New York Pizza in California

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Introduction: New York Pizza in California

About: 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 founder and manager for Autodesk and just finished building o...

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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    39 Comments

    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-.

    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

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

    2 replies

    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.

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

    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 :)

    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.

    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.

    4 replies

    Is www.transnationalnetworkofpizzaconnoisseurs.com 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.

    mmm.free website ftw

    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!

    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?

    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....

    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.

    2 replies

    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.)

    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.

    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.

    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?

    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.

    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