Weekly Pizza Lunch: The Pistacchio e Salsiccia pie at Don Antonio by Starita

Given how close my office is to Don Antonio by Starita (a five-minute walk), I don’t know why I don’t eat here more often. The pizza is great. Like Kesté, its sister pizzeria in Greenwich Village, this place is über Neapolitan. (Though I will say that the topping choices are a lot more expansive than … Continue reading Weekly Pizza Lunch: The Pistacchio e Salsiccia pie at Don Antonio by Starita

Weekly Pizza Lunch: Vezzo and Tappo

I’m combining two Weekly Pizza Lunch outings into one here. That’s because they’re practically the same place. —The Mgmt.

Vezzo Meatball Classic Pizza
Vezzo’s Meatball Classic pizza: tomato sauce, mozzarella, house-made meatballs, red onion, and basil. Pictured: small, $9.

There’s a pizzeria mini chain in the heart of Manhattan that I think doesn’t get enough attention or praise.* Part of the blame may lie in its unusual naming convention. I mean, did you know that the pizzerias Gruppo, Posto, Spunto, Vezzo, and Tappo are all related and are pretty much the same thing? I know! You’d think they would have settled on one name and stuck with it. (Think of the efficiencies gained by maintaining one single website!)

Then again, avoiding the appearance of a chain has a certain advantage as well. Continue reading “Weekly Pizza Lunch: Vezzo and Tappo”

Weekly Pizza Lunch: The Calabrese pie at Nicoletta

Nicoletta's Calabrese pizza
Nicoletta’s Calabrese pizza, here in the personal-size lunch special, is topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella, thick-cut pepperoni, fennel sausage, and red onions.

I’ve been thinking a lot about bar pies since last week’s pizza lunch. Bar pizza, and its close cousin, Chicago thin crust,* to me are primally satisfying pizzas. Despite the thin base, these styles are often LOADED with cheese and toppings. Now, that kind of imbalance would typically raise alarm bells for my elevated pizza snob persona, but go and tell me what’s wrong with a bunch of gooey cheese and salty, greasy pepperoni or sausage.

That’s why I wanted to try Nicoletta again. Chef-owner Michael White is originally from Wisconsin, where he first started working in a pizzeria serving quintessentially Midwestern-style pizza.

*Note: I often use the terms “Chicago thin-crust” and “Midwestern thin-crust” interchangeably. Chicago thin-crust is easily more recognizable as a style, but I feel that this type of pizza is served all over the Upper Midwest, not just the Windy City. Continue reading “Weekly Pizza Lunch: The Calabrese pie at Nicoletta”

Weekly Pizza Lunch: Coney Island’s Totonno’s rises from the floodwaters

Totonno's pizza plain pie
Totonno’s serves one of the better coal-oven pizzas in NYC. A plain pizza from just after the joint’s triumphant post-Sandy reopening.

You know, you’re not going to go wrong adding toppings to a Totonno’s pizza, but when the joint is firing on all cylinders, like it was when I visited yesterday, you only need a plain pie for a satisfying meal.

Of course that didn’t stop me and my dining companion from getting another pizza topped with sausage. Continue reading “Weekly Pizza Lunch: Coney Island’s Totonno’s rises from the floodwaters”

Detroit-style pizza, 75% hydration, all-purpose flour

Detroit-style "supreme" pizza
Detroit-style pizza with green pepper, onion, homemade Italian sausage.

After my previous attempt at 60% hydration Detroit-style pizza, I did some grousing about the result on Facebook. Dmcavanagh and Norma saw my complaining and gave me some advice. First, that this style really does have to be made at a higher hydration, and, second, that all-purpose flour works best. You want a lower protein count for a softer crust that she says, “almost melts in your mouth.” Anyway, tonight? SUCCESS! Continue reading “Detroit-style pizza, 75% hydration, all-purpose flour”

Thinner-crust pan pizza

pan pizza
Topped with Vermont Smoke & Cure smoked pepperoni.

I made pan pizza last weekend but wasn’t happy with the thickness. I thought it was too spongey, too doughy, too much. What would happen if I halved the dough amount?

Well, even at 1/2- to 3/4-inch thick (as opposed to more than an inch), I’m still not that into it. Don’t get me wrong, the recipe I used makes a great-tasting pizza and is successful in its mission of re-creating Pizza Hut pan pizza. It’s just that I’m still unsure it’s a style I’m wild about. Continue reading “Thinner-crust pan pizza”

Experimenting with pan pizzas

pan pizza in cast iron pan
Topped with Vermont Smoke & Cure smoked pepperoni and candied jalapeños.

It’s no picnic trying to do Pizza Night with a baby in the house. The diaper changes, the rockin’-her-to-sleep sessions, the walks around the neighborhood—all those things tend to interrupt the two to three hours I like to set aside for pizza prep, baking, eating, and clean-up.

All that’s a long way of saying I was jazzed to try J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s “Foolproof Pan Pizza” recipe on Slice. It’s basically about 20 minutes of active work—if that—and the rest is just letting the dough rise. Continue reading “Experimenting with pan pizzas”

Wanted: good, mostly vegetarian, freezable make-ahead meal menus

I would pay good money for this: a website or cookbook with good, mostly vegetarian make-ahead meal menus (eg., dinners for an entire week that you could prep on your day[s] off, freeze, and then reheat day-of). Bonus if many of them were “throw and go” (that is, freezable uncooked but then thawed and finished on the day of eating). The few websites I’ve been exploring so far have the structure I like, but the majority of recipes seem too meat-heavy and aren’t very progressive.

I posted the above grousing on Facebook, and the thread that sprang up around it had some great suggestions. I’m posting them here for posterity. (Facebook search leaves a lot to be desired.) Normally I’d give props/credit via links, but I’m omitting names for privacy’s sake. Continue reading “Wanted: good, mostly vegetarian, freezable make-ahead meal menus”

How difficult and/or crazy would it be to re-create McDonald’s beef tallow–cooked fries?

First things first: you HAVE to read Jeb Boniakowski’s post on The Awl about building a giant Epcot-like “McWorld” in Times Square, which would serve all the special international McDonald’s dishes. It made the rounds the other day. And deservedly so. It’s brilliant. Besides offering the Chicken Maharaja Mac or the Croque McDo, he also … Continue reading How difficult and/or crazy would it be to re-create McDonald’s beef tallow–cooked fries?

Wedding remembrance: the music

Today a coworker was playing the Shangri-Las’ “Walking in the Sand” video. Which reminded me that, before our wedding, my wife went on a YouTube listening spree, looking for just the right processional, recessional, first dance, and parent dance songs. She found a great blog from a wedding DJ that posts monthly playlists. (I’m not linking it here because I don’t remember what it was.) In one of his playlists, I think she found the lesser-known Shangri-La number “Past, Present, and Future.” It’s pretty great:

Anyway, the coworker and I got to chatting about this, and she asked what music Claire and I used at our wedding. It took me a while to remember, and at one point I had to go into my “Day-Of Schedule” Google doc to look it up. So I’m posting here so I don’t forget. Continue reading “Wedding remembrance: the music”

Yes, this really happened: Andy Warhol was on ‘The Love Boat’

andy warhol on the love boat
I could probably post this as a ‘TIL’ (today I learned) on Reddit and earn ‘karma,’ but I didn’t learn this just today (I remember seeing this episode as a kid), and I’m trying to blog more on Kublog, so here.

Among my generation of aging and recovering hipsters, the accumulation and regurgitation of pop culture trivia used to be something of a sport. Points going, of course, to most apropos and obscure reference—bonus word score if you could sling the reference as part of a catty put-down. Continue reading “Yes, this really happened: Andy Warhol was on ‘The Love Boat’”

Bicycling: How to attach fenders to a bicycle without brazed-on eyelets

P clamps as an alternative to brazed-on eyelets
If you don’t have brazed-on eyelets to attach fenders to your bike, P clamps will save the day.

As I mentioned in the previous post, I recently slapped some fenders on my 1992 Trek 970 Singletrack. I don’t think a bike looks finished without fenders. But my bike started its life as a mountain bike, a style of bicycle on which fenders can be a hindrance. So I shouldn’t have been surprised that my front fork lacked eyelets for attaching a front rack or fenders.

Googling around, though, I found the answer to my problem in this post on Bike Commuters: “‘P-Clamps’ Are Your Friends.” Continue reading “Bicycling: How to attach fenders to a bicycle without brazed-on eyelets”

New ride: 1992 Trek 970 Singletrack

Trek 970 mountain bike
I recently installed a pair of Planet Bike Cascadia hybrid fenders on my 1992 Trek 970.

After almost 20 years I’m back in the saddle of a 1992 Trek 970 Singletrack. I’d been looking for this make and model—in this color (officially “Sour Grape,” per the 1992 Trek catalog [pdf])—off and on for a few years. For some reason, early ’90s Trek 970s are hard to find—or at least they don’t come up that often on eBay or Craigslist. Continue reading “New ride: 1992 Trek 970 Singletrack”

Basic Lehmann dough, Baking Steel on bottom rack

Brussels spout pizza raw
Brussels spout pizza, pre-cook.

Cook date: November 18, 2012
Dough used: basic Lehmann dough mixed lean and with low sugar and yeast (58% hydration)
Number of pies cooked: 2 (Brussels sprout, bacon, and Parmigiano; “frozen-pizza-style” pizza
Cooking surface: Quarter-inch-thick Baking Steel, bottom rack; half-inch Baking Steel and Emile Henry Flame pizza stone placed on rack above

I used my quarter-inch-thick Baking Steel for this pizza. This time I put it on the bottom rack of the oven. On the next rack up, I had my half-inch-thick steel AND my old pizza stone arranged to cover the entire rack. (Longest edges of each running front-to-back in the oven, with stone overlapping steel by a couple inches.) Essentially they created an artificial low ceiling for the oven right over the pizza. This had the effect of blocking a significant amount of heat from rising to the thermostat. That in turn meant the oven stayed on, constantly trying to hit 550°F. This would be good if I had a broiler element above the pizza to cook the top as quickly as the crust. What actually happened, though, was that the bottom steel sheet got insanely hot and almost incinerated the dough. Well, not really. But the bottom crust was done in about 1:50. The top, not so much: Continue reading “Basic Lehmann dough, Baking Steel on bottom rack”