Photos by Molly Yeh
I am the child of two very strong pizza traditions. A pizza mutt, if you will. Growing up outside of Chicago, pizza night meant ordering delivery of my beloved deep dish. When I lived in New York, pizza night meant a greasy folded slice at the little old place where the nice owner knew me by name or a Neapolitan pie at any one of New York’s countless exceptional pizzerias. Needless to say, my pizza upbringing spoiled me completely.
Pizza night in my new tiny town is… a sensitive subject.
I have tried to embrace the town pizza parlor, and I’ve even tried to get into the Domino’s culture (if that’s even a thing?), but neither of them cut it for my admittedly snobby pizza tastes and I’ve basically come to terms with the fact that until a friend in Brooklyn sends me a frozen Roberta’s pie, or until I build a pizza oven on the farmstead, my pizza nights will have to take on an entirely new identity.
Which is fine.
I don’t get jealous when all of my New York friends Instagram their amazing chewy doughy pizzas. (Yes I do.)
Traveling in Israel as a vegetarian was tough — I can only imagine what it must be like for vegans. (I’m imagining an endless diet of falafel and salad). Thankfully, a bit of relief came earlier this week.
International pizza giant Domino’s announced its first ever vegan pizza — offered at its Israeli outlets.
The decision marks a major win for a popular Facebook campaign launched by Vegan Friendly, which promotes a vegan lifestyle in Israel. The group has more than 37,000 followers on Facebook. The new menu item uses a soy-based substitute to replicate the taste of cheese, and also offers vegetable toppings. Sadly, no word yet whether the fake cheese has that signature stringy pull.
The Israeli chain will be the first of the global food giant to offer a dairy-free pizza option. The decision comes as the dietary choice, practically unheard of a few decades ago, has grown increasingly popular in Israel and globally over the past few years. Still, non-dairy substitutes are rare in the holy land, especially outside of Tel Aviv.
“We’ve notified Domino’s Pizza’s world headquarters and they’re very pleased, Yossi Elbaz, CEO of the Israeli franchise, told Haaretz. “They’re waiting to see the results.”
If you live in Israel, you can get your vegan pie for 69.90 shekels, or $19.91 — just don’t expect it to be kosher. The Israeli franchises don’t carry a heksher.
To say that New York City is the place to eat pizza is like saying New Orleans is the place to celebrate Mardi Gras — it simply goes without saying. But the pie that made New York famous for isn’t what it once was. Pizza lovers and pizzaioli (the men who make pizza) have moved away from the single slice and towards artisan interpretations that are served by the pie — as any good Italian would tell you they should be. These stellar pizzas are made with Caputo flour, baked in ovens schlepped over from Italy and topped with house-made mozzarella.
Kosher pizza lovers have sadly been left out of this almost entirely. Sure there’s good kosher pizza. But authentic Neapolitan kosher pizza? Sorry, but it just doesn’t exist. Hopefully, that will change on Monday with the opening of Pizza Da Solo, the newest restaurant in the Prime Empire. The tiny midtown takeout shop will be headed up by master pizzaioli Giulio Adriani. The owner and chef of noted pizzeria spot Forcella, Adriani started his career at 13 in Naples and has gone on to be certified as a Neapolitan Pizza Master by two Italian culinary associations.
The pies at Pizza Da Solo will be made in traditional Neapolitan style, meaning the dough will be flash-fried, topped and then finished in an 1000 degree wood burning oven from Naples. (The shop’s pizza makers spent a year working under Adriani at Forcella to learn the technique.) The 10-inch personal pies will come in traditional interpretations like the Margherita and modern takes like breakfast pizzas — think egg topped pies and one with smoked salmon — as well as dessert pizzas spread with Nutella a la Max Brenner.
But how did my family get so lucky that we are able to avoid this (great?) American pastime? And what will we be doing if not carving a twenty-pound bird and screaming at each other?
For as long as I have been conscious of Thanksgiving, my family has been making turkey-shaped pizza on the fourth Thursday of November. Apparently, there were some in my family who did not love the taste of turkey. So rather than deny the iconic status of this New World bird, my mother decided that a pizza created in its image would suffice (and ensure that her children could relate to American culture).
While a number of Jewish foods — the deli sandwich, matzo ball soup and even challah French toast — have woven their way into menu of modern American cuisine, Jews have no real claim to perhaps the most popular and beloved food in America, pizza. Yet it’s a staple of the American Jewish diet. In smaller Jewish communities with few kosher restaurants, pizza is often one of the few foods kashrut-observant families can enjoy outside of their home.
Pizza of course has its roots in Italy. But, there are also countless of other iterations around the globe. The formula: flatbread + toppings + heat = delicious dinner, is readily adaptable. Turkish cuisine, for example, has two traditional variations, lahmacun which is made with spiced lamb and tomatoes and pide which is formed into a long tipped oval and topped with a mixture of tomatoes, lamb and eggs. Other cuisines have invented pizza-like dishes in recent years. “Maybe it’s just another unpredictable result of globalization, but previously pizza-less countries have developed their own distinct creations,” Mike Clements explains in the LA Times.