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Pizza! What is it about this mixture of tomato sauce, cheese and dough that makes it such an American icon? What is it about pizza that makes people so passionate? There are camps of thought, passionate and even rabid, regarding every little quirk of this dish; whether it's around mixing of the dough, texture of the cheese, or flavors of the sauce, nevermind pro or anti-toppings.
Where did pizza come from? Compared to other food-focused cities, say San Fransisco or New Orleans, why is New York such a pizza landmark? At the same time, why among all the legendary pizza joints (Patsy's, Lombardis, Totonnos, or a newcomer like Una Pizza Napoletano with it's 100 percent Neopolitan wood-oven baked crust) are there so many lousy two dollar-gets-you-grease-packed-spongy-road to a belly ache type of pizza places? To answer all of these profoundly important questions, I decided to ask the world's numero-uno expert on the subject; Jeff Verasano, New York native transplanted in Atlanta who is on a mission to describe and help us understand pizza, New York style via Napoli.
Jeff’s quest to bake pizza in his own kitchen that can compete with Patsy’s in Harlem has led him to jimmy-rig his oven in the cleaning cycle to the 800 degrees required for authentic Napoletano specs. Some people might critique such techniques as dangerous, whether because you have kids at home, bad air conditioning, or just a nervous temperament. And to other people it could provoke some questions; is it a technical hazard... an inspired sacred quest for the perfect charred crust... or just an outrageous affront to pizza delivery services like Domino's? Today, now living in Atlanta where he bemoans limited pizza choices Jeff has made mapping America's pizzerias his mission, using the web to chart the course of the best and sometimes the worst of pizza shops around the country. Below is a video of Jeff making one of his pies at home, and below that is our own interview with him. Enjoy.
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Posted at 05:24 PM | Permalink
Jeff Verasano, Lombardis, Patsy's, Pizza, Totonos, Una Pizza Napoletano