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Jun 18, 2010 06:53 AM

'Italian Peoples' Rolls - What's their secret?

Having previously posted this question on the (cheesesteak capital of the world) Philadelphia board and not getting much response, I thought I'd try a board that may have more "Trenton readers" ........

I love both their torpedo and kaiser rolls and even though I'm still in the area and can get them fresh, I've been wondering two things for a long time -

1. Any guesses as to what makes both of them so darn good?
2. Does anyone have a recipe and/or tips for making something at home that even comes close to either of these?

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  1. NEW YORK WATER is usualy the key ingredient as it contains more iron is what i'm told.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Tapas52

      Thanks for the link Tapas. That's quite a collection of new ideas for me to try all in one link - including the one in just the first paragraph regarding brushing on water instead of steaming in order to make the crust softer and chewier. - I'd never heard that before.

      As for specifically using just New York water, I doubt that a bakery in Trenton would go to the bother of "importing" their water. Not only that, but based on this link - (which has to do with a test done to see if NYC water makes a difference in pizza dough)

      I have to believe that the water, in and of itself, is not the "key factor".
      My guess is that "the secret" is a combination of factors that I'll never be able to duplicate with 100% accuracy, but to me, even getting close to what they do would be better most other rolls currently available.
      Thanks again for helping me on my quest.

      1. re: Bryan Pepperseed

        Food Detectives on the Food Network actually did an experiment on pizza made with water from three different cities. I think it was NYC, Chicago, and LA.

        Everything was the same except for the water. The final result was that the judges all agreeing that the NYC pizza tasted the best.

        While taste is a subject of opinion, the experiment did prove that the water influences the taste of the pizza.

        I would tend to agree with Bryan though. It's probably a combination of a lot of things.

        I have a co-worker from the island. and Has often said "People in NJ just don't care about good food"..

        I'm not on that bandwidth, but I kind of agree that sometimes, its hard to find really good rolls.

        1. re: coldsolderjoint

          >>"I have a co-worker from the island. and Has often said "People in NJ just don't care about good food".. "<<

          Could be because we don't expect too much...............

        2. re: Bryan Pepperseed

          I do not believe in the "water" theory for many reasons. Water is a universal solvant desolving everything it comes in contact with. So the "chemical" compounds within any sample of water has to vary somewhat. The only exception is recently distilled water which fulfills the definition of odorless, colorless and, most important, tasteless.

          Utah has really great water and some of the world's worst pizza, bread and bagels!

          I've had some pretty crappy pizza in NYC.

          Some aspects of cooking are arts, not science. As Bryam P put it "the secret is a combination of factors" and might I add - to me, that's just what makes finding new places and trying new places so much fun.

          1. re: CompareFranco

            Kenji did a great article on this in this Food Lab column...the bottom line: differences in water are hard, if not impossible, to tell.


      2. True "Peoples' Rolls" are made with fresh, high quality Soylent Green...

        1 Reply
        1. re: equal_Mark

          I thought an Italian Rolls was a Maserati?

        2. IP’s rolls are decent. Try Barbero’s, I think their rolls are much better.

          4 Replies
          1. re: TomDel

            For the sake of science I'll give Barbero's another try. Based on this link -


            I think I'll pick up some of their dough while I'm getting some fresh baked rolls.
            However, I won't be picking up any of their Boar's Head roast beef because I prefer Thumann's.

            1. re: Bryan Pepperseed

              Fair enough and if you like Thumann’s lunch meat, as I do and you’re on Rt. 33, try the Italian Special hoagie at Little King.

              1. re: TomDel

                Good to know - It's getting harder and harder to find places that haven't been taken over by the Boar's Head monopoly. Thanks.

                1. re: Bryan Pepperseed

                  Regarding Little King, they probably have forty or fifty different varieties of subs or hoagies and everyone that I’ve had has been great. Their “Italian Special” hoagie contains Prosciutto, Coteghino, Peppered Ham, Genoa Salami, Capicola and Provolone along with lettuce, tomato, onion, S&P, O&V and sweet or hot peppers either on the sub or on the side. You can get it on a plain or sesame seeded roll, it’s fantastic.