Introduction: New York Pizza in California

Picture of New York Pizza in California

I was born in New York and have lived most of my life there. About a year ago I left the east and headed west to California to explore the hills, the nicer weather, the rivers...the other side. One of the things that I miss most from New York is the pizza. Whether it's something in the water or a secret pizza making skill they are hiding from the rest of the world, very few places are capable of creating a New York pizza pie outside of New York. Since I couldn't buy the pizza I wanted in California, my only option was to bring it back from the source.

Step 1: Find a Good NY Pizza Place

Picture of Find a Good NY Pizza Place

This should be pretty easy to do. There are tons of good places to get a slice in New York, many of which make a great pizza pie. I grew up in Port Washington, NY - which is on Long Island about 35 minutes away from Manhattan. According to Google maps there are 13 pizza places in Port Washington alone! I have eaten at every one of them - my favorite is a place called "The Original Carlo's Pizza." They made the pizzas that I ate at elementary school birthday parties and they are the ones I turn to when I need pizza brought to California.

I almost always order just a plain cheese pie - this is New York PIzza in its purist form. No need for toppings, I think it's plenty good just like this.

I have included just a few pictures of the pizza making process below. I think that just some of the key factors into making great New York slices are:

-thin crust
-good sauce to cheese ratio
-proper high temperature oven (see large pizza ovens in background of photos)
-the right type of cheese - you want a little bit of the orange oil that accumulates on top once it's done cooking
-cooking the pie directly on the oven surface - whats the deal with pizza shops using those wire grates?

There are many many more factors that go into making a great slice - but I am not qualified to deal with them all, I just have my own personal preferences.

Check out Jeff Verasano's NY Pizza Recipe for the most complete guide on New York Pizza I have ever seen. (Thanks Jeffreyf for the link).

Step 2: Buy Some Pies and Pack the Slices

Picture of Buy Some Pies and Pack the Slices

Once you have found a pizza place of your liking, go in and buy a couple of pies, or better yet, have a friend or family member buy the pies for you. Thanks Dad - Carlw!

I like to let the pizza's cool for a while before starting to package them. If you pack them up while the cheese is still hot it can stick to the packing material. Once the pizzas have cooled I had the slices individually wrapped in wax paper (I know this is a little wasteful, but I like to have total control over how many slices I reheat at a time) and then bundled together in tin foil in groups of 8 slices in order to recreate the original pie.

The bundled pizza pies then go into a plastic bag just for safe keeping and then get stored in a piece of carry on or checked luggage.

In this most recent pizza shipment my parents brought over two pies in a small bag. My friend Michal brought over three pies a few months ago in a Chicago Bulls gym bag. It had to be checked since it got kind of heavy - but both carry on and checked luggage methods seem to work well.

Step 3: Fly the Pizza Across the Country

Picture of Fly the Pizza Across the Country

Once the pizza is packed up and ready to go I like to have it airborne within a couple of hours and in my belly a few hours after that. This means flying the pizza across the country - no "I'll drive your pizza cross country and see you in a week" sort of thing.

I haven't been able to convince anyone to fly across the country for the sole purpose of delivering pizza, but I have been able to convince enough visitors to bring it with them in exchange for staying with us that we have been able to keep a pretty solid supply on hand in our freezers.

It's tempting to sell the pizza slices on the plane ride over - people around you will smell it, and they will want it, especially on flights where they don't offer food, but don't let them have it! Remember, you're on a mission flying pizza across the country to your loved ones.

Step 4: Receive, Reheat, and Eat

Picture of Receive, Reheat, and Eat

Once the family members/friends have arrived give them a warm hello and then head straight for the pizza. Some can go into the fridge or the freezer but I like to have a couple of slices right away. Anything you're not going to eat in the next day should be put in the freezer.

Whenever cold pizza comes into the home I have a general set of events which I follow...

1. Turn the oven up as high as it will go - if its a gas oven you can set it to broil, which will basically just keep the flame burning as long as the oven is on. If you have an electric oven set it to the highest temperature you can on bake mode. Broiling in an electric oven will actually activate a second set of coils at the top of the oven and you will end up burning the top of your pizza before you heat it up.

2. I have a pizza stone that I made by rolling out a large lump of clay in a press - so I use that anytime I am cooking pizza - fresh or reheated. Its pretty heavy and does a good job of transferring heat to the bottom of the pizza. You can go out and get a pizza stone, or you can use a real stone, or even a big terra cotta tile if you only want to spend a few dollars. Let the stone get nice and hot before you put in your pizza.

3. While the pizza is heating up I like to get a couple spices together and even some Franks Red Hot Sauce to put on just before I eat it. I didn't always require hot sauce on my pizza, and I rarely use it on fresh slices I eat, but when having a reheated slice it tastes really good.

When the pizza has been sufficiently heated - just a couple of minutes if your oven is cranked up, I transfer it onto a plate, spice and hot sauce accordingly, and then enjoy!

My house mate Doug Spielman (also a NY native) and I send down a couple of slices in just a few minutes. It's good.

Step 5: The Future of Transcontinental Pizza Delivery

Picture of The Future of Transcontinental Pizza Delivery

There is already a service called I Want New York Pizza who will mail out an authentic New York Pizza Pie to anywhere in the US. A few pizza places in New York and Brooklyn will also overnight their pies Rocco's Pizza in Brooklyn, NY does this, as well as Eddie's New York City Flying Pizza's in Manhattan.

I haven't tried any of these services yet, but I imagine once the visitors from New York stop coming I will be forced to place an order. Overnight shipping from these places costs a pretty penny ($20-$50), so I recommend having someone bring it over for you if possible.

The real future of transcontinental pizza isn't in finding the right delivery service, it's in finding a way to cook great New York Pizza all over the world.


ElvenChild (author)2011-02-14

The best pizza I have ever had was at La compagne Italian the day before they knocked it down it was a brick oven thin crust quatro formagio pizza which had parmesan cheddar goat cheese and mozzarella.
But that was over a year ago now if I want halfway decent pizza I have to make It myself -sigh-.

beaverpuss (author)2009-07-02

GREAT instructable. FYI, I was recently on Whidbey island, just north of Seattle, WA and in the town of Langley (on the island) there is a pizza joint called "Village Pizza." The owner was a pizza guy from Brooklyn and one of the other staff is a tried and true Yankee fan from the Bronx. They have a Meat lover's New York pie that is IT!!!!Perfection. You should try to ship that, A little less distance, it might be warm when you get it... :)~...P.S. I saw them for sale (unbaked) in a grocery store just by the Ferry for $17 US

Derin (author)2008-09-21

Im gonna drive the pizza if I ever will,we can go through two countries in a day

Derin (author)Derin2009-01-07

The two countries were Bulgaria and Serbia.We crossed the Turkish-Bulgarian border ar about 7.00 a.m and crossed the Serbian-Hungarian border at about 00.30 p.m.

Derin (author)Derin2009-03-11

Also,the Turkish-Bulgarian border has some cheap gas!

AnnieP (author)2009-02-17

I don't know how I came across reading this website (maybe it's my obsession for pizza!) I live outside of Boston and find it really hard to get good pizza, but there's a place in S. Florida that I go when I'm down there that has AMAZING pizza. I am told they Fed Ex New York City water in everyday to make their pizza. They say that's what makes their crust so great! It's a restaurant, not just a small pizza joint. I can see how it would be costly for a small place with slices to do that, but it'sa great concept! anyway, if anyone is planning on opening a pizza place in their city....try NYC water :)

njdjs (author)2009-01-25

OH MY GOSH. I'm not the only one who can't get a good slice of pizza.I moved from Jersey to Oklahoma over 6 years ago and haven't found any good pizza.Here they have tiny slices with paper thin crust. YUCK. Last year my daughter was asked to be on the Montel Williams show.(I got on there with her)OH MY GOSH for the couple days we were there we pigged out.Went to a pizza joint right around the corner where they put us in the hotel and thats where we stayed right in that pizza joint for lunch and dinner.I even forgot how great the garlic knots were.My daughter had to get garlic knots to bring back home they were so good.Think we both gained 50 pounds in the 2 days we were there.YUMMY it was all so good.Can't get a good Philly cheese steak here either.BOY do I miss the food.

deconstructables (author)2007-02-16

Good work brother! I'm glad to see the loosely woven, transnational network of pizza connoisseurs is finally coming into maturity, transcending the nationalism and bourgeois provincialism which has historically plagued it. Bad Pizza has long been globalized, now its time for good pizza to go the same route.

noahw (author)deconstructables2007-02-16

Is available? We need to unite. I wouldn't say that I obsessed with pizza by any means, its just must favorite food and I would like to be able to share my thoughts about in a safe place, eating good pizza, with other pizza lovers. Maybe a pizza shop speak easy of sorts? Or some kind of pizza club where we wear hats that resemble pies? I'm being serious here.

Derin (author)noahw2008-09-21 website ftw

deconstructables (author)noahw2007-02-16

Yes, solidarity is the key. Perhaps we can start by establishing some type of forum for the art and appreciation of pizza and pizza making. Maybe the Institute for the Pizza Arts (iParts) as a preliminary title. We will also need some type of highly visible, easily recognizable symbol pointing people to our organization. Clearly you have an eye for graphic design, do you have any ideas? Good slices for all!

noahw (author)deconstructables2007-02-16

I'm no pro - but I know someone who might be able to help. She isn't an instructables user, but I will print out our comments and get them to her. She is sort of a creative wizard. iParts! I love it. Lets keep it as a working title. Where are you located? Do we want to have a physical space for the Pizza Institute or should this be a digital community? At some point we will need to eat some real pizza, which leads me to believe that we will need a meeting space. Perhaps a giant oven we can congregate in?

dcscott125 (author)2008-08-22

For you people in northern Illinois, I know of a couple of places to get great (and I do mean GR8T!) pizza. In Freeport, check out Cimino's. Awesome, huge, pizza made there. In Savanna, Manny's is the place. I can't stop eating theirs. In Chicago, we got lucky and found Stefano's on Lawrence. Their specialty is stuffed pizza. We didn't know what to expect, so we ordered one stuffed and one traditional. Both were equally fantastic. I truly think it is the best I've ever had. Anytime in Chicago, check it out. And they told us they ship their pizza, too! Haven't tried that yet; I'm not too sure I'm into mail order pizza, but, I guess there is always a first time for everything....

Lokisgodhi (author)2008-05-17

I can sympathize. When I was out in school in Utah, the pizza sucked. But you don't have to go to the west coast for bad pizza. The pizza in New Jersey sucks too. See if you can find a place that makes San Francisco style pizza with sourdough crust. It's not New York style, but it's not bad either.

bddbbd.b (author)Lokisgodhi2008-06-04

I would have put money on bad pizza in Utah, but your claims about New Jersey's pies are outrageous and ill-informed. Try the Village Trattoria or Roman Gourmet in Maplewood. They got pies that can compete with New Haven's (which happens to have the most pizza-goodness per capita anywhere on this side of the globe.)

Lokisgodhi (author)bddbbd.b2008-06-05

I hope you're right. But every place I've ever tried has been horrible. I just don't understand it. It's not as if NJ is lacking Italians. The worst ever was Pizza Town USA, on US46 in Elmwood Park. Whoever made the pie ought to have been shot and hung up like Mussolini.

I Am An Evil Taco (author)2008-05-18

pizza shops use the pizza screens to regulate the temperature of the pie to cook the ingredients first without destroying the gluten of the pie. The pie always finishes on the stone. Screen work is a technique, what gets me is conveyor belt pizza. Dries everything out. eww. (native nyer fyi. I'm lucky to be in pittsburgh, directly between chicago and ny. We get the best of both worlds.

caitlinsdad (author)2008-05-13

Some of the best pies come out of a "dirty" oven. The accumulated burnt bits on the stone add to the flavor. Or is that coal dust from Tontonno's in Brooklyn?

cylver (author)2007-12-03

If you happen to be stuck in the saint louis area, and need a slice, check out Raccanelli's, in the loop, central west end, and kirkwood.

newyorkpizza (author)2007-09-14

in the past 3 years about 50-100 pizzeria have closed and there is an influx of large presence of the national chains i put together a website new york city restaurants and i am going to offer a free site to each pizzeria

seedlingproject (author)2007-09-07

NoahW you are absolutely too much!

aneel (author)2007-02-16

I know it misses the point of the Instructable, but give Arinell's a try. Valencia @ 16th over here in the West Bay. There's one on Shattuck in Berkeley too, but I haven't been to that one, so I can't vouch for it.

noahw (author)aneel2007-09-07

(6 months later...) I have only gotten a few slices from the one in Berkeley as it takes me about 35 minutes to drive there from my house in Oakland, but I absolutely can vouch for it. Every time I have gotten a slice it's been of good quality. I just wish I lived a bit closer to it so that I could go every day. It goes without saying that every time I am in SF I try to make a stop at Arinell's on Valencia. Thanks for the tips - you helped me find good pizza in the bay area! And finally, to give a recognition to another pizza place that I have been frequenting, anytime you are way up in Norhern California, stop by a place called Live From New York in Arcata, just 20 minutes north of Eureka on the coast. They have probably the third best NY pizza I have had out here so far. Who would expect it to be 5 hours north of the bay area though?

au79 (author)aneel2007-07-09

Hear, hear! I'll second that recommendation for Arinell's. And I also did not know about the Berkeley location, so I'll have to give it a try, since I also live in Oakland.

(Originally from Long Island)

noahw (author)aneel2007-02-16

To be fair I totally should have mentioned Arinell's in the instructable. I went there one night and it turned out to have some really good slices - certainly on par if not better than the average pizza shop in NY. They are small and simple, but they make a heck of a slice. This is really the only "slice" shop in the bay area that I have found that is able to make a solid NY pizza. I have had plenty of good fancy California style pizza, but the two types aren't interchangeable. I had no idea there was one in the east bay - I live in Oakland, so I will definitely go check them out and let you know how it is. Thanks!

fungus amungus (author)noahw2007-02-16

I've been recommended Cheeseboard in Oakland or Berkeley or whatever. But check out Pizzetta 211 out in the Richmond district in SF. Freakin' glorious.

zachninme (author)2007-08-25

I seriously don't know whats wrong with the non-east coast and pizza, why can't you guys figure it out?! My uncle has my grandma ship pizzas over every so often (its usually his b-day gift!) 20 or so at a time. They use the same styrofoam cooler, and its probably traveled farther than either one of them!

CHAFA (author)2007-07-29


williamC (author)2007-05-06

Add to your list . These guys send the whole pie intact in a pizza box (not 8 slices mushed together in a small box) then place it in a foam 20 x 20. Like getting a pizza delivery from your local NY pizza shop. awesome

noahw (author)2007-03-22

I just brought another three pies west from NY last weekend. I didn't have much time to let the pizza cool so I set them on some snow that we had from the big ice storm that hit the east coast. This time I even resold a pie to numberandom and turned a very small profit! Transcontinental pizza strikes again.

randofo (author)2007-02-26

I froze the pizza for a few days before I left and then packaged the slices with one of those blue freeze-packs and in a hot/cold bag that you can get at the supermarket for $3. It worked pretty well. I should have brought much more pizza.

randofo (author)2007-02-20

I've been inspired. Two Boots and Famous Original Rays of Greenwich Village will be heading west on Sunday.

noahw (author)randofo2007-02-20

Yes! The movement is growing! I had a delivery of two pies from Tony's Pizza in Williamsburg, Brooklyn that just came in last Friday from my sister who is visiting me and I couldn't be happier. I hope you enjoy your pizza transportation experience on Sunday. I will be making the trip from NY to SF in mid March... I don't know if I should even be saying this but, anyone want to place an order?

mrgibby (author)2007-02-18

i too have made an east to west journey. Not NYC, but cleveland area, i do genuinly believe it's something about water. I'm no geologist and cant explain why. I do agree that west coast pizza's arent on par w/ the east coast region.

LarrySDonald (author)2007-02-16

When I lived way out in the country with no easy access to pizza places, I would often ask my favorite place to make batches of non-baked pizzas - just everything they'd do anyway except the final step of baking it. They thought it was a bit nutty but obliged happily, after all I'm paying for them and it less hassle for them - after a few times they even cut me some deals on it since they could just crank out a batch and slap them in boxes at the point they'd normally throw it on the stone. I'd toss them in the freezer and then just thaw them and bake them the same way they would. I'm quite ok with the local pizza at this point, but it might be a viable option for transcontinental pizza as well.

jarv34 (author)2007-02-15

this instructable is making me hungry

trebuchet03 (author)2007-02-15

Now that's dedication :P If you're ever in the greater Orlando area... Right across the street from the University of Central Florida is a place called Lazy Moon. NY style with the novelty of being too big to fit through a regular door without tilting. They also have a lot of different beers (bottled and on tap) if you're in the mood for trying something new.

jeffreyf (author)2007-02-15

The graphics make this more awesome than I thought possible. Perhaps we can come up with some sort of pizza replicator. We can rebuild it. We have the technology.

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Bio: I've worked for Instructables off and on since 2006 building and documenting just about everything I enjoy doing. I am now the Creative Programs ... More »
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