Mike, Armando's is, unfortunately, for most New Yorkers, the 'real deal,' and this last pizza blows Armando's out of the water, so, in that sense, you've far surpassed the 'real deal.' Unless, by 'real deal,' you're talking about Avellino's. The undercrust is pretty much flawless- I don't think they can top you on that. The rim crumb looks excellent as well. The undercrust crumb, though, could be a tiny bit more moist/creamier/finer, like the pizza you did here
If you take this undercrust crumb (minus the toppings, of course) and combine it with all the features of this most recent pie, I think you'll have perfection.
On a separate note, based upon the superior results you're seeing with cordierite-mullite, I've made the decision to reach out to kiln shelf purveyors to see if any of them has any control over the recipes for their shelves, and, if they do, would it be possible to create a shelf with an even higher conductivity. I still love steel, but, for many people, steel is just too heavy. Most shelves are imported from China, but I'm hoping there's an outfit or two that makes their own shelves and is willing to alter their recipe to better suit the pizza community's needs.
Thanks a bunch for the compliment.
When I heard the comments ("too chewy, too dense") from my folks, I figured that the PPF, with all its superiority to the retail level flours, might have to be blended with some AP flour to reduce the protein level a bit. I had best results with a 65% hydration but when blended I thought lowering that a bit makes sense.
Anyway, Armando the guy who I have been talking pizza with on a regular basis. He's really knowledgeable but is also, unfortunately, limited in what he can do at the shop since he's not the owner.
When I'm talking the "real deal" on the San Fran level there's only two places that might be able to hold a candle to the pies & slices from NYC and that's Marcello's and Avellino. There's also Escape from NY & Arinell's but, imho, they're the runner-ups.
I'm wondering what your thoughts are on Rays of Prince Street in NYC? It's closed now but was hailed as the original Ray's and although I have never had the chance to eat a slice from Ray's, rumor has it that it's been one of the best in NYC.
Regarding the Thorley kiln shelf...when I bought mine it was a big step up to the American Metalcraft cordierite I had before. It holds the heat much, much better and recovers very nicely. I think it was you who suggested these guys here: http://www.ceramicssf.com/shelves-posts.htm
Below are those slices I have used for inspiration and put mine in there, too, for comparison.