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.