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Cutting round pizza into squares

  • r

A guy at work says that he has only seen pizza places in central CT cut their round pizza's into squares... and wants to know if this is a yankee thing, or how did it come about. Besides CT, does anyone else do it that way? Etc.


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  1. there is a greek pizza place in north reading ma that cuts their pizza that way. but now that you mention it, this is the only place i have seen do that

    1 Reply
    1. re: macca

      I think it's a Greek-pizza thing too. Shameless and well-deserved plug: Greek-owned Post Corner Pizza in Darien, Conn., on Route 1, does this, and their pizza is something I'm happy to battle I-95 traffic for, since I don't live nearby anymore.

    2. It's not uncommon to see square slices in St. Louis.

      1. It's also done in St Louis.

        1. There's a place in Milwaukee, called Zaffiro's, that cuts its round pie into squares (see photo).

          -- Paul

          Link: http://www.airwaysdigital.com/nicegra...

          Image: http://www.sptsb.com/MilwZaffiro.jpg

          1. Regular pizza (as opposed to deep dish) is almost always cut in squares in the Chicago area.

            1. Have also seen it in Chicago, and in "Chicago style" places in Florida.

              1. Most pizza in the Twin Cities (St. Paul/Mpls) is cut into squares except for places like Pizza Hut, Domino's and Papa John's.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Sven

                  Yes...very common here in Minnesota. It's a thin crust phenomenon. I've never understood it and I've never liked it.

                2. Seems to me that you would never do this if you sell slices--they would all be different sizes. I don't even think it really works for a group party. What happens when everyone wants the same two best slices? Would've been WWIII in my house growing up.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: lucia

                    I like squares because one can avoid the edges. It's a very rare pizza crust that has has "edges" that I like. With a slice there's always an edge. An inner square is just crust and topping.

                    1. re: Pat Hammond

                      The square cut is best for very, very thin crust (as with a St. Louis style pizza). A regular wedge cut would be sloppy, particularly in the middle of the pizza where the toppings just slide off. With the square cut, you get a more manageable piece of pizza and avoid flaccidity.

                      Square cut pizzas are never sold by the slice.

                      1. re: Pat Hammond

                        Pat: Are you referring to the outer crust when you say "edges"? If so, I have to go on record saying that the only reason I eat thin-crust pizza is to have the outer crust ... especially when it turns dark brown or has bubbles that have burned. Yummm.

                    2. House of Pizza, San Jose, CA.

                      And, I remember getting deep dish, Chicago style cut in squares some where else in the area.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Alan408

                        Even the "Yankee" pizza places in Texas don't cut it round.

                        I have seen it done here with giant square party pizzas.

                      2. When I growing up, the only italian restaurant in our small Massachusetts town ( maybe the only restaurant at all ) sold their round pizza cut in squares. It wasn't until I was in High School and a 'pizza joint' opened that I saw it cut another way.

                        1. Madame K's in Seattle cuts theirs in squares, but in a lot of ways it's like that grand old CT pizza anyway, so they may just be taking their cues from how Sally's and Pepe's do it.

                          1. Here is Southern California we have a place called Pizza Cookery that normally cuts their pizza into squares. If you want it in triangles you must specify "pie cut." And, on the not so rare occasions that they forget, you get the square pizza free together with your pie cut one (that you pay for).

                            1. f
                              Frosty Melon (was Chowderhead)

                              I grew up on square pizza pieces in the Chicago area.

                              I've never seen any square pizza pieces in San Francisco during the past 7+ years.

                              1. I've seen it done that way in Indiana, but not always.

                                1. It's not a "Yankee" thing, but just a choice. By cutting a round pizza into squares, you can get a variety of sizes for different appetites and some cuts without the crust (again, some people's preference). How often have you wanted just a few more bites and not a while slice? Cut in squares, people are even more comfortable to cut a small square they might really want from the square on the plate. Funny, huh.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: kc girl

                                    But some places clearly favor the square cut. Growing up in St. Louis, the only time I saw pizza cut in pie slices was when I spent the summers in Chicago and got deep-dish.

                                  2. Ineresting...I live in the Detroit area, home to HQs of Domino's and Little Caesar. I have never in my life seen an Italian restaurant, these chain pizzerias or local pizza places cut in squares. Only time I have has been, I think if somebody wanted to serve it at a potluck as an appetizer. Interesting phenom..thanks for the question..

                                    1. Here's my east-coast-to-midwest pizza experience.

                                      I'm very surprised to hear that a place in CT cuts their pizza this way.

                                      I am from New Jersey, where the pizza isn't "New York Style" or "thin crust".... it's just pizza. If you say to your friends "Let's go out for pizza", you never, ever, ever, EVER mean Pizza Hut, Domino's, Little Caesar's, etc. (in New Jersey, "Let's go out for Pizza Hut" is TOTALLY different than "Let's go out for pizza") When we go out for pizza, it's always the local neighborhood Italian family owned pizza joint, of which there is at least one in every strip mall, invariably called something like "Tony's" or "Antonios" or "Attilios". Pizza in NY/NJ is something of a sacred art. No matter where you go, it's the same general style (i.e. these local, family owned pizzerias never serve "chicago style" pizza... in NY/NJ, pizza is pizza-- thin crust with a crunchy bottom but squishy top, light sauce and cheese, with a puffy, chewy edged crust-- sometimes with a big dough bubble that has baked in. I found that the pizza I grew up on was very much like the margherita pizzas you find at regular pizza joints in Italy (which makes sense because pizza was born from Italian immigrants in NY City before being exported to other cities in the US). In my experience, pizza is not a "to go" food like it is here. If you order a pizza in Italy, the pies are usually served unsliced, are for one person, and eaten with a knife and fork. Since everything in America tends to be bigger than our European counterparts, the idea of eating a 22" pie with a knife and fork is a little silly... mix in the New Yorker's penchant for eating "on the go" (while running to catch a train!) and that lends itself to the "slice" phenomenon. I cannot imagine ever, ever finding a real pizza pie in new york cut into squares. It just goes straight against the fabric of pizza in new york city.

                                      So, having grown up with such a strong pizza identity, you can imagine how shocked I was when I went to school in Missouri and saw what the midwestern heathens had done to the sacred pie! The simple, elegant cheese pizza was virtually nowhere to be found, replaced by monsters... unspeakable piles of food piled on top. A casserole on a crust! If I suggested a plain cheese pizza, my friends would look at me like I was crazy-- as if I was ordering a sandwich with mayo and no fillings. They also were confused by basic New York pizza terminology like "pie" (one time I slipped up and the counter person told me "you mean strawberry?") And St. Louis style pizza is the most bizarre combination of "provel" (no, not provelone... "provel"... nobody could tell me if it was the same cheese) and... cheddar! Oy! All layered atop the "st. louis thin crust", which has the texture of a saltine cracker, and is, of course, cut into squares. Be very careful when you're in St. Louis and order a "thin crust" pizza, my friends. It's not what you think! (unless you're from St. Louis I suppose!)

                                      Of course I'm sure this all sounds very much elitist. But when you come from a place where the pizza is so uniform, so good, and so universally found, it's hard to see outside the pizza box so to speak. I might enjoy St. Louis style pizza if someone presented it to me as an appetizer at a party... maybe a "saltine crostini au fromage"... as long as it wasn't presented as pizza, I might be okay with it :-)

                                      Mr. Taster

                                      Link: http://www.imospizza.com

                                      13 Replies
                                      1. re: Mr. Taster

                                        well they serve sicilian squares everywhere around nyc. but i guess because that is baked on a sheet that does not count. anyway do not knock this dayton/st louis pizza thing until you've tried it. it's fantastic. its fun too.

                                        you remind me of a co-worker of mine who was born in dr. we dont like pb&j she says. i say, no ma, its you who dont like pb&j because you did not grow up eating it--your kids love it! haha!

                                        1. re: mrnyc

                                          I meant to opine about sicilian pizza but got a bunch of work dumped on my and had to post early :-)

                                          Mr. Taster

                                        2. re: Mr. Taster

                                          I have to laugh. I grew up on Long Island and my idea of pizza was the same as yours.

                                          I also went to school in St Louis in the mid 70s...first week, I was taken to Imo's..you describe it well..cracker crust, provolone, cut in squares...I was shocked..interesting, but not pizza..:) Over time, I grew to enjoy it.

                                          Did you ever try Talayna's? They had regular St Louis style, NY style (which wasn't) and Chicago style.

                                          1. re: 9lives

                                            Good to know I'm not alone :-)

                                            I don't know anyone who grew up in that area who could think of anything other that real neighborhood pizzeria pizza as honest-to-god pizza. But for those elsewhere in the country, this is simply not their reality

                                            I had heard of Talayna's, but never went there.

                                            You know, all this taste about St. Louis pizza has made me curious to taste it again, if only to refresh my memory.

                                            Mr. Taster

                                            1. re: Mr. Taster

                                              I was back a few years ago...really enjoyed it..but it's not pizza..:)

                                              love the fried ravioli..have never seen them before or since.

                                              1. re: 9lives

                                                Oh yeah, deep fried ravioli. Doesn't sound like it should taste good, but it does. They used to serve that at the university dining halls every other day. Between the fried ravioli and baked potato bars, I'm amazed I'm not 300 lbs now.

                                                Mr. Taster

                                          2. re: Mr. Taster

                                            I'm assuming the place that the OP was referring to in CT that cuts their pies into squares is Sally's or Pepi's, easily the best pizza I've eaten in my life, and I spent 6 years in NY and am very familiar with the NY pizza scene, which, I concur, is universally very, very good, but the New Haven pie is a different animal -- it's coal oven cooked, very thin crust and lightly topped with high quality ingredients, and served in almost an oblong shape that is cut in irregular squares or slices. Heaven!

                                            Have no idea how the practice of cutting round pies into squares emerged, but the cutting of a New Haven-style pie in a shape other than a wedge actually makes sense, because of the shape of the overall pie.

                                            1. re: DanaB

                                              While Sally's and Pepe's do cut their pizza that way, they are far from the only ones. Most of the places I remember in New Haven (Modern, Bar, etc) that called themselves "Something Apizza" did. I always assumed it was the CT style.

                                            2. re: Mr. Taster

                                              In my 18 years of living in STL, I never saw cheddar on pizza. Provel was prevalent at Imos. Mozzerella was the most common at small neighborhood joints. Toppings were very, very minimal.

                                              1. re: butterfly

                                                Since St. Louis has a big Italian population, I always wondered how in the world st. louis style pizza morphed from NY/Italian style to it's current incarnation.

                                                Case in point: Provel!

                                                PROVEL CHEESE is a popular white cheese that is very popular in St. Louis, Missouri. It is made of a composite of cheeses, including cheddar and swiss. Provel cheese is very soft with a gooey and almost buttery texture. Provel's low meling point makes it the key ingredient in St. Louis style pizza, most notably Imo's Pizza. it is also common on salads and on chicken. While very popular in the St. Louis area, Provel cheese is almost unheard of elsewhere.

                                                Mr. Taster

                                                Link: http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary...

                                              2. re: Mr. Taster

                                                Ah... I agree. Having grown up in NJ with a dad who owned a pizzeria, the only squares I ever saw were Sicilian pies. These, of course, were completely different from regular pies as they bake in a pan and are rectangular.

                                                I remember when some national chain was first advertising "deep dish" pizza, my dad got very confusing and asked if he hadn't been making that all along -- the Sicilian.

                                                Living in the DC area now, I don't know what I'd do for a really great, local pizzeria. I have my mom bring me whole pies when she visits: one to eat and one to freeze.

                                                BTW, down here, I rarely see meatballs as a topping choice and sausage is served crumbled, not sliced. Heresy.

                                                1. re: T in DC

                                                  I should also add that I have gotten strange looks (outside NJ/NY) for folding my slice in half and eating it with my hands. I can only use a knife and fork for non-NY style, deep dish concoctions. Perhaps, like Mr. Grub above, I will have to start calling these "pizza-like."

                                                  1. re: T in DC

                                                    In Chicago, deep dish pies don't have thick crust, contrary to popular misconception. They look like they must, given that they are often three or four inches thick. But the crust, flat and flaky and often with cornmeal added is no thicker than many East Coast slices. That's not bread in there, it's cheese and sausage. Deep dish is for tourists, staff lunches, Super Bowls, etc. They don't eat it every day here. It's not like a NY slice or a hot dog. For god's sake, it was invented by a non-Italian and it's place of origin is in the center of the most touristy area of the city. That said, it has its charms. It's "authentic" to Chicago.

                                                    We also have thick, lightly dressed Sicilian sheet pies, foccacia, schiacciata, sfincione, whatever you want to call it. Truth be told, this is the pizza that's best in Chicago, though few know about it since it exists only in a handful of very old-school Sicilian bakeries around town. For starters, try the ancient D'Amato's on Grand whose coal oven churns out great pizza and bread. Next door is the Barese (obviously) Bari market, where that bread is turned into fantastic sandwiches.

                                                    But for the thin stuff, you surely want a neighborhood tavern. I have a love-hate relationship with D'Agostino's near Wrigley on Southport and Addison. It looks the part, with a dark smoky bar featuring 70's NFL half-helmets and mind-bending 70's beer signs, and the thin crust is exemplary. But much of what's on the vast menu is terrible. This is a holdout from the days when Bleacher Bums were truly unemployed slackers and Lakeview was a very tough neighborhood. Just look at the place in the attached link. I mention it here because it's in an "easy" neighborhood to reach and walk; also cheap Guiness. BTW, the link is to Sean Parnell's Bar Project, one of the most amazing and long-running internet gifts to gastronomy (along with present company). All you ever wanted to know about Chicago taverns is there, and that's a lot.

                                                    Link: http://www.chicagobarproject.com/Revi...

                                              3. that is known as dayton style pizza. thin crust, sauce and toppings out to the edges, cvut into tiny squares. great for little kids. many area places make it, including local chains like MARIONS and CASANOS. it's good and fun once in awhile, a style all its own. so hardly only central conn, it's in ohio too. at least since the 1950'sa anyway. in fact that style is much more prominent in the dayton/cinci region than in conn.

                                                Image: http://i-dealcreations.com/marions/im...

                                                1. I grew up in Seattle and never encountered the square cut until I went to Carleton College in Northfield, MN.

                                                  Northfield is not what I'd call an epicenter of good food, but there were a couple of great Greek pizza joints in town--Basil's and Bill's, owned by a pair of brothers. Don't ask me how a town of 10,000 ends up with two Greek pizza places within a half-mile of each other.

                                                  Well, okay, you can ask. There were apocryphal stories that Bill had started Bill's and then gone off to war in Vietnam, leaving Basil to run Bill's. When he came back, Basil didn't want to give up the restaurant, so Bill started a restaurant called Basil's. Or perhaps it was Basil that had gone off to 'Nam...like I said, these are apocryphal stories that may well be crap.

                                                  Anyway, back to the topic--oth places served a gyros pizza that came with little cups of tzatziki sauce for dipping the pizza in. Sounds kind of disgusting (dipping pizza with meat and cheese into yogurt sauce, with fat dripping everywhere) but it really was great stuff.

                                                  The square cut made it so you could dip a slice into the little cups more easily (the slices were only about an inch across), so it served a purpose in this case. I don't remember if they served more typical pizzas like pepperoni with a square cut or not. I suspect that they did their thin crust pizzas square, and their deep-dish with a pie cut.

                                                  1. Thank god I read this post before I went out west. I know I HATE Chicago type pizza, but if I saw thin crust pizza on a menu and got it cut in squares, I would freak out. Sorry, I grew up in the Bronx, there's only one kind of pizza to me.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: coll

                                                      Out west is safe. I've lived in Seattle, SF, LA, and Portland and never encountered a square cut pizza in any of these places.

                                                      Mid west is not. The square cut I've seen is in St. Louis. I was glad to read that the weird cheesefood on the Imo's pizza was not provelone.

                                                    2. Chicago thin crust pizza is almost always cut in squares. My understanding of the reason for this is that pizza was first served in Chicago in taverns, and the small square pieces fit easily on a cocktail napkin. Unlike effete Easterners, who considered a slice of pizza to be a meal, robust and manly Chicagoans considered pizza to be a snack, to be accompanied by the swilling of beer. (I joke, I joke--As a lifelong Chicagoan I freely admit I like east coast pizza a lot more than I like Chicago thin or deep dish.)

                                                      18 Replies
                                                      1. re: john m

                                                        Since I've never been to Chicago, I'm curious-- what kind of places do you find real Chicago pizza?

                                                        What I mean specifically is this-- is Chicago pizza overwhelmingly made in Italian family run pizza joints like in New York/New Jersey? (When I was growing up in the 80's, we probably have 40 family run joints for each pizza hut/domino's, etc... now that ratio is probably a lot lower)

                                                        As you said, in NY pizzerias aren't considered "bar food"... the only place you get pizza is at a pizzeria, usually with at least one guysat the counter wearing a thin gold chain and an A-shirt. People in NY would never dream of ordering pizza with their cocktails... they would leave the bar and walk a few doors down to the real pizzeria down the block!

                                                        What is the quintessential Chicago pizza eating experience? Please tell me it's not Pizzeria Uno.

                                                        Mr. Taster

                                                        1. re: Mr. Taster

                                                          is Chicago pizza overwhelmingly made in Italian family run pizza joints like in New York/New Jersey?

                                                          No, not like the ones in NY and NJ. Very few takeout-only mom-and-pops in Chicago, and you almost never see hand-tossing here. As the other poster noted, much of Chicago's best "street food" has its origins in taverns and saloons, which Chicago boasts more of per capita than any other large city in the world, though Daley Jr. is working to change that. I'm not sure if the above poster is correct that Chicago thin has tavern origins, but he probably is. Most of the best thin places in Chicago are as much bar as restaurant.

                                                          I think that the square slice is great. Have as much or as little as you like, have crust or no crust. This kind of cut depends on some other aspects that are also different from East Coast pies, including a stiffer, more cracker-like (but very thin) crust and a complete, thick cover of cheese on top of any other toppings. Apart from national chains, bakeries selling foccacia style Sicilian, and neopolitan style pizzarie, almost no Chicago pizza places follow the crust-sauce-cheese--toppings formula. It's either crust-sauce-toppings-cheese (thin) or crust-cheese-toppings-sauce (deep dish or stuffed).

                                                          1. re: JeffB

                                                            Hmmm, the quintessential Chicago Pizza experience. As JeffB noted, it depends on the type of pizza. For deep dish, it probaly is Pizzeria Uno or Due (FYI, the Chicago locations are much, much better than their franchise outlets in the rest of the country), although I prefer Lou Malnatis. But I only have deep dish once or twice a year, so I'm not the expert.

                                                            As far as the thin crust, cut into squares pie, my ur-pizza joint would be somewhere like Vito and Nicks on the Southwest side or Maries on the Northwest side. There should be a bar, the place should look like the last major renovation was done in 1962, and you should always get Italian sausage on your pizza. It also helps if there is at least one table of tac cops on their dinner break.

                                                            1. re: john m

                                                              imo - the best chicago style places in chicago are gino's east and giordano's.

                                                              john - i am disappointed with your traitorous ways. :)When you say you like east coast pizza, you're talking the delicious thin crust italian style or the burnt, cheap cheese, tough crust, greasy new york style?

                                                              1. re: brett t

                                                                My treason is something I must live with every day. Seriously, as JeffB pointed out, deep dish pizza is not something most Chicagoans eat on a regular basis. I've had it more at work functions than anywhere else. I don't dislike it--it does taste pretty good, but once in a wile is enough.

                                                                And what a loaded question you ask: "When you say you like east coast pizza, you're talking the delicious thin crust italian style or the burnt, cheap cheese, tough crust, greasy new york style?"

                                                                Of course I prefer the former--and I've had plenty of the latter to know that one can get a pretty crap slice in NY. But the chances of getting a good slice are much higher in NY/NJ than anywhere else.

                                                                Here's an example--my inlaws live in Bergen County, NJ, in a small, well-off town--I'd compare their town to a north shore suburb of Chicago. In NJ, even in this hoity-toity little burg, there is a pizza shop, run by the gold-chained Italian Americans referenced aboved, turning out good (not great, but good) slices--hand-tossed, ingredients well-proportioned, and heated as you order--not kept under a heat lamp. You would never find this in Wilmette, Winettka, Glencoe, etc. Hell, even in my Chicago neighborhood, where the population is working and middle-class Irish/Italian, there are no places to get thin crust by the slice. (I can get very good sheet pizza, referenced above by JeffB, but that's another story.)

                                                                1. re: john m

                                                                  My question was loaded but intentionally (and just for silliness), mainly because I could understand passing on chicago pizza (both types) for the italian style, but not for new york style. I agree that New York pizza tastes good as do almost all tomato, mozzarella, bread combinations.

                                                                  For the most part, what you seem to like the best about new york pizza is the convenience factor of getting it by the slice. This is something my g/f has commented on: the difficulty of finding good snacks in Chicago vs. New York. Mainly due to the sprawl you have to know where you're driving to get ice cream, a hot dog, etc, and there is no such thing as pizza by the slice whereas in nyc, you find the nearest avenue and walk half a block..

                                                                  I'm not sure why hand tossing is such a big factor though. If they toss it behind closed doors would you notice a difference?

                                                                  Please tell me you haven't been converted from Chicago style hot dogs...

                                                                  1. re: brett t

                                                                    I think the hand tossing makes a difference because New York and Chicago dough is different--I'm not sure how. There is a difference in ingredients. I think Chicago thin crust uses shortening, and is rolled out rather than tossed.

                                                                    No one will ever convert me from my Chicago hot dogs, although there are not as many quality vendors as there used to be.

                                                                    I like the convenience factor of NY pizza, but I would also prefer it in a sit-down retaurant as well. Don't get me wrong--I like Chicago thin crust, I just prefer NY style.

                                                                    I agree to an extent w your GF. NY has it all over Chicago when it comes to readily available street foods. And while you don't need to drive in Chicago to find good food, it does take a bit more work. I think this is largely due to the ethnic and racial segregation of Chicago--in Manhattan you might see a Bulgarian restaurant next to a Dominican joint next to an Indian place. In Chicago, you'll have to go to the neighborhoods to sample a lot of cuisine. Still, you can get very good Mexican and Thai almost anywhere, which are two areas I give the edge to Chicago in.

                                                                    1. re: john m

                                                                      In regards to sitting down to a pizza in New York, the places I would choose don't serve slices anyway. Angelo's is probably my favorite.

                                                                      I totally agree about Mexican and Thai in Chicago. One transplanted Mexican restaurateur could make such a killing here.

                                                                      Did you ever try Golda's in Maywood? The hot dogs were great, but the french fries were phenomenal. It closed down about 10 years ago but we used to go there every time we were in the area.

                                                                      1. re: brett t

                                                                        I spent a lot of time at Golda's during my high school years. In fact, it was one of the places that showed me how even the humblest food--i.e., the fries--could be made to shine with a bit of care. They sprinkled them with sea salt, rather than regular table salt--to a 16 year old's palate, this was the height of sophistication.

                                                                        Golda's was also one of the first places to carry Dove ice cream bars. The original Dove bar bore no resemblance to the bland, small, brittle ice cream bar of that name today. It was a big lump of excellent ice cream, coated with a layer of high-quality chocolate at least a quarter inch thick.

                                                                    2. re: brett t

                                                                      Just out of curiousity, what did you mean when you said:

                                                                      "I could understand passing on chicago pizza (both types) for the italian style, but not for new york style."

                                                                      When I visited Italy last year I ate a *LOT* of pizza in many different cities throughout Tuscany-esque region (I stayed with friends and ate at local establishments, not tourist places) and the style of the basic and ubiquitous margherita pie (light tomato sauce, cheese, thin crust crispy on bottom, but moist on top, puffy edged crust) was almost *identical* to the New York style which I grew up with (which makes sense because NY was the port of entry for Italian immigrants who brought their recipes over with them, then boomed when the WWII soldiers returned home with a taste for pizza).

                                                                      The only major difference between New York pizza and real Italian pizza was that in Italy you order an entire pizza for yourself and eat it with a knife and fork. Average diameter of one of these margherita pizzas was about 14".

                                                                      Mr. Taster

                                                                      1. re: Mr. Taster

                                                                        when i'm talking new york pizza, i'm talking "Original Ray's" and all the thousand other places with similar pizza. This is what you had growing up and visiting Italy? I've never been to Italy, and I always thought it was closer to New Haven style.

                                                                        What is the pizza establishment in nyc that embodies the perfect pizza you describe so I can get some sort of benchmark?

                                                                        1. re: brett t

                                                                          You know I once went way out of my way to try the "Real" Original Ray's and was really unimpressed-- the crust was really doughy and too thick (still considered "thin crust" of course, but the slice was floppy and soft...a really good slice has to have a crisp bottom so that the texture contrasts with the soft cheese. Even the thick crust, rectangular "sicilian" pies that many NYC joints sell usually have a crispy bottom. IMO that crrrunch and contrasting texture is a big part of what makes a really good slice of pizza.

                                                                          My favorite NYC pizza place is Joe's, a little spot on the corner, on Bleecker street in the village, just down the road from the more famous no-slices-pies-only "John's" and right next to Murray's cheese shop.

                                                                          Mr. Taster

                                                                          1. re: Mr. Taster

                                                                            thanks, i'll try joe's this weekend. I have walked by there a zillion times on my way to risotteria and/or cones.

                                                                        2. re: Mr. Taster

                                                                          This isn't a response, so much as a series of thoughts prompted by the discussion.

                                                                          The widespread availability of the Neopolitan pie in Italy is a recent phenomenon that some might say is counter to the great regionalism of that cuisine.

                                                                          I've had pizza in different parts of Italy, and while the NY style is clearly closer to the Southern Italian style than most American variations, I was never unlucky enough to experience in Italy either the cheese quality or the sauce quality that is commonplace here, even in NY. Now, the simple fresh dough and handtossing technique makes all the difference, for me at least and the best east coast places nail this. As with hand-patted tortillas here in Chicago, pizza dough is somthing that one can recreate but only if one has the skilled technician, whether it's the thick guy in the A shirt or the little old lady working masa. I'm resigned to the fact that such pizza crust is unavailable here in Chicago save a few specialists.

                                                                          How immigration trends affect pizza styles in the US is complicated. I'm not sure that the fact of Italian immigration per se explains the closeness of the Philly/NY/CT continuum to Neopolitan pizza so much as particular patterns of Italian immigration. The first generation, non-English-speaking Italians who flooded Chicago, St. Loius, San Francisco, etc. were no less Italian and no more white bread American than the folks on Bleeker. Most Nabledan (how my Caserta-to NY-to PA nona said it) settled on the East Coast. The population in Chicago is and was more Sicilian. For years there were dense Italian communities in each city with Italian social institutions, markets, Churches, etc. But no "D.O.C." pizza.

                                                                          The "no good Neopolitan pizza outside the east coast=no good Italian food" syllogism is not unlike the common claim that no other Chinatown must be any good because soup dumplings are hard to find elsewhere. Again, that has more to do with where in China the cook comes from than the general quality of the "Chinatown" or its non-Shanghai restaurants. I have a feeling that I'd have a hard time finding Oaxacan tamales (common enough in Chicago and LA) in El Paso or Santa Fe, but I would not leap from there to the conclusion that no good Mexican is to be had.

                                                                          1. re: JeffB

                                                                            That's interesting how you say the Chicago italian population is largely sicilian, because the deep dish pizza in Chicago would be most similarly compared to the NY "Sicilian pizza" I described in a previous post (inch thick dough, square pan, topped with a different, tangier tomato sause and usually more "spotted" with cheese (more like a foccacia) instead of the uniform pattern that appears on a standard cheese pie). Most NY/NJ places sell sicilian as well, and a lot of people order the sicilian slice when they feel like pizza but want "something a little different".

                                                                            So if chicago was originally populated with sicilian immigrants, it only makes sense that the Chicago style pizza is an evolved variant of the original sicilian-- altered of course to adapt to the midwestern tastes of the americans and other europeans, etc. that got there first... perhaps this is a working theory?

                                                                            Of course that doesn't explain how the NY Italians managed to keep their pizza "traditional"-- certainly Italians are a very strong-willed people anyway (especially when it comes to food).

                                                                            Mr. Taster

                                                                            Link: http://www.paganos.com/food_pages/piz...

                                                                            1. re: Mr. Taster

                                                                              If you missed it, I discussed lower in the thread the misconception that Chicago pan pizza has much to do with Sicilian pan pizza (foccacia, sfincione, etc.).

                                                                              John M and I noted that Chicago boasts some fine Sicilian bakeries selling cuts and sheets of the wonderful, bready Sicilian "pizza," D'Amato's most notably. These bakeries keep it traditional as does the neighborhood, down to the "social clubs" on the same block. Frankly, if the only Sicilian you've tried comes from a pizzeria, and not a Sicilian bakery, you're in for a treat.

                                                                              Though your theory makes some sense, the dough and preparation is completely different, in Chicago, between Sicilian and deep dish. Chicago deep dish pizza was, by most all accounts, invented, not evolved. It fits within the general context of Italian American food because of its ingredients, but no one ever said it was part of any continuous tradition from the old country.

                                                                              As I suggested before, while I don't know if New York Italians hold up tradition better than other Italians, the answer to that question is little informed by a style of pizza that was relatively unique to one region of Italy a 100 years ago when the communities were forming in the US.

                                                                              1. re: JeffB

                                                                                I did miss your original description of Chicago pan pizza vs. traditional Sicilian pizza (by the way, how do the sicilian bakery pizzas compare with the image of a NY sicilian pie I linked to in my previous post?)

                                                                                Although if it is true that there isn't a direct link of traditional sicilian pizza evolving into chicago deep-dish, certainly the similarities of the thick crust, etc. is too much to be 100% coincidence? Even if sicilian pizza is not a direct ancestor, certainly it's presence in Chicago's culinary immigrant history had at least some modest impact on the creation of the modern chicago pie. (By the way, I don't know this for a fact, just asking your opinions)

                                                                                Mr. Taster

                                                                                1. re: Mr. Taster

                                                                                  The thing is, Chicago deep dish doesn't have thick crust, it has a thin, flaky crust, almost like pie (as in apple) crust and completely opposite from the airy, thick crust of Sicilian.

                                                                                  The Sicilian bakery pizza in Chicago is fairly similar to your photo, but with much less cheese, sometimes none, sometimes only dry cheese (like Romano) and maybe bread crumbs. I have seen the same style of Sicilian pizza in other Sicilian bakeries including in Tampa (Alessi's) and in and around Youngstown OH. I'm sure it's fairly the same in other places, too.

                                                          2. Mr G grew up in NJ/metro NY area; lived & worked in St. Louis area for years; been in LA for more than 20 yrs.

                                                            Some pizza observations:
                                                            - NJ/NY-style pizza never made it across the Appalachians
                                                            - Philadelphia – Boston corridor pizza joints still get it right
                                                            - Pizza from the Hill in St L is a mighty tasty dish having the same relation to NJ/NY-style pizza that fennel & toenail paella has to paella
                                                            - W very rare exception Left Coast pizza, ain’t

                                                            For decades, the Grubs have tried to have their LA pizza delivered either uncut or square-cut – generally to no avail. Even tried asking for “Chicago cut.” In return, “Que?”

                                                            Altho Grubarino is a purist – wedge, folded over, burning roof of mouth – kinda guy, small square-cut pieces are just so much easier to handle when you are rooting the Wheel dummy into asking for an “m.”

                                                            One way to help turn what we call the “pizza-like dish” into something a little more recognizable to never-say-die East Coasters is to drizzle a little EEVO over the thing when it arrives.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: Mr Grub

                                                              Mr, Grub,

                                                              You may be able to help me out here.... or maybe Mr. Taster will chime in. I'm a transplanted New Yorker too..... been in LA area 30+ years. For me the NY/NJ thin, round pie is the real deal. It's even better if it sortof slides around on the waxed paper due to oiliness. I used to add that it's not 'real' unless the guy behind the counter is heard to utter at least 3 expletives during the course of your stay at the counter for pickup.

                                                              Anyway.......... the search for good NY/NY-style pizza goes on, but all this discussion of Chicago pizza has me wondering. There is a fairly large chain here called BJ's that says it is Chicago style. After reading some of the posts in this thread, however, I'm not sure just what they serve. One post, in particular, said that real Chicago pizza has athin crust underneath. Well.....to me BJs is almost like eating a roll with toppings on top. It's deep dish, round, and cut in squares, but much more doughy than what I've had in Geno's East or Due's. So..... are you familiar with BJ's and where does it fit in the litany of Chicago pizza.

                                                              I'm asking you guys specifically because I doubt that any of the more-easterly posters would have been to a BJs. If anyone has, please help me on this.

                                                              BTW one of the co-CEOs of BJs is a friend of mine, but I wouldn't want to offend him with this question.

                                                            2. s
                                                              science chick

                                                              I grew up in the Hartford area in the 60's and 70's, and never had a pizza any other way my entire childhood. In fact, it never even dawned on me that pizza could be cut another way!!! It wasn't until we moved to New Haven when I was in high school that I was shocked to have triangular pizza slices.......all the same from a single pie!! And, of course, the pizza was better anyway since we were in New Haven!!