Monday, August 17, 2009

Pizza Perfect!


This is a post about PIZZA. REAL Pizza. That means I am not recognizing the phonies. You know who you are: Pizza Hut, Dominoes, Papa Johns or Little Ceasars. I want the good stuff. The authentic family "hide your recipe in the safe deposit" box pizza.

I grew up at the Jersey Shore where I always had access to "good" pizza. Mack and Manco's on the Ocean City boardwalk was "good". It was a small family business, with a secret family recipe. When I go to visit Dad, I know that Primo's is another local business that is consistently delicious. I lived in New York City during the late 70's. I knew I could always find a slice and a soda for an inexpensive lunch (like $1.60).

In Philly, my Italian painting teacher, Philomena Dellarippa (sp?), complained that pizza was garbage food. Her family back in Italy would never lower themselves to eat that garbage. (I guess it depends on your family). She might have been aristocracy. I don't know. I've never been to Italy. I desperately WANT to go but not for pizza.

She did not sway me. I continued to consume the contemptible crap. I took it for granted that "good" pizza was always available.

That is until I moved to Cleveland, Ohio. I actually loved Clevelan. I lived there for a couple of years and realized that they just didn't know how to make pizza. I mean, I thought, how hard can it be to make a crust, cover it with tomato sauce and cheese and throw it in the oven? I didn't realize it was an art form. In 1980, a local shop "introduced" New York "style" pizza. They made a honest effort.

I ate pizza in Cleveland and it just didn't taste "the same".

In 1984 I moved to York county, PA (via Philadelphia). Once again. We couldn't find "good" pizza. I mean it was okay. It just wasn't "good". I'm happy to report that things have gotten better in Dodge.


My brother told me that you couldn't get "good" pizza in California. I posted something about that and inadvertently insulted Katie. I felt horrible. I didn't mean to insult.

In all honesty, I never tried California pizza. Knowing just a little bit about Cali, especially the Berkeley-San Francisco area, is that they probably do everything they can to make it healthy and wholesome. I'm thinking whole-grained sourdough crust with sun-dried tomatoes, organically grown artichoke hearts and cheese from free range, happy, California cows.

Katie, please forgive me. I absolutely love California food! I'm just..."afraid"to try your pizza. Okay. It's a comfort food thing. You know. Those certain "homey" expectations. I am letting"healthy" fly out the window. I want cheese and grease.

Pictured above here is Wilkes-Barre, PA "Pizza Perfect" pizza. This is a Sicilian styled (thick crust) pizza. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (as in "The Office") is a very ethnic area.

You don't order a "pizza". You order a "cut" or "twelve".

My husband grew up here. In his neighborhood of Pittston, there were seven or eight Catholic Churches, each offering Mass in a different language. Two of these churches celebrated the Mass in Italian. Please also note that these wonderful Italian people were extremely competitive. Doug worked in a pizzeria and was not allowed to see the mixture of cheeses that were used. He was not privy to the ingredients of their secret crust.

I have always love the traditional round "Neopolitan" pizza with the thin crust. Until one day, my husband turned me on to Pizza Perfect. Sicilian is rectangular pizza on a thick crust, totally sinful, as they use lard in the crust. It is extremely and exquisitely crispy, a bit greasy yes, but absolutely orgasmic! The sauce is very light. We order ours with onion bits (very subtle) and whatever secret combination of cheese. We only get it now when we visit relatives. It is absolutely horrible for you - healthwise, but well worth the extra calories on occasion. There are other notable pizzerias in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area such as Old Forge Pizza, Sabatini's (Neopolitan style). Grotto was originated here. There are many others, far too numerous to mention. Locals pick their favorites and have been known to fight to the death if someone insults thier fave. So be very careful.



BTW Katie. We stopped for lunch in Livermore. We found there the best Greek restaurant ever!

11 comments:

Poetikat said...

I haven't even had brekkie and now I'm craving a Wilkes-Barre cut. What do I have to look forward to? A slice of toast (okay, I baked the bread), but toast and jam just aren't going to "cut" it. Thanks, Neetzy. Now my bucket list has another item on the menu. It may even have topped the Ice Hotel.

Kat

Maria said...

I thought I knew what good pizza tasted like until I visited New York City and went to this tiny pizza place and fell in love. Madly in love. It was more like pizza on a crunchy cracker, but it melted in my mouth...I had a ground beef slice and Bing had a vegetarian one and they were both incredible.

neetzy said...

Kat,

This is good stuff. Fattening as all get-out, but worth it. I'm glad I don't live there, but I make sure to get in when I visit. But heck, home-made baked bread is always amazing!

Maria,
New York City is another pizza destination. They know how to do it in NYC. I heard Chicago pizza was also good. Chicago-style pizza is altogether different but also good. I guess if you decide to take something to an art form, you can get great results.

dive said...

That looks delicious, Netzy!

I'm afraid I'm of the old school where a pizza should have home-made passata, buffalo mozzarella and basil leaves on top and nothing else, but I've promised Katie I'll try her Berkeley pizza so I'll let you know the result.

Shazza said...

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh...pizza! It's the perfect food.

neetzy said...

Dive,

Your version sounds equally delicious and a heck of lot healthier! I think that pizza is one of those things that can be made just a little different to suit the particular tastes of the region. That's part of the beauty. I'm sure Berkeley has done that. I'm just opposed to mass-produced, corporate pizza.

neetzy said...

Shazza,

Pizza is a beautiful thing. Daughter A took this photo in the moving car. I can't eat this stuff much, but it is good!

Katie said...

Mmmm, great photo of pizza! Sorry I've had a crazy week and am just now reading this post. Don't worry, I totally didn't get offended that you dissed CA pizza (it was just that you didn't bother to try any!). I'm definitely no pizza snob (ok, well maybe a little) so I'll happily try pizza anywhere (but like you, I'm not talking about the chains) and I would be most happy to try out your favorite pizza! I'm not necessarily into healthy pizza (what's the point?) but I don't like a crust that's too thick. I've eaten pizza in NYC and Italy and do like those kids, but I guess I'm just used to CA pizza now. Thanks - this reminds me to be sure and go get pizza for lunch tomorrow!! (And you'll have to let me know the name of the Greek place where you ate in Livermore. Who knew??!)

neetzy said...

Katie,

Next time I come to Cali I promise I will go to Berkeley and try your favorite pizza. I am a thin crust girl too, but this Pizza Perfect stuff is an exception. Because they use that God forsaken lard, the very bottom is crisp. There is a small puffy pillow of dough, and then the good sauce, cheese and onion above. I was skeptical at first, but then, I tried it.

I can't remember the name of the Greek restaurant. It was hidden away in a little shopping center off one of the highway exits. Maybe the girls will remember.

Lulubelle B said...

Having grown up in and around NYC, the 10 years I spent in Texas were a hell of pizza and bagel deprivation.

Still haven't found a decent bagel in the 'burbs between Baltimore and Washington, but there is some really good pizza - if you know where and how to order it. YAY!!

neetzy said...

Lulu,

I'm glad you found good pizza! Bagels are trickly. We had a couple of bagel stores around here. New York Bagel Company and Big Apple Bagels. They were "close" to New York bagels.