Friday, February 18, 2011

The Great (and eternal) Pizza Debate

Who makes the BEST pizza?

Ask the question and you'll get a biased response. I used to work with Pirelli Tire Co. and that work took me to Milan, Italy. In Milan I had some GREAT pizza. And I teased some of the Pirelli people that to get a great pizza, you had to go to the USA. Somehow they felt offended... but the horrible truth is that you can get a pizza in the US that rivals that in Italy. Mezzaluna comes to mind.

The best Italian pizza is made by the little neighborhood bakers. Sometimes I found myself in a little neighborhood and saw a bakery -- I stopped and always bought the pizza, because it was universally wonderful. Like a slice of heaven!

In the US there are places where you can buy a pizza, cooked by somebody who knows what they're doing, baked in a wood fired oven that's been cured over the years and the pizza is delicious. The pizza delivered by the pimple-faced kid, driving Dad's car, made of grade-C ingredients is never all that good. Therefore the myth that American pizza is not as good as Italian. Americans are simply willing to accept less. The same could be said of French and their obsession with bread. 

Now that we've trudged through that morass we come (back) to the US, which brings us back to regional pizza differences. In New York, they think that their thin crust pizza is best. In Chicago, their thick crust pizza is king. Allow a little bias to slip in here because I think that Chicago is the best place to get a great meal in the US. Yes, New York is up there, but it simply doesn't make the grade when the harsh light of truth shines. San Francisco, New Orleans and other American cities have great food but they're not known for pizza and that's what we're talking about here. In San Diego, you can get a Mexican Pizza - it tastes good, sure, but it's an ABOMINATION in the parlance of pizza.

Next there are the toppings. A genuine pizza is pizza margherita. It's a cheese and basil pizza. (seen right) In Italy, that's it. There are regional variants in Italy, but Pizza Lazio and Pizza Napolitana are  slight variations on this original.

In the US you can get a "Hawiian pizza" topped with pineapple. If you tried that in Italy, you might not make it out of the country alive. As for me, there are only two kinds of pizza - hot and cold, and I more or less like them both. One for dinner and the next for breakfast the next day. There aren't any toppings that I don't like...with the exception of jalapeno peppers. They simply don't belong on a pizza.

This is an example of a REAL pizza oven - in Little Italy, NYC

This is the leaning tower of Piza, it has NOTHING to do with pizza.


Opus #6 said...

Man, now I'm HUNGRY!

LL said...

Truth be told, Opus, I had pizza for dinner last night and it prompted the post. It came from Round Table, the closest good pizza in the pizza wilderness where I live.

WoFat said...

Burp! Burrrrrapppp. I LIKE pizza.

darlin said...

Yummm, the pizza with just cheese and basil sounds fantastic especially coming from a real pizza oven, maybe a wee bit of spinach and I'd be in pizza heaven. Now I want pizza but nothing will compare to what you just described.

LL said...

Darlin - there is such a thing as 'bad pizza', but I've had very GOOD pizza in Canada (I've never been to Edmonton).

Have you thought of getting a pizza stone and making Darlin' pizza?

darlin said...

LL there are a few good spots for pizza I agree but it's too easy to stay home when it's -100. I have thought about making pizza for a brief minute and then the idea vanished like the wind, I'm too busy these days to make up my own mind some days. Maybe one day I'll purchase that pizza stone, just not today.

Edmonton can be a beautiful city, it's small and easy to get around but if you're ever going to come here, I strongly suggest you come here in the summer time. It's too bloody cold!

LL said...

I'm like the Wicked Witch of the West...I melt in the rain. And I'd crack to pieces in the snow. I'll stay where it's warm.

darlin said...

... and I'll stay envious! ;-)

whatareuhungryfor said...

Good article. I had pizza for dinner last night and it prompted the post. It came from Round Table, the closest good pizza in the pizza wilderness where I live.

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