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.
Shardell Dues has worked for some of the best pizza makers in Portland, Oregon, but she's also spent time studying butchery - a skill few of her peers has. The result is Red Sauce Pizza, a fantastic little pizzeria in the charming Beaumont neighborhood.
Scott Rivera has always longed for the Brooklyn pizzas of his childhood, even when he was growing up in New Mexico. His passion got the best of him, as he finally took the plunge in Portland, Oregon, where his wife's job took both of them. Scottie's Pizza Parlor is an homage to the great pizzas of NYC, and not only does he make a terrific slice, he also offers some hard-to-find grandma style slices - a rarity in the Pacific Northwest.
Sarah Minnick knew she had to tackle bread making if she was ever going to improve her pizza crust. The quest for a better dough took her down a long path, and for the past 12 years, Lovely's Fifty Fifty has been one of the most well-regarded pizzerias - not just in the Pacific Northwest, but anywhere in the country. Sarah talks about her inspiration, her process, and how she decided to stop burning wood and made the transition to an electric oven.
Nykolas Sulkiwskyj's grandfather, Louie Tourtrois spent time at Buddy's, the founder of Detroit style pizza. He trained with the original owners there. But once he left, he started up pizza menus at Shield's bar, and eventually settled with his namesake in Hazel Park, about 20 minutes NE of downtown Detroit. The restaurant hasn't changed a bit since it opened in the mid-70s. Today, Nykolas makes each pie as if it's his first: making sure the "red tops" are consistent and the dough proofs long...
Marie Guerra Easterby's father, Gus, is widely known as the father of Detroit style pizza. But when he left Buddy's in 1953, to open the Cloverleaf Bar & Restaurant, he brought the recipe with him, and the battle for bragging rights began. Today, Easterby and her brother run the bar and restaurant in Eastpoint, where they still lay claim to the original recipe, even if they sometimes take liberties with the pepperoni placement.
There are several new books about pizza coming out - the Modernist Pizza series, most notably (and we'll have a separate show on that) - but Steve's latest work about Chicago history is also a must-have guide for any visitor. Meanwhile, Dan Richer (Razza, Jersey City, NJ) is about to launch his cookbook on Nov. 9. Steve talks Chicago tavern thin vs. deep-dish vs. stuffed, then he talks with Dan about how far down the rabbit hole he's gone on things like sauce matrices, calipers and cheese...
Matthew Grogan loved the pizza from Grimaldi's (and later, Juliana's) so much, he quit his job in finance to help Patsy Grimaldi continue his vision. The New York native has seen Grimaldi through good and bad times, and feels the weight of carrying on that vision well into the 21st century. We discuss the complicated history of Grimaldi's and Juliana's, including the special challenges involved in running a coal-fired oven beneath the Brooklyn Bridge.
When Nick Buckland and his partner got around to opening Yard Sale, on the outskirts of London, they were looking to try to improve upon delivery and take-out pizza (this was before Covid-19). Figuring that out has helped them succeed, as they now prepare to open their 8th Yard Sale Pizza. Steve talks to Nick about working with ingredients from nearby Italy, and how that may have shaped Londoner's thoughts about what pizza should be. He'll also talk about his unique take on a British pizza...
Adam Kuban's dad always aspired to have his own pizza place. Maybe that's why the writer wound up becoming New York City's first writer dedicated to covering pizza. Tackling a subject as wide and deep (and occasionally controversial) as NYC pizza is no small feat. Kuban agreed to meet at Scarr's on the Lower East Side for a couple of slices, and to share some of his favorite slices around the city. This is incredibly important intel if you want to consider yourself an authoritative NYC pizza...
After a 19 month hiatus, the International Pizza Expo is back, somewhat diminished due to a raging Delta variant, but still, people from all over the country made their way to the desert to talk shop. I roamed the floor for Days 1 and 2 of the Expo, talking to all sorts of stakeholders about what they're working on these days.
For 70 years, Denino's has been one of the most beloved pizzerias on Staten Island. Featured in Pete Davidson's film, "The King of Staten Island", the restaurant is a family affair, and owner Michael Burke practically grew up in it. He shares some of the pizzeria's secrets, and has some great advice for would-be pizzeria owners.
Joe Quercia has worked hard his entire life. He started working at Freddy's Pizza in Cicero in 1968, at the age of 13, and never left. Quercia talks about his Neapolitan heritage, how he learned to speak English and then expand the offerings at his tiny store, while the neighborhood around him changed completely.
Frank Pinello grew up in Brooklyn and Long Island, and aside from hearing it in his voice, you can tell how passionate he is about creating the best slices. His work with chefs like Nate Appleman and the opening team at Roberta's were seminal experiences, but it was when they handed him the reigns to Best Pizza in Williamsburg, that he really came into his own as a pizza maker.
All-Purpose is one of D.C.'s best pizza places, and the pies are a result of owner Mike Friedman's many experiences at restaurants along the Eastern Seaboard. Sourcing only the best flour, tomatoes and cheese, he has elevated the typical New York thin, deck oven baked pizza, by adding hydration and a solid three days of fermentation.
Scott Wiener started out working in the Department of Cultural Affairs in Hoboken, New Jersey, when an impromptu pizza tour for his birthday led to the creation of a full-time business. Today there are 65 pizzerias in the Scott's Pizza Tours universe, with more than a dozen tours offered every week. On top of that, Scott leads demos, speaks to industry leaders and even holds the world record for the most number of pizza boxes. The man lives his brand. Steve talks to him about what he looks...
Tim Semmler and his wife, Lydia, have been running Tinder Hearth Bakery from their home in rural Maine for the past 13 years. More recently, they've added pizza. Toppings depend on what their local farmer sells them. The flour is from Québéc and the starter is all-natural. If you're headed to Acadia National Forest, it's a must-stop.
Brian Spangler has had a lot of jobs. Some in I.T., some in bread baking. But it's the four year period while working in rural Oregon that laid the foundation for what would become Apizza Scholls in Portland. We met Spangler in the hills of Montana - at The Resort at Paws Up - where he was tasked with recreating his long-fermented dough and baking pies in ovens he wasn't necessarily used to; no matter, he figured it all out and turned out some amazing pies.
There is a lot of discussion in New York about where "Grandma style" pizza came from, but the truth is, this thin Sicilian style of pan pizza has been around for a hundred years. But a former cook from Umberto's came up with the official name while entering a contest while employed at King Umberto, a mile or so away. The rest is, well, a complicated history. Steve sits down with Giovanni Cesarano to talk Grandmas, traditional slices and a mind-bending Roman al Metro that we can't wait to get...
There are several Umberto's locations on Long Island, but none more famous than the one in New Hyde Park, where generations of pizza lovers have visited over the years. It's there where the pizza cooks began making a thinner Sicilian, one of them dubbing it "Grandma style." Did they really invent it? Listen to Part 1 of our Umberto's saga. We'll also preview the NYC Pizza Festival (Home Edition) coming up April 24th and 25th.
Seaside, Florida is known for its pristine architecture and sandy beaches. "The Emerald Coast" - in Florida's Panhandle - sees a lot of tourists, especially between the towns of Destin and Panama City. But the team behind Bud & Alley's, a 35 year-old restaurant on the water, has also established a quaint pizza bar nearby. They sought help from a couple of Italian experts to create a Neo-Neapolitan pie amidst the ice cream shops and food trucks. Steve spoke with both the owner and the chef...
Steve talks with Marc Malnati, the President of Lou Malnati's, Chicago's most prolific deep-dish purveyor. Opened on St. Patrick's Day, 1971, by his late father, they just opened a new store beneath Michigan Avenue and continue to slowly expand in Wisconsin. The company sells nearly six million pizzas a year, and are known as having a style of pizza based on the original source of authentic deep-dish in Chicago.