At Pizza Rock Pre-Party Party for Pizza Expo. Lots of pizza, lots of conversation, lots of Fun! #thinkaboutpizza #PizzaExpo
Spirit of Pizza Archives
With permission from our friends at The Daily Meal, we are pleased to present their list of the Best Pizza in america for 2014.
We were so excited about this list, we created a video about it. The list is from #50 to #1.
Watch the video and please comment. The entire list is below:
You can see the list here, here at the Daily Meal.
#50 Zuppardi’s, New Haven, Conn. (Special: Mozzarella, Mushroom, Sausage, Marinara)
#51 Santillo’s Brick Oven Pizza, Elizabeth, N.J. (Sicilian: Pepperoni, Mozzarella, Pizza Sauce)
#50 Pizzaiolo, Oakland, Calif. (Margherita)
#49 Franny’s, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Clam Pizza)
#48 The Cheese Board, Berkeley, Calif. (Changes Daily)
#47 2Amys, Washington, D.C. (2Amys: Tomato Sauce and Mozzarella)
#46 Don Antonio by Starita, Atlanta, Ga. (Montanara Stari ta: Lightly-Fried Dough, Starita Tomato Sauce, Smoked Buffalo Mozzarella)
#45 Antico Pizza Napoletana, Atlanta, Ga. (Pepperoni)
#44 Prince Street Pizza, New York City (Prince Perfection: “Our Signature Square”: Fresh Mozzarella and “Our Secret Sauce”)
#43 Spacca Napoli, Chicago (Diavola: Blended San Marzano Tomatoes, Mozzarella di Bufala, Spicy Salami, Basil, Calabrian Chili Powder, Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
#42 Nellcôte, Chicago Ill. (Sunnyside-Up Organic Egg: D.O.P. Fontina)
#41 Juliana’s Pizza, Brooklyn N.Y. (Margherita)
#40 Little Vincent’s, Huntington, N.Y. (Cheese)
#39 Pequod’s, Chicago Ill. (Deep Dish with Sausage and Pepperoni)
#38 Best Pizza, Brooklyn, N.Y. (White Pizza)
#37 Star Tavern Pizzeria, Orange, N.J. (Thin Crust)
#36 Colony Pizza, Stamford, Conn. (Sausage Pie)
#35 Pizzeria Delfina, San Francisco (Salsiccia Pizza)
#34 Lombardi’s, New York City (Pepperoni)
#33 Patsy’s, East Harlem, N.Y. (Cheese)
#32 Joe & Pat’s Pizzeria, Staten Island, N.Y. (Vodka)
#31 De Lorenzo’s Tomato Pies, Robbinsville, N.J. (Tomato Pie)
#30 Al Forno, Providence, R.I. (Margarita)
#29 Regina Pizzeria, Boston (Melanzane)
#28 Grimaldi’s, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Margherita)
#27 John’s of Bleecker, New York City (Bruschetta)
#26 Louie and Ernie’s, Bronx, N.Y. (Sausage Pie)
#25 Varasano’s, Atlanta, Ga. (Nana: San Marzano Tomatoes, Mozzarella, Herbs and Spices)
#24 Bru Room at Bar, New Haven, Conn. (Mashed Potato and Bacon)
#23 Nick’s Pizza, Forest Hills, Queens, N.Y. (Mushroom and Sausage)
#22 Kesté, New York City (Kesté)
#21 Gjelina, Los Angeles (Lamb Sausage)
#20 Co., New York City (Popeye)
#19 Apizza Scholls, Portland, Ore. (Apizza Amore)
#18 Lucali, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Pepperoni)
#17 New Park Pizza, Howard Beach, Queens, N.Y. (Cheese, “Well-Done”)
#16 Rubirosa Ristorante, New York City (Vodka: Vodka Sauce and Mozzarella)
#15 Santarpio’s, Boston, Mass. (Mozzarella, Sausage, and Garlic)
#14 Motorino, New York City (Brussels Sprouts)
#13 Joe’s, New York City (Cheese)
#12 Modern Apizza, New Haven, Conn. (Italian Bomb)
#11 Una Pizza Napoletana, San Francisco (Margherita)
#10 Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, San Francisco (Margherita)
#9 Paulie Gee’s, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Regina)
#8 Totonno’s, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Margherita)
#7 Flour + Water, San Francisco, Calif. Margherita)
#6 Pizzeria Mozza, Los Angeles Calif. (Squash blossoms, Tomato, Burrata Mozzarella, Tomato Sauce)
#5 Sally’s Apizza, New Haven Conn. (Tomato Pie: Tomato Sauce, No Cheese)
#4 Roberta’s, Brooklyn N.Y. (Margherita)
#3 Pizzeria Bianco, Phoenix, AZ (Margherita: Tomato Sauce, Fresh Mozzarella, Basil)
#2 Di Fara, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Classic Round Pie: Mozzarella, Parmesan, Plum Tomato Sauce, Basil, Olive Oil, Sausage, Peppers, Mushroom, Onion)
#1 Frank Pepe, New Haven, Conn. (White Clam: Clams, Grated Parmesan, Olive Oil, Garlic, Oregano)
The Pizza Therapy Pizza Book
Albert Grande Of Pizzatherapy.com Shows You To Make Pizza
Check out The Pizza Therapy Pizza Book
Also available as a Kindle:
This is an wonderful talk given by Tony Gemignani at Google on the The Pizza Bible: The World’s Favorite Pizza Styles, from Neapolitan, Deep-Dish, Wood-Fired, Sicilian, Calzones and Focaccia to New York, New Haven, Detroit, and more
According to Google:
A comprehensive guide to making pizza, covering nine different regional styles–including standards like Neapolitan, Roman, and Chicago, as well as renowned pizza sub-specialties like St. Louis and Californian–from chef, 11-time world Pizza Champion Tony Gemignani.
Everyone loves pizza! From fluffy Sicilian pan pizza to classic Neapolitan margherita with authentic charred edges, and from Chicago deep-dish to cracker-thin, the pizza spectrum is wide and wonderful, with something to suit every mood and occasion. And with so many fabulous types of pie, why commit to just one style? The Pizza Bible is a complete master class in making delicious, perfect, pizzeria-style pizza at home, with more than seventy-five recipes covering every style you know and love, as well as those you’ve yet to fall in love with. Pizzaiolo and eleven-time world pizza champion Tony Gemignani shares all his insider secrets for making amazing pizza inhome kitchens. With The Pizza Bible, you’ll learn the ins and outs of starters, making dough, assembly, toppings, and baking, how to rig your home oven to make pizza like the pros, and all the tips and tricks that elevate home pizza-making into a craft.
Science & Technology
“I got to travel around the world and make pizzas…: Tony G.
Here is a memorable account of Tony’s recent visit to Google. Simply outstanding!
Check out The Pizza bible, here.
True story. Tony Gemignani and his wife, Julie are visiting Honolulu for the first time. We want to take them to lunch to one of our favorite restaurants.
I’m thinking an upscale sushi place or maybe seafood dim sum. Something special.
“What do you want for lunch?” I ask.
Without batting an eye, “pizza” he states with a grin. And that is exactly what we ate.
Tony Gemignani thinks about pizza all the time. He lives pizza. He honors pizza.
And now he has put all of that knowledge and passion into a book about pizza called “The Pizza Bible.
The “The Pizza Bible is an extraordinary book which shares his passion and desire about teaching you to make incredible pizza. This book describes in detail how to recreate many different types of regional styles in your own kitchen. As you may know there are a number of different regional styles of pizza in the United States. While certainly a melting pot for many ethnic dishes, the United States has allowed pizza to be cultivated and influenced by region. And Tony takes the best of each region showing you how to create that particular pizza.
With this book Tony has raised the bar in teaching how to make great pizza. As Tony explains, this book is less about actual recipes and “more about inspiring people to master the craft of pizza.” And he takes these words to heart or more precisely as the tattoos on his hands state simply: “Respect the craft”.
Tony gives you the tools you need and the ingredients necessary. As any professional chef will tell you a scale is essential to get the exact weights of ingredients. You can keep your measuring spoons in the drawer. He starts with an equipment check list and then moves into the Master Class Shopping list. He goes into detail on the rationale about using particular tools and ingredients.
Pizza maker be warned: the path to pizza perfection takes effort. As with all crafts you wish to master you must be dedicated and tenacious. And Tony is a task master. He insists you read the first 19 pages before you try a single recipe. His notion is to teach you, then inspire you to create memorable pizzeria style pizza. He provides the steps involved and wants you to share his vision of creating pizzeria quality pizza in your own home.
You won’t do this by obtaining ordinary pizza ingredients or tools. Tony guides you as he would the pizzaioli he mentors at his pizza school or at his rare quality driven pizza workshops. He encourages you to master each step along the way. He takes you through the techniques of his Master Class. The best part is that you are sitting right in the front row!
There are no short cuts here. As he testifies, anyone can follow a recipe and make reasonable pizza, but if you want to make authentic pizzeria style pizza, you need to follow his lead. And he takes you to pizza possibilities you never imagined. Pizza paradise, if you will. He is with you each phase along the way.
His go to flour list is a massive list of flours needed to create different types of pizzas. The flours range from Harvest King, to King Arthur’s Sir Lancelot and his own Tony’s California flour. He describes each one giving the protein percentage and why it should be used. And he shares the theory of pizza relativity. Simply stated that means making your pizza the best it can by adding touches and variation that will improve the experience. While he is an expert, Tony realizes there needs to be adjustments and flexibility in creating pizza. He gives you his framework for pizza nirvana and it up to you to become your own pizza master.
“Tony’s Ten Commandments of Pizza” are his must follow rules for pizza perfection. The commandments will help keep you grounded and on task as you go through all of the recipes.
Tony takes you on an unprecedented pizza journey in teaching you, how to create various styles of regional pizza. He shares New York, and New Haven. He gives Chicago Deep dish lessons as well as how to make Detroit and St. Louis pizza. In addition he gives many pizza secrets for making California Style, Regional Italian, and grilled pizza. Tony has also included a section on focaccia and bread. Tony shares a wealth of pizza knowledge.
Tony Gemignani has accomplished his mission with The Pizza Bible. As Tony explained to me: “I put everything I know about pizza into this book.”
If you ever wanted to make pizza like a pizzeria, this book is for you. If you are looking for the inside secrets about pizza, you have just opened the magic doors of pizza knowledge.
As Peter Reinhart once explained to me, there are two types of pizza: good pizza and great pizza. The same can be said about pizza books. “The Pizza Bible” is a great pizza book.
Check out it out here: The Pizza Bible
One day in the near future The Complete Encyclopedia of Pizza will be published. This distinguished work will contain at least 150 volumes and will explain in detail the impact pizza has had in America and the known universe.
There will be a volume on every type of pizza, including New Haven, New York, Chicago, California, Old Forge, Detroit and much more. Some volumes will be dedicated to those influential pizzaioli such as Frank Pepe, Salvatore Consiglio, Jonathan Goldsmith, John Arena, Peter Reinhart, Ike Sewell, Dom Demarco and Ed Ladue to mention but a few.
Until the Encyclopedia of Pizza is completed, you will be more than satisfied to discover Liz Barrett’s: Pizza, A Slice of American History. This volume covers numerous types of pizza in America, those persons who influenced the regional pizza and how the various styles developed.
As a student of pizza, I was somewhat skeptical how one book could explain the history of pizza in America and the various styles included. My fears were immediately laid to rest when I started reading the introduction by pizza activist, Scott Wiener.
Barrett discusses Neapolitan and New York style pizza. She opens with the history of pizza and the differences between AVPN, New York, Tomato Pie and New Haven Apizza (Ah-beets). Sprinkled throughout the book are sketches of pizza luminaries such as Penny Pollack (Everybody Loves Pizza), Mark Bello (Pizza A Casa), Roberto Caporuscio (Don Antonio by Starita), Peter Reinhart (American Pie) and Adam Kuban (Slice).
Each type of American pie is described and dissected. She covers Detroit, St. Louis, California, Sicilian and Grandma style pizzas. Barrett’s pizza knowledge is extensive and she has a unique gift to distill the information into delectable slices. As an added benefit recipes for most styles are included. This makes this a true hands on volume as the recipes can be replicated by the home pizza chef. You can learn not only the history of each type of pie but also how to make it with step by step instructions.
She even added to the knowledge base of pizza by describing Pizza Strips created by Rhode Island Italian bakeries and found throughout the “Ocean State”. These were slices of pizza I enjoyed growing up and have only found them in that region. The pictures included are a wonderful addition and fit in nicely with the character of the book. The images are impressive and create a brilliant visual history of pizza. You will discover some rarities which are true nuggets of the pizza saga.
For anyone who loves pizza, this book will fit nicely on your library shelf. Some of the topics are brushed over, but understanding the depth of the subject matter, that is not an issue. I would have liked to have seen a discussion on the strong influence of the Internet on Pizza, but maybe that can be included in a volume of the Complete Encyclopedia of Pizza.
This is a well written book for anyone who ever held a slice. Grab your own copy, and discover the wonders of “a magical little disk that makes things happen”. You will encounter with this book how pizza is very much a part of the fabric of America. Pizza, is A Slice of American History.
Claim your own copy, right here: Pizza, A Slice of American History
Giulio Adriani is a master pizza maker. He shares his knowledge freely about how to create incredible pizza. He opened his pizza restaurant Forcella in New York, to rave reviews. He featured an unusual version of pizza to New York: the fried pizza. This pizza was such a big hit, he opened two more pizzerias. In addition to his Park Avenue location he now has pizzerias in the Bowery and Williamsburg. He is an incredible pizza talent.
I was fortunate to catch Giulio at Pizza Expo. He was at the Caputo Flour Booth furiously making pizza. He has a strong connection to the other master pizzaioli, including Roberto Caporuscio of Don Antonio by Starita and Jonathan Goldmsith of Spaca Napoli. He shares some of his philosophy about pizza in the interview. Pizza is a universal food. Pizza is an easy going food. You can find a business man with a tie sitting next to a construction worker. It is truly a social food, that cuts across all cultural and economic fields.
Giulio says “Pizza is the only food you can find all over the world.” And this is true as anyone who travels can attest. He further states that pizza is totally a balanced food. Nutritionally it is very balanced between protein carbohydrates and fat. He also teaches individual classes at Forcella. He loves to share his knowledge about making pizza. You can discover more pizza secrets in the following interview.
” Pizza is a social food…” Giulio explains.
You can find a review of the Best Flour to make pizza at Pizza Therapy Flour Review and Recommendations.
Have you ever thought about starting a pizza business?
If always wanted your own pizza operation where you can make the world a better place by making great pizza, read on.
Would you like to starts a pizza business where you could give pizza to people who wanted it?
Your potential pizza customers are craving incredible pizza cooked in a wood fired oven!
And you can deliver.
You could bring your pizza to Farmer’s Markets, football games, festivals, and special events.
The Fire Within is your answer.
The Fire Within offers mobile pizza ovens that can be the answer to starting a pizza business.
The Fire Within folks are more than just creators of all types of incredible portable pizza ovens. They offer training in making great pizza as well as offer complete business plans to get you started.
You can attend one of their pizza making workshops and learn the pizza business from the inside out. In addition they will even help you find financing to get you started with your own portable pizza oven.
If you ever thought about getting into the Pizza Business you need to check out:
The fire within, a pizza making community with true pizza passion.
Get started now, go to firewith.com
Discover your own passion and learn how you can start your own pizza business.
Anthony Saporito had a dream to own a pizzeria…In this the final episode, we conclude our interview with him. Listen and learn about a Legend of Pizza in progress!
Albert: What kind of Pizza do you make? What is you favorite to make.
Anthony: At my new place, “Urban Fire” we will being making Authentic Neapolitan style, using “00” flour, salt, water and yeast, That’s it. We just purchased a beautiful Stefano Ferrara, wood burning oven from Naples, and really want to do things the Authentic way. I’m all about tradition, and nostalgia. but I also experimenting with new ideas as well.
Just recently, I had the honor to be invited over my cousin’s house and cook with his 88 year old Mother in Law. Her name is Mrs. Kay Cammareri, and she is the Matriarch of “Cammareri Brothers Bakery” in Brooklyn. Her bakery was a focal point in the hit Movie, ‘Moonstruck’, and even Nicholas Cage’s Character took her last name. She still lives above where the old Bakery was located in the movie. She showed me how to make, “Sfincione”, a Sicilian pie made in a rectangular tray, topped off with tomato paste, onions, anchovies and Bread crumbs. The pie was phenomenal, The onions and the paste make for a very Sweet sauce. The experience I had while making it was even better. As Mrs. Cammareri was instructing me, she told different stories about different people, and places, different occasions to whom she served the dish to over the last 60 years. That makes the dish even more special. So I guess my favorite pizza to make is any one that has a great story behind it.
Albert: Tell me about your new Pizzeria
Anthony: The name of my place is Called “Urban Fire”. We are located in Madison, New Jersey. Its a great little town filled with friendly people who love good food. We will be serving traditional Neapolitan pizza and Italian Street eats. Our Pizza is going to be done in a Fast Casual/ Create your own, model. You will be able to choose your base of, Margherita, Marinara, Bianco, or Pesto and then go down the line and choose what you want. If you don’t want to create your own, you can choose from our list of Specialty pies. I like giving people the chance to interact in what they want. It creates for a lively, different experience. It’s a great way to also get to know your customers. I’ve already said, If someone comes in and orders the same pie a bunch a times, we will definitely feature it on the menu board. So I plan to have a lot of “Joe” or “Mary” Specials.
I know that few other people are doing “create your own”, out west, but from what I understand, we will be the only ones doing it with a 100% wood fired oven. Even though the assembly line method is a bit unorthodox, I still wanted to keep the artisan tradition of cooking the pie intact, which is why we got a Stefano Ferrara oven. Hopefully I’m not crazy in trying this out, but Think it’ll be fine.
We also will serving a variety of “Street Eats”. In Italy, you can eat some really great food without ever stepping foot in a restaurant. I loved the idea of replicating what street Vendors have been doing for Decades. We will have sandwiches that represent different street foods from different cities, such as a “Porchetta” (Rome), Panelle,(Palermo Sicily) and Lampredotto (Florence–ours will be made of beef and not cow stomach-haha). We will also have sides such as Arancini, (rice balls) Prociutto balls, and Zeppole. And of course, in Naples, Pizza is the original Street Food.
Albert: What would you tell someone who wanted to get into the pizza business?
What advice would you give them?
Anthony: I’d say “Do NOT get discouraged”. When you first start out, its almost like learning a different language, and can be a bit overwhelming. I’ve noticed that 99% of Pizza makers are friendly, and want to help each other out. It also seems like everybody knows each other. It’s really cool. So ask questions, and don’t get discouraged. Of course you will run into the Naysayers and extremists; The guys with egos as big as a house, who think that they are curing diseases, and keep everything a secret. Don’t bother with them. There are plenty of people out there who want to help. And if you can’t find anyone, call me.
Once you get your basics down, start experimenting. Have Pizza Parties where you cook for everyone. It’s fun and gratifying. You’ll see that after a while, you will adopt your own style. Special ways you like doing things which are 100% yours. If you are into it, everything else will fall into place. You’ll start picking up things you weren’t even looking for. Like I said earlier, it’s not rocket science. It’s supposed to be fun and creative. And if anyone tells you, “That’s not the right way to do this” , or, “That is wrong”, ask them to see the book where the rules of Pizza are written.
When I first said I wanted to start my own place, everyone had their own opinion. People will tell you “How will you pay the bills?” , “It’s a lot of work”, “It’s very hard”, or my favorite, “There’s so many places for Pizza”. All of a sudden, everybody is an expert of a sudden. Paulie Gee gave me the best rebuttal for these naysayers. “Tell’ em thanks”, he said, “And then ask them how many Pizza places they own”
If you’re considering getting into the Pizza business, think about why it is that you love Pizza. What about it moves you? I guarantee its because it evokes happy feelings, and in turn you want to share those feelings with others. What is better than that? While its true, I haven’t sold a Pizza on my own just yet but I know that I will do everything in my power to make sure I succeed. I love the quote from Henry Ford that says; “Whether you think you can, or can not do something, you’re right.” This goes for anything in life. Even Pizza
Albert: When do you plan to open? What is your address?
Right now I am playing with all my recipes. I’m having a pretty good time with it too. I invite everybody
I see walking outside to come inside and give me their opinion. My store is all built out. Right now I am just going through the hiring Process. So Hopefully I will be able to get open by mid April.
Our address is:
6 Main Street
Madison, NJ 07940
I am also currently getting a Web Site up, but nothing is up yet. However, I make sure to post on our progress on Social Media.
I would like to thank you, Albert. I’ve enjoyed your articles and videos over the years, but I’ve also enjoyed your insight. So Thank you for helping me tell me story, and please stop by the Next time you are in the NY/NJ area.
All the Best,
This is Anthony Saporito, pizza story of how he went from dreaming about opening his own pizzeria to actually doing it. Anthony has opened his new pizza restaurant called, Urban Fire located in Madison, New Jersey. We will be serving authentic Neapolitan pizza and Italian Street eats, Such as Porchetta sandwiches, zeppoles, Arancini, salads and more.
Albert: What kind of research did you do? Where did you go for your information? Did you get any help?
Anthony: As I was leaving the Stock Exchange the day I got laid off, I had a smile on, ear to ear. Instead of, “Oh God what do I do now!” My only thought was what Wood fired oven I was going to buy. I took a chunk of my Severance package my company gave me, and bought a Forno Bravo, Primavera oven and Put it in My Parents Back Yard. That summer, all I did was research recipes, and techniques, and make Pizza. My parents had people over all the time, and I tried to make pizza for each and every one of them. At first, Like Many Others, I searched the internet, and found sites like Pizzamaking.com very informative. I got very discouraged at first, because a lot of what I read was explained scientifically. I felt like I was back in grade school (where science was my mortal enemy). I’d read as some of these guys would break down the pizza process molecule by molecule.
Thankfully, soon after, my wife (at that time, my girlfriend) bought me “American Pie: My Search for the Perfect Pizza” by Peter Reinhart. The book really opened my eyes up to a whole new world of how people “thought” about Pizza. Not to mention, it explained the science of the process in a way even I could understand. Almost like a “Pizza for dummies”.
Ha. I was always more into the emotional gratification of Pizza, rather then the science of it Anyway. The book made me realize that Pizza isn’t just a food that tastes good, it’s a special something that invokes a whole slew of emotions for everyone, young and old, rich or poor, man or woman. And its a different feeling for everyone. So I became obsessed with it. From there I adopted the Philosophy that Pizza was not so much about “How” it is made, but the “Who” was making it. I came to really admire the people whose passion came through the pages as I read them, or whose facial expressions practically screamed to me how much they loved to make pizza when I met them. The simple fact is this; If you eat a pizza that is really delicious–chances are there is an extremely passionate person behind it. But like with anything else, you can read or research all you want about a subject, but you can’t get good at it until you actually physically do it. I had to get my hands dirty. Or better yet, full of flour.
Albert: Why Did you go to Pizza school?
Anthony: The same summer I read American Pie: My Search for the Perfect Pizza, my parents took my sister and me to Italy. After reading how much Mr. Reinhart loved the Pizza at Da Michele, in Naples, I insisted we try it out. so we did. The line wasn’t bad at all, surprisingly and I must admit, I was a little apprehensive at the fact that they only had two kinds of pies (marinara and Margherita). That quickly changed. The four of us all took our first bite, and then there was complete silence. We all just looked at each other. Nobody said a word, but the expression of our faces let each of us know that we all felt that this pizza was unlike anything we ever ate. I will fully admit that when you are from New York, you have an arrogance about you when it comes to Pizza. Don Antonio Starita and Albert Grande I “Thought” I knew great Pizza. Humbly, I Knew I was wrong the second I ate that first piece of Da’Michele. It tasted like something your Grandmother made for you. For me that was my “ah Hah” moment. After that, I became obsessed with Authentic Neapolitan Pizza. I’m very fortunate that a couple Neapolitan places were starting to make their mark in the New York area. So, I wrote e-mails to all the owners, telling them how passionate I was about learning how to make Neapolitan pizza, and that I would love to come and apprentice for them. That was when Roberto Caporuscio wrote me back, telling me about the Pizza Class he gives.
I couldn’t pass up an opportunity like that, to learn from such a master of his craft. The first thing he instructed us to do was “Open your minds”. In other words, to not just think of pizza as how you knew it growing up, but instead to keep an open mind for the simplicity, yet creativity of Neapolitan Pizza.
I learned a great deal, and am very Thankful to Roberto for the opportunity he gave me. to say the least, the course certainly opened my mind. I wanted to go work for him at Keste, but he was too busy starting up “Don Antonio” and didn’t have the time to train a new person at that point. So I decided to keep looking for a place I could not just work at, but where I would also be able to learn more, and sharpen my skills.
Albert: I understand you apprenticed with Paulie Gee. How did you approach him? Was he skeptical or very open? Did you tell him for the start about your goal?
Anthony: One day I drove around Brooklyn the area to see if they would hire me. A few places turned me down, or said, “Come back another day”. Looking back on it, I very grateful they did. My last stop of the day brought me to Paulie Gees in Greenpoint. I hadn’t eaten there yet, nor had I met Paulie, but I really enjoyed watching some of the interviews he gave. We sat down at one of his tables in the front, and I think we were two sentences into the conversation when we realized we liked each other. We are both Brooklyn guys, and the conversation flowed as if we were both sitting on somebody’s front stoop in the old neighborhood. I told him my intentions of one day opening up my own place right off the bat. He then shared with me his experiences in getting his own place started and how helpful other Pizza makers like Mark Iacono of “Lucali”, and Chris Bianco of “Pizzeria Bianco” in Phoenix, were to him. “When Chris Bianco helped me out” , he explained, “The only thing he asked of me in return was that someday I pay it forward.” So in hiring me, he wasn’t just getting another worker, he was helping someone out in attaining their dream. He was paying it forward. I can’t tell you how appreciative I am for that. Still to this Day.
At first I worked in the Kitchen doing Prep work, but eventually I got a shift or two a week doing Pizza at night. The first night I worked the Pizza station, Paulie came up to me and reminded me, “You’re officially serving Pizza to the Public”. I really have to say it was an incredible feeling, not to mention, Paulie was just as excited saying it. He knew what I was feeling, and I thought it was a great gesture to bring it to light. While working Pizza, my main goal was to learn how to work the oven. Paulie has a beautiful Stefano Ferrara and I was always in awe of the pizzaioli who could cook 4 or 5 pies at one time, on a busy night. So I was determined to be like them. It wasn’t easy, and I hit a few bumps a long the way and burnt many ‘a pie. I quickly realized that it wasn’t just about how fast you cooked the pies, but more about how well, you cooked them. Making the last pie in the oven look as good as the first. There is no room for error, and you have to concentrate. I would usually come in an hour or two before my shift and practice with old dough to just get my technique down. Once I started getting the hang of it, I was relentless. I would beg the person working the oven that night to just let me cook for “Ten minutes”. After a few months, I got pretty good at it, and it became second nature. I worked at Paulie Gee’s for almost 2 years. My experience was great, and I learned a lot of little ins and outs that I would not have known, had I just picked up and went into the business blind. I am very grateful to Paulie for the opportunity he gave me and we still remain close friends till this day. He refers to himself as my, “Pizza Daddy”. Its an affectionate term, almost like “Godfather”, explaining that he was my Mentor in the Pizza business. haha. I’m very lucky to have him as my “Pizza Daddy” and hopefully, some day I can Pay it forward also, and become a “Pizza Daddy” myself to somebody.
Albert: What are your earliest Memories of Pizza?
Anthony: My earliest Memory of Pizza was the homemade kind my Grandmother made. She had this old, cast Iron frying pan, which was, as she put it, “As old as the hills”. And in a Time before Williams and Sonoma, or Pizza stones, she’d gently coat the bottom of the frying pan with Olive oil and then put the dough in it, cupping the side rims of the pan, and then cook it in the oven. She only used the “plum” of the tomato, no sauce, which she crushed by hand. Sometimes she put cheese, sometimes she didn’t, but it didn’t matter. It was Heaven on Earth. When the pie came out of the oven, she’d take it out and cut it with a scissor. Man was it good. During Lent, being that we ever ate meat on Fridays, she’d take that same pan and fill it up about a quarter of the way with oil, and fry the dough first, then top it off with tomatoes and cheese in the oven, almost like the famous, “Montanara”. Or make a bite size pocket with ricotta cheese in it, like a mini Calzone, or Pizza Fritta. Other’s may refer to it as , “Peasant Food”. But Man, did we eat like kings when she cooked. Other than that, growing up in Brooklyn, Pizza was everywhere.
The pizza place we went to was usually accompanied by an event. For instance, in the summer, we went to the beach at Coney Island almost every weekend, and always stopped off at “Totonnos” to bring a pie or two home. I loved the old man, Jerry who was the son original founder. He was not very pleasant, and wasn’t a fan of kids, and I was as he’d call me, a “Rascal”. At 8 years old, every chance I got, I’d try to do something to make him yell at me, which I got a kick t of. However, as soon as he alluded to chance of , “No Pizza” I quickly shut my mouth and stood in the back, as quiet as a mouse. His pizza was that delicious.
Every Halloween, we always went to go see the parade in Greenwich Village, so before that, we stopped off and had a Pie at “John’s” on Bleeker street. We went about once a month to Staten Island, to visit my Parents close friends, and had the Friday night tradition of going to “Deninos” for Pizza, and then across the street for Italian ices at Ralphs. When I became a teenager, the local hangout became L&B Spumoni Gardens. It was the perfect spot to meet up with your friends, talk to girls, and oh yea, eat pizza. I never really thought of it much until now, but , WOW I’ve eaten a lot of Pizza in my life. Geez. But, the fact that I still love it after all these years, and that I am always looking for new places to try, or new recipes to create, just reminds me why I love it so much. It’s the same for many people. Pizza is just one of those foods you can’t get tired of, and even if you do get tired of it, you can’t help but crave it after some time off.
Stay tuned for Part 3… In the meantime, please check out:
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Here is a letter I recently received:
“Albert, A few years ago I sent you an email, asking you for some advice. I had just gotten laid off from my Job on Wall Street and knew that I didn’t want to go back into the fat race of the financial world. I loved making pizza and knew I wanted to do something with the passion I had for it.
When we first spoke ,you pretty much told me that I knew what I had to do, deep down. You reminded me that since I lived in New York, there were ample opportunities to sculpt my craft. In other words The knowledge was there for the taking. I just needed to cease it. Not long after we spoke I wrote a letter to two titans of the pizza world. Roberto Caporuscio, of Keste, and Paulie Gee of Paulie Gees.
You commented to me you enjoyed reading that letter so much that you put it in one of your newsletters. In the letter I explained my passion, and how serving pizza, and more importantly, bringing others together with good food was in my blood.
The letter went over so well that I was able to learn from both of these masters, first at Roberto’s pizza class and then working at Paulie Gees as a Pizzaiolo for 2 years. The knowledge I gained has been invaluable and I am indebted to both Men for the opportunities they gave me as well as my resume. Now I am starting my own place. It is called ” Urban Fire” located in Madison, NJ.
We will be serving authentic Neapolitan pizza and Italian Street eats, Such as Porchetta sandwiches, zeppoles , Arancini , salads etc. We have a Stefano Ferrara oven from Naples , and our pizza will be severed I a fast/casual style, where the customer gets to go down the line and choose what sauce, cheese and toppings they prefer, to create their own pie. We cook it in our wood burning oven at 800- 1000 degrees and the pie will be ready in 60-90 seconds! I am very excited We should be opened in March, but before then I just waned to reach out to you and say, “thank you” for your help and advice in getting me started.
You helped me get on the path to following my dream and now that dream is finally becoming a reality. Please, if you are ever in the NY/NJ area, please stop by and see me. I’d be honored to host you. Also.
Once again Albert, thank you for everything, for all your help along the way and as always,
Pizza on Earth!
Anthony Saporito, Owner
Thanks Anthony. Tell us more about your pizza quest!
I understand you have just undertaken an incredible journey to have a goal
of getting into the pizza business.
Albert: You had a dream, you showed passion and you put effort in and you made
your dream a reality…
Tell me a bit about you Anthony. What led you to get into the pizza
Anthony: I studied Finance in College. Don’t ask me why. It never really excited me. For the first 10 years after college I worked as a Trader on the Floor of the New York Stock Exchange. At first I loved the fast pace, and interaction with others, but one day we all came in and they told us that the Exchange was abandoning its 200 year old way of doing business, and going computerized. After that, Layoffs started coming every few months. It was a terrible feeling, wondering day to day, when it was going to be your turn. When I first started, my company had 350 employees. When I finally did get laid off, there was 48. I was actually ecstatic when my Boss tapped me on the shoulder to tell me the news -I had already been dreaming of Pizza for the last 2 years prior. Getting laid off was just the kick in the rear I needed to get started.
Albert: Of all the other Jobs, why did you decide to do your own business. Why Pizza?
Anthony: Entertaining others and cooking for them is in my blood. I grew up in a traditional Italian/American household and my Grandmother’s house on Sunday was like Grand Central station. People came in and out all day. Some stayed for dinner, some ate and ran, some came for coffee. I was always enamored how she was able to feed everyone with such ease and how much Joy she was able to bring to others by doing so. It was contagious. Even when I was in college, and studying Finance, I was still always using the Kitchen in my dorm to cook for everyone. I loved it.
Working in a Job that I had zero drive for really annoyed me. I knew that the next line of business I went into was going to be something I had a Passion for. I didn’t have to think for too long to come up with, what exactly that was, and the answer was Pizza. Pizza is just one of those things that makes everyone happy and excited. You have an age old recipe, and yet you can still be creative. And creating different pizzas with the sole purpose of having others enjoy it, and bringing a smile to their face is what moves me. Much like the feeling I had at my Grandmothers house. I always wanted to do something on my own in the food service industry. This was my chance. I was 30 years old, and decided to do something on my own that I knew I would love. Had I just put my Résumé online and took another desk job, I knew I’d regret it for the rest of my life. I had to take a shot.
Stay tuned for the rest of this incredible interview….
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