Why is New York pizza the most badass pizza on the planet? It’s because of the grease pools. Those little brownish-red pools of grease in-between the cheese clumps.
Take a look at a slice of New York (City, that is…) pizza. You’ll see a ton of grease. If it’s a good slice. If it’s an imposter, then you might not get this effect. I remember those slices. I lived in New York City from 1970 to 1980. I ate more pizza than a human could imagine.
There were pizzerias everywhere. I remember there was one on every corner (so it seemed) on Hillside Ave. in Jamaica, Queens.
I probably ate at least 2 slices a day (or more) every day, from the age of 10 until 16.
I just remember those grease pools. And the fact that you could hold your pizza vertically, grabbing the crust like the back of a kitten’s neck, letting the tip of the triangle slice point down to the ground. And lo and behold, the whole damn enchilada (which is kind of what it was on top of pizza dough…maybe…) would slide off and onto the New York City sidewalk. (Which was quite greasy as well…)
This is the effect I have not seen on any other slice of pizza—at least out here in California. The “New York” pizza joints in Los Angeles never get this effect 100% authentically accurate. It’s close. It’s real close. But it never jumps the subway rails into that greasy wonderland of real New York City pizza.
The grease was so prevalent and gorgeous; and the cheese clumps, the melted mozzarella, would sit on top of the grease like little boats on an ocean of culinary goodness.
You want a slice of pizza that melts in your mouth. That swims inside your boca like little cheesy angels of greasy magic. Hot and cheesy and greasy. (You might need a few salads or brown rice afterwards, just to make sure the pizza works its way through your intestines and out the other end. Just sayin’.)
You don’t want to chew so hard you feel as if you’re eating a hot cheese sandwich with tomato sauce…
And like I said, if you held the pizza vertically, letting the grease and sauce and cheese slide off the dough, it would slide right off. A big pile of cheese and sauce and grease, laying on the ground for the New York City pigeons to devour. (Or maybe a rat or 3 after the sun went down…)
That’s a damn real New York City slice of pizza. It ain’t only the dough. It’s the topping. Real. Greasy. Badass. Like New York City people.
If that grease could sing, it would sing “New York, New York” by Sinatra.
If you added pepperoni, the grease effect would be multiplied 10 times over. That pepperoni would melt, just slightly, into the bed of cheese and sauce and make the grease even more brownish, badass and beautiful.
(I know this is probably not the best motor oil for our little heart engines—but hey, once in a while you need to live on the greasy edge of Pizza Wonderland.)
I haven’t had a slice of “New York” pizza out here in Los Angeles that has that same magical grease. Or the vertical slide effect. They don’t have the true, New York certified reddish-brown pools of badass goodness; with the great little gobs of cheese in-between.
(My vegan sensibilities are kicking in and maybe I need to lay off the real dairy and just get a vegan slice of pizza. But I think not.)
These New York slices were not great to me because of the New York City tap water. Yes, I’ve heard that it makes the dough special. I get it.
I’m more interested in the greasy topping of cheese, sauce, oil. This is the juicy goodness I’m after. The dough is, pardon my indiscretion, secondary.
I will keep trying to find a Big Apple Cerified™ New York slice of pizza out here in the land of Palm Trees, Teslas and Botox.
But I think I just need to get up some real dough and fly to New York (coach, first class, don’t matter…as long as I can watch Ryan Reynolds on the monitor. He’s my new favorite movie star.)
And jump into the greasy streets of New York City, where I once was a little punk of a kid sucking down more slices than any human could imagine.
©2022 Bruce Palma. All rights reserved.