Author Topic: I call BS on the "myth" that great pizza dough can only be made with NYC water  (Read 1483 times)

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Offline Andrew Bellucci

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As some of you know, I opened a New York style pizzeria in Kuala Lumpur on April 15, 2014.  While there have been many challenges, one that I haven't had to face is the unavailability of NYC tap water.  We are using (filtered) Kuala Lumpur tap water and currently producing pies whose crust I would put up against ANY high-end NYC pizzeria.

I confirmed what I suspected all along - it takes know-how to make great pizza dough - not NYC water.  Letting the dough cold ferment is the most important factor to making great dough - that and letting the dough come to temperature before baking.

The curtain has been pulled back and the Wizard has been exposed:  Great NY-style pizza can be made anywhere on the planet - anything said to the contrary is old-school propaganda.


Offline waltertore

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As some of you know, I opened a New York style pizzeria in Kuala Lumpur on April 15, 2014.  While there have been many challenges, one that I haven't had to face is the unavailability of NYC tap water.  We are using (filtered) Kuala Lumpur tap water and currently producing pies whose crust I would put up against ANY high-end NYC pizzeria.

I confirmed what I suspected all along - it takes know-how to make great pizza dough - not NYC water.  Letting the dough cold ferment is the most important factor to making great dough - that and letting the dough come to temperature before baking.

The curtain has been pulled back and the Wizard has been exposed:  Great NY-style pizza can be made anywhere on the planet - anything said to the contrary is old-school propaganda.

Andrew: That is great you are satified with your pies.  I agree on the water. The NYC/NJ pizzeria owners in general BS the heck out of people about their pizza methods.  I love it when I ask what temp a place is running their ovens and they respond 800 degrees when they are using a 650 degree deck oven :-D  It is the culture plain and simple and I respect it and understand how it came to be due to the intenese competition back there.  I have been making pizzas in NJ, TX, CA, Belguim, and now OH (on city and well water with water softner), and if you know what you are doing great pizzas can be made anywhere.  We most likely will be "retiring" to Reno in the near future and opening a small pizzeria.  That will be at about 4,000 feet above sea level and with incredibly low humidity.  I feel confident a great pie can be made there as well.  Walter

Online Pete-zza

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Andrew,

Out of curiosity, where you are in Malaysia do they use chlorine in the public water and do they monitor the quality of the water as they do in the U.S.?

As you know, the question of water and its effect on the dough comes up most often for the NY style. For example, a Southern California pizzeria, Johnnie's New York Pizzeria and Caffe, in its efforts to introduce New York style pizzas to Californians, went so far as to duplicate the mineral content of New York City tap water to use in the making of its pizza doughs. And a couple of years ago, at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=18338.msg177879#msg177879, Craig mentioned Grimaldi's emphasis at the time on the importance of NY water to their dough. There are also a couple of NY style places in San Diego, the Bronx and Pizzeria Luigi, that view the water quality to be important for their versions of the NY style. Both use bottled water. With respect to the Bronx on this matter, see the post at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=1795.msg15897#msg15897.

Also, in a related vein, as discussed at Reply 40 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=291.msg78438#msg78438, a bagel maker in Florida replicated NY water for his bagels.

As you might expect, Tom Lehmann is asked about the "water is myth" issue from time to time. Typical of his replies is this one: http://thinktank.pmq.com/threads/ny-style-crust-in-florida.679/#post-3210 . Also, Big Dave Ostrander, a former pizza operator turned consultant, also subscribes to the "water is myth" position, as noted in Reply 24 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=571.msg5952;topicseen#msg5952

I suspect that the perceived importance of NY water will persist and outlive all of us  :-D.

Peter

 

Offline Jaypizza

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I remember watching a video by Bruno Difabio where he says that great pizza comes from  years of making dough and trial and error. Not the NY water.

Offline Andrew Bellucci

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I remember watching a video by Bruno Difabio where he says that great pizza comes from  years of making dough and trial and error. Not the NY water.

I totally agree with Bruno.

Andrew,

Out of curiosity, where you are in Malaysia do they use chlorine in the public water and do they monitor the quality of the water as they do in the U.S.?

As you know, the question of water and its effect on the dough comes up most often for the NY style. For example, a Southern California pizzeria, Johnnie's New York Pizzeria and Caffe, in its efforts to introduce New York style pizzas to Californians, went so far as to duplicate the mineral content of New York City tap water to use in the making of its pizza doughs. And a couple of years ago, at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=18338.msg177879#msg177879, Craig mentioned Grimaldi's emphasis at the time on the importance of NY water to their dough. There are also a couple of NY style places in San Diego, the Bronx and Pizzeria Luigi, that view the water quality to be important for their versions of the NY style. Both use bottled water. With respect to the Bronx on this matter, see the post at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=1795.msg15897#msg15897.

Also, in a related vein, as discussed at Reply 40 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=291.msg78438#msg78438, a bagel maker in Florida replicated NY water for his bagels.

As you might expect, Tom Lehmann is asked about the "water is myth" issue from time to time. Typical of his replies is this one: http://thinktank.pmq.com/threads/ny-style-crust-in-florida.679/#post-3210 . Also, Big Dave Ostrander, a former pizza operator turned consultant, also subscribes to the "water is myth" position, as noted in Reply 24 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=571.msg5952;topicseen#msg5952

I suspect that the perceived importance of NY water will persist and outlive all of us  :-D.

Peter

Hey Pete,

Here's the way I look at it.  Here you are, mentioning The Bronx and Pizzeria Luigi in San Diego and Johnnie's NY Pizza and because they were able to get their names in the mix because of the water myth.  It's a GREAT marketing tool!  I mean, it doesn't  sound far-fetched to believe that
the water source is integral to the quality of the dough - after all, by weight, it's almost as important as the flour.  Or so it would seem.  And certainly, people who have access to NY/NJ water will use that to their benefit when discounting competition.

It's almost like wines from certain regions of France.  Technically, you can only call Champagne, champagne if it comes from the area designated as the region of Champagne in France - otherwise it's "just" sparkling wine".  Same as with Burgundy, Bordeaux, etc.  Sure, there's something to be said about the terrain their from which the grapes are cultivated.  But in the end, it's great marketing.  That little edge that separate's you from the pack - anything to give you the perception of exclusivity.

As far as the water in Malaysia, or specifically Kuala Lumpur, I don't know if it's treated.  I can tell you it is NOT potable from the tap.  It must be filtered or boiled before human consumption.  At the shop, we have a filtration system so that the water gets filtered before hitting the ice machine, the taps and the Coca-Cola soda system.  We change the filters once a week - in a matter of 24 hours, the filter changes from surgical white to dark forest brown - by the end of the week, it's horror-show black.  Looks like raw sewage.  In my apartment I use an electric boiling pitcher - it brings 2 quarts of water to a boil in about 1 minute with the push of a button.  I use this water for ice cubes and drinking water.  I have more faith in my boiling capabilities than local bottled water - but that's just me!

 
Andrew: That is great you are satisfied with your pies.  I agree on the water. The NYC/NJ pizzeria owners in general BS the heck out of people about their pizza methods.  I love it when I ask what temp a place is running their ovens and they respond 800 degrees when they are using a 650 degree deck oven :-D  It is the culture plain and simple and I respect it and understand how it came to be due to the intense competition back there.  I have been making pizzas in NJ, TX, CA, Belgium, and now OH (on city and well water with water softener), and if you know what you are doing great pizzas can be made anywhere.  We most likely will be "retiring" to Reno in the near future and opening a small pizzeria.  That will be at about 4,000 feet above sea level and with incredibly low humidity.  I feel confident a great pie can be made there as well.  Walter


Hey Walter - I have no doubt with your experience that you'll be making first-quality pies anywhere you go and with any water available.  We both understand the marketing value of the BS of NYC water and super-hot oven temp - people want to be told a story and think they are getting something special - something exclusive.  The BS of marketing is not new and certainly not limited to the pizza business!

Offline mkevenson

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I confirmed what I suspected all along - it takes know-how to make great pizza dough - not NYC water. 



Say it ain't so.i just finished my water line to NYC!  >:(


Glad that you are doing well with your pies. :pizza:

Mark
"Gettin' better all the time" Beatles

Offline Andrew Bellucci

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Sorry - you've been bamboozled!

Offline waltertore

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Andrew:  Being raised in the NJ/NYC scene from the late 50's-late 70's the main BS was the water first, then the ingredients, then the skill of the maker.  Often many pizzerias had their dough made by the same bakery and many used basically the same ingredients.  Oven Temp was never mentioned except that they would tell you the pies would be done in 10 minutes when you put in an order.  Since being gone from the NYC area the craze of WFO places has brought the oven temp up as important or more so it seems than the water?  Around 1986 I was in Palm Springs and the doorman at the hotel we were in was from NJ. He told me of a pizzeria that was around the corner. He said Sinatra brought the guy out and set him up.  I went there and the pizza was great.  He said he had the water trucked in from NYC and that Sinatra had fresh
Calandra's italian bread from NJ flown in everyday. I believed the Sinatra story but got a chuckle out of the water one.   I was at a Columbus OH Coal oven pizzeria the other day and spent a 1/2 hour talking with the pizza maker.  It was just before the diner rush.  Their oven thermometer read 850.  He made me a pie.  It was bad.  It didn't grab me and was a mix of midwest meets wood fired trying to call itself a NY pie. Walter
« Last Edit: June 08, 2014, 12:57:05 PM by waltertore »

Offline c0mpl3x

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long story short NYC water is upstate mountain spring water
Hotdogs kill more people than sharks do, yearly.

Online Pete-zza

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Andrew,

I agree with you that there is a lot of marketing potential surrounding high quality water, no matter its form. But, at the same time, I believe that there are pizza operators who believe that water is a central factor in the success of their pizzas.

It perhaps will also not come as a surprise to you to know that it is not only the NY style dough where the benefits of the water are touted. For example, Marc Malnati, of Chicago deep-dish fame, has said that his pizzas cannot be made elsewhere in the country because he uses water from Lake Michigan. On the Neapolitan front, Naples 45, a specialist in the Neapolitan style in NYC, at one time imported water from Naples to make its dough. It eventually found someone, I believe somewhere in Pennsylvania, to chemically replicate the Naples water. I recalled that Marco (pizzanapoletana) addressed the matter of the water in Naples so I did a search and found this post: Reply 5 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=1795.msg17435;topicseen#msg17435.

Of course, the major pizza chains that operate on a commissary business model tend to use water filtration systems. Papa John's does this with its American style of pizza, and it usually mentions this at its website. Mellow Mushroom, a growing pizza chain that also specializes in an American style of pizza uses spring water (originally it was Georgia spring water) to make its dough at its commissaries. It uses this fact for marketing purposes wherever it can.

In my own case, and as I noted at Reply 17 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=571.msg5913;topicseen#msg5913, I could not tell the difference between various forms of water for the pizzas that I made.

Peter


Offline norma427

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Andrew,

I once tested pizzas with Queens water to see if it was better for making pizzas.  This is that post at Reply 291 http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=9908.msg91827#msg91827  My reply to Peter was at Reply 294 http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=9908.msg91836#msg91836 

At Reply 408 http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=9908.msg96255#msg96255 a lady thought I was using NY water to make my pizzas.  You can see what she said.  :-D

Norma
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Offline TXCraig1

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I prefer RO water.
Pizza is not bread.

Offline Andrew Bellucci

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Andrew,

At Reply 408 http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=9908.msg96255#msg96255 a lady thought I was using NY water to make my pizzas.  You can see what she said.  :-D

Norma


People want to be sold a fantasy - to have something special.  It's easy to create an illusion when that's what the person wants. 

Online Pete-zza

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There is a good article on water in general as used to make pizza dough, by Tom Lehmann, at http://www.pizzatoday.com/departments/in-the-kitchen/dough-doctor-water-works/. In the article, Tom discusses the NYC water matter also.

Peter

Offline Andrew Bellucci

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Great article by the informed doctor, who I had the pleasure of speaking with a few weeks ago on another dough matter. I always felt the NYC water thing was more of a marketing play than actual science. And after 2 months in Malaysia I know it's a total fallacy.

Offline widespreadpizza

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http://www.brewersfriend.com/water-chemistry/

this tool is indispensable when getting to the advanced stages of brewing beer.  Anyone care to test the water?  Been on here 10 years or so,  and this bridge has never been crossed, completely...  it may be that hard or soft water does some styles better than others, as it does in beer.  the minerals are dirt cheap.  If you have soft water,  you can pretty much build any water,  the same as we do with beer.....   -marc

Offline Andrew Bellucci

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I'd be happy to test my water here in Kuala Lumpur.  I just don't understand the calculator - am I supposed to do something with salt?  It wasn't very clear to me.  Probably easier (and cheaper) for me to find a local water testing service and see what they say.  I'll also be happy to show you what a brand new white filter looks like 48 hours after filtering water.  They "recommend" we change the filter quarterly - I change it every week!

Offline JConk007

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Roberto Caporuscio  has also confirmed tht is BS, and  that the water does not mean !@#$  ;) he tells a story where he went to train  a person who recently opened and the guy was bringing in NYC water,  Not sure if he dumped it or ? but used regular water and whala killer pizza !
J
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Offline Jon in Albany

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Is it wrong that I saw BS in the title of this thread and thought Black Stone first?

Offline nickr

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I would like to add that it is BS for bagels as well.

I don't believe that "any water" will do. I believe that all you need is good, clean, fresh water. If it tastes good to drink, it will make a great dough.


 

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