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Hot Slice

May 16, 2017

Let’s not talk about the diet. Because if I was on a diet, I wouldn’t be popping into the newly expanded Spinners location in Crestwood Plaza for a slice while running errands. Every now and again I find myself down there, because I love getting prescriptions filled at an independent pharmacy.

I’ve been a fan of Crestwood Pharmacy since I moved to Albany almost ten years ago. Let that number sink in a bit. Ten years. In fact it was around this time, ten years ago, when I made my first ever trip to Albany in an attempt to search for a rental apartment.

Man, that was not fun.

The Capital Region today is a much different place. Heck, today there’s a celebration to to welcome ride-sharing to the 518 at Wolff’s Biergarten on Broadway. Back in 2007 there was barely anyone even Yelping out here, Matt Baumgartner only had one Bombers, and Miss Albany Diner was the reason one would trek all the way out to the warehouse district.

What’s up with this walk down memory lane? Well, it has a little something to do with pizza.

Surely, I’ve written about this subject before, sometime in the past eight years. Anyhow, after yesterday’s experience at Spinners I felt the need to reiterate something that everyone should know. And maybe, for some pizza snobs out there, it’s a little controversial. However, it shouldn’t be.

I’m pretty open minded when it comes to pizza. But i have my preferences.

In my heart of hearts I’m a New York style guy, and I prefer slices over pies. The way to my heart is with a gorgeous slice of cheese pizza, with crust bubbles, well-caramelized cheese, and a crisp bottom. The perfect slice is super thin, but thick enough so that in the very center, there’s a magical layer where the crust, sauce, and cheese all combine into one seamless substance.

The best way to enjoy this of course, is hot out of the oven. Ideally standing up. I don’t like to eat and walk, but your slice should be transportable if you’re on the go. And a big part of this is the classic fold.

Folding a hot slice relies on the bottom crust to be super crispy. Now, perhaps it’s possible to achieve this when it’s hot out of the oven. But in my experience, a slice absolutely needs that second pass in the oven to achieve true NY-style greatness.

Which is why it is absolutely critical when you order a slice that it’s put back in the oven.

Yesterday, at Spinners I was told that the cheese pie had just come out of the oven and was still hot. The question was, would I still like the slice heated up?

You better believe it.

Really, I shouldn’t take the question as an insult. But it’s hard. Presumably, there are people out there who are in a rush, and really just want a warm piece of pizza. Right. I mean, there are folks who drink their lattes through the holes in plastic lids. And, you know, Dunkin’ Donuts is still in business. So there are clearly people who don’t mind weirdly salty and artificial tasting donuts.

It takes all kinds.

But I expect you to know better. And sometimes it can be hard when asked if you want a counter clerk to take an extra step, when they don’t think it’s required, to stick to your guns.

Just remember that pizza is awful for you. It’s a cheese-drenched food that’s built on refined carbohydrates, and often times topped with fatty meats. Beyond the sheer pleasure of the thing, I can’t think of a redeeming nutritional benefit to the dish. I guess there’s some protein and calcium in the cheese.

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The point is, don’t settle for anything less than pure joy. Follow your bliss. A hot slice is not the same thing as a slice that’s properly crisped on the bottom. That feature fades insanely quickly as the bottom crust steams on the pan.

So don’t be shy. Demand a reheating. Even if the pizza is already hot.

Just remember, even if you do, it’s not a guarantee that the bottom crust will crisp up. Ultimately, that depends upon the skill of the person manning the oven. And yesterday at Spinners that person didn’t have her head in the game.

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A lackluster slice of pizza is kind of like a mediocre donut. On some level it feels like a loss to take the hit of fat and calories without getting those cascading waves of comfort. That said, a mediocre slice beats a bowl of quinoa pretty much any day of the week.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. -R. permalink
    May 16, 2017 9:54 am

    The last time I went to Spinners, I wasn’t aware that they had moved. I walked in, checked out the place, got my pie to go and told the girl working at the counter, “I like the new digs”. She gave me a look like she had no idea what the euphemism ‘digs’ meant. I’m getting old.

  2. May 16, 2017 10:55 am

    …”and Miss Albany Diner was the reason one would trek all the way out to the warehouse district.”

    You forgot everyone’s favorite former Eurotrash bar, Noche (which occupied Wolff’s space before it was Wolff’s).

  3. Randy K permalink
    May 16, 2017 1:12 pm


  4. May 17, 2017 12:44 am

    I agree with you that the reheat completely changes the slice. I think it drives off some moisture. In my opinion, there are a few places locally where the fresh pizza is noticeably worse than getting a reheated slice. Might be interesting to try a fresh out of the oven slice that is reheated next to a slice that had cooled to room temperature before being reheated and see if there is a difference between the two. You know, for science.

  5. May 17, 2017 10:03 pm

    YES, YES, YES..”Follow your bliss”..
    This post sounds like words right from my mouth..(only better of course)
    (It’s actually a post idea I’ve had in my queue for awhile.)

    Not every pizza is a good “slice-pie” but when you find a good one, it’s a wonderful thing.
    The re-heat is key to most good “slice-pies”.
    Marisa’s Place is a great example of a great “slice-pie”.

    I’ve been faced with the same problem of a fresh pie, the server treats it like a good thing- I see it as very unfortunate timing.
    I often wonder if ideally the pie needs to cool, before the re-heat. I’ve forced the re-heat of a fresh pie before, it’s rarely successful.

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