Pizza Walk With Me

Let's get hyped up over some pizza.

Villa Reale Pizzeria: if Yinzers Founded Italy

Pizza ReviewDan TallaricoComment
The classic sausage and green peppers pizza. This pizza was perfectly cooked, sturdy, and toppings evenly spread out. 

The classic sausage and green peppers pizza. This pizza was perfectly cooked, sturdy, and toppings evenly spread out. 

I imagine that there's fan fiction out in the world that describes in detail what would happen if a rag-tag crew of Pittsburghers traveled across the Atlantic and settled onto the fine country of Italy. They'd call their vibrant land "Yintaly" and their flag would flutter in Southern Italian Wind boasting colors of black, gold, green, red and white. And their pizzas and pizzerias would be modeled after the fine bar/pizzeria of Villa Reale in downtown Pittsburgh.

Villa Reale is a hidden ball of mozzarella in downtown Pittsburgh, nestled next to Weiner World on Smithfield Street, it's an unassuming pizza parlor. When you first enter you notice how unbelievably long this building it. There's a bar in front of the ovens that extend as far as Italy until it opens up into a dining room. I would not be surprised if the blueprints show that this building is modeled off of Italy's boot-shape.

Me and my pizza crew sat in the dining room, but I'm interested in going back for the bar experience. I have a hunch that that's the "right" way to enjoy Villa Reale because you can sip beer and get a front-row seat for the pizza making. That's a tough combo to find in Pittsburgh, but a huge plus for making the trip to Villa Reale.

This half plain, half capicolla was a bit of a mess. Cheese flooded the center and it was unruly. I think it was because this was an XL, a troublesome size. 

This half plain, half capicolla was a bit of a mess. Cheese flooded the center and it was unruly. I think it was because this was an XL, a troublesome size. 

My pizza crew had two pizzas: a sausage and green pepper and a half-plain half-capicolla. These pizzas may have been made on opposite sides of the world by random strangers. The plain/capicolla had enough cheese for four pizzas while the sausage/green peppers was slice after slice of perfection. How do they do it? How do they churn out such different pizzas?

It sounds like a bad thing, but to me it's comfort. With the boom of artisan pizzerias, it's somewhat refreshing to be served a gloopy moat of cheese and a crisp, crunchy medley of sausage and peppers. It adds an extra layer of mystique and yes, of course we ate all but one slice.

Villa Reale's pizza is the kind of pizza that has a crust that is so volatile that some parts may shatter in your mouth and others are soft and chewy. It's the phenomenon that happens when air pockets form in the crust leaving behind bites that explode like landmines. The slight imperfections of this pizza is what makes it so classic and Pittsburgh-esque.  

I'd put Villa Reale up there with one of my lifetime favorites, Mama Lucia's. I love the mix of Italian heritage and Pittsburgh and they created an odd mish-mash of an environment that you can only find in Downtown Pittsburgh.

Here is an unfortunate slice of plain pizza that looks like Laura Palmer wrapped up in plastic on the side of a river.

Here is an unfortunate slice of plain pizza that looks like Laura Palmer wrapped up in plastic on the side of a river.

Next time I go to work on my Pittsburgh x Italy crossover fan fiction, I'll do it at the Villa Rae bar. The perfect environment to chat with surly waiters and eat the finest food Italy has to offer. This is pizza that pairs well with a cold Miller High Life or whatever light beer of your choosing.

As a bonus, try to find the photo of a (younger?) Mona Lisa in front of a painting of the Mona Lisa. This really is the icing on the tiramisu. 

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Driftwood Oven Looks to Community to Raise Some Dough

Pizza NewsDan TallaricoComment

Welp, the Driftwood Oven boys are at it again. Towards the end of November they announced that they were going to focus their Winter energy on making Matteo's old house their home and open a shop on Butler St. After years of traveling around the city, battling for their lives in multiple pizza dojos, and dealing with the elements, Neil and Justin thought they deserved a solid roof over their heads.

After all, they ventured to the corners of the city to serve us pizza, it's about time we travel their way. 

Driftwood Oven is opening up in the old Matteo's spot on Butler Street. I'm not sure what happened to Matteo's, but I'm confident a somewhat casual pizza shop will do wonders in the Lawrenceville area. But, because they're upgrading from a tent to a sturdy structure with an actual roof they need a bit of help with the extra expenses. So they launched a Kickstarter to raise the extra money

I'm typically a bit skeptical of Kickstarters because creators tend to get a too grandiose with their promises. Typically resulting in failed goals or setting impossible expectations. The steady rolling Driftwood Oven crew has hit a sweet spot with their rewards and have a solid track record of quality to back up their promises. 

The rewards are far from crazy and give you an opportunity to pre-buy pizzas at bulk discounts. For $100 you get an invite to their Kickstarter Party which is already in the running for the 2018 Pizza Party of the year.

Driftwood Oven is a success and pizza shop like no other. They are hard workers who built a pizza empire from scratch. As of this writing the Kickstarter is about eight hours old and has already raised over $10,000. Each of those dollars represents a delicious archer they served in the dark winter nights outside Staghorn Cafe in Greenfield and the long days of prepping dough for those sweltering days outside of Grist House. 

Why Driftwood Oven Going to Kickstarter is Great for the Community

A couple of classic pies from Driftwood Oven

A couple of classic pies from Driftwood Oven

I am a firm believer that everyone's favorite pizza place is whatever they were raised on. Luciano's and Monte Cello's hold a special place in my heart even though their modern forms may not be the greatest version of their pie. Driftwood Oven having a permanent home will give family's another great option for Friday pizzas and I bet you that place will host someone's birthday each weekend. Maybe so much that they'll create a Driftwood Oven Birthday Song?

More importantly, Butler Street is peppered with businesses that are out of touch with the neighborhood. It's the unfortunate side effect of the population boom and investors trying to capitalize on a trend. Participating in the Driftwood Oven Kickstarter gives residence a way to say "I made this happen" and "This is the kind of business I want in my backyard."

Can you even believe that Butler St is anchored on one end by Driftwood oven and on the other Slice Island? Pittsburgh has certainly become the secret pizza capitol of the North East. 

One final thing - their mobile pizza unit isn't going anywhere as they said they'll roll it out of the shop when things get a bit warmer. Stay tuned for more Driftwood Oven pizza updates.

 

 

Michigan & Trumbull and Their Flavorful Pizza Labyrinth

Pizza ReviewDan Tallarico1 Comment
Michigan & Trumbull's Packard Pepperoni, complete with pepperoni, peppers, follows of sauce and that gooey cheese.

Michigan & Trumbull's Packard Pepperoni, complete with pepperoni, peppers, follows of sauce and that gooey cheese.

Nestled into the corner of the newly built Federal Galley is a piece of Detroit in the form of Michigan & Trumbull. Michigan & Trumbull is helmed by Nathan and Kristin who are Detroit Natives that bake delicious Detroit Style pizza. Detroit Style pizzas has started leaking out of Detroit and into other metropolitan areas the past five years.  According to Tony Gemignani's Pizza Bible, the rise in popularity is tied to Shawn Randazzo, cofounder of Detroit Style Pizza Company, entering and winning the International Pizza Challenge in 2012. Around that time fan favorites Via 313 popped up in Austin which stoked interest in Detroit Style pizza. With Pittsburgh host to two Detroit Style places I guess you can say that it's finally a thing. 

Michigan & Trumbull creates my favorite version of Detroit Style pizza. There's a fine line pizza makers have to walk between making a thick sicilian style pizza that's filled with oil and true Detroit style that is outlined by a caramelized crust filled with flavor. A quality pie has a hint of sweetness that blends nicely with the grease of pepperonis lined up on each square.

Up close with the Packard Pepperoni.

Up close with the Packard Pepperoni.

And biting into a Packard Pepperoni is complex. It doesn't taste like any other kind of pizza. The cheese, caramelization of the crust, pepperoni, peppers, and honey blend together to create a cacophony of flavor. A new species of pizza deserving of its own classification.

It's honestly a bit overwhelming and foreign at first. But, with each bite comes another shred of enlightenment. Between chews I found myself understanding the strategic profile of the pizza.

"Ah, okay, so that drizzle of honey is causing the sweetness which blends nicely with the goopy cheese."

"Those peppers add just the right amount of heat."

"The edges of this crust somehow don't even taste like dough, but as if someone laminated it in a sweet crunchy shell."

But keep eating and you'll completely understand each individual flavor in these squares. It's a lot to take in at once, but by your third square you'll find yourself craving more and accelerating towards the finish.

Eating the Packard Pepperoni is fun, almost like solving a brain tickling puzzle. With each bite I uncovered a new flavor which kept me yearning for more. I've actually taken breaks from writing this to take small nibbles of the piece I brought home to share with my wife.  

I look forward to trying each and every pizza that Michigan & Trumbull has on their menu. I see them adding a ton to the rich Pittsburgh Pizza Tapestry and I'm so glad they chose to bring their take on Detroit Style Pizza to Pittsburgh.

Looking forward to eating my way through the Michigan & Trumbull menu.

Looking forward to eating my way through the Michigan & Trumbull menu.

You can find them at the newly opened Federal Galley on the North Shore.

 

 

Making Pizza Dough Guided by the Light of the Pizza Bible

Dan TallaricoComment
Pizza Bible Cover

I’ve recently found myself with plenty of free time and what better activity to fill those dull hours than mastering the craft of pizza? 

Pizza is a basic exercise that has been around for ages. If someone without the power of the internet could figure out how to make pizza so can you! But, having a mentor or guide helps provide much needed structure. More importantly, a good guide explains the fundamentals and the why behind making pizza.

Where to begin? How do you find a mentor? A great start is praying to the pizza gods above. Like civilizations that have relied on ethereal beings and lords to provide guidance, so too can you find inspiration and wisdom in the form of a bible. The Pizza Bible. The Pizza Bible is a spiritual novel that will guide your soul to Nirvana. And if you’re reading this, chances are that Nirvana is great pizza.

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These dough balls come from the very first recipe from the book. It’s part of the “Master Class” where Tony Gemignani, the author and pizza master, explains the basics. Why use ice cold water? What’s the best flour to use? How do bags of flour differ? 

Beyond the basics, the Pizza Bible tells the story of pizzas around the region. How can you replicate a New York city pizza in your kitchen? What makes Detroit Style so great? What differentiates a Sicilian crust from a normal crust? Why would you want to use poolish?

I currently have poolish growing in my kitchen for use in some upcoming pizza experiments. Winter time always makes me crave Sicilian pizza and now I'm taking matters into my own hands. 

This Winter if you’re looking for a hobby or activity to fill the hours, try making pizza. It’s fun in groups and working your way through the Pizza Bible will sharpen your taste for pizza. You can find the Pizza Bible over at Amazon.

Italy Official Owns Neapolitan Pizza - What Does That Mean for the Future of Pizza?

Pizza NewsDan TallaricoComment
Vera Pizza Sign

Well, it’s official. Italy and Naples are the clear owners of Neapolitan pizza. Unesco, The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, has given pizza “intangible heritage” status. Meaning it is officially part of Italy’s cultural tapestry. They official own neapolitan pizza.

This makes sense as they’ve been trying to regulate and control pizza for years. Everyone knew that neapolitan style pizza belonged to the fine folks in Naples, where it was originally created, but now it’s official. There’s some comfort in official decrees much as there’s comfort in Neapolitan pizza itself.

Because of strict regulations neapolitan pizza’s consistency is rivaled only by Starbucks. You can walk into any restaurant that features the pizzaiolo mascot (a man in a white outfit and black mask) and know exactly what you’re getting. It’s a sign of quality, fresh cheese, and San Marzano tomatoes. As it’s grown in popularity there have been several liberties taken to the pizza that stalwarts find quite offensive.

Neapolitan Pizza adheres to a strict set of rules. The fine folks at Forno Bravo actually translated the latest update to the regulations around neapolitan pizza. There are eight article that describe how to make the pizza, what flour to use, the temperature of each ingredient, how to serve the pizza and even the signage promoting the use of neapolitan pizza. You can read it in its entirety here.

The regulations are extensive, but if you had created one of the most popular foods and saw it evolve into a medium to house things like buffalo chicken and ranch dressing wouldn’t you go the extra mile to put some rules around the lawless mess? But those rules can stifle creativity. My favorite pizza comes when pizza makers take the neapolitan style and tweak it ever so slightly to create what pizza enthusiasts call “neo-neapolitan” pizza.

The Green Pointer from Pizza Taglio is a wonderful evolution of the future of pizza.

The Green Pointer from Pizza Taglio is a wonderful evolution of the future of pizza.

Neo-Neapolitan Pizza Enters the Ring

Neo-neapolitan pizza gives the pizzaiolo more control and agency about how to cook the pizza. Whether they want to mess with the shape, cheese and tomatoes, or the temperature of the oven. Neo-neapolitan is an evolution of the classic, and if pizza wants to maintain its ubiquity you’ll see the younger generation adopt fewer guidelines. After all, a refusal to change and adapt has doomed plenty of industries.

A perfect example of neo-neapolitan pizza is what Tony makes at Pizza Taglio. Tony cooks at a lower temperature and plays around with the rise time of dough and core ingredients. It may look like the Wikipedia entry for pizza, but someone from Naples would see the difference almost immediately. The Green Pointer is what happens when someone who knows the rules and regulations around pizza and understands the right way to (respectfully) break them.  The creation isn’t disastrous or alarming, it’s familiar but at the same time new and intriguing. 

Neo-Neapolitan pizza builds a bridge between the past and future. It’s a fun spin on the classic, but contains enough of the fundamental aspects of pizza to deliver that comfortness that we’ve come to expect from neapolitan pizza.

Another view of the delicious Green Pointer, which I would love to be eating this very second.

Another view of the delicious Green Pointer, which I would love to be eating this very second.

Michigan & Trumbull Delivers Delicious Detroit Style Pizza to Pittsburgh

Pizza News, Pizza EssayDan TallaricoComment
Michigan and Trumbull Detroit style Pizza

 

“What is Detroit Style pizza and why is it coming to Pittsburgh?” is a question I get a lot lately. 

Well, Pittsburgh is a culinary melting pot and it makes sense that eventually this city will play host to the largest variety of pizza in the country. As Pittsburgh sits in the midst of the Rust Belt, the city is uniquely poised to take advantage of the trends migrating to the East Coast and vice versa.

Michigan & Trumbull, run by Kristin Calverley and Nate Peck, is the latest Detroit Style pizza shop to open in Pittsburgh, the first being Iron Born in Smallman Gallery. Michigan & Trumbull is following their lead and opening up inside Federal Galley, the "sequel" to Smallman Galley, on the North Side.

I was lucky enough to visit Michigan & Trumbull during their pop-up at The Vandal. While they sold out amazingly fast and left a behind a wake of happy customers, I got a chance to sample their vegan pizza. Which, I gotta tell ya that this was a true delight to eat and I hope it is a staple on their menu. The creamy rémoulade is a fine substitute for cheese and the eggplant provided plenty of flavor. It is the perfect compliment to the cheese and red sauce that decorates a majority of pizzas.

The Michigan & Trumbull vegan pizza is not to be missed!

The Michigan & Trumbull vegan pizza is not to be missed!

While Pittsburgh doesn’t have its own well-defined style of pizza, it’s strange that Detroit of all places does. Like most things in Detroit, you can thank the motor industry for that. Pans used for car manufacturing happened to perfectly double as pizza pans. So what's Detroit Style pizza? As Nate Peck says, “I think what makes Detroit style pizza is the deep blue steel pan, and the cheese pushed to the very edge before cooking. This gives you the crispy cheese edge we love so much.”

And that’s the beauty of Detroit Style pizza. In some ways it is the antithesis of New York style and a distant cousin of Chicago pizza. Instead of a floppy triangle, Detroit style pizza is traditionally served as rectangles.It’s thick, crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. 

The outside crust supports the sauce, cheese, and just about anything you can throw onto the slice. It’s an architectural beast that soaks up greasy pepperoni or fresh tomato sauce.

Stacks of pizza dough waiting to hit the oven.

Stacks of pizza dough waiting to hit the oven.

So, why aren’t we seeing more Detroit Style pizza? Why is Michigan & Trumbull getting into this business now? 

Nate Peck says:

I’m not exactly sure what has taken the rest of the world to find out about Detroit style pizza. Honestly growing up in the Detroit area I didn't even think twice about it only being a Detroit thing. I thought we just had a choice of round and square. Then we moved to Pittsburgh and were like wait, nobody has anything close to pizza like home? which is why I started playing around with the dough and ordered a few pans.

Creating the dough for Detroit Style pizza, and the cooking process, is an involved. It’s not as simple as slapping the dough into the oven, rotating it out, and placing it on a tray. There's a lot that happens to the dough before it gets stretched out.

Nate describes his dough process to me, saying:

For our dough I do a 15 hour 'poolish' taking 20% of the doughs flour and water with a pinch of yeast and fermenting at room temperature. I then mix the rest of the ingredients. I usually do about 500-525 degrees for 12-15 minutes. You have to make sure you let the dough rise halfway up each pan after portioning.

For the sauce we do a really simple, fresh sauce. Using Stanislaus tomatoes. We don’t cook it very long to ensure it keeps its fresh tomato flavor. Since we do a nice long bake on the pizza I  use a whole milk mozzarella so it doesn’t burn.

Expect Michigan & Trumbull to setup shop in the Federal Galley when it opens this year. Keep up to date with Michigan & Trumbull on Facebook. I'll keep you posted on any other Michigan & Trumbull updates here on Pizza Walk With Me.

 

 

 

Pizza Dojo 4: Driftwood Oven vs Pizza Boat

Pizza NewsDan TallaricoComment
Pizza Dojo 4 From Downtown

Pizza Dojo 4 (technically the 5th Pizza Dojo event) has been announced for this Saturday, November 11th. Once again, Pizza Boat has emerged from the shadows and challenged Driftwood Oven to a two-enter-one-leaves pizza showdown of epic proportions .

 

Typically these challenges appear out of thin air, like a spectre who emerges from purgatory with unfinished business. Pizza Boat's unfinished business stems from the rampant ranking of pizzas happening in Pittsburgh this season.

Most recently, The Incline started a peculiar pizza bracket (which I was interviewed for here) that gave the ranking power to the Pittsburgh citizens. Much like the 2016 election, no pollster could imagine the outcome (except for me who actually did a pretty solid job predicting the winners. I guess that makes me the Nate Silver of pizza polls?).

Driftwood Oven was unceremoniously knocked out of the bracket in the first round and Pizza Boat was snubbed entirely. Pizza Boat took their aggression to Twitter as their therapist was clearly sick of their bellyaching.

Pizza Boat taunted Driftwood Oven in their classic fashion and pondered about the proper way to rank pizzas. Should there be a governing body? What about a list of listicles? How specific should the rankings go and why didn’t anyone rank the darkest place for pizza? It was here that Pizza Boat struck gold. While both pizza makers were victims to the bracket, they would create a competition that caters to their strengths. 

Pizza Dojo events traditionally take place in the midst of Autumn when daylight is a sparse commodity and farmers relish the early morning sunlight. While most pizza makers are blessed with interior lighting, Pizza Boat and Driftwood Oven brave the elements to make pizza by the glow of the moon. A harsh environment, yes, but they pride themselves on being ranked highest (by themselves) for “darkest place to eat pizza.”

The fifth Pizza Dojo event, Pizza Dojo 4, takes place Saturday, November 11, in the lot behind Spirit Hall. Watch a video of last year’s event here featuring Rick Sebak:





 

Michigan & Trumbull Detroit Pizza Pop-Up at The Vandal

Pizza NewsDan TallaricoComment
Michigan & Trumbull Detroit Style Pizza

I hope you're into Detroit Style Pizza because it is slowly taking over Pittsburgh. The latest entrant in that arena is Michigan & Trumbull. They're a Detroit Style Pizza shop that was shocked to find a lack of that good, thick, crunchy pizza here in Pittsburgh. In Nate Peck's (chef/owner of Michigan & Trumbull) own words, "Then we moved to Pittsburgh and were like wait, nobody has anything close to pizza like home? which is why I started playing around with the dough and ordered a few pans."

I'll have a more thorough interview with them on the site later, but today is the day you can sample their pizza. They'll be setting up shop at The Vandal tonight in Lawrenceville from 5pm - Whenever-we-run-out-o-clock. 

Here's the menu of pizza they'll have at The Vandal this evening:

Michigan & Trumbull pizza menu

And here's a sample of what the pizza may look like right before you take a chomp!

Michigan and Trumbull pizza

 

 

Badamo’s Pizza Pizzafies the North Side

Dan TallaricoComment
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Badamo’s Pizza is taking no time to make its mark on the North Side of Pittsburgh. Here’s the mural they’ve painted onto the front of their store’s shutter.  

Not sure when the spot will be opening, but some may say this display is a bit of a tease. How can you present this image (one of a greasy, cheesy triangle of joy!) and not sell the real thing. 

Whats worse is that the closest pizza fix is a Pizza Hut across the street. Talk about pizza torture.  

I suspect you’ll know when Badamo’s Pizza opens when you hear a collective shout and cheer from North Side citizens. 

Stay tuned!  

Driftwood Oven Turns 2! Let's Talk About Driftwood Oven!

Pizza EssayDan TallaricoComment
DriftWood Oven Turns 2

They grow up so fast, don't they? First they're fumbling their little dough balls, struggling to figure out logistics, and experimenting with flours. Now, they are feeding multiple breweries a weekend, growing their staff, and sourcing ingredients so intelligently it would make your head spin. Not to mention the trophy case of accolades.  To celebrate, Driftwood Oven will be at Roundabout Brewery this Sunday at 1pm with some of their pals. More info here, but let's talk a bit about their excellence. 

Driftwood Oven burst onto the scene in a flurry of excellence. From their first pizza everyone knew this was legit. I remember biting into my first Driftwood Oven pie and looking around nodding, waiting to be woken up from another one of my pizza dreams.  

Hard to believe they are only now turning two. Harder to believe a pizza landscape that doesn't involve Driftwood Oven. 

The way Driftwood Oven has woven their way into the Pittsburgh tapestry is remarkable. From hanging out on the fringe in Greenfield, to bouncing from breweries to breweries. From working in a basement to getting prep space in Larimer. They drifted to where they were needed. It seemed like most evenings they were never further than a 5 minute drive or walk from my house, always within an arms reach. 

Despite being a mobile oven, their aura is permanent. A night at Grist House or Dancing Gnome without Driftwood Oven feels empty. Heading to Round About brewery for a drink without that tent outside just seems off

Justin greets visitors at their Greenfield spot. Neil bakes pizzas endlessly. 

Justin greets visitors at their Greenfield spot. Neil bakes pizzas endlessly. 

Justin always greets you with a smile and a large hello. His background in improve and comedy are not wasted in the Driftwood Oven tent. He's quick with quips and makes every pizza patron seem welcome. Neil works diligently behind the oven creating pies after pie. Bouncing between the oven and dough requires supreme focus and Neil never loses sight of a great pizza. And that's the way it has typically been. They've added some help along the way, which was much needed considering an evening at Grist House has them swamped in tickets as soon as the festivities begin. 

And their little oven, who would ever think that physics and science would allow it to make enough pizzas to serve hundreds of people without a single drop in quality? I've never had to wait longer than 15 minutes for a pie, which is a small miracle. And it's not because I write about pizza. You, the clever reader, get the same loving attention and speedy service that I receive. It's a democratic pizza process and they treat every customer like it's their thousandths pie. 

When I spoke with Neil nearly two years ago about his craft, he said, “I care a lot about what goes into this. Everything on the plate is good for you. I’m not going to serve you anything that I wouldn’t eat.”

That has been a staple of Driftwood Oven during their pizza tenure and it's great to see holding themselves to those standards. RSVP to Driftwood Oven's 2nd Anniversary Party here

Driftwood Oven also has really great t-shirts. You can watch my review below. 

Badamo's Pizza Nestles into the North Side

Pizza NewsDan TallaricoComment
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Uh oh folks. I think the holy trinity of food is finally complete on the North Side. On the corner of Federal and North Ave, there has always been a reliable stop for hotdogs and burritos. But pizza? Well, save for a Pizza Hut, that area has been a pizza desert. 

Badamo's Pizza is here to save the day.  

This is the second location for A'Pizza Badamo, their first being in Mt. Lebanon. The pizzeria is known for delicious, stylish pizzas and a "yes and" atmosphere. It's like if Michaelangelo opened a pizzeria. Both the Ninja Turtle and the Renaissance Man. But they opened the shop together. 

 Stay tuned for more updates as I walk by this work-in-progress on my lunch breaks.  

Pizza Boat's Picklesburgh Adventure

Dan TallaricoComment

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Picklesburgh has taken over the Roberto Clemente bridge in downtown Pittsburgh. Vendors from across the city have gathered to show off an assortment of pickled items. Things like a fried pickle, pickle on a stick, pickle juice, tacos with pickled vegetables, and of course pizza.

Spirit's booth dished out cocktails and brought Pizza Boat to serve up three pizzas that loosely fit the pickled theme. 

Their White piqued my interest. While they didn't brine the dough, they assembled a topical pizza. Who could pass up mozzarella, ricotta, black pepper, honey and pickled carrots?

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The pizza is a stunning canvas of white. Obviously.  The ricotta and mozzarella meld into each other and the carrots stick out like exclamation points. If it was a wild animal you would think it evolved these features to scare off predators or hide in a wintery environment.

The White is a bit decadent. The cheese and honey deliver a sweetness that is sweeter than I enjoy for a pizza. This could easily double as a dessert pizza. The pickled carrots should balance that out, but there wasn't enough representation to combat the sweet essence. Perhaps doubling the pickled carrots could balance this pie?

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But at an event like Pickleburgh, I'm happy they tried something a bit unorthodox. It's a welcome alternative to the pretzel vendors and the army of fried foods weighing down the bridge.

If you see this pizza out in the wild definitely give it a taste. Or, add this onto your order to gobble up as a dessert pizza at the end of a meal.

Can't Beat Driftwood Oven's Beet Pizza, The Beetza

Pizza ReviewDan TallaricoComment
Driftwood Oven Beets

In the midst of a summer heat session, sometimes the margherita doesn't feel like the right pizza. The goo-factor of the cheese can clog you up, slow you down, and pump the breaks one of those often sung about summer nights. Spicy sausage or pepperoni exacerbates the heat draining your body of useful liquids. Boy, just typing this sentence is giving me the sweats.

Driftwood Oven has taken in account all those variables and algorithms and created a pizza perfect for summer chowing: The Beetza.

Yes, pizza is perfect for every season, but the weather impacts the pizza nuance. And this Beetza is a quintessential summer pizza. Almost as refreshing as a sparkling spritz or an ice-cold High Life.

We'll get to the beets in a moment, but this pizza has a soft, creamy layer that blends perfectly with a summer evening. The mixture is made up of crème fraîche, ricotta and Old Gold cheese (basically aged cheddar). It's gooey and light, giving you the perfect lubricant to put down a couple of airy slices. Chives are scattered on top of the pizza like celebratory confetti. They provide festive flair and a bit of flavor. The star of the show is, of course, the beets.

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While beets are traditionally a delicious winter vegetable, there's no law against slicing them up for a delicious, bouncy pizza. Beets can be a flavor dead end. If they are not prepared well enough you get that wonderful earthy flavor in your mouth. The kind of flavor worms would die for. The Beetza comes corrects with the beet flavoring. 

Instead of that earth flavor, every bite of beets is a burst of delicious, "rooty," flavor. When combined with the crust, the cream and a bit of caramelized onion, you get a sophisticated flavor in the form of a pizza. 

Of course, the amazingly consistent Driftwood Oven crust plays host to these flavors and doesn't falter one bit under the heap of toppings. 

The Beet Pizza is a potpourri of fun and flavor that pairs perfectly with a well cracked cold one. For those that don't enjoy beets, check this out as I know you'll be pleasantly surprised. 

Finally, here's a photo of a non-beet pizza. Just for fun.

Bonus margherita Pizza

Man Defies God, Attempts World's Longest Pizza

Pizza NewsDan TallaricoComment
World's Longest Pizza Attempt

 

Attempting records is an inherent part of anyone's spiritual journey; something that unites. Something that brings out the very best in everyone. A reason to celebrate humanity and friendship. 

That's pulled from the LongestPizza.com, the site for the World's Longest Pizza attempt. The event is taking place today, June 10th, at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. To compete for the record a team of the greatest pizza makers joined forces, like a pizza version of the Avengers. The team consists of: Tony GemignaniGiulio Adriani, Tom Leehman, John Arena, Fred Mortati, Massimo Balacchi, Mario Vollera and Jimmy DeSisto.

Here's some of the logistics and stats for this attempt:

*The dough weighs about 8000lbs
*The sauce will weigh about 5600lbs
*The cheese will weigh about 3600lbs
*Total weight of the pizza= 17200lbs at around 7000’
*The oven will be moving at around 17’/min. The assemblers will need to work fast or the oven will catch up with them. The oven is cooking at around 700°F; once it starts its journey it cannot pause or stop.
*The assemblers will be rotated every 90 min or so, so they can have breaks and move to other ares that they will be needed, etc. If all goes well, we should be done in under 8 hrs. We will add some toppings to the last 1000’ of the pizza for variety.

Logistically, this might be the most complicated pizza in the world. The pizza makers must constantly be dealing with the dough, managing the ingredients and ensuring everything is in its place. Here's a few photos from the attempt taken by Scott Anthony, a regular pizza correspondent for Pizza Today and the owner of Punxy Pizza. I'll keep you updated as the attempt continues.

Some wonder if humidity and the weather will be an issue? Coincidentally, this is the second World Record Attempt to take place on a racetrack. In May, Nike attempted a sub 2 hour marathon attempt on a racetrack in Italy.

 

LongestPizzaMachine
ConverorBeltPizza

 

 

Pizza Shirt Review: Driftwood Oven's Old-Fashioned Baseball Shirt

Pizza ReviewDan TallaricoComment

When I'm not eating pizza I'm thinking about ways to showcase my pizza passion. While some say I wear my pizza love on my sleeve, that isn't good enough. I'm always on the hunt for tasteful, snug, and cool pizza shirts to pull over my body. Luckily for me, Driftwood Oven has hit the point of their success where they are selling t-shirts. A sure sign of a healthy business. Here's my review of the Driftwood Oven old-timey baseball t-shirt.

Dispatch From Pizza Expo Day 4: Two Geniuses of Pizza Showcase Pizza Excellence

Pizza ExpoDan TallaricoComment
Pizza ala Pala made by pizza genius, Graziano Bertuzzo

Pizza ala Pala made by pizza genius, Graziano Bertuzzo

Pizza Expo is an astounding event that happens every year in Las Vegas. Last year I sent my associate editor, Tom Tallarico, to the show to cover the pizza news. Tom loves pizza so much he always capitalizes the word. You can read his Pizza Expo Coverage from last year here. In his final dispatch he spends time soaking in pizza excellence.  Read Day 1 HereRead Day 2 of Pizza Expo Here. Read Day 3 here.

Pizza EXPO 2017-Day 4

Day 4 of the EXPO started off with a special morning treat, and no it wasn’t Sunny Side-up Eggs perfectly cracked on a Pizza. A session titled Two Champions Unite it was a special collaboration of two Pizza Giants; Tony Gemignani & Graziano Bertuzzo from Italy, top Pizza craftsman in Europe. Both have won Pizza titles in the U.S. and Italy. Both have won Pizza acrobatic titles at the start of their careers. That said, opening remarks included comments that the “Hands” define the style. The theme of the demonstration was Pizza alla Pala; or “Pizza on a Board”. Showing how Pizza making has become stylishly sophisticated, both Masters described techniques in dough making & toppings.

Graziano pre-ferments the dough with no yeast. He instead uses fruit soaked water for a natural fermentation. Makes use of Type 1 flour with an 18 hour rest which enhances the aroma. Dough is restarted with ground rice, fairly common in Italy making the dough lighter & crisper. The eventual dough has a higher hydration upwards of 90% which produces a better dough. Higher hydration of dough has been mentioned throughout the week.

Tony focused on the make-up of the dough using a spouted grain & spoke to the utilization of ancient grains for a dough which is healthier to eat. Using these grains with minimal use of yeast produces a product with more balanced Pizza components evenly present leading to a more satisfying Pizza experience. Both techniques add to the “digestability” of the food.

Tony Gemignani's version of Pizza ala Spana

Tony Gemignani's version of Pizza ala Spana

Graziano Bertuzza is a legend of pizza making

Graziano Bertuzza is a legend of pizza making

Another unique feature of the Pizza alla Pala is that most of the toppings are added after the dough comes out of the oven. Graziano topped the dough with potatoes cut into small bits along with rosemary & oil; then into the oven. After the bake, a variety of toppings are added. Graziano used toppings common to Italy; shrimp marinated in OJ (genius marinate; also almonds will take out the fishy flavor), Zucchini & Asparagus marinated in oil, olives as well as shaved chocolate at the end (once again, genius).

Tony’s toppings included peppadeaux peppers, goat cheese, hot pepper oil, cheese & a final topping of greens like Arugula. “It’s all about the finishing ingredients.”

Another technique was gutting the crust in half & filling with appropriate meats & cheeses. Love that! I would also spread that with some sort of “special sauce” concoction. Samples were very tasty. Great presentation which once again demonstrates the versatility of pizza, it’s evolution & the value of innovation.

Slices of pizza out in the wild of Pizza Expo

Slices of pizza out in the wild of Pizza Expo

Day 4 also included the International Pizza Competition Final & the “Best of the Best” Bake-Off which is a competition among four past World Champions. Locally, Eric Von Hansen, last year’s winner in the Pan Division, was the Northeast Regional Champ. (At press time, regional winners were not listed for the Pan division.) This gives Caliente’s Two Regional Champs for Expo 2017. Great performance.

For the “Best of the Best”, Graziano Bertuzzo, mentioned above & Nino Coniglio, 2016 Pizza Maker of the year & a presenter from yesterday finished 1-2. No surprises; just ongoing excellence from both Pizza Masters.

With that completed, it was one more walk through the Exhibit Hall and then preparation for the trip home. Good Show!

See ya next year Pizza Expo!

See ya next year Pizza Expo!

Dispatch from Pizza Expo Day 3: Pizza Competition and 3 Critical Pizza Rules

Pizza ExpoDan TallaricoComment
Matt Hickey's pizza entry into the pan pizza competition at the 2017 Pizza Expo

Matt Hickey's pizza entry into the pan pizza competition at the 2017 Pizza Expo

Pizza Expo is an astounding event that happens every year in Las Vegas. Last year I sent my associate editor, Tom Tallarico, to the show to cover the pizza news. Tom loves pizza so much he always capitalizes the word. You can read his Pizza Expo Coverage from last year here. This year he spent time investigating the wonders of the pizza competition at Pizza Expo.. These are the fruits of his labor. Read Day 1 Here. Read Day 2 of Pizza Expo Here. 

Pizza EXPO 2017-Day 3

Day 3 continues with the International Pizza Challenge & the World Pizza Games. Local entrants include Eric Von Hansen in the Non-Traditional Division & Matt Hickey in the Pan Division. (As listed here earlier, Matt Hickey, also entered in the World Pizza Games, won the in the Dough Stretching competition.)

Eric’s entry includes a garlic-honey sauce with a steak topping. Matt’s entry has a topping which includes greens, nuts & strawberries lightly topped with balsamic. Results for both will be listed tomorrow.

Eric Von Hansen of Caliente waiting to compete at the 2017 Pizza Expo

Eric Von Hansen of Caliente waiting to compete at the 2017 Pizza Expo

Nino Conigilio Champion Pizza

I attended the Demonstration “My Champion Pizzas” conducted by Nino Coniglio, last year’s Pizza Maker of the Year from Brooklyn. With the classic Brooklyn accent & presentation style, he was a delight to watch & he certainly knows Pizza. He prepared a Mushroom Pizza; not just your typical mushroom pie but one that starts with dough that has fermented for 72 hours. Dough is worked & spread with EVOO, Pecorino Romano & Mozzarella; then topped with Portabella & Shitake mushrooms with Rosemary. Added near the end is truffle cream, pine nuts & finished with Parmigiana Reggiano.

Nino’s Pizza rules include:

  • Put ingredients on evenly (very, very important).

  • Don’t overload the pie.

  • NO Dried Rosemary (not sure if this is a rule or a pet peeve).

Very nice, entertaining Demo.

Of course, one other activity on Day 3 is the obligatory walk through the Exhibit Hall enjoying food sample after food sample & chit chat with the vendors.

The day ends with Pizza Expo Block Party & the completion of the World Pizza Acrobatic Games.

Tony Scardino pointing at Tony Gemigani

Tony Scardino pointing at Tony Gemigani

Dispatch From Pizza Expo Day 2: Let the World Pizza Games Begin

Pizza ExpoDan TallaricoComment
It wouldn't be Pizza Expo without pizza.

It wouldn't be Pizza Expo without pizza.

 

Pizza Expo is an astounding event that happens every year in Las Vegas. Last year I sent my associate editor, Tom Tallarico, to the show to cover the pizza news. Tom loves pizza so much he always capitalizes the word. You can read his Pizza Expo Coverage from last year here. Before sending me this report, Tommy T called me to say how demanding covering the Pizza Expo has been. These are the fruits of his labor.

Pizza EXPO 2017-Day 2

With Day 2 of the EXPO comes the opening of the Exhibit Hall including Food Suppliers, Equipment Manufacturers and to the crowd’s delight, samples that their products produce, i.e. pizza, charcuterie, macaroni, olives & food, food, & more food. I can’t recall last year’s EXPO having so much & such a variety of samples.

Day 2 also starts the beginning of the International Pizza Challenge & the World Pizza Games. Of special interest in the IPC are the entrants from Caliente’s. First of all as reported here earlier, Nick Fink from Caliente’s is the Northeast Champion in the Traditional Division, his 1st competition. Congratulations to him. Eric Von Hansen, last year’s winner in the Pan Division, is entered in the Non-Traditional Division & Matt Hickey in the Pan Division. Their competition starts tomorrow so more to follow.

An action shot of the dough stretching competition in the 2017 World Pizza Games

An action shot of the dough stretching competition in the 2017 World Pizza Games

In the World Pizza Games, Caliente’s had entrants in both the Dough Stretching & Box Folding competitions. Citizens Pie (Cleveland shop mentioned in the prequel) entrant Bonn Rassavong won the Box Folding competition with a final time in a cool 20 seconds for folding 5 boxes.

The winner of the box folding competition, Citizen Pie Bonn Rassavong

The winner of the box folding competition, Citizen Pie Bonn Rassavong

Attended the Demonstration “Make Innovation your Calling Card” where Doug Ferriman continued his theme of Innovation by developing the Unknown.

Doug Ferriman's breakfast pizza.

Doug Ferriman's breakfast pizza.


The demonstration includes making a Pizza for each meal of the day. Started with a breakfast Pizza, the next frontier in Pizza making. His dough is aged for 36 hours which produces a mix which is “fluffy & puffy”. Added to the stretched dough is a 3 cheese blend (Prov/Mozz mix, pepper jack & fontina), pepperdeaux peppers, cracked eggs; sunny side up & finished with a guacamole spread. The crust is then brushed with a maple syrup & honey mix to give it a “French toast” taste.

 

The lunch Pizza was a Reuben with spiced Pastrami (MMMmmmm), Sauerkraut, Siracha Cheese (now that’s innovation!!!!) finished with Russian dressing & garnished with crispy Jalapanos (nice touch).

The unique piece of the dinner Pizza was the use of “caviar olive oil”, a rare product from Spain where Olive Oil is encapsulated.

That makes for a busy Day 2 visiting endless rows of Exhibits & the variety of food samples, watching the Pizza competitions & another classic Pizza Demonstration. Much more to come from Day 3.      

Meats at Pizza Expo