Author Topic: Is steel really worth it?  (Read 7693 times)

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Re: Is steel really worth it?
« Reply #25 on: January 28, 2013, 08:26:28 AM »
CIZ28, I think, for the most part, we see completely eye to eye, but there are a few areas where our perspectives differ.

What they're making at that place is basically just a NY Style/Margherita hybrid.

Sure some people like it and owners like it because it's cheaper and easier to make than say Totonno's or Grimaldi's pizza, but coal oven "style" pizza is the original NY pizza. Some people have labeled it "elite," but it's not. It's just the correct way to make it.

Coal, especially in NYC, because of the innate nature of the inconsistent oven, is crap shoot pizza. One customer might get a sublime pie, but the next might get a pie that's incinerated.  The deck oven came along and resolved the consistency issue with the coal oven. This is why there's only ever been a small handful of coal pizzerias. Coal was an inherently flawed beta test. NY was and is Pizza 1.0.  Coal is the horse and carriage, NY is the car. NY fixed coal, and, because the new technology was so vastly superior, it was able to bring consistently earth shattering pizza to the masses.  The Neapolitans might have invented the cheese and tomato pizza, but NY, armed with it's thousands of deck ovens, brought pizza to the world. Unless you're in Chicago or Naples, NY style IS pizza. Look at the top right of this forum. Ask 95 out of 100 Americans to describe pizza and NY is what they'll describe. Whenever you see pizza in TV or movies, it's always NY style. Everything else is niche.

Coal is pre-NY style pizza. It plays a vital historical role, and, when you're one of the few lucky customers to get a correctly baked pie from an establishment that gives a crap (a rapidly diminishing entity), it can be one of the best pies on the planet, but, it's not NY and it's not 'elite.' Just because coal began in NY and is the pre-cursor to NY style pizza, doesn't mean that it earns the right to be called NY style.

How often do you hear the term 'horseless carriage?' During the fledgling years of automobiles, the term 'horseless carriage' initially gained some traction because the American public needed to perceive innovation through the eyes of it's precursor, but it eventually died, because a car is too intrinsically different to a horse and carriage, too intrinsically superior, just as a deck oven is too intrinsically different to a coal oven. Deck oven pizza IS the innovation, it IS the car, and like the car, it gets it's own label- NY.

Now, deck oven pizza, as you're brutally aware, is not all good.  It has seen far far better days. I think we can both agree on the fact that most of what passes as NY style these days is garbage. The degeneration has been so encompassing that NY style has, for a younger audience, been redefined.  I've struggled with ways to classify redefined NY style, using terms like pre-1995 or post-95, old school, new school, fast baked or slow baked, or just simply good NY style (old) or bad (new).  If there's any hope of bringing this sacred treasure back to a greater audience, a distinction is critical.  The barrier that I'm running into, though, is that, for an entire generation of New Yorkers, the slow baked orange blanket stuff IS NY style, and, while terms like 'NY elite' are mostly confined to this forum, which, imo, makes them easier to challenge, the perception of post-95 pizza as 'NY style' is held by millions of younger New Yorkers. To tell  millions of New Yorkers, "your pizza isn't NY style, the pizza from 20 years ago is NY stye" is pretty daunting, so, I've tended to prevaricate.

I think, though, that the time for prevarication is over. It's going to be an uphill battle, but I'm not calling post-1995 7-15 minute baked pizza 'NY style' any more.  Just like coal doesn't deserve the label, neither does the post-95 aberration.  Coal = pre york, orange blanket = post york. While I don't see faux York, usurper pizza going anywhere anytime soon (you wake up and there's a new dollar slice place almost daily), if this area is going to see any more Pizza Towns, any more New Parks, a line in the sand has to be drawn.

Which is why, when you use the term 'hybrid' to describe Pizza Town, even though you're using it in a complementary fashion as a way to delineate it from the orange blanket stuff, it gets my panties in a twist :) The orange blanket stuff doesn't get the NY label. It doesn't represent my city.  Pizza Town is one of the purest representations of NY style pizza you can find. At least the purest representation of NY style in the way I'm defining it now :)

As far as crispiness is concerned, no offense, but I think you're looking at this through a bit of a central NJ lens. Trenton style pizza should be crisp, and NY can be crisp, but it doesn't necessarily have to be crisp to be great. It can be puffy and chewy and still be quite sublime. While I do not subscribe to the The Pizza Cognition Theory, I do believe that certain preferences can be imprinted in youth, and, even though the pizza I grew up on was quickly baked (and usually a bit charred), it was frequently soft, even straight out of the oven. For the majority of people lucky enough to be around during NYs golden age of pizza, puffy generally trumps crispy. This is a large part of why I push people towards generally softer 4 minute bakes, while, at the same time, explaining that crispy lovers should bake their pizzas longer.

Re; boxing... I do prefer eating whole pies in person, but if the pizza is made well, I don't think boxing inherently trashes pizza. Again, though, we've got different glasses in regards to crispiness.

Thanks for the background on the BPs.  I've long known that ovens have lost a great deal of their gusto in recent decades, but it's nice to hear someone else confirm it with specifics. If the original style DS-805s are that common in the area, then it's an even greater crime that Pizza Town bake times are that scarce.
« Last Edit: January 28, 2013, 08:48:33 AM by scott123 »


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Re: Is steel really worth it?
« Reply #26 on: January 28, 2013, 10:14:22 AM »
Is that shaved mozz that they use in the Pizza Town video?

Yes. Some of the coal places use shaved mozz as well, like John's.  At first I was put off by the cheese, and thought it might be thicker than grated, because, with a cursory glance, it looks thicker, but, looking at it closer, it's possible it's thinner than grated. It melts beautifully.

That Mozzarella looks alot like it was thinly sliced on a deli slicer instead of shredded with a mixer attachment.

I'm not exactly sure what equipment they use, but I'm certain that it's brick. A deli slicer would give you square slices like they use at L&B. 

Offline CIZ28

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Re: Is steel really worth it?
« Reply #27 on: January 28, 2013, 11:54:36 AM »
Yes, we do agree and disagree. :)

I agree that it's difficult to classify them. I also think it's wrong to say that the original way pizza was made in NY was some sort of test leading up to what alot of people unfortunately think is NY style pizza. The way the originals did it IS NY style pizza. Why it is that Lombardi and those after him reversed what they saw in Naples by putting the cheese on the bottom and the sauce on top instead of making Margherita style pizza with oregano (they had no fresh basil) is still an unknown mystery. It is very good though. What came after was the Americanization and cheapening of that product, the orange blanket, which became like yet another fast food junk item. I don't think that the style or way of making the pizza is dependent on the oven. I do agree that coal ovens seem to be inconsistent, but I think that people switched to decks because they were cheaper and easier to use and maintain, not because they were “better.” You can also easily put a deck oven just about anywhere. Coal was what the immigrants had and the closest to wood fired ovens, so they used them. People call that picture at the top of the board NY pizza because it comes from there too, but they don't know the history behind it. Never stops me from trying to teach them though! I think we've been seeing positive steps for pizza over the last few years in this country. Food shows have helped open people up to more artisan pizza.

You can define Pizza Town in two ways. An orange blanket with less cheese or a NY/Margherita combination. I prefer the hybrid thing. :D

As for crispiness, I wish central NJ had more crispy pizza! People seem to usually wish for a crispy pizza, but long bake times and oil filled doughs still dont often make for it from today's geniuses. Some of the most crispy I've had have been fast cooked, 6 minutes or less. IMO, it's more in the dough than the heat/speed. Oil and sugar are huge players. Hydration and flour to a lesser degree to me unless it's 00. For some reason, most pizzamakers think oil makes dough crispy when it does the exact opposite, it's a tenderizer unless it's being cooked in a pan. I've read alot of Evelyne Slomon on here and her description of how the original stuff was made by the greats, as I'm sure you have. Dark colored, light, and crispy, even from 3-4 minute coal bakes. I've had it like that before and I've had total floppy slopfests from the same kind of oven. I think it has more to do with the type of dough and other things to be honest, like an oven tender that actually cares and knows what to do or even thickness factor. One other thing is that they put wax paper under them instead of something that absorbs like paper towels so the sauce and cheese grease leaks down into and under the crust when cut. It saves the box from getting sogged out but not the crust. BTW, the boxes always steam the pies even with the little vents they have to let it out. When you take a good, properly cooked pie off of the brick, they'll be crispy like fresh baked Italian bread for a while. If you read Pizza Today, the industry is trying to come up with ways to stop the softening of the crust by putting them on something in the box that will allow the heat to escape from underneath the pie. :) Glad you liked the oven info, I find it funny that you just stood there and took a video while she was working LOL! Maybe the cheese is sliced very thin and breaks up? Never seen it shaved before.
« Last Edit: January 28, 2013, 07:10:28 PM by CIZ28 »
"If it's not well done, it ain't done well."

Online Pete-zza

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Re: Is steel really worth it?
« Reply #28 on: January 28, 2013, 02:37:55 PM »
This is why there's only ever been a small handful of coal pizzerias.

scott123 and CIZ28,

I have long been of the impression that environmental factors, especially in major metropolitan areas like NYC, curbed growth of coal fired ovens. Is that so and, if so, to what degree?


Offline CIZ28

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Re: Is steel really worth it?
« Reply #29 on: January 28, 2013, 09:47:22 PM »
I don't think it has ever been illegal, it just got difficult. They are popping up in NJ here and there and seemingly around the country though. Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza is spreading all over and it's like Grimaldi's, though too light on the sauce. This is from the New York Post about Grimaldi's:

"The city rarely issues new permits for coal-fired brick ovens because of environmental concerns. Existing ones like the one now at Grimaldi's are grandfathered in -- making them virtual gold mines. They can be approved on a case-by-case basis but it is very rare.

City officials said they have recommended Ciolli install a gas-powered oven that uses coal for flavor enhancement. However, pizza aficionados say the taste of pizzas made that way pales in comparison to those made with true coal-fired brick ovens."

I feel that for a site like this there should be a separate board or at least a sub-section in the New York Style board just for the classic NY Style. At least a clear history of the pizza for people to read about it's roots, differences, degradation, and subsequent similarities to chain and frozen pizza from what was once a high quality, high standard product, with a different method of building the pie. Maybe it could be called Original NY Style or Classic NY Style? Maybe sticky the Evolution of NY Style Pizza post and some of Evelyne's posts also. I would hope that this place would champion the cause of something that needs more exposure and could use more clarification for the public. I'd be happy to moderate it LOL. We seem to agree that it needs to be more clear cut. It definitely deserves more than just a mention here and there. I'd like to see it get more attention and respect. :) :pizza:
« Last Edit: January 29, 2013, 07:24:05 AM by CIZ28 »
"If it's not well done, it ain't done well."