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Spacca Napoli's Jonathan Goldsmith on Italian Culture and the Power of Pizza

Over the last year, we've spent a whole lot of time speaking to Jonathan Goldsmith, of Chicago's Spacca Napoli, about his amazing journey from clinical social worker to world-class pie man. Among other things, we discussed the chance encounter on a plane that changed the course of his life, the legendary pizzaioli he's studied and befriended in Naples, and the power of food to connect people. But mostly? We just talked about pie. More

Jeff Varasano on Baking, Branding, and the Business of Pizza (Part 2)

Last time, internet pizza legend (and creator of the most famous pizza recipe in the world) Jeff Varasano talked about the challenges of opening a pizzeria and why he's stayed out of the spotlight the last few years. Today, he goes in depth on the power of a brand like Chic-Fil-A, the challenge of finding great employees, and why having great pizza doesn't always matter. More

Jeff Varasano on Baking, Branding, and the Business of Pizza (Part 1)

Jeff Varasano's pizza recipe went viral in the mid-2000's, and he opened up his own shop in Atlanta a few years later to critical acclaim. Then he went quiet...and we decided to find out why. Varasano had a very candid chat with us about his victories, his setbacks, his big plans coming down the pipe, and his newest location: the airport in Atlanta. If you ever wanted to open a pizzeria (or any a business), this is must-read stuff. More

Emilia's Pizza: Keith Freilich Opens Up on Ovens, Bad Accountants, and Pizza Miracles in Berkeley, CA

For the last five years, we've been hearing a lot about the Bay Area pizza scene. That's mostly due to a large swath of legitimately great pizzerias, but the noise has definitely been amplified by big names like Mangieri and Gemignani. Nonetheless, one of my favorite pizzas in Berkeley is made by someone who consciously flies below the radar. Keith Freilich is the owner of one of the more impressive resumes in recent memory...and he agreed to share some of his experience with us. More

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

Paulie Gee's done plenty of interviews about his rise and he's even answered questions directly from Slice'rs, but he's rarely as candid as he was when he opened up to us about his amazing journey from Corporate IT Guy to Brooklyn Pizza Legend. There's a lot of pizza talk to be sure. So much, in fact, that we'll be running our interview in segments. So keep an eye out for part two next week; in the meantime, here's Paulie on the joys of opening a restaurant, the importance of hiring locally, and why he thinks more people ought to open their own business. More

Venice, CA: On Gjelina and the Rise of Cheffy Pizza

"Cheffy" is a word that can go a couple different ways. To some, it means high-quality, ingredient-driven food that's sometimes complex, but always skillfully prepared. Others use it dismissively, and even pejoratively, to write off fare that they view as pretentious, esoteric, or overly complicated. No matter where you come out on the usage, I can assure you of one thing: Gjelina serves cheffy pizza. More

Los Angeles: Urbano Pizza Bar Carves Out a Niche in the Middle

Pizza in Los Angeles has become kind of a high art/low art scene, and the rest of the country doesn't seem that different. It's like you're either a down and dirty slice joint or a gourmet shop pushing premium toppings at primo prices. Enter Urbano Pizza Bar, a downtown LA establishment that attempts to skirt the line between the two poles with trendy toppings and "artisan" crust, but in a more accessible package (read: slightly larger portions). More

A Pizza My Mind: Why You Should Eat More Bad Pizza

If you're visiting Slice, there's a very good chance that you're obsessive about your pizza. You've eaten your 10,000 slices, you've developed an excellent palette...and you no longer have any time in your life for shitty pizza. You want the pizza in the picture above. Well, unless you want to be in a prison of your own creation I would suggest you make a little time for bad pizza. Here's why. More

Jeff Varasano on Baking, Branding, and the Business of Pizza (Part 2)

For anyone who doubted Jeff, from the LA Weekly:

While waiting for my sandwich at ink.sack, I asked the woman behind the counter about the most popular restaurant in the new terminal. "Panda Express," she said, nodding towards the line snaking its way around the food court. "Every day, no matter what time, that's the thing people line up for. Even with all these great new options, people still mainly just want orange chicken with bacon."


Jeff Varasano on Baking, Branding, and the Business of Pizza (Part 2)

Pretty sure I put "branding" in the title, Beavis.

Sorry, I just really wanted to call someone Beavis.

Ditmas Park Pizza 'Pop-In' to Feature Slices from Slice'r

Go Johnnie! Wish I was there to hog slices.

Michael's Pizzeria in Long Beach, CA and the Problem With Lists

Current traffic estimate from Hollywood to Long Beach: 1 hour 20 minutes

Where to Eat Pizza in NYC: The Ultimate 15 Pizzeria Itinerary

@PommeDG: I have been to just about every pizza place in Los Angeles so I don't think the issue is getting out more. I would say there's probably 8-10 pizza places worth going to total, maybe 2-3 that are really special. You're welcome to tell me any gems that I somehow missed.

In terms of palate...I've spent a lot of time traveling to the best places in the country for pizza and LA pizza seemed a lot better before I went to places like Bianco, Totonno's, Apizza Scholls, Great Lake (RIP), Delancey, UPN, Emilia's, and Keste.

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

@egadman: I like these. I'm going to run them by Niki.

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

@egadman: I'm switching over to these interviews since LA is kind of tapped out on the review front. I've got a couple people you know lined up and a couple you probably don't. Any ideas for a name for the series?

PG Part II is just as good. The man can talk and he's got a lot to say.

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

@pizzalove: Just so we're clear, Adam isn't the editor. He hasn't been for over TWO YEARS. He stayed on as a contributor, but he's had exactly one post in the last six months. He's not writing about anyone, let alone someone he works for.

I was the one who chose to do a piece on Paulie, conducted the interview, and edited it down. It was a lot of work so it's kind of annoying to see you assume someone else waved their hand and made it happen. More to the point, I've never been ordered by any editor (Adam, Meredith, or the current editor, Niki) to cover any person or restaurant I didn't want to, or to have a particular opinion on something.

Finally, I'm not sure how an interview counts as a "review." Care to explain?

A Pizza My Mind: Why You Should Eat More Bad Pizza

@brokenphone: cool story bro

Chris Bianco Surprises With New Trattoria and Pizzeria in Phoenix

@Mike: They didn't have the goat special the day I was there so I'm not sure what they're doing with it. It's definitely roasted, simple, and good though.

Chris Bianco Surprises With New Trattoria and Pizzeria in Phoenix

@dhorst and shyboyje: Yeah, I kind of blew by that one. Shyboyje is right, he cooks his pies much longer than you would a Neapolitan pie, so by keeping the wood off the floor he can get a more even heat. And he also doesn't have to worry about any long-term wear to the floor because he can just put another slab in.

Still Not Sure How Much to Tip for Pizza Delivery? You're Not Alone

@Linebacker: That is pretty close to the reality, but you're the one arguing you shouldn't have to tip. If you want shift the cost to others and/or risk screwing over a driver who ends up getting stiffed the whole night, that's your business. I never said it wasn't anyone's right to be cheap, just know that you are actively hurting some guy's wallet who probably makes much less than you.

Still Not Sure How Much to Tip for Pizza Delivery? You're Not Alone

@Linebacker: Nobody is arguing that it would be more fair to pay a real wage to drivers (and service workers), forego the notion of tips, and raise the price of food. However, THAT IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN ANY TIME SOON. Drivers take those jobs because society has decided on the whole that we will tip and after the extra money it makes sense. That is part of the deal on both sides. If you didn't get tipped, it wouldn't make financial sense to deliver pizzas for any person and there would be no delivery. You are arguing principles and ignoring the reality we live in.

I'm always confused by people who want to push back on inefficiencies in society by taking it out on the low end of the totem pole. There are so many stupid financial constructs in our world...maybe choose your battles better?

Still Not Sure How Much to Tip for Pizza Delivery? You're Not Alone

@Linebacker: What is different from you working in KFC? Uh, car payment, gas, maintenance, repairs, insurance. He's putting miles on his car so you don't have to. The whole carrying your food thing is the least important part of the transaction.

Still Not Sure How Much to Tip for Pizza Delivery? You're Not Alone

I was waiting for the "why do we tip?" stuff. I don't have any problem with anyone questioning the service industry tip structure, just don't act like you're a freedom fighter if you stiff some poor bastard who is trying to make child support. The reason we currently tip is simple -- the extra cost of a real living wage are being passed on to the consumer. You are being given the choice to be cheap instead of the owner. It is not fair, but it is what we have right now.

Nobody would ever put thousands of miles on their own car, pay for repairs, and stink their vehicle up for life for minimum wage. You aren't paying a pizza delivery guy to hand your pizza over with a smile, you're paying him for using his own gas to drive over in shitty conditions so that you can finish Colbert. Why WOULDN'T you want to tip?

Los Angeles: A Trip Down the Mr. Pizza Rabbit Hole

@Kelly: Don't bring objectivity and reason into this.

Los Angeles: A Trip Down the Mr. Pizza Rabbit Hole

@tea-and-syncope: As a former English major I shudder and blame Mr. Pizza.

Venice, CA: On Gjelina and the Rise of Cheffy Pizza

@SkyHigh: Don't smear my post with facts. I think you're right, but I always think of Gjelina first because of the Spice Girl thing.

Venice, CA: On Gjelina and the Rise of Cheffy Pizza

@Adam: To be fair, the pizza usually looks a little better. With that said, I did go twice. My bigger issue is less with the annoying molten char bubbles and more the hollowed out portions that break apart when you take a bite.

@jo_wang: I liked it. But I think you could cut 15 minutes out of it.

First Look: Handsome Pizza in Portland, OR

@f r y: Why didn't you tell me you were f r y when I saw you before Christmas? I just blew ten minutes going through your comments trying to figure out where you were making pies at.

It's funny, the first time I walked in to your place (like at 5:30 on a Friday a couple years ago) looking to order, I got a version of the "next pick-up time is this or you could get it later" speech. It did not come off as sarcastic, but it did make me feel like an idiot for not calling ahead.

Los Angeles: The Deep Dish on the Mysterious Hollywood Pies

@cpd: I checked with David. He uses cornmeal. He tried it with and without and preferred it with. There's also another deep dish place called Zelo around here that uses a TON of cornmeal -- that's their claim to fame even -- so it can obviously be done. Maybe it's that LA water?

Los Angeles: The Deep Dish on the Mysterious Hollywood Pies

@cpd: I've had Gino's, Malnati, Uno, Pizano, Pequod's, Burt's, etc. The sausage patty is lean and doesn't have any noticeable fennel. But if it's a garlic sausage, that particular flavor gets a little lost in the sauce.

Also, David didn't look to Chicago as a guide, he hasn't been back in a while. He developed his own recipe in San Diego, and we're pretty sure there's cornmeal in it.

First Look: Handsome Pizza in Portland, OR

@Will: I caught you on a slow night a while back but pizza and service were both on point. When I get back to Portland I'll be back for sure. Really loved the interview, too. I love when pizzaiolos aren't afraid to be honest.

8 Pizzas That Haunt My Dreams, 2012

So much to hit from this post. First off, 8PTHMD is my favorite annual slice post so I really hope it never ends. I've gone back to the other posts over the years and they've been great guides for what to order specifically when I'm traveling. And though I don't find this year's list lacking in any way, the fact that you A. have already had most of the great pizza in the country in previous years and B. have 90 percent less free time in your life, obviously earns you a mulligan if you wanted to take it. But it's obviously not necessary. The Speedy Romeo was killer. The cheese slices make me incredibly angry/jealous. And TXCraig1's garage is on my pizza bucket list.

Also, I'd be interested in seeing some kind of post covering the division on Slice that dmc and imwalkin alluded to: the homecook versus the diner. I put in a ton of work this year to figure out how to make genuinely good pizza (though I'd still get laughed off pizzamaking), and I really love cooking for friends, but I would MUCH rather eat at one of the greats (or even the really goods) than make my own. I honestly find it more satisfying to eat something I could never duplicate. Oh, and I love not cleaning up. But I think it's really interesting how these completely different worlds collide here.

Finally, following the rules of the game (new experiences only), here's my personal list in no particular order:

1. Garlic and chili peppers (but honestly, anything) at Great Lake in Chicago
2. Grandma slice at Lo Duca in Brooklyn
3. Vodka Slice at Rubirosa in NYC
4. Sicilian slice at L & B Spumoni in Brooklyn
5. Half sausage/half Sopressata at Emilia's in Berkeley, CA
6. Margherita at Apizza Scholls (I'm cheating since it was in November of 2011, but it's still haunting me)
7. Bianco DiNapoli Margherita at Mozza2Go
8. That damn Del Poppolo truck I keep missing. Went up to SF last weekend and got UPN, Emilia's, Zero Zero, and Delfina...but Darsky was off for the year.

Daily Slice: Evolution of the Amore oi Mari at Pizzicletta in Flagstaff, AZ

@Caleb: Are you telling me you didn't invent Cacio e Pepe?!