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Author Topic: Pete's / Vitale's Bar Pie in NJ - HELP!  (Read 620 times)

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Offline johnnyoak

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Pete's / Vitale's Bar Pie in NJ - HELP!
« on: April 11, 2019, 12:25:49 AM »
I am looking to replicate a very distinct bar pie that was served in the 70s - late 90s in central Jersey and was hoping that some of the experts out there can shed some light on the possible formulation based on photos. I have tried various bar pie recipes available (most recently Star Tavern's - another great NJ spot!), but none of them really are the same as what I am looking for.

Crust-wise this pizza does not have any resemblance to the many other pizzas I've had in my lifetime, which is what makes the recipe so hard for me to pinpoint.

The slice is overall pretty floppy, but with a somewhat flaky crumb to it - almost like a Chicago dough. The edges are always crispy and burnt from the sauce spread, it's a red-orange tint with some burn/crisp spots, there is a distinct funk with the cheese blend (I am guessing there is extra sharp provolone and/or romano in the mix, as they served olives & provolone as an appetizer and the table cheese was romano) and it is generally insanely greasy in the best way possible.

Attached are photos that I pulled from the internet and more information about a newer incarnation of this pizza:
https://www.mycentraljersey.com/story/entertainment/dining/2017/07/04/original-thin-crust-pizza-company/362246001/
https://www.theoriginalthincrustpizzacompany.com/

Any help or guidance in the right direction would be extremely appreciated as I'd love to make this at home.

Offline norma427

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Re: Pete's / Vitale's Bar Pie in NJ - HELP!
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2019, 12:57:32 AM »

Offline johnnyoak

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Re: Pete's / Vitale's Bar Pie in NJ - HELP!
« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2019, 01:16:04 AM »
Norma that is a GREAT find - thank you!!   ;D

It's definitely is a good start point on nailing down the process. It looks like he's pressing some sort of cheese into the dough in the very beginning, but I can't tell if it is sliced provolone or cheddar...or maybe even shaved romano. So many questions!!

Also, I forgot to mention in my original post that the dough definitely has a fermented/beer undertone to it.

Offline scott r

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Re: Pete's / Vitale's Bar Pie in NJ - HELP!
« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2019, 06:37:55 AM »
The good news about the fermented beer undertone to the dough is that it just happens naturally with lower hydration doughs that are well fermented in the fridge.   The flaky crumb is a clue to oil in the dough.   I would start at somewhere around 47 percent hydration and 5 percent oil and see where that gets you.   I have found that a short time in a food processor followed by some hand kneading can do a good job with a dough like this.  Its hard to get a conventional mixer like a kitchen aid to deal with low hydrations.   
« Last Edit: April 11, 2019, 06:39:49 AM by scott r »

Offline johnnyoak

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Re: Pete's / Vitale's Bar Pie in NJ - HELP!
« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2019, 12:27:45 PM »
Thanks Scott for the formulation and tip!

I did a run of the Star Tavern dough last night, which I believe is a relatively low hydration, and the motor on my KitchenAid was not loving that.

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Offline foreplease

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Re: Pete's / Vitale's Bar Pie in NJ - HELP!
« Reply #5 on: April 11, 2019, 04:40:54 PM »
The Vitale’s pizza you are trying to clone looks a lot like one here in Michigan called Fricano’s. Check out the pictures at the link below. If you can’t find as much info as you would like on Vitale’s maybe you can find a few clues about how Fricano’s are made.


https://www.google.com/search?q=fricano%E2%80%99s+pizza&safe=off&prmd=minv&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwj2wPap8sjhAhVGbKwKHbzGBWYQ_AUoAnoECA8QAg&biw=1366&bih=906
-Tony

Offline johnnyoak

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Re: Pete's / Vitale's Bar Pie in NJ - HELP!
« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2019, 05:19:39 PM »
@foreplease - These look very similar (and pretty amazing)! Thank you for the tip!!

Offline johnnyoak

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Re: Pete's / Vitale's Bar Pie in NJ - HELP!
« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2019, 12:16:50 AM »
First attempt below.

Started with the Star Tavern dough recipe (https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=12769.0) and let that cold ferment for 2 days.

Rolled out 14" discs and par-baked for 3 minutes in a cutter pan. I then topped with grated Locatelli romano & parmigiano reggiano, followed by Grande 50/50 mozz/provolone blend. Sauced over the cheese blend with 6 in 1 all purpose ground tomatoes mixed with EVOO, granulated garlic, salt, dried oregano & some water since it was insanely thick.

The bake time in a 525 oven with a baking steel and stone overhead took about 20 minutes, which seemed like a long time. In addition, despite a good amount of oil in the pan and sides (appx 2T), saucing and cheese to the edge of the pan ended up sticking quite a bit, but the pans are new and need seasoning, which should solve that.

The end result was OK. The taste was decent, but definitely not really what I was looking for. The dough isn't far off, but sauce and cheese aren't close.

For anyone out there who may be able to provide some insight - generally how much cheese & sauce by weight/measurement would you put on a 14" pizza? I did what I thought appeared in the video and it seemed pretty excessive and off balance. Also, the ground tomatoes are definitely not what they're using on these pies. Can anyone recommend a better starting place for the sauce?

Thank you in advance!




« Last Edit: April 13, 2019, 12:37:59 AM by johnnyoak »

Offline norma427

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Re: Pete's / Vitale's Bar Pie in NJ - HELP!
« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2019, 06:48:45 AM »
johnnyoak,

Don't know if this will help or not, but in Doc's blog it is said that Mr. Vitale told us that the General Saloon did not consult with him regarding his pizza recipe, and that the pizza currently being served is not derived from his cooking instructions and specific recipe. That is said in the Retraction.
 
http://www.stripsmarts.com/index.php?option=com_myblog&show=the-metamorphosis-of-1194-englishtown-rd-i-review-the-general-saloon.html&Itemid=27


Brian S. on Yelp says this
In the 70's it was Pete's off River Road in Old Bridge (parking lot still there; house/restaurant torn down); the late 80's it was Vitalies at it's current location, and today it is Race Zone.  The names have changed over the years but the pizza remains the same! One of the best pies in NJ; nothing like you've ever tried.  Highly recommend.

It seems like in the video the dough looks very dry, and sure don't know why that dough looks different in the pan.  The cheese doesn't look to be an excessive amount, in the two applications and the sauce does look rather thick.  Scott r's recommendation for a dryer dough sounds good.

If you want to try another time for a Star Tavern like pizza, Craig's thread has good information.

https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=37557.0

Norma
« Last Edit: April 13, 2019, 07:00:49 AM by norma427 »

Offline IEatPizzaByThePie

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Re: Pete's / Vitale's Bar Pie in NJ - HELP!
« Reply #9 on: April 14, 2019, 01:33:53 PM »
Based on your "side shot" picture, it almost resembles a type of cracker crust, but with more oil.

I would agree with scott_r that it's probably a sub 50% hydration dough with a healthy dose of oil added. It looks like they're patting sliced provolone into the dough, followed by shredded mozz, toppings and then a small bit of extra mozz on top. For sauce, I would try a puree. Theirs looks to be quite thick, so you may want to slowly cook it down on low heat until you reach the right consistency (depending on the brand you get).

They could be cold fermenting the dough, but you can also experience that yeasty/beer-like aroma after a 24 hour, low hydration, RT ferment, too.
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Offline johnnyoak

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Re: Pete's / Vitale's Bar Pie in NJ - HELP!
« Reply #10 on: April 18, 2019, 04:05:15 PM »
Thank you all for sharing your insight & expertise. Giving this another shot tomorrow with all of the tips provided. Will post an update!

Offline johnnyoak

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Re: Pete's / Vitale's Bar Pie in NJ - HELP!
« Reply #11 on: April 20, 2019, 06:18:16 PM »
After taking all of the above feedback into consideration, I can say that this attempt was pretty darn close to nailing it.

Dough recipe I used was:
100% KABF/Semolina (50/50 ratio)
47% Water
0.68% IDY
2% Salt
5% Corn Oil
0.5% Vital Wheat Gluten

16 hour RT proof (didn't have time for 24)

Sauce was approximately 28oz 6 in 1 and 1 can of Red Gold tomato sauce with half an onion, a few cloves of garlic, 2T EVOO, 1T butter, parmigiano reggiano rinds, S&P. Simmered on low for 1 hour and then strained through a china cap.

Rolled the ball to a 14" disc and it went into a pan that was greased with vegetable shortening (potential misstep #1). Topped with grated asiago, Boar's Head picante provolone then WM mozzarella, sauced, then a few more sprinkles of mozzarella. Baked at 525 (preheated for 1 hour) for approximately 15-20 min and then broiled for 3-4.

Taste was pretty much on point with the exception of not enough "beer" taste in the dough and the cheese was not as sharp as theirs. I'd guess this can be fixed by a utilizing a longer proof and a sliced extra sharp provolone (Belgioioso is hard to find in Nashville).

The pizza was still relatively "floppy" when removed from the pan - could this be remedied by more oil in the pan/in the dough or less hydration? What is a realistic low end of hydration for a dough to achieve a crust that is crispy, yet still a little moist? Was hoping for a little more crispiness. Overall it was pretty great though!

Thank you all for your help!

Offline IEatPizzaByThePie

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Re: Pete's / Vitale's Bar Pie in NJ - HELP!
« Reply #12 on: May 07, 2019, 01:03:11 PM »
I would not use semolina flour in a dough like this. Semolina flour imparts a chewiness to the crust that will almost definitely get in the way of the crispy profile you're looking for.

At 47% hydration, it will be difficult without a sheeter, but make sure you roll to 1/4" or less. I would not adjust the amount of oil in the dough or pan. Also, you will want to go light on the sauce and toppings if you don't want a floppy slice.

For better flavor, I would really try to give it the 24 hour fermentation at room temp.

Lastly, you may want to try baking directly on a pre-heated stone. Those tend to be very efficient at drying out the crust and making it crispy.

I hope these recommendations get you closer to the goal!

BTW, I came across another place that produces a pie that looks almost identical to the first photo you posted. It's Riko's in Stamford.
"Who the hell eats two cookies? I eat Fig Newtons by the sleeve. Two sleeves is a serving size."

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Pete's / Vitale's Bar Pie in NJ - HELP!
« Reply #13 on: May 07, 2019, 01:42:45 PM »
If I remember right, Walter, who has spent a lot of time at Star, dispelled the myth about there being Semolina in the dough. Seems like I remember Adam K. saying the same.
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Offline johnnyoak

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Re: Pete's / Vitale's Bar Pie in NJ - HELP!
« Reply #14 on: May 07, 2019, 02:41:47 PM »
Thanks guys...giving this another shot this weekend! Given that I only have KABF available at the moment, is it worth adding the VWG? What kind of mix time is optimal in the food processor to ensure I develop enough gluten, but don't overwork the dough?

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Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Pete's / Vitale's Bar Pie in NJ - HELP!
« Reply #15 on: May 07, 2019, 02:53:24 PM »
Straight KABF works great for bar style pies like this.
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Offline dmckean44

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Re: Pete's / Vitale's Bar Pie in NJ - HELP!
« Reply #16 on: May 07, 2019, 03:24:31 PM »
If I remember right, Walter, who has spent a lot of time at Star, dispelled the myth about there being Semolina in the dough. Seems like I remember Adam K. saying the same.

I think most people are trying to re-create Star today, but from what I understand this style was once much more prevalent and there was more variation.

I made it to Star a few years ago and I would say the main thing I took away when I was there was it was thin, really thin. Probably .04 thickness factor. I also think hydration was lower than typical NY style, probably 50% and definitely no higher than 52%.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2019, 03:27:21 PM by dmckean44 »

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