Tag Archives: pizza pie

Razza

A wild hybrid that marries the best of both classic Neapolitan pizza and old school NYC/Brooklyn pizza, Razza in Jersey City is the kind of place where you just can’t stop eating.

The dough is bubble-charred, puffy and light, like Neapolitan pizza. But the formal requirements of noted Neapolitan rigor are quickly dispensed with and cast aside (San Marzano tomatoes, wheat flour, bufala mozz, etc).

Instead, chef/owner Dan Richer, who has been honing his pizza skills for 15 years, pulls ingredients from high quality local produce purveyors and makes a great deal of his own shit right there on site. “I’m not even close to being done,” he says of perfecting his craft.

If this is only the rising action in the first act, then I can’t wait for the denouement.

The tomatoes are bright, and left largely unadulterated. The cheese is fresh, smooth and creamy. The dough is airy yet crisp from crust to point, showing some backbone on the bottom: Like it’s New York neighbor, it doesn’t flop in the center. This magically allows the toppings to seem as if they’re suspended atop a pillow of edible air.

The crust also takes on a unique grey coloring from being allowed to cook a bit longer at a slightly cooler wood oven temperature than its motherland-cousin from Naples.

Neapolitan pies get real hot real fast. This allows a yeasty aroma to linger in the resulting khaki-colored, leopard-spotted crust, retaining a somewhat more chewy and more dense texture. Could that be called medium rare dough? Perhaps. Anyway the difference here may be slight in execution, but it is noticeable in appearance and flavor.

There’s also none of that soupy sauce or pooled melted cheese that can sometimes weigh heavy both in the center of a Neapolitan pie and in your belly after you eat it. To the contrary I felt light even after eating an entire pie’s worth of pizza all by myself. I could’ve easily had two more, but there was a steak dinner to be had nearby at Liberty Prime. I had to conserve stomach space.

In any case three of us each ate a third of three pies (two slices of each, each). We started with the Margherita, had a mid course of Fungi, and then a dessert of Burrata. I’m hard pressed to choose a favorite among these, but I think that last one left me floating. That deliciously silky burrata with tomato, olive oil and sliced garlic…

I’m fairly certain this is my new favorite pizza joint, possibly squeaking just ahead of the Coney Island stronghold Totonno’s. You really need to get over here to try this shit. But if my words and images don’t convince you to make the trip out here for this pizza, maybe Phil Rosenthal will. It was featured on  the Netflix show “Somebody Feed Phil.”

Check it out:

RAZZA
275 Grove Street
Jersey City, NJ 07302

Scarr’s

This category two pizza joint (individual slices available) on the lower east side has gotten some big hype for being a great spot. I was in the area for dinner, so I had to check it out and grab a slice for dessert.

Most people clamor for the pepperoni slice – probably after seeing ‘roni cups on Instagram – but I’m more of a traditional guy. So traditional, in fact, that I generally prefer the Margherita style slice to the plain slice. This consists of fresh mozzarella, tomato sauce and basil.

This was a great slice. The sauce was bright, sweet yet savory, and nicely seasoned. The cheese was delicious and evenly melted. The basil was fresh (just roasted). The crust was puffy and light, while also being crisp and stiff enough to fold. A winner all around. The only down side was the $4.25 price tag for a single slice.

SCARR’S
22 Orchard St
New York, NY 10002

Lou Malnati’s

This is one of the most famous deep dish Chicago pizza joints. There is contention over which is the best between Pequod’s, Giordano’s and Lou Malnati’s. We decided to hit this place because I just heard more positive things about it.

We went with the Malnati’s classic, which has tomato, sausage and mozzarella in it. But I also added pepperoni and black olives for good measure.

As you can see, it’s pretty thick, and generally one needs a fork and knife to eat it, unlike NYC style pizza (unless you’re an asshole like the Mayor).

I really did like it. It’s a bit heavy, but tasty as hell. However, I always say this: Chicago has the best hot dogs, but NYC has the best pizza. I hesitate to even call this pizza, as Chicago style is literally a pie. A tomato pie with a butter crust, cheese inside and other stuff. A lawyer’s argument would be that Chicago pizza is not actually pizza at all. It’s a savory pie.

LOU MALNATI’S
439 N Wells St
Chicago, IL 60654

San Matteo Pizza

San Matteo is a Neapolitan style pizzeria and restaurant on the Upper East Side. Neapolitan style pizza is characterized by a puffy and doughy crust with, generally, pure and simple ingredients on top. See below:

This style of pizza isn’t crispy with a crunchy bottom like NYC style pizza, but I assure you that it’s still awesome. That was the Margherita Regina pie, $18. They have daily special pies too, like this pesto and spicy coppa pie.

Their meat and cheese boards are pretty incredible too:

After eating this delicious stuff, I was surprised that I had room for dessert: profiteroles.

UPDATE 6/2/18

On a second visit, I came in to test a new burger that the owner Fabio was formulating for a competition (Burger Bash). The thing was amazing. Piedmontese beef in a 70/30 lean/fat ratio, topped with Blue Moon beer caramelized onions, radicchio, and lots of gooey and funky taleggio cheese. It was all housed in a freshly baked ciabatta bun, right from the pizza oven.

We also enjoyed numerous Aperol spritzes at the bar.

Some salumi:

An incredible porchetta and arugula sandwich:

Eggplant parm:

The meat you get in the pork chop Milanese, which is one of the best I’ve had, is raised on chef/owner Fabio’s farm.

And of course more pizza:

This one had guanciale on it:

Fabio even made us a nice risotto dish with fresh porcini mushrooms, mixed up right in a cheese wheel:

I really love this place – such amazing Italian food.

They serve up some great LaFrieda steaks too.

And my favorite arancini rice ball of all time.

SAN MATTEO PIZZERIA E CUCINA
1559 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10028