There’s a unique, new pizza in town. It’s called the “DoughDici,” and it’s a poofy play on a Detroit-style pie, a purposefully fallen pizza soufflé with a thin frico edge and an airy interior that resembles the inside of the Platonic ideal of a garlic knot. The DoughDici, a play on “dodici,” Italian for “12” (a nod to its dough’s 12-hour rise), is the creation of pizza tinkerer Tom Degrezia of Sofia Pizza Shoppe on 1st Avenue between 54th and 55th. Because of the time that goes into tending them, each DoughDici will be sold by appointment (link below) in limited quantities (two to three a day) just a few days a week.
If you’re a pizza fanatic looking for the next new thing: this is it.
There’s an ever-so-slight oil crisp-brown and golden undercarriage, a frico, Detroit-esque crust that’s slightly chewy and salty from the cheese, but without the Motor City overflow.
Degrezia has been tinkering with the DoughDici in his Sutton Place sliceria for seven months (he’s still looking for someone to make pans with the slightly angled effect he’s striving for), giving lucky regulars a slice if they happened to be there when a pie came out. Meanwhile, Degrezia’s partner Matthew Porter has trademarked the name. They were inspired by the Detroit-style pizzas popularized at Emmy Squared in Williamsburg but wanted to take their own approach.
“We make iterations of square pies, and I had been trying to think of a way to create a unique pizza experience,” Degrezia explains. “The catch was that we wanted it to preserve the simplicity of what we love so much about pizza – a memorable and flavorful crust, fresh tomato flavor and balanced cheese.”
At $38, the DoughDici isn’t cheap. It costs the same as the most expensive pizza (a square pie with one specialty topping) at Dom De Marco’s Di Fara, generally considered New York’s (and the country’s) best pizzeria. But considering the risk associated with each pie (Degrezia makes each DoughDici himself), it makes sense.
“It’s a labor-intensive process and an exercise in extreme patience,” says Degrezia. “Depending on the temperature in the room, we’re constantly checking to see if ingredients need to be added to keep the dough soft as it rises.”
They use house dough with “a few secret modifications,” cold-fermenting for 72 to 80 hours. It’s allowed to rise in an olive oil- and grated cheese-lined pan without being punched down or degassed for 12 hours, with extra virgin olive oil and a blend of grated cheese added bit by bit so the raw dough soaks up its flavor. The result is a temperamental, hot air pizza balloon that can’t be jostled in the shoebox of a pizzeria (Degrezia says you can barely wash your hands and open the oven simultaneously).
As with a French soufflé, the last half hour is the moment of truth. The dough is meant to slightly rise in the oven then collapse, but after rising for 12 hours, the surface, two inches above the bottom, can’t support much. So it’s delicately drip-dressed with just a half-cup of house sauce and layered with thin slices of fresh mozzarella and grated cheese before being baked 10 minutes, scattered with fresh basil and more grated cheese, then cut into six slices.
The result is an ever-so-slight oil crisp-brown and golden undercarriage, a frico, Detroit-esque crust slightly chewy and salty from the cheese, but without the Motor City overflow. And because cheese lines the pan and is added to the dough as it grows, the frico seems built into the dough. There’s an “L-crust” edge that sinks about a quarter-inch out with the deepest part of the corner stretching an inch toward the center. The dough has dark brown patches, thick and chewy at the edge, soft and airy inside. There are similarities to focaccia, but there’s more lift and moisture, which makes sense given most recipes for focaccia require a rise of just an hour and a half to two hours, and the edge is unlike any focaccia you’ve likely had. While it’s gently dressed, this garlic knot-esque Sicilian pizza soufflé is pretty cheesy and saucy. And it’s light. You can eat several slices without that gut-bomb effect. It’s pretty spectacular.
Customers’ punctuality will be key. “This is a time-sensitive pie,” says Degrezia. “We’re talking about not being able to guarantee peak experience if someone is 10 minutes late.”
And for now, no toppings.
“We tested toppings and concluded that we like it best without embellishments,” says Degrezia. “The dough is so delicate, and, we view this as a ‘purist’ experience that emphasizes the perfectly balanced dough, sauce and cheese. That said, if we end up offering a topping, our olives accentuate the other ingredients.”
Degrezia, a third-generation pizza guy with lineage to Bensonhurst’s J&V Pizzeria, says the pie is meant to honor all that pizza purists hold sacred: crust, sauce and cheese. “We think there are purists like us who will appreciate that simplicity.”
The result is a temperamental, hot air pizza balloon that can’t be jostled when it’s unbaked.
It’s hard to imagine pizza-lovers not wanting to tempt fate with thin slices of pepperoni or crumbled sausage, but the DoughDici is pretty special as is.
This isn’t a to-go pie. Like Adam Kuban’s pizza pop-up Margot’s it’s a limited-engagement experience. And like Margot’s, the DoughDici is an online, ticketed event. The first three seatings (45-minute slots by appointment only) will be in the evenings, May 1st and May 3rd. Price is subject to change, but for now, $38 gets you one DoughDici, two reserved stools in the Patsy’s-esque picture window and two complimentary, non-alcoholic drinks. Tickets can be purchased on Eventbrite.
Sofia Pizza Shoppe
989 1st Avenue,
New York, NY 10022
Phone: (212) 888-8816
Subway: E, M