Monday, September 17, 2007

Getting it Right, Pizza-Style

I know it's been a long time since I've blogged at ya, but there's been a lot going down recently.

But Blake (of Blake and Nick, the Paupered Chefs), has just posted on New Haven Style Pizza and I had to break from work to post a link. He has realised that, as good as New York pizza is - and it can be sublime (DiFara's, Totonno's, Franny's) - it is not the only game in town. In New Haven, Sally's was closed for refurbishment, but the other classic, Pepe's, was open. And he loved it. Go check out the love - and the other two places he visited.

There's other non-New York pizza on the east coast that is definitely worth checking out (you owe it to yourself if you love good pizza!). Tacconelli's Pizza in Philadelphia is amazing, some of the best. I sometimes think about flying back to Philly just to go back and have another pie. Just in case it isn't clear: I am now living 50 miles outside of London in the UK. It's a long way to go for pizza, but it's good enough to make me dream. Just make sure you call the morning before you go to Tacconelli's to order your dough balls, or you might not get any pizza.

Also, two must-visit places in D.C., which make me dream of hopping a flight, with only the flimsiest excuses for a trans-Atlantic trip: Pride of place has to go to 2 Amys. I visited them almost a year ago with a friend. They do a real Neapolitan Style Pizza, complete with D.O.C. choices. Were they busy? We had to wait nearly two hours on a Sunday night in November. Was it worth it? I can't wait to go back! About as close to a sublime pizza as you can get.

Also well worth visiting, in downtown D.C., is Matchbox. It was also busy on a Monday night; I went with two other friends and we waited maybe an hour and a half. The pizzas were quite good; cooked in a woodburning oven, they were more toothsome than Amys, and the crust was more carmelised than theirs too. A bit less traditional than Amys (although they were both traditional and creative). The atmosphere at Matchbox is a bit hipper, at Amys a bit cozier, but both felt very clean and new, too. Both were crowded and busy, doing a booming trade. But on the whole, Amys has a slight edge, although Matchbox is close.

This last summer in Chicago I tried out two new pizza places, both well worth trying and not at all the usual Chicago style offerings. The first was Coal Fire Pizza. Newly opened in the spring, this near West side eatery offers traditional New Haven (I think) style pies from a wood burning oven. The pies I had - and I had about five over the course of the summer - were all light and crispy, with quality ingredients. Delicious. My only caution: if you are going to do take-away, order it when you arrive, not in advance, especially if you have a ways to drive. I don't think they have a website yet, but check out the chatter at LTHForums. (LTHForums is a massive Chicago-based food chat site.)

I also checked out Spacca Napoli on Chicago's North Side with my brother this past summer. It was vera pizza Napoletana, and something Chicago should be proud of. A quality operation - busy on a Sunday night, as I recall - the pizza was delicious and the service attentive. I'll definitely go back.

The summer of 2006, I also checked out two new pizza places in Chicago. One was Piece, a New Haven style Pizzeria. The pizzas I had were alright (I can't pronounce on whether they were authentic New Haven style or not), but nothing great - although the pizza with clams and bacon was new to me, and pretty good. The service was alright, but I'll never go back because they had no idea who they were supposed to be. They had everyone sitting on bar stools along high, raised tables, with massive televisions showing sports and music blaring so that we could barely have a conversation. When we were about to leave, a live band was setting up. And it's a brewpub ('tho the beer was good). Probably if I asked, they could have helped me re-finance my mortage and rotate my tyres. I'll only go back if they get an atmosphere transplant.

And finally, Pizza D.O.C., on the North Side of Chicago, was great. The pizza was high quality; the atmosphere conducive to socialising. I'm afraid too much time has elapsed to compare D.O.C. with Spacca Napoli, but D.O.C. was good and will get my custom again sometime.

So there you go. Do you have any pizza tips? (Especially anything great in the San Diego area? I'll be there in November for a conference, and I am always scanning for great 'za.)

Pizza pictures from Chicago's Coal Fire Pizza, and (ahem) borrowed from LTHForum.

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Blogger Educator-To-Be said...

You have an interesting blog.

I live in Washington, and I am embarrassed to let you know that I have not heard of either of the pizza places you recommend. However, I am not much of a pizza person.


Thursday, September 20, 2007 5:00:00 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

Thanks for dropping by. Which are your favourite restaurants in DC? If you happen by either 2 Amys in northwest DC or Matchbox in downtown DC, let me know what you think. Good eating!

Thursday, September 20, 2007 1:39:00 PM  

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