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Author Topic: Reverse Engineering Bronx Pizza San Diego  (Read 998 times)

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Offline sodface

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Reverse Engineering Bronx Pizza San Diego
« on: September 16, 2018, 10:14:58 AM »
After my recent visits to Bronx Pizza in San Diego, I decided to do a bit of research here and elsewhere online to try to come up with a home version that comes close.  I like my NY-ish pies but man did I like those Bronx Pizza Slices!  I've never had pizza in NYC so I don't have anything to compare it to, but, if Bronx Pizza is true NY style pizza (which I have no reason to doubt) I now have a better point of reference when reading through the threads in this part of the forum.

I started making some notes from my research along with some of my own rookie obeservations:

- Fairly thin crust and rim
- Nice crunch
- Nice chew
- Light and sort of airy and doesn't leave you feeling overly full
- Not heavy with either cheese or sauce

A forum member named scarboni worked there works there (as of today he's still listed as staff on the website) and makes some comments in this thread:

Quote
Both Bronx & Luigi's cold ferment the dough (as almost every pizzeria outside of a few select places in NY do). When you are making 60 to 70 dough balls per batch, it just makes it easier to time the dough appropriately.

The dough at Bronx & Luigi's is actually closer to a Neapolitan dough in it's simplicity. Whereas Originals is closer to a typical NY place (sugar, oil or some kind of conditioner in the dough).

I tend to start between 525 and 550 and turn it up as the oven gets filled to offset some of the lose of heat (which is a little hotter than some of the guys). That gives me about a 6min. bake time. We are using 65-67% hydration so the pie actually performs better when the oven is a little hotter. I can't say for a fact, but I'm pretty sure that while the oven reads 525, it is actually 550 to 575.

Based on those comments I would draw the following conclusions:

- dough formula is flour, water, salt, yeast only
- 65-67% hydration with a 50lb bag of flour and call it 2% salt and 60-70 dough balls per batch gives you an average dough ball weight of about 20.8oz for an 18"
- If my guess on the dough ball weight is close, that's a TF of ~.0817

Some more references:

San Diego Magazine Article 1

Quote
Whatís the secret to your tomato sauce?
We use good quality pear tomatoes, lots of fresh basil, and a 40-year-old recipe from Calabria, Italy. Half the tomatoes are whole and the other half are ground, which gives the sauce extra sweetness.

What are some of the challenges of making pizza dough?
Good dough has really simple ingredients. You see places that add eggs, milk, or sugar to their dough. You donít need that much stuff to make good dough. Itís mostly getting the water temperature correct and letting it rise for the right amount of time. If itís too cold, the dough wonít grow. Thereís also the temperature of the room. If itís hot outside, the dough will proof up too fast and you canít use it.


San Diego Magazine Article 2

(myth?)
Quote
Gardner uses only filtered water for making his 18-inch pies, and believes itís one of the keys to his success. ďNew York is famous for having really good water. I think thatís why their dough and their pastries and bagels are so good.Ē Also, he handtosses the dough, chooses top-quality ingredients (ďIíve had guys digging through my trash, looking for wrappers to see what brands I use!Ē) and uses a treasured sauce recipe developed by his pizza-making mentor, the late Nicky Cotrona.

In a post here, a member mentions a travel channel clip that I haven't been able to find:

Quote
I saw a clip for this San Diego pizzeria (called Bronx Pizza) on the travel channel.  The clip showed he was distilling water on site (like health food stores did in the late 70's) to avoid using the tap water.

Now he is using bottled water.  see following text from his website:

"We have tried our best by using bottled water for the dough. We only use the richest cheese. (Whole milk mozzarella)

For the sauce, we hand grind the best whole plum tomatoes. Then we add fresh ingredients from Nick's 30 year old recipe. It may be more time consuming, but without a doubt, our sauce is in a higher league. Baking in a brick oven adds the final touch to the process. The brick oven seems to be turning into a dinosaur as the big pizza chains

strive for production through the conveyor belt- assembly line type ovens."

This video has a quick shot of the sauce being prepared at around 49s:



And here's another video that's been posted here before:




I believe the dancing guy is forum member scarboni from the posts reference above.  I PM'd him but haven't got a response.  He hasn't been active on here for several years.

That's all I've come up with so far.  Comments and suggestions welcome!

« Last Edit: September 16, 2018, 11:22:03 PM by sodface »
Carl

Offline hammettjr

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Re: Reverse Engineering Bronx Pizza San Diego
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2018, 10:46:25 AM »
The video of the sauce is awesome! I don't recall ever seeing video like this from a pizzeria. You can see the whole leaves of basil and a lot of hard cheese. The sauce is key, and will flavor the pie.

You mention crunch. Were the slices you had re-heated? A lot of people prefer re-heated slices, you may want to try it on your pies.

You can see the sauce and cheese amounts on the pre-baked pies. It's actually a pretty decent amount (especially when compared to some of the home-baked pies on the forum that have very little cheese.)

Can anyone guess the hydration based on the videos? I personally can't.
Matt

Offline norcoscia

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Re: Reverse Engineering Bronx Pizza San Diego
« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2018, 10:53:57 AM »
Hope you figure something out Carl - that was my favorite spot for pizza while I was living in San Deigo!
Norm

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Re: Reverse Engineering Bronx Pizza San Diego
« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2018, 11:06:33 AM »
Sauce does look good!
Jeff

Offline sodface

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Re: Reverse Engineering Bronx Pizza San Diego
« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2018, 11:07:09 AM »
The video of the sauce is awesome! I don't recall ever seeing video like this from a pizzeria. You can see the whole leaves of basil and a lot of hard cheese. The sauce is key, and will flavor the pie.

You mention crunch. Were the slices you had re-heated? A lot of people prefer re-heated slices, you may want to try it on your pies.

You can see the sauce and cheese amounts on the pre-baked pies. It's actually a pretty decent amount (especially when compared to some of the home-baked pies on the forum that have very little cheese.)

Can anyone guess the hydration based on the videos? I personally can't.

Yes, slices were reheated and I agree that adds to the crunch and I agree further that I think I like my leftover reheats more than the ones straight from the oven!

Can you tell if that's an immersion blender in the sauce?

Hope you figure something out Carl - that was my favorite spot for pizza while I was living in San Deigo!

Me too, thanks for the original recommendation  ;D
Carl

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Offline hammettjr

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Re: Reverse Engineering Bronx Pizza San Diego
« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2018, 11:18:31 AM »

Can you tell if that's an immersion blender in the sauce?


Can't be sure, but looks like it
Matt

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Re: Reverse Engineering Bronx Pizza San Diego
« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2018, 11:23:16 AM »
Carl,

Several years ago, a few of us on the forum at the time attempted to reverse engineer and clone the pizzas made at Pizzeria Luigi in San Diego. Apparently there were connections between Pizzeria Luigi and Bronx Pizza that might have influenced the way that pizza was made at Pizzeria Luigi. There were several references to Bronx Pizza in the Pizzeria Luigi thread. That thread is at:

https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=14928.0

If you go to that thread and put the words Bronx or Bronx Pizza into the search bar at the top right of the page, you will get several hits that you can review.

There was also a thread devoted to water that also mentioned Bronx Pizza, at:

https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=1795.msg15897#msg15897

If you don't mind scanning through a lot of hits, you might also do a broad advanced forum search using Bronx. That will, of course, bring up a lot of posts about Bronx, NY. In fact, you are likely to get close to 360 hits. If you use Bronx Pizza, you will get around 250 hits. When I do reverse engineering and cloning work, I do not let large numbers stop me.

You may also find that there are links that no longer work, and many of them perhaps cannot be found archived at the Wayback Machine. Newspapers and magazines and many online websites that cover current events are prone to this sort of thing. And often websites go dark and out of existence. But that doesn't stop me from checking with the Wayback Machine. This is not intended to be a recommendation that you do the same. It is just the way I work.

Peter

Offline sodface

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Re: Reverse Engineering Bronx Pizza San Diego
« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2018, 11:42:13 AM »
Carl,

Several years ago, a few of us on the forum at the time attempted to reverse engineer and clone the pizzas made at Pizzeria Luigi in San Diego. Apparently there were connections between Pizzeria Luigi and Bronx Pizza that might have influenced the way that pizza was made at Pizzeria Luigi. There were several references to Bronx Pizza in the Pizzeria Luigi thread. That thread is at:

https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=14928.0

If you go to that thread and put the words Bronx or Bronx Pizza into the search bar at the top right of the page, you will get several hits that you can review.


Thanks Peter!  I actually did review that thread quite a bit but did not mention it here as I felt the information I reference above had sufficient detail (if accurate).  I think in the Luigi's clone there ended up being sugar in the formula which I don't think is the case for the Bronx formula, again based on the above.

Quote

There was also a thread devoted to water that also mentioned Bronx Pizza, at:

https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=1795.msg15897#msg15897


For this effort, at least initially, I think I'm going to ignore the water as a significant factor and just use bottled water as I usually do anyway.

Quote
If you don't mind scanning through a lot of hits, you might also do a broad advanced forum search using Bronx. That will, of course, bring up a lot of posts about Bronx, NY. In fact, you are likely to get close to 360 hits. If you use Bronx Pizza, you will get around 250 hits. When I do reverse engineering and cloning work, I do not let large numbers stop me.

You may also find that there are links that no longer work, and many of them perhaps cannot be found archived at the Wayback Machine. Newspapers and magazines and many online websites that cover current events are prone to this sort of thing. And often websites go dark and out of existence. But that doesn't stop me from checking with the Wayback Machine. This is not intended to be a recommendation that you do the same. It is just the way I work.

Peter

Thanks for the tips and insight into your methodology.  I will try to be as complete as I can.  I agree, it would have been better if their name was something a little more unique than "Bronx Pizza"  :-D
Carl

Offline norcoscia

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Re: Reverse Engineering Bronx Pizza San Diego
« Reply #8 on: September 16, 2018, 11:43:54 AM »
Interesting article here - it mentions Asaggio - I was looking for info on Nicky Cotrona since it is his sauce recipe they mention....

Asaggio
Seaport Village
879 West Harbor Dr. Suite C, San Diego, CA
Phone: (619) 234-2407
Hours: Monday through Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

But I have never been there?

https://www.mesapress.com/entertainment/2006/05/09/restaurant-review/
Norm

Offline sodface

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Re: Reverse Engineering Bronx Pizza San Diego
« Reply #9 on: September 16, 2018, 11:52:08 AM »
Interesting article here - it mentions Asaggio - I was looking for info on Nicky Cotrona since it is his sauce recipe they mention....

Asaggio
Seaport Village
879 West Harbor Dr. Suite C, San Diego, CA
Phone: (619) 234-2407
Hours: Monday through Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

But I have never been there?

https://www.mesapress.com/entertainment/2006/05/09/restaurant-review/

They are taking quite a beating on Yelp.
Carl

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Offline norcoscia

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Re: Reverse Engineering Bronx Pizza San Diego
« Reply #10 on: September 16, 2018, 12:40:34 PM »
Carl - did you happen to see what flour they were using - If I still lived in SD I would wonder around to the dumpster  :-D
Norm

Offline sodface

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Re: Reverse Engineering Bronx Pizza San Diego
« Reply #11 on: September 16, 2018, 12:59:09 PM »
Carl - did you happen to see what flour they were using - If I still lived in SD I would wonder around to the dumpster  :-D

No I didn't, but, I think I have to go back in the next week or so and I'll check it out, dumpster included  :-D

I'm bad about trying to be nonchalant and observant at the same time but if I go back I will try to notice more details instead of just standing there looking at my feet.
Carl

Offline hammettjr

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Re: Reverse Engineering Bronx Pizza San Diego
« Reply #12 on: September 16, 2018, 01:07:10 PM »
You'd be surprised, some guys are really happy to talk to customers and give info. I've had good luck after showing the guys pics of my pizza on my phone. It shows that I have some skill, but also that I'm just a guy making pizza at home with no bad intentions.
Matt

Offline sodface

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Re: Reverse Engineering Bronx Pizza San Diego
« Reply #13 on: September 16, 2018, 01:19:53 PM »
You'd be surprised, some guys are really happy to talk to customers and give info. I've had good luck after showing the guys pics of my pizza on my phone. It shows that I have some skill, but also that I'm just a guy making pizza at home with no bad intentions.

I'll try to go when they aren't busy.  The one night we went it was really busy and the guy at the counter was nice but still trying to keep people moving, I don't think he would appreciate me wanting to chat!
Carl

Offline sodface

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Re: Reverse Engineering Bronx Pizza San Diego
« Reply #14 on: September 16, 2018, 01:41:05 PM »
One thing I meant to add was the bottom of the slices were "clean" so I don't think they use much of anything on the peel when launching.  I usually use semolina but it affects the flavor (I like it) but will omit it for this effort.
Carl

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Offline norcoscia

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Re: Reverse Engineering Bronx Pizza San Diego
« Reply #15 on: September 16, 2018, 02:15:32 PM »
Years ago someone that worked there got on and started exchanging info with scot123 - they even posted pictures of some of the ingredients they used at the shop - I assumed one of the shop owners got wind of it because it was like someone turned the ON/OFF switch to the OFF position - the thread just went dead... Maybe Pete can find it?
Norm

Offline sodface

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Re: Reverse Engineering Bronx Pizza San Diego
« Reply #16 on: September 16, 2018, 04:23:49 PM »
Years ago someone that worked there got on and started exchanging info with scot123 - they even posted pictures of some of the ingredients they used at the shop - I assumed one of the shop owners got wind of it because it was like someone turned the ON/OFF switch to the OFF position - the thread just went dead... Maybe Pete can find it?

Norm, I looked for it but no dice.  If the thread was deleted or moved to another forum not visible to normal members then only a mod could resurrect it and they probably wouldn't (understandably) if they were asked by the shop to take it down to begin with.
Carl

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Re: Reverse Engineering Bronx Pizza San Diego
« Reply #17 on: September 16, 2018, 04:52:29 PM »
I assumed Norm was referring to Scarboni's thread that you linked in the first post:
https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=19046.0
Matt

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Re: Reverse Engineering Bronx Pizza San Diego
« Reply #18 on: September 16, 2018, 05:12:59 PM »
Yes, I did not notice it in first post - that was the one I was talking about :-)
Norm

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Re: Reverse Engineering Bronx Pizza San Diego
« Reply #19 on: September 16, 2018, 05:19:31 PM »
Norm, I looked for it but no dice.  If the thread was deleted or moved to another forum not visible to normal members then only a mod could resurrect it and they probably wouldn't (understandably) if they were asked by the shop to take it down to begin with.
Carl,

Like you, I did not see anything in the Luigi thread where a former worker at Bronx Pizza exchanged information with scott123. Since I did not recall that the forum was asked to take anything down but, to be sure, I did a search of the Recycle Bin board. I did a few searches but did not see any signs of the forum having been asked to take any posts down.

Peter

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