I first ate New York-style pizza in 1978 in my local mall. But I didn’t know it at the time.
In fact, that was a treat (as was going to the mall — my how times have changed). In our small northeast Texas town, we had Pizza Hut, Pizza Inn, Shakey’s (the place with the piano player) and Pizza King, which was a local joint with pizza made similarly to the way the homers do it in St. Louis. Naturally, Pizza King was our go-to place, since it was cheaper than the chains.
Fast-forward to my 1990s move to New Jersey, where the mass-produced stuff was rarely available and mom & pop dives were the places that specialized in big slices of Heaven. Nope. These local joints didn’t produce a cracker-style crust like the pizza I grew up on, but … wow. What works of art!
The thin crispy-chewy crust of a true New York-style pie is a veritable canvas on which fresh tomato sauce, house-made cheese, raw vegetables and artisan (nowadays anyway) meats complete the masterpiece. As I’ve mentioned before, I prefer mine with eggplant — fried, grilled, marinated — it doesn’t matter. But no matter how you slice it, the New Yorkers have the upper hand over the fine folks from St. Louis — and any chain — when it comes to foldable melty goodness.
New York-style Pizza
For each pie —
1 recipe – Homemade pizza dough (or 14-inch pre-made crust)
1½ cups – Pizza sauce (recipe below)
2-3 cups – Shredded cheese (I prefer three parts shredded mozzarella to about one part each of smoked provolone, Asiago and Romano)
Extra virgin olive oil
Your choice of toppings
Preheat oven to 500F. If using a stone, preheat about an hour before you bake your pizza.
Make the dough. Roll out to about 14 inches round. Allow rolled dough to rest for about 15-20 minutes. Place dough on a peel that’s been dusted with cornmeal, or place in a pizza pan. Brush entire crust liberally with olive oil; add sauce; then add cheese and your favorite toppings. If you are baking on stone, carefully slide uncooked pizza onto it. Otherwise, place pizza (in pan) on middle rack of preheated oven.
Bake until crust begins to char and cheese is browned and bubbly – about 10 minutes. Enjoy!
Pizza Sauce – (per 14-inch pizza)
1½ cups – Canned crushed tomatoes
1 tsp – Dried Oregano
1 tsp – Red pepper flakes
Combine ingredients. No need to cook.
- Thinly-sliced eggplant, brushed or sprayed w/ olive oil (pictured)
- Thinly-sliced tomato
- Torn Basil, about 3 leaves per pie (pictured)
- Garlic, roughly chopped
- Traditional meats – pepperoni, Italian sausage, ham, ground beef, meatballs, etc.
- Traditional veggies – Onions, sweet peppers*, black/green olives, etc.
*Sweet peppers tend to hold a lot of water and it will not evaporate effectively unless sliced super thin (lunch meat-thin).
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