is the real deal. Thanks so much Walter!  :chef:

Bob
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Offline akuban

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Re: Star Tavern NJ memories from former employee
« Reply #48 on: January 24, 2014, 03:53:11 PM »
Amazing! Thanks so much, Walter and Gary.
¡Hasta la pizza!

Offline norma427

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Re: Star Tavern NJ memories from former employee
« Reply #49 on: January 24, 2014, 06:57:21 PM »
Thanks so much Walter and Gary!

Norma
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Offline JConk007

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Re: Star Tavern NJ memories from former employee
« Reply #50 on: January 24, 2014, 07:33:29 PM »
Gary I will be stopping by shortly  and probably other Pizzamaking.com memeber to visit and met the legend ! I appreciate your reponse and contributing to the thread for the good of the forum !! 
We all love the good stuff and this is obviously one of the best ! thanks hope you can stick around and log on between # 8766 and 8800 pie to say hello
Ciao !!
John
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Offline waltertore

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Re: Star Tavern NJ memories from former employee
« Reply #51 on: January 24, 2014, 08:47:30 PM »
It was beautiful the way all this came together.  Since I joined this forum I have praised Star.  When you go to visit across the street was Wallaces Jazz club.  It is still there but was an Asian place the last time I was back.  Wallaces had a liquor store in the front and around the side was the club door entrance.  You can still see it from Stars front door.  My favorite gig in NJ- it was a great room to play and and a stones throw from some killer pizza!  The last time I was back to Star, maybe 3-5 years ago, I walked into the Asian restaurant.  It looked like it only occupied the liquor store part of the building.  I was hoping I could get let into the club part and do some reminicing.  I said hello to the people running the place and explained I use to play the club often and was there any way I could be let in for a minute to see it.  All I kept getting back everytime I tried to explain myself was- good food here-good food here.  I walked out smiling.  Man that is America.  A NYC area jazz/blues legendary club for decades and the current owners were clueless- even after I started singing and acting like I was playing a guitar and pointing to the rear of their building...........    Walter
« Last Edit: January 24, 2014, 09:04:06 PM by waltertore »

Offline norma427

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Re: Star Tavern NJ memories from former employee
« Reply #52 on: January 25, 2014, 09:10:30 PM »
Does anyone know the best way for me to cut down my one aluminum pan I posted at Reply 16 http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,29785.msg298216.html#msg298216 to look like the Star Tavern pan Walter posted at Reply 4 http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,29785.msg298154.html#msg298154 ?

I think I read on the web that the Star Tavern pizzas are baked in Blodgett ovens at 600 degrees or higher.  I don't know if that is true or not.  I guess if the pizzas are baked in a Blodgett ovens at that temperature my best shot would be in the Blackstone oven.  Does anyone know what temperature Star Tavern bakes at?

The dough ball is mixed no matter what happens. 

Norma
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Offline Chicago Bob

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Re: Star Tavern NJ memories from former employee
« Reply #53 on: January 25, 2014, 09:31:05 PM »
Does anyone know the best way for me to cut down my one aluminum pan I posted at Reply 16 http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,29785.msg298216.html#msg298216 to look like the Star Tavern pan Walter posted at Reply 4 http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,29785.msg298154.html#msg298154 ?

I think I read on the web that the Star Tavern pizzas are baked in Blodgett ovens at 600 degrees or higher.  I don't know if that is true or not.  I guess if the pizzas are baked in a Blodgett ovens at that temperature my best shot would be in the Blackstone oven.  Does anyone know what temperature Star Tavern bakes at?

The dough ball is mixed no matter what happens. 

Norma
Norma,
The best suggestion I can think of for cutting your pan would be to take the pan and a pic of the Star pan to a muffler shop and ask if they wouldn't mind helping you. Their "cut off" tool could do that job in less than 5min.. And I would bet that they would be so intrigued with your request(from such a nice little lady), they probably won't even charge you.

Bob
"Care Free Highway...let me slip away on you"

Offline waltertore

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Re: Star Tavern NJ memories from former employee
« Reply #54 on: January 25, 2014, 09:37:50 PM »
Norma:  Gary didn't say what temp they bake at but my friend Joe said 550 and yes they use blodgett ovens.  I had my pans cut by our head custodian.  I think he used a big dremmel like grinder wheel and then smoothed off the edges.  People here on the forum doing a NY style  mostly seem want to be go as high a temp as they can with lots of charring on top/bottom.  The lower bakes at 500-550 are what I grew up with in NJ/NYC and resulted in very little charring.  Maybe it is the older ovens that do such a nice job at those temps.  Star is in that class from the countless slices I have eaten.   Their edges burn because they come in direct contact with oven floor.  That stuff tastes great IMO.   Walter
« Last Edit: January 25, 2014, 09:50:36 PM by waltertore »

Offline JConk007

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Re: Star Tavern NJ memories from former employee
« Reply #55 on: January 25, 2014, 09:40:17 PM »
fein cutoff tool? roto zip? metal sheers/tin snips ?
just a though or 3
John
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Offline norma427

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Re: Star Tavern NJ memories from former employee
« Reply #56 on: January 25, 2014, 09:44:00 PM »
Norma,
The best suggestion I can think of for cutting your pan would be to take the pan and a pic of the Star pan to a muffler shop and ask if they wouldn't mind helping you. Their "cut off" tool could do that job in less than 5min.. And I would bet that they would be so intrigued with your request(from such a nice little lady), they probably won't even charge you.

Bob

Bob,

Thanks for your idea to take my aluminum pan to a muffler shop to see if they would cut it.  I did not know about a “cut off” tool.  I didn't know if my snippers would be able to do the job okay.  That is a good idea to take a photo too!  ;D

Norma
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Offline norma427

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Re: Star Tavern NJ memories from former employee
« Reply #57 on: January 25, 2014, 09:50:27 PM »
Norma:  Gary didn't say what temp they bake at but my friend Joe said 550 and yes they use blodgett ovens.  I had my pans cut by our head custodian.  I think he used a big dremmel like grinder wheel and then smoothed off the edges.  People here on the forum doing a NY style  mostly seem want to be go as high a temp as they can with lots of charring on top/bottom.  The lower bakes at 500-550 are what I grew up with in NJ/NYC and resulted in very little charring.  Star is in that class from the countless slices I have eaten.  Their edges burn because they come in direct contact with oven floor.  That stuff tastes great IMO.   Walter

Walter,

Thanks for telling me that you friend Joe told you Star bakes at 550 degrees F and they do use blodgett ovens.  I have a hard time imitating Blodgett ovens with my ovens.  I can't find the article right now that said that Star bakes at a higher temperature.

I don't know where I put my dremmel drill right now.

Norma
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Offline norma427

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Re: Star Tavern NJ memories from former employee
« Reply #58 on: January 25, 2014, 09:52:11 PM »
fein cutoff tool? roto zip? metal sheers/tin snips ?
just a though or 3
John

John,

Thanks for your ideas too!  ;)  I do have a metal sheer/tin snips, but don't know if I trust myself cutting the aluminum pan.

Norma
Always working and looking for new information!

Offline waltertore

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Re: Star Tavern NJ memories from former employee
« Reply #59 on: January 25, 2014, 09:57:58 PM »
Norma:  I would take what you have read with a grain of salt.  The Essex County NJ pizza world is notorious as the NYC scene for giving out all kinds of information to customers and much of it is wrong.  If you grew up there you learned to hear that every pizzeria used the best ingredients and only the best ovens and only the best skilled pizza makers.   When you asked them about details the line you got you could bank on being about as accurate as you wanted to beleive them to be. I asked the guy taking orders at the take out area of Star, which is right in front of the pizza making area, what temps they ran at and he said 450.  You will literally be 10 feet from the pizza production when you order at that podium.  It isn't a counter and you get a clear look into the kitchen.  I am not familiar with your ovens other than photos from your posts.  I content much of the star thing is the rolled dough which compresses it so that it can be thin and compact along with the oil on the pans which imparts flavor and texture.  You will be amazed at how different your dough will taste/feel if you simply do nothing but roll it thin, oil the pan, and top as usual.  Walter
« Last Edit: January 25, 2014, 09:59:34 PM by waltertore »


 

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