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From Pizza to Pizza

July 19, 2019

So much has happened this week. We’ve got roofers lined up, found someone to replace the garage door, brought the remaining car into the shop to be rebuilt, finalized arrangements with the moving company who will pack up the house, found movers to help us unload in Michigan, joined a reform congregation in Ann Arbor, and signed the kids up for religious school.

Somehow, amidst all the chaos, I went over to Jon in Albany’s house for one last pizza feast.

There’s some good pizza to be found in the Capital Region. I know because I’ve judged a lot of them with Jon in All Over Albany’s Tournament of Pizza. Plus, pizza is one of my favorite foods, and I’ve eaten it extensively around the region. Nothing I’ve had locally beats what Jon is able to crank out these days using the wood fired pizza oven he built from scratch.

Jon’s neighbors are really lucky. As are his friends. And it was incredibly kind for him to invite me over for one last round of pies. It’s good to leave with a taste of what you will miss most on your lips.

I’m told there’s good pizza out in Michigan, but it won’t be the same.

Look, I’m no pizza snob. I am one of the few New Yorkers who considers Chicago stuffed deep dish pies to be pizza. Maybe not all pizza is beautiful, but my appreciation of the form runs deep to all kinds of styles. Trenton tomato pie is fantastic. New Haven coal fired has become a favorite. The tavern style pies of the Capital Region have grown on me over the years as well.

I may need a little more convincing that the double crusted white pizza from Old Forge, Pennsylvania is actually pizza. But whatever you want to call it, the cuts from Salerno’s and Arcaro & Genell’s are delicious.

Detroit style pizza awaits. It’s one I’ve heard a lot about, but it’s one I’ve never tried.

Thankfully, Jon is active in the pizza forums. And as such he turned me on to Bianco’s pizza in Phoenix, where I tried my new favorite pie the Rosa. But before I tasted the original in Arizona, I sampled Jon’s version of this pizza at a tasting years before inside his garage.

Needless to say, I have a lot of faith in his recommendations. Jon has pointed me to Buddy’s, Loui’s, and Cloverleaf. There is a Buddy’s in Ann Arbor proper, but I hear it’s just not the same. I plan to put that to the test.

The thing about Detroit style pizza is that it’s missing my favorite part of the pie, the yeasty, crisp, and tender end crust. These pizzas are made in a pan, and they are famous for letting the cheese drip over the sides to caramelize into a deep brown, caramelized, delicious cheese cracker coating. But that means no end crust to speak of.

Tradeoffs. It’s all about tradeoffs.
Well, tradeoffs and expectations.

One should not expect to be able to find great New York Style slices in a state on the far side of our time zone. That’s not to say it’s impossible to pull off. But it is unlikely I’ll find something to quite satisfy the same craving.

And it’s pure folly to try and hold the food of a new region up to the same standards of the place where you just left. This was the trap I fell into when I first arrived in the Capital Region. I was looking for the good food, as I conceived of it from my experience in Northern California.

It took me years to try and find what was good in the Capital Region.

Hopefully, this is a lesson I won’t have to learn a second time. Most likely I’ll do myself a favor and simply stay away from wings, New York Style pizza slices, and mozzarella sticks for a year or so. At least I’ve already got a leg up on one of the regional specialties. Others will reveal themselves in time.

But for those of you I leave behind, don’t forget to pop into DeFazio’s, Marissa’s Place, Marino’s, Navona, and Pizza King from time to time. And when you’re there, maybe you can glance westward and send me some good New York pizza mojo from this strange place that somehow—unexpectedly—became my home.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. llcwine permalink
    July 19, 2019 12:29 pm

    Given the fact that Ann Arbor is such a “college town” with so many students from NY metropolitan area…you may in fact find some decent NY style Pizza. I would scope out to see if they have their version of a Metroland or All over Albany or some sort of student press…and see what they list out.

  2. Brian s permalink
    July 20, 2019 10:11 am

    No love for Caputos NYC pizza? Sad.

  3. July 20, 2019 6:28 pm

    Doing a quick Yelp search I see several Ann Arbor places that appear to be making decent pizza. I see more than a few Neapolitan and wood fired places. And of course there’s Buddy’s, and other Detroit style places, which if are anything like what I had at Emmy Squared in NY (and it’s likely better) you’ll be hooked.

    I’d start with the more modern pizzerias and Detroit style before venturing into the old school places. I expect they’re producing thick, heavy cheese and topping forward pies, which in my opinion just aren’t that great.

    Having just gotten back from NY, and having eaten at eight of the better pizzerias there (only one of which was NY style) I really think the world has moved on. There’s so much great pizza out there that’s not NY style, and it’s not where the innovation and creativity lies, and that’s true even in NY. None of the new guard of highly lauded and loved pizzerias in NY are making NY style.

  4. albanylandlord permalink
    July 22, 2019 5:34 pm

    Wow, thats a great looking Pizza.


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