Profile

Damian

I am a high school art teacher in a Boston suburb. In my spare time I enjoy working on my bonsai trees, boomeranging, tasting (and trading) craft beers and, of course, traveling the country for amazing pizza.

  • Location: Cambridge, MA
  • Favorite foods: Seared tuna, arugula, truffles, king crab, Neapolitan and New Haven-style pizza, mozzarella di bufala and burrata, wagyu beef, mashed potatoes, raw oysters and dark chocolate.
  • Last bite on earth: Last bite(s): Wagyu beef from Oya (Boston), a Truffle Bomb from Alinea (Chicago), a Porcini mushroom slice from DiFara's (Brooklyn), a warm lobster roll from Neptune Oyster (Boston) and a pint of Jeni's Salty Caramel ice cream.

Duckfat Chef Rob Evans Picks Portland, Maine's Best Bites

I've been to Portland many times and agree with Mr. Evans's recommendations.

First, I'll start by saying that I LOVE the fries at Duck Fat. It was very humble of Mr. Evans to not put his own food on this list, like many other chefs might have have done in a "best of" list.

I really enjoyed the lobster roll at Eventide, but it was SUPER small, especially considering the price. I would love to see them do three of these rolls as an entree and charge like $30. Ordering one roll is a tease (and I'm not a big guy/eater).

If you want an AMAZING, no frills seafood dinner, head to the Fishermen's Grill. Their seared scallops are to die for, as is their enormous lobster roll, succulent fried clams and amazing clam chowder. This was far-and-away the best meal we had on our most recent trip. Just don't go there for the ambiance.

The gelato at Gorgeous Gelato was some of the best I've ever had, including on my recent trip to Italy. In my opinion, only Capogiro Gelato in Philly and Morano Gelato in Hanover, NH can compete. It definitely beats anything in NYC (Il Laboratorio de Gelato included). I'm not sorry to say that Gelato Fiasco is a joke. Their gelato is studded and laced with tons of crap to make up for the fact that the gelato itself isn't very good. I wouldn't be so honest if I didn't hear that the owner wasn't exactly super friendly to the nice folks who work at Gorgeous.

The single best food item I tried over the last year was the plain bagel at Scatch Bakery in South Portland. On second thought, the everything bagel might have been even better. I've had many a good bagel in NYC, bagels from Fairmount and St-Viateur in Montreal, artisan bagels from Iggy's in Cambridge, etc., but nothing comes even close to those found at Scratch. People circle the bagel trays like vultures as fresh batches are brought out every few minutes. Be sure to get there early because they sell out well before noon.

New York's Best Bagel Comes From a Department Store

These bagels look solid. I'd definitely like to give them a try one day.

Not to thread jack, but for those of you looking for an outstanding, rustic, artisan-style bagel like no other, check out Scratch Baking Co. next time you are in the Portland, Maine area. The bagels are made from a sourdough starter, have a pleasant tanginess and an airy crumb reminiscent of fantastic Old World-style bread. I've eaten many good NYC, Montreal and artisan-style bagels, but none even come close to those made at Scratch. They were definitely the culinary highlight of my summer.

For those of you living in the Boston area, apparently there is now a bagel pop-up at Cutty's in Brookline every Sunday that makes bagels based on the recipe used by Scratch.

40 Beers to Put on Your Bucket List

I would definitely add Unibroue's La Fin Du Monde and Weihenstephaner's Hefeweizen to this list as well. When non-craft drinkers ask me for a recommendation, I always mention these two beers.

La Fin Du Monde is a benchmark Belgian strong pale ale, and a 750ml bottle can be purchased for under $10 at Trader Joe's. Weihenstephaner Hefeweizen is a "top 50" rated beer and is found at any store with a halfway decent craft selection. Both are lighter bodied and refreshing but immensely flavorful.

Where to Get the Best New England Clam Chowder in Boston

I'm surprised that the Union Oyster House isn't on this list. Although the place is very tourist-y and somewhat overpriced, I remember their clam chowder being fantastic.

Open Thread: When Did You First Fall in Love with Pizza?

The first amazing pizza I ever had was at the old Luna Pizza on Franklin Ave. in Hartford's South End when I was around 12 years old. Topped with fresh mozzarella, fresh basil and an amazingly (naturally) sweet tomato sauce, they were amazing. As gang violence increased in Hartford and people from the 'burbs stopped coming in to the city, Luna relocated to West Hartford Center. Even though they replaced the wood fired oven with a gas deck oven, the pizzas are still pretty incredible. Years later, I found out from the owner's son that the inspiration for their pizza came from Totonno's. I definitely see a lot of similarities between the two places. I'm really surprised that Luna's isn't packed all the time and doesn't get more press. Their pies are some of the best I've ever had.

Adam Kuban's Bar Pie Pop-Up: Feeling Like a Proud Papa

Great piece Ed and terrific looking pies Adam. Would love to try them someday.

@Adam, Ed, Kenji (or anyone else): As a Cambridge, MA resident, I'm ashamed to say that I've never ventured down to the South Shore to try a bar pie. I've heard good things about The Lynwood and Town Spa. What are your recs?

Drunken Cookery: The Pizza Edition

More of the same...sigh.

My Pie Monday: Figs, Ramps, Sage, and More!

With all due respect to this website's editors over the past few years, the post-Adam Kuban era of Slice has been a sliver of its former self. Adam brought a level of passion and seriousness to Slice that I have yet to see since. The reviews of new pizzerias opening up in NYC (and around the country) are now far and few between, the interesting conversations happening between folks like Scott, Paulie G and TexasCraig have all but stopped and the excitement of seeing amazing homemade pies by Norma, Craig, Adam, etc. every Monday morning is now gone as well. When you have a good thing going that brings readers a feeling a happiness and satisfaction - and that doesn't seem to be TOO much effort to maintain - why get rid of it? Sorry for the rant. I'll get of my soapbox now.

Smiling With Hope Bakery: How Pizza-Making Transformed This High School Special Needs Program

@smiling hope: What an inspiration you are. In addition to doing such a terrific service to these kids, the pies look fantastic! I hope your dream of having the kids, shop and community integrated comes true one day.

Video: Inside Roberta's Pizza

@ jim s: Hahahaha. I wouldn't doubt that.

My girlfriend and I went to Roberta's this past summer. The pies we got were fantastic. Despite this being perhaps the hippest restaurant in the hippest neighborhood of NYC's hippest borough, our servers were also very friendly.

Video: Inside Roberta's Pizza

@ jim s: Hahahaha. I wouldn't doubt that.

My girlfriend and I went to Roberta's this past summer. The pies we got were fantastic. Despite this being perhaps the hippest restaurant in the hippest neighborhood of NYC's hippest borough, our servers were also very friendly.

Video: Inside Roberta's Pizza

@ jim s: Hahahaha. I wouldn't doubt that.

My girlfriend and I went to Roberta's this past summer. The pies we got were fantastic. Despite this being perhaps the hippest restaurant in the hippest neighborhood of NYC's hippest borough, our servers were also very friendly.

Open Thread: What's at the Top of Your Pizza Wish List?

1. Buy a Blackstone pizza oven and have some pizza and good beer parties for friends and co-workers.

2. Hit up L&B Spumoni Gardens on my next trip to NYC. I'd also love to try Sullivan Street Bakery's pizza bianca, especially after trying pizza bianca at Rome's Forno Campo De' Fiori.

3. Make a pizza pilgrimage to Naples to try Da Michelle, Starita and perhaps some street-za. I chaperoned a high school trip to Italy a few weeks back. Our hotel in Sorrento looked out onto the Bay of Naples, but we never made it to the city. I had to restrain myself from sneaking out after the kids had fallen asleep!

Ask a Cicerone: The Best Beer to Drink With Pizza

@jedd63: Kudos! Especially if it's Foxon Park.

@Aharps: Just like various sommeliers might recommend different wines to pair with similar dishes, the same can be true of cicerones with regard to margherita pizzas and beer. A classic pairing might be an amber ale (or a pilsner or pale ale), but the saison might be an interesting pairing as well. Personally, however, I'd pair a saison or a witbier with a white pie rather than one topped with sauce.

My Pie Monday: Bratwurst, Poblanos, Broccoli, and More!

@derricktung - Outstanding work! It's inspirational to see the before and after photos. That second pie looks killer!

Can't wait to get my WFO one day. In the meantime I'll have to settle for a Blackstone or KettlePizza/Baking Steel mod.

Game of Pizza: The Battle for Chain Dominance

I know that some might disagree, but I think Bertucci's should be on this list as well. Even though they have a full menu, they are first and foremost a pizzeria. IMO, Bertucci's margherita is excellent. For people living in the 'burbs on the East Coast, this destroys most crappy mom-and-pop Greek pizzerias.

Poll: What Soda Do You Like to Drink With Your Pizza?

Oops. Meant to write "Pepe's."

Poll: What Soda Do You Like to Drink With Your Pizza?

Foxon Park Birch Beer and a Pape's white clam pie is a perfect pairing in my book!

Openings: Famous Pepe's Coming to West Hartford, CT

gage3: I grew up in Newington, and it seems that the title of "CT's most dangerous city" alternates between Hartford, New Haven and Bridgeport. This year, all three made the top 25!: http://www.businessinsider.com/most-dangerous-cities-in-america-2013-6?op=1

Eater's 38 Essential American Pizzas

As a Boston resident, I agree with many on here that Santarpio's might not be the best choice to represent the city. Personally, I'd either go with Posto in Somerville for their amazing Neapolitan pies or Galleria Umberto for their gooey, oily squares. Both are totally different but equally amazing. That said, I'm just happy that Regina's didn't appear on the list. They are one of the most overrated pizzerias in Boston, if not the country.

Paulie Gee on Belief, Baltimore, and Being Your Own Boss (Part 1)

Excellent piece! Paulie Gee is truly an inspiration. Looking forward to part II.

Dear Slice: Texas Pizza Summit II

Unreal. That 36.7 second pie is simply mind blowing!

Pizza Obsessives: Jimmy Coponi

@thezaman: Thanks for the tip. I've heard similar advice from a few other people as well. When I eventually get my oven, I'll definitely spring for the Primavera 70.

Pizza Obsessives: Jimmy Coponi

@scott123: Point taken. I guess the fact I'm trying to make is that eating at some of the best pizzerias in the country (Sally's, DiFara's, Totonno's, UPN, etc.) often involves dealing with a lot of B.S., be it surly attitudes, less than pristine restrooms, holier-than-thou egos, etc. I've learned to deal with it because I really only care about the pizza.

To those pizzaioli who are both talented and kind (Paulie Gee, Jim Lahey, Roberto Caporuscio, etc.), kudos to them.

Pizza Obsessives: Jimmy Coponi

@deliciouslymeta: I totally agree with your sentiments. This kid is is passionate about what he does and truthful. At least give him credit for being honest, even if you don't agree with what he's saying.

@Jimmy Coponi: Beautiful looking pie. Sixty second bake times? Are you kidding me? I am planning on purchasing a Primavera oven in the next week or so, and this makes me even more excited to do so. Do you have the 60 or the 70 model?

It's funny how the Slice community is so supportive and so positive, except when people come off as being a bit arrogant. I belong to a number of other blogs and people get slammed when they post less than perfect demonstrations of their accomplishments. Here on Slice, every pizza on My Pie Monday is "gorgeous" (when they really aren't), but when people are arrogant, Slicers get really miffed. I'm not sure what this says about the community, but it's interesting.

On a final not, let's not forget that many of the greatest pizzaiolo are/were arrogant and angry, and often eating in these pizzarias is/was quite an adventure. Anthony Mangieri is the obvious angry pizzaiolo that we all love/hate. Anthony "Totonno" Pero used to routinely shut off the light and throw his customers out of his pizzaria when he got angry. His daughter Cookie doesn't quite go this far today, but don't try to get a smile out of her. The dining experience at Sally's in New Haven is horrific. Ed Levine was quoted as saying that, service-wise, his first trip to Sally's was the worst he had ever experienced. In all fairness, Paulee Gee might be the rare exception to this norm. I'm not sure why pizza making and being an a-hole go hand in hand, but it seems to be the case. Blame it on the Southern Italian blood perhaps (BTW, I'm 50%). In any event, I find it rather interesting.

Best of luck Mr. Coponi. I look forward to visiting your pizzaria one day.

New Haven's famed Sally's Apizza for sale

http://www.nhregister.com/general-news/20140429/new-havens-famed-sallys-apizza-for-sale

So sad. I'm pretty sure that the recipe will stay the same, but I'm doubtful that the new owners will be able to maintain the same overall atmosphere. Although some might hate on Sally's service and dated interior, I couldn't image this place any other way.

Breville Crispy Crust Pizza Maker

I saw this product on the Williams-Sonoma website and was wondering if anyone has used one: http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/breville-crispy-crust-pizza-maker/?bnrid=3101668&cm_ven=E3&cm_cat=EDM&cm_pla=0519_BrevillePizza&cm_ite=hero&cm_em=vanessabarneschi@comcast.net

It sounds pretty crazy.

Top 5 "Must Eat" Pizzas/Slices in NYC?

My girlfriend and I are planning a trip to NYC this weekend and are trying to figure out what pizza place we should hit. Rather than going through the trouble of telling you where we've been and what you recommend, I thought it might be more fun to simply see what Slicers feel are the top 5 "must eat" pizzas/slices in NYC.

HBO's "Girls" at Roberta's

Just curious if anyone else caught Marnie and Charlie's quasi-breakup on the roof deck at Roberta's, followed by their subsequent makeup two minutes later out front.

Sourdough Starter-Along: Day Zero

A sourdough starter is a simple concept—let some flour and water hang around for a while, and almost magically, the correct combination of yeast and bacteria will take up residence. Over the next many days, I'll be posting daily updates on a new sourdough starter that I've got growing. Today is Day Zero, i.e., your materials list. Read this, gather your supplies (most of which you probably already have), and then come back tomorrow! More

My Pie Monday: Foolish Poolish's Margherita

[Photograph: Foolish Poolish] From a name I know you know, Foolish Poolish: For your new feature, "My Pie Monday," a Margherita pulled from the oven about half an hour ago. Not my best pie by a long shot, but still tasty.Toppings are fairly self-explanatory (foodie specifics: S@n M@#!$&o tomatoes, Sicilian sea salt, fior di latte blah blah blah :) ).Oh, and sorry about the terrible photo quality...I'd blame the kitchen lighting, but, honestly, my photography sucks. I tried to fiddle with the colour in iPhoto but probably made it worse."... More

From Serious Eats Talk: Your Favorite Pizza Dough Recipe?

If you missed this thread over on Serious Eats Talk, it's worth visiting: Dear Slicer's: What's your favorite pizza dough recipe? Simon asks: It's been far too long since I've made pizza at home. I have a new oven with a top broiler (instead of the kind all the way in the bottom with the pull out drawer), and would like to put it, and my stone, to good use. I can get it REALLY hot in there with the broiler on. (about 650*)I'm curious to know what your favorite dough recipes are. I'm not scared of yeast, not scared... More

Build an Outdoor Pizza Oven for $20

I know a lot of people reading the My Pizza Oven series on Slice are salivating at the beautiful ovens depicted. Judging by the comments, a lot of folks want to build ovens of their own. A masonry oven might be a large undertaking for some, both in terms of project skill level and money. But Ziggy over on The Year of Mud gives a breakdown on building an oven from cob, a building material similar to adobe. Best part: It costs just $20. More

Now It Can Be Told: What 'Pizza Madness 2009' Was All About

Click me bigger! [Every Day with Rachael Ray] Some of you may have seen the stuff on the various Grub Street blogs, the Eater blogs, Village Voice/Fork in the Road, on the Chicago Tribune's Stew blog, in the New York Post, etc. The news that Rachael Ray has found the best pizza in the country. Yes and no. Every Day with Rachael Ray *magazine,* for the March issue, pegs a best-pizza-in-the-country story to college basketball's March Madness. The story will feature a 64-entrant mad-good-pizza bracket. I'm told that subscribers should be getting theirs as early as today; the issue... More

Totonno's Reopening Wednesday, February 10

[Photograph: Adam Kuban] Our man Ed Levine just got off the phone with Totonno's owner Lawrence Ciminieri, who tells us that Totonno's is reopening next Wednesday, February 10 at noon. Ciminieri says he himself will be making the pies that day. We're confident that this is the real deal this time. Ciminieri says he will have the necessary permits in place, and that the pizzeria will be ready to go on Wednesday.... More

In Videos: 'Pure and Simple,' a Day in the Life of Una Pizza Napoletana

Looks like Pure and Simple, that short documentary on Una Pizza Napoletana that we blogged about last summer when it appeared in the NYC Food Film Festival, is finally available in its entirety online, thanks to New York magazine's Vulture Picture Palace. It follows obsessive pizzaiolo Anthony Mangieri through one day in the life of his renown Naples-style pizzeria. At nine minutes, it's a bit longer than most web video we bring you, but it's the weekend. It ain't gonna kill you to watch. And, who knows, you might learn something.... More

Pizza Obsessives: Foolish Poolish

And so starts the first of Slice's Q&A's with folks who are mad about pizza. This week, we talk to someone whose screen name you might recognize. Without futher ado... Name: Foolish Poolish Location: England Website: Foolish Poolish Bakes; Flickr What type of pizza do you prefer? It's all good! (oh, boy, what a cop-out). OK, I'll sort of justify that by throwing up a link to a TED talk about the nature of choice and pursuit of the "perfect spaghetti sauce": http://www.ted.com/talks/malcolm_gladwell_on_spaghetti_sauce.html Truthfully, I haven't eaten nearly enough pizza or sampled adequate variety to give an informed opinion. Generally,... More

'Pizza Hacker' and His Amazing Franken-Weber

I've been sleeping on this story for a while, and for that I must apologize to you, dear reader, and to the Pizza Hacker, a pizza street vendor who I've known about for a couple months but haven't yet blogged about. The Pizza Hacker, based in San Francisco, uses a modified 22.5-inch Weber kettle grill that he's fitted with fire bricks. To mimic a traditional pizza oven, whose shape is ideal for cooking a pizza, he used the original lid to mold an oven dome from refractory cement and perlite. Pizza Hacker shows up at various locations throughout SF... More