Thursday, August 05, 2004

All About Pizza


I know very little about the food chemistry involved in the making of pizza. But I do know this much. You can't get truly great pizza in the Bay Area. You can get good pizza, but that my friends is not the same thing. Locally many people will point you towards Zachary's Chicago style pizza or to A16 and their Neapolitan style pizza or even Tommaso's and their New York style pizza. Each of these are not bad. But they pale in the comparison to the real thing.

I have eaten pizza in Chicago, New York and Napoli. I consider those three places the best for pizza. It is amazing actually when you eat pizza in Napoli because it is so unlike pizza in the rest of Italy. It is worlds better. And why is that? One of the great mysteries of the universe.

Pizza is not just the perfect balance of crust, sauce and cheese, it is the integrity of each those elements. Like the holy trinity, without one element, God, or in our case The Crust, the rest is meaningless. So what makes a great crust? Well a couple of things to start. One is the type of oven it is baked in and another is the ingredients. Most experts agree a wood burning brick oven is best. Flour, water and yeast seem like simple enough ingredients but it's never as simple as it seems. There are so many elements that can't be controlled--yeasts in the air, minerals in the water, humidity in the air. I am convinced all of these play pivotal roles in pizza. And I'm not even going to discuss the handling of the dough, including the manipulation and fermentation, something I know even less about.

So what do I suggest? Go for something local, that doesn't not try to be the approximation of something it can't possibly be. Stay tuned for my favorite Bay Area pizza picks this weekend as the eternal search for the best pizza continues...