other decision a customer has to make is to choose the size—
large or small.
About 15 years younger than Totonno’s, having gotten
its start in 1939, L&B Spumoni Gardens features a few more
choices on its pizza menu. “We have round, thin Neapolitan crust
and thick, square Sicilian-style pies,” says Camille McDonald, a
member of the management team at the family-owned restaurant
in Brooklyn’s Bensonhurst neighborhood.
“I like almost every kind of pizza,” she says, “but we have the
best, so we don’t play around much with gimmicks.” Nevertheless,
“We put the sauce over the cheese, instead of the more common
method of laying the sauce down first. We call it upside-down
pizza, and we think it keeps the pie more moist.”
OLD FORGE STYLE
According to Angelo Genell, owner of Arcaro & Genell, Old
Forge, Pennsylvania, “Our pizza, as well as every other in town,
is known as Old Forge style pizza. It’s square, thicker, with a
crispy crust, and it’s ordered by the ‘cut’ or ‘tray.’ We refer to
this as our original crust. While we also offer a thin-crust pie,
most customers want the original crust, which can be made as
red pizza, double-crust white, open-face white with fresh tomato
or in many other variations with lots of different toppings.”
Old Forge pizza dates back to when the town was a coal mining
community in the early part of the 20th century. Following a
long, hard, dirty day down below, miners would come in seeking
a hearty treat. “Pretty soon,” Genell says, “the style and shape
became synonymous with the town.”
At Arcaro & Genell, the dough, as well as the sauce and cheese
mixture, is made daily on premises. “We use a blend of several
kinds of cheese to achieve our distinct taste,” says Genell.
“And besides serving our loyal customers on Main Street, we
ship our pizza to those who aren’t fortunate enough to live nearby.”
Providence, Rhode Island, is another town with a distinct take
on pizza. “We offer pizza cooked over an open fire on a grill, not in
an oven,” says Johanne Killeen, owner/chef of Al Forno on Water
Street. “We use only hardwood natural charcoal. The pizza is thin-
crusted, free-form and made with high-quality ingredients.”
Al Forno offers seasonal pizzas—in summer, grilled pizza
with fresh corn, and in autumn, with pumpkin. All year, the
grilled pizza comes with housemade pepperoni.
“One of our grilled pizzas is Pizza Bianca, topped with
mashed potatoes, rosemary, fontina and pecorino,” Killeen says.
PIZZA the many faces of pizza
above: extra sauce and generous toppings are typical of the Quad Cities style pies
offered by harris Pizza.
oPPosi Te, CloCKwise From ToP leFT: 1) Totonno’s founder, anthony
“Totonno” Pero, outside his store during the early days. 2) my Pi’s deep-dish pie is
a classic Chicago style, made with tender dough and less gluten than Neapolitan
or New york style pizzas. 3) a half red, half white pizza comes to life under the
experienced hands of louise “Cookie” Ciminieri at Totonno’s. 4) bright signage
draws pizza lovers to harris Pizza’s rock island location.
THE ORIGIN OF PIZZA
Commonly credited to Italians in the 16th century, the invention of pizza may
actually have occurred long before that. Archeological evidence indicates that
pizza—or something like it—was being eaten in the Middle East in ancient
times. Greeks, Egyptians, Armenians, Hebrews and Babylonians all seemed
to have some way of cooking flatbread in mud ovens, and it’s likely that the
Greeks, Romans and Egyptians were topping that bread with olive oil and
spices, producing something similar to today’s focaccia.
As far back as 600 B.C., the city of Naples made its first bid to get in on this
“hot” food trend. There was a large continent of Greek seafarers and their
families living on Italy’s Western Coast, and they needed to be fed quickly and
inexpensively. Pizza-like flatbreads with a few toppings was reasonably healthy
(all bread was whole-grain in those days), and had the further advantage of
being both filling and delicious.
The “aha” moment and Italy’s preeminent place in pizza history was cemented
in 1522 when tomatoes were brought to Europe from Peru in the New World.
Initially suspected of being poisonous, these juicy red fruits quickly became
popular once they were recognized as safe.
Source: What’s Cookin’ in NYC: A selective study of food in New York City immigrant
communities, by staff of Macaulay Honors College at City University of New York
maKe i T reGioNal
Smaller cities and towns, as well as metro areas, have become famous for
idiosyncratic pizza varieties.
•;California-style pizza, popularized by Wolfgang Puck, generally has a thin
crust and standard toppings. It is possible to buy pizza by the slice in
Southern California, but whole pies are much more common.
•;Cold Cheese pizza, featured at Tino’s Pizza in Oneonta, New York, is a
regular cheese pizza with an additional layer of cold mozzarella on top.
•;Colorado-style pizza, as served by Beau Jo’s, a chain with seven locations,
almost resembles a double-crusted fruit pie. Toppings are plentiful, and an
optional honey coating for leftover crust adds sweetness.
•;detroit-style pizza is square with a thick, deep-dish, twice-baked crust and
toppings placed under the sauce.
•;hawaiian pizza is frequently topped with ham, onions and pineapple on a
cheese and tomato base.
•;New haven-style, known as apizza (or ah-BEETS), is a “plain” pie with no
mozzarella cheese. If you want what the locals call “mootz,” you must ask
for it as a topping.
•;Ohio is home to both mary’s pizza, which is known for ground sausage in
the sauce, and ohio valley style, rectangular pies that are topped with unmelted cheese.
•;sicilian pizza originated in Palermo, Italy, and is a staple in many areas of
the U.S. It is typically a square pie with dough more than an inch thick.
•;st. louis-style pizza, which is characterized by a super-thin, yeast-less
crust and, often, Provel processed cheese (a blend of cheddar, Swiss and
provolone), is customarily cut into squares or rectangles.