In his tome on all things pizza, A Slice of Heaven, Ed Levine explains the paradigm of pizza. The idea that the first pizza we eat defines our parameters for pizza in the future. My paradigm, my childhood pizza, is Barone's.
Rectangular in shape, cooked in the pan, a tad thicker than New Haven style, a combination of jack and mozzarella cheese, and a crust made with beer. My Italian grandfather was quite picky about his pie and preferred the cheese pizza well done.
I am visiting my family and we had Barone's for dinner last night. Just looking at it brought back great memories and the pizza didn't disappoint other then the distinctive yeasty beer crust taste was missing.
Barone's is my paradigm, but not my benchmark.
Mattozzi's in Naples taught me what a perfecto pizza should be. Chewy, thin, light, not overly wet, a charred and perfectly blistered crust. Simple toppings, fresh, not too many of them.
Pizza really does taste better in Italy however there is more to it than the people and culture. The pizza ovens, their bricks and tiles, have their own terroir.
Back home in Sonoma County, Rosso Pizzeria is rocking my world. Not just my world because there have been several Tomas Keller sightings there. Kevin Cronin, formerly of Tra Vigne and Tomatina in the Napa Valley, studied pizza seriously before creating his recipes. He tasted and traveled extensively in Naples, but found that some of the best pizza in the world is made in, drumroll please.....
That's right. Amid the geckos and the country clubs, Pizzeria Bianco is turning out fantastico pizza.
I'm just a humble homecooker, no pizza expert by any means, but just like you, I have my pizza paradigm.
Pizza: Slice of Heaven by Ed Levine
Our Food Guy & Marcy interview with Ed airs the weekend of March 22.