Brett Nemec has worked his way up in the restaurant industry, and several years ago he decided to take the plunge into pizza. But not the tavern style thin, square-cut slices he grew up with in Chicago's western suburbs; rather, he decided to tackle New York slices, and has been improving ever since he opened in 2021. Zazas is one of several places to find great New York style slices these days in Chicago.
David Sheridan pivoted to pizza long before the pandemic, but even then he realized how important it was to use an all-natural starter for his dough. The pizzas at Wheated, in Flatbush, Brooklyn, are truly worth the journey. He's been perfecting his craft for over a decade, and it shows. His next challenge: bagels during the day.
Pre-Covid, Chris Cutillo was content running a restaurant supply business, dealing with all kinds of places around New York City. But things changed for him during the pandemic, and he went down the rabbit hole, like a lot folks. He opened Austin Street Pizza in a charming block of Forest Hills, Queens. It's easier than you might think to get to his shop, and it's well worth the effort! Big thanks to Serhan Ayhan for the recommendation.
Andrew Bellucci has had a tough couple of years. After opening Bellucci Pizza with a business partner then having a falling out during the pandemic, he struck out on his own - just a half-mile away - opening Bellucci's Pizzeria. Now, in addition to a legal battle, he has to constantly remind guests of his new business, while striving to make the best pizza he can, by using only the best ingredients. His experience working in a pair of Michelin-starred restaurants in Alsace is certainly unique...
Peter Campbell has been a force in the Minneapolis food community for several years. When he opened Red Wagon Pizzeria in SW Minneapolis, he immediately tackled the issue of sourcing heritage grains for his dough. The result has been nothing less than spectacular. Combining that artisan dough with creative toppings has put Red Wagon in a class by itself.
Jeff Rogers grew up in Minneapolis, though his family is from the Iron Range in Northern Minnesota. His restaurant and bar experience in the Twin Cities led him to open his own place, Wrecktangle, which is certainly inspired by Detroit, but doesn't feel the need to adhere to those regional rules. Jeff creates unique flavors for a pie that is unique among its peers in Minneapolis-St. Paul.
Facundo De Fraia is passionate about all things Argentinean. The Buenos Aires native earned a reputation for making empanadas in the Twin Cities, but soon added pizza to his repertoire when he opened Boludo. His thin, blistered pies emerge from conveyor ovens, as do his Fugazettas - a unique pizza with no sauce, just lots of onions and cheese.
Partners Hannah Ziskin and Aaron Lindell created two businesses during COVID: House of Gluten (Hannah) and Quarter Sheets Pizza Club (Aaron). Now the two have integrated both into a small shop in Echo Park, just off Sunset Boulevard, near Dodger Stadium in L.A. The pies are resplendent with soft crumb (made from various artisan flours) and sturdy crust, the result of an all-natural starter.
Noel Brohner grew up in the 1970s eating a lot of frozen pizza in California. But as the child of parents hailing from both New York and Chicago, his early impressions were shaped by frequent visits to both cities. After a life-changing experience in culinary school, he emerged as a dough whisperer of sorts, helping some of L.A.'s biggest names develop their pizza programs. Known as @slowrisepizza on Instagram, Brohner is now busy eating, baking and consulting all over California. He talked...
Ryan Baddeley is the owner of Pizzeria Badiali, a fantastic slice shop in Queen West, a hipster area in Toronto. We talked about the must-visit places in Toronto (sorry we didn't get to North of Brooklyn) but kudos to our friend Amy Rosen, who insisted we meet for a slice at Badiali. This is a unique pizza in a city full of Neapolitans.
Victor Barry is a chef and restaurateur in Toronto who continues evolving. He’s got three Piano Pianos, a Piccolo Piano plus two shops dedicated to pizza, and now a slowly growing frozen business. I first had his pizza sitting at the restaurant’s bar about six years ago, and I still remember how much I enjoyed it. Very Neapolitan, and very dialed-in to the list of imported ingredients. But most important, he makes sure he has a pizzaiolo who knows how to work the oven.
Chris Getchell is widely acknowledged as the founder, creator, mastermind at Descendant in Toronto. It’s in Leslieville, on Queen East, and it’s among the best Detroit style pizzas anywhere. Steve was back in Toronto a few weeks ago, and so when he set up the interview, expecting to meet Chris, he instead met Ike Tzakis, another partner and pizzamaker there. Ike’s going to break some news on today’s show, so if you’re at all interested in the Toronto pizza scene, listen carefully.
Justin Haines missed his beloved Lou Malnati's so much when he moved to Amsterdam, that he quit his job in logistics to open his own place. Determined to recreate the buttery crusts of his childhood, he sought out an Italian chef, took him to Chicago to eat a ton, then returned to Amsterdam to open The Ugly Duck to attempt to serve Europeans his favorite childhood pizza. It's not exactly Lou's, but it's also not half bad.
Rotterdam native Bas Scheffer has been traveling to Italy since he was a child. That sparked a lifelong love for Italian culture and pizza. During COVID, he and his girlfriend would make pizzas in an Ooni oven, which led to the birth of Pizza Project, a pizzeria just a few blocks from Vondelpark. In a city full of Neapolitan pizzas, this one really stands out, due in part to their longer fermentation and use of a pre-ferment.
Eytan Sugarman certainly has strong opinions about pizza. He grew up on the Upper West Side, eating slices all over the city. So when his friend suggested they open a place together, the research and development phase took on a life of its own. The result is Made in New York Pizza, which opened on the Upper West Side in 2018 and recently opened a second location in the West Village.
Pete Ternes really just wanted to make beer. But when he and his partners opened Bungalow by Middle Brow, their sprawling space in Chicago's Logan Square, they realized they needed to offer something besides just drinks. Bread for sure, but why not pizza? It was an experience at Roberta's in Bushwick that really convinced Ternes he could create something unique in Chicago. The result is one of the best artisan pies in town, with an all-natural starter and a long fermentation.
Copeland Moore is the 4th generation at La Segunda Bakery, which was started by his great-grandfather in 1915 in Ybor City, near the port in Tampa Bay. It's here where Cubans, Spanish, Germans and Italians all settled together. The city was a huge cigar producer and gave birth to the Cuban Sandwich (but with the addition of Genoa Salami, which you don’t find in Miami). This melting pot really influenced the bread, the pastries and the pizza in the area. There are now a half dozen well-known...
Darby Aldaco got into some big trouble as a kid, stealing pizzas from stopped delivery cars. At 18, he was arrested for stealing a Domino’s pizza, subsequently losing his prom date. He wound his way through the L.A. bread scene, worked for Nancy Silverton at Triple Beam, then began commuting to Portland for a pizza project. The result is Pizza Thief (and the Bandit Bar next door). They make 18 inch pies and focus on sour dough and whole grains with high hydration. Like so many of their peers...
What do you do when a vacant space in the same strip mall near your restaurant becomes available, and there’s a pizza oven already there? If you’re the team behind Muss & Turner’s, you turn it into a pizzeria, naturally. In 2005, Muss & Turner’s took on the sandwich, trying to expand and improve upon a well known menu item. Smyrna, Georgia was a pretty sleepy suburb of Atlanta back then. Fast forward a dozen plus years, and now the Atlanta Braves’ stadium is nearby, with a number of...
John Sundstrom has been one of Seattle's most respected chefs for nearly two decades. At Lark, he uses his knowledge and skill to create seasonal dishes, working with local farmers. But a few years ago, he decided to get into pizza, and the learning curve was steep. During the pandemic, business accelerated, and having Southpaw located directly across the street from a college campus has put him in the unique position of creating pizzas that appeal to both students as well as diners...
Jerry Benedetto really missed Chicago when he moved to Portland for his wife's job. But more than anything he missed the thin-and-crispy pizza that is a hallmark of his hometown. That passion and longing led to a Covid-fueled journey through flour, sauce, sausage and giardiniera that has led to a regular pop-up, and eventually, a pizza place. The story behind Jerry's Pizza is certainly inspiring for anyone who has ever dreamed of going into pizza full-time.
Justin Smillie has worked for some of New York City's top chefs, including Jonathan Waxman. He's currently running the kitchen at Il Buco Alimentari in NoHo, where practically everything is made in-house. But the unique part of their pizza program is they par-bake the crusts, which allow for carryout orders to customize and do the finishing bakes at home.
Like a lot of people, Derek Reiff realized if you’re going to make pizza for pick-ups, Detroit fares better than Neapolitan. Thus, a pandemic pivot from wood fired to rectangular pans…and a quirky, sometimes on, sometimes off again pizza project in Seattle, catering to the whims of its owner. Best to check his Instagram (@myfrienddereks) before you commit dinner plans.
After more than four years, the team from Modernist Cuisine outside of Seattle has produced an impressive body of work on all things pizza. Modernist Pizza is three volumes, plus a recipe manual, containing history, science and pizza intel from around the globe here (even if the Chicago chapter left me a little cold). It's the ultimate pizza compendium ever compiled and at more than 1,700 pages, you'll have years of research at your fingertips.