The 10 Commandments of Pizza

By Arthur Bovino
January 10, 2018

It’s a wonder what you can find when you crack open a book.

I keep a modest pizza reference library. And I’ve probably read half of the books cover to cover. I find something fun or learn something whenever researching some aspect of pizza I’m currently writing about (or eating). So it was while perusing the some 90 recipes in Tony Gemignani’s Pizza Bible, that I came across his 10 Commandments of Pizza.

If you’re unfamiliar with Tony, he’s a 12-time World Pizza Champion and chef-owner of more restaurants than I can ever keep track of. Count among them Tony’s Pizza Napoletana (San Francisco), Capo’s (San Francisco), Pizza Rock (Vegas, Sacramento), Little Tony’s (Vegas), Tony’s Coal Fire (San Francisco), and Slice House (San Francisco, Las Vegas), which you can read more about in this interview with Tony from early 2017.

The Pizza Bible doesn’t feature a recipe for every regional American pizza style, but it does cover New York, New Jersey, New Haven, Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, and California (not to mention regional Italian pies and those from other parts of the world). And tucked in there between cleaning your pizza stone and Tony’s master dough on page 39 are Tony’s “10 Commandments of Pizza.”

“Hey, it’s the pizza bible, right?” Tony asks. “So here are my sacred laws.”

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10 Best Pizzas of 2017

By Arthur Bovino
January 5, 2018

One hundred and eleven places — by my count, that’s how many I hit during 2017, mostly in New York’s five boroughs and Buffalo (where I was doing research on the best wings, beef on weck, and pizza), but also in New Jersey, Maryland, and Texas (Dallas and San Antonio). And while eating pizza once every three-and-a-half days will probably keep the dues paid as far as maintaining my pizza cowboy bona fides, it has made it challenging to narrow down a list of just the top 10.

So I’ll make it a little easier by not including for consideration the 33 places I’ve previously visited, some of which I hit several times in 2017. That leaves 78 places to whittle down. It was still tough, one reason being the dozens of Buffalo pizzerias I visited. They totally skewed this list by taking half its spots. One of them would undoubtedly have been king of the hill if it hadn’t been for one truly inimitable pie. (In fact, Buffalo pizza deserves its own best-of list, so look for it in June in my upcoming book “Buffalo Everything”!)

Before listing the top 10, here are a dozen pies that deserve honorable mention. Leonardi’s Pizzeria for a straight-up delicious parking lot meal-worthy cup-and-char pizza; Emilio’s of Morris Park for their chicken vodka slice; Rosario’s of Astoria, which I was turned on to by and visited with Adam KubanVIPizza in Bayside, Queens, for its exemplary Sicilian; The Parlor in Dobb’s Ferry, N.Y., for its bone marrow, everything bagel, and lemon pizzas; Lou Malnati’s, whose Toro pop-up made me grudgingly admit there may be room for love in my heart for this style of pizza; Delorenzo’s in Robbinsville for its tomato pie; Pizza Town USA in Elmwood Park, N.J., for its super thin plain cheese slice; Johnny’s Pizzeria in Sunset Park, Queens, for its old-school New York City slice; Vic’s in NoHo, for one of the most right-under-my-nose good pizzas in recent memory; Federici’s of Freehold, N.J., for its storied bar pizzas (hat tip to Adam again for this rec); and Anthony Falco’s Thin ‘n’ Crispy bar pizza served at a packed pop-up at Hair of the Dog on the Lower East Side.

I could go on. But with that…

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The Lost Pizza Files: Pizza Writing From The Archives (2009-2010)

It can be fun (though sometimes cringe-inducing) to read things you’ve written years ago. So it’s been a bit of a blast to have stumbled across a cache of pizza writing from almost a decade ago. I’d thought that these 20 posts, originally published on AlwaysHungryNY, had been lost for good. They never got repurposed (save this one on the cold cheese slice) when we launched The Daily Meal, and despite early assurances by a former colleague, the original site was allowed to disappear. I don’t know why it took me this long to try to find them on the Wayback Machine — it certainly would have been a helpful thing to have thought of during numerous pizza caption-writing occasions over the years — but here they are now, nonetheless, and without all the weird stylization of an arbitrary stylebook (#nogrudgeshere).

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Whoah… John’s of Bleecker Street Now Delivers For Real

Wait… what!? John’s of Bleecker Street, the no-nonsense, West Village, pie-only stalwart known for scratched tables, initialed walls, and one of the city’s most iconic thin-crust pizzas announced some big news for pizza nerds late Tuesday afternoon on Instagram: They now deliver.

“EXTRA EXTRA! You’ve waited and waited, and now… we are officially ready to deliver John’s of Bleecker Street pie to your doorstep! You’ve heard that right – our very own service is up and running. GO to our website: johnsbrickovenpizza.com and click ‘delivery!’ 🍕🍕🍕💕💕💕”

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Joe’s Pizza Opens in Midtown, Immediately Becomes Times Square’s Best Pizza

For as many tourists that visit the Great White Way, Times Square has long been a wasteland for good pizza. I don’t know what’s worse, bedbug Elmos or that tourists grabbing a slice at La Famiglia or Little Italy Pizza (God forbid, 2 Bros), think they’ve tasted the legit pizza New York is known for. Sure there’s the Midtown John’s outpost, but as far as good slicerias go, you used to have to walk down to New York Pizza Suprema across from the Garden. Things have improved. You can walk over to Corner Slice on 11th Avenue or crosstown to Sofia Pizza Shoppe but until recently, if you wanted a great slice right there in Times Square… fuggedaboutit. No longer. Today, Joe’s Pizza opened at 1435 Broadway just two blocks south of where the ball drops. It immediately took the mantle of Times Square’s best pizza.

“You’re always nervous when you move into a new neighborhood,” Joey Vitale told me. Joey is the grandson of the original Pino ‘Joe’ Pozzuoli, famed pizza operator of Joe’s Pizza in the West Village.

By the looks of things, he’s got nothing to worry about. The new Joe’s Pizza on 1435 Broadway literally a block from Bryant Park and just a few steps up and out of the Times Square NQR station has the look and feel of the 14th Street East Village expansion. Unlike the West Village original, it’s roomy with stools and counters on either side of the pizza counter, behind which, three new deck ovens are being broken in.

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New York City’s Best Pizza By Price

I’ve worked on numerous pizza lists over the years, each with its own challenges when it comes to ranking. But coming up with a list of New York City’s best pizzas by price for First We Feast? Well, this one was a doozy. It may also be one of the more interesting and difficult pizza lists I’ve worked on.

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Oh, Loverboy. Pizza, Oh Pizza, My Sweet Pizza, You’re the One… (Maybe?)

If things go as planned, Loverboy, the East Village’s newest pizza spot (brought to you by owners Richard Knapp and T.J. Lynch of Nolita gin mill, Mother’s Ruin) may actually be able to serve pizza by early August.

“We’ve basically decided to say, ‘Fuck Con Ed,’” the bartender at Loverboy explained. “We’ve outfitted the kitchen so that we can just go all electric. We’re closer than where I thought we’d be since making the shift. We should be ready to serve pizza within the next two weeks.”

In an interview with Grub Street, Loverboy co-owner T.J. Lynch said the spot hadn’t been named for the Patrick Dempsey pizza deliveryman-gigolo movie or the ’80s band (we’ll have to settle for a hed inspired by Mickey & Sylvia) and described their concept as combining “the unpretentious feel and good drinks of Mother’s Ruin, but with pizza by the slice and pie.” Instead of having folks leave the bar to find slices to sop up the frozen cocktails, they decided they’d serve pizza themselves (“I think it’s because we’re geniuses” Lynch added).

Loverboy’s pizza style? Lynch, who worked on it with consulting chef Nick Pfannerstill (previously chef de cuisine of Dovetail), told Grub Street, “Our style is called awesome pizza. That’s the culinary definition.” More specifically, he then went on to describe it as a square-style with a thicker crust that’s not quite Sicilian-thick.

Tone can be lost in translation, but the quotes do read a little, ahem, abrupt and… confident.

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50 Top Pizza Announces Italy’s 50 Best Pizzerias

If you’ve ever dreamed of touring Italy and trying its best pizzas, this is the list for you. Back in June, representatives for 50 Top Pizza, a new online pizza guide featuring some 500 pizzerias, gathered at Manhattan’s Ribalta, to release its 2017 International Pizza Rankings. Those special 50 spots outside pizza’s birthplace have now been followed by the guide’s picks for the 50 best pizzerias in Italy.

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50 Top Pizza Releases 2017 International Pizza Rankings

There’s a new online pizza guide that is setting out to rank the world’s best pizzerias and while Italy is the dominant part of the guide so far, 50 Top Pizza representatives gathered today at Neapolitan pizzeria Ribalta in Manhattan to announce the top 50 winners across five different continents outside of pizza’s birthplace.

“This is the first online guide for pizzerias, not pizzas, we’re talking about the pizzerias,” announced Maria Rosaria Galletta, who translated the event’s announcements from Italian.

Parse that as you will. There’s a trove of pizza listicles writers out there who may beg to differ, but you’ll probably be hard-pressed to find any who will disagree that 50 Top Pizza may be the most thorough online ranking of Italian pizzerias. In attendance were 50 Top Pizza’s curators, wine journalist Luciano Pignataro (LucianoPignataro WineBlog), long-time sommelier Barbara Guerra, master taster of cheeses and olive oil, Albert Sapere. The list was published by Formamentis and financed by a number of sponsors including Caputo Flour, Olitalia, Così Com’è and Consorzio Tutela Mozzarella di Bufala Campana.

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How Toro Pulled off the Lou Malnati’s Deep-Dish Pop-up

Last week’s Lou Malnati’s deep-dish pop-up took over Toro with foot-long cheese pulls, delighting Chicago transplants and skeptical New Yorkers with pizza FOMO. But how did it come about? And how did Lou Malnati’s pizza heir and Toro partner Will Malnati and team pull it off?

“I was in Chicago for the Beard Awards,” chef Ken Oringer explained. “I told Will, ‘There must be thousands of Chicagoans in New York City who crave this pizza. Why don’t we do some type of pop-up?’”

Toro had been doing guest chef pop-ups over the past year, inviting friends like Rachael Ray (who connected Will with chef Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette of the original Toro in Boston) to cook, selling tickets for the events in the private dining room. Time and again the question arose: could they pull off a Lou Malnati’s pop-up? “It never went away,” explained Malnati. “So, one day I was like, ‘All right, all right, all right. Let’s see if we can really do this.”

The May 30th, Lou Malnati's pop-up at Toro featured two PBRs per guest.
The May 30th, Lou Malnati’s pop-up at Toro featured two PBRs per guest.

Moving forward meant Will acting as middleman between the kitchen in New York and the Lou Malnati’s team in Chicago, figuring out what they had and what they’d need. Will may have spent years establishing restaurateur cred beyond pizza, but the Chicago native earned his pizza chops in the family business before studying at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, working in every restaurant. He even returned to Chicago after graduating to open a Lou Malnati’s before starting a career in hospitality in New York at EMM Group.

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