Joe Hall

Postdoc at Princeton University, Center for Information Technology Policy... technology policy researcher (sort of half a lawyer, half a computer scientist). Runner, yogi, pizza maker, former pastry chef, music enthusiast, etc.

  • Website
  • Location: Jersey City, NJ
  • Favorite foods: Pizza, bread, pastry, home-grown herbs and veggies, very good meats!
  • Last bite on earth: A bite from a Chateaubriand Steak a la Tequila Flambe from Martino's in Jaurez, Mexico.

Latest Comments

Watch This 7-Year-Old Dough-Tossing Prodigy!

Lorenzo is my middle name... ::) Holler if you're thinking about coming over here and want some company!

Watch This 7-Year-Old Dough-Tossing Prodigy!

Sorry, should have mentioned he hits the real stuff at about 2:47...

Watch This 7-Year-Old Dough-Tossing Prodigy!

If you want to see Michael toss real dough, he was featured on Fox's Good Day New York in the studio with practice dough and the real deal:

We gotta get more NYC slicers across the Hudson to Hoboken and Jersey City! Great pies ova heyah!

Pizza Delivery and the Economics of Reputation

One thing I do at home, having been a pastry chef and baker in a previous life, is place my NY pies on an elevated rack for 5 minutes or so to keep the crust crispy. When I worked at a pizza place in high school (nothing too fancy, Dion's in Albuquerque, NM), they would put pies hot out of the oven on something that looked like a wire-y non-slip floor mat (like what you'd put around a dish washing station in a food service kitchen). These were food grade and changed every few months... and also allowed airflow on the hot crust to keep it a bit crispy. In my experience, this kept the pies from sogging out if the customer only had a bit of a distance to travel before they eat it. I haven't seen any WFO places do this.

As to the customer question: I'm firm believer that, in food service, 1 out of 10 customers is just plain damn wrong, and often deserves a kick in the pants. However, I also don't appreciate it when a proprietor sets unreasonable rules or isn't willing to do something easy to make my life as a customer easier. Especially galling when they claim it's to protect the integrity of their product... that is, they're putting their product in the general case up against my desires in a specific case. I've seen this with good pizza places (not WFO) who refuse to do a half-baked pizza so that I can cook it off on a stone in my own oven at home. Frankly, if you're a pizziaolo and you refuse to do something simple out of integrity concerns, rather than out of burden (like in Paulie's case), it seems off and can be pretentious.

Maybe a solution is little stickers placed over the front closure of a pizza box that say, "Our pies are best enjoyed in our store, hot out of the oven. They deteriorate the second they're left to cool or boxed. Please come visit us in person!". Or maybe the solution is designing a delivery system that keeps the pies hot and crisp... say the usual thermal bag and a pizza box that is rigged on the bottom to allow for air flow?

On The Importance Of Fresh Pizza: Zuppardi's Apizza

Old World Pizza in Princeton, NJ is a must-go-to for you guys.. All Aboard Pizza in New Milford, CT is good too, and there are a few places up there that are good (Oliva, some place Batali helped set up, I forget the name).

Daily Slice: Vito's Pizza, Cherry Hill, New Jersey

thanks for the tip! the NJ Slice crew should review Old World Pizza in Princeton sometime.

Building a Pizzeria: Closing in on Opening up

Wow, just wow. So envious. So proud of you. Flag folks have yet another reason to adore the place they live in. A good friend of mine's brother is a lawyer up there and I'll get them to come buy (ha!) after you've launched.

Only the best of luck to you, and if you need free labor, you've got an army of obsessives right here.

Chicago Essential: Finding Religion at Pizano's Pizza & Pasta

great review... and you didn't even try the cookie pizza dessert!

Pizza Protips: A Different Sort of Peel

@dbcurrie it would be really neat to see a video of both the the "putting dough on the Super Peel" and "getting it off"... if you find yourself using it again and have video capability, I'd love to check it out. I suspect you use a metal peel to get the finished dough out of the oven? or can one use this to do that too?

and wow, there should be a word for ruined pizza after a carefully planned and executed pizza session. I've ruined dough balls (putting them on a hot oven that was too hot!) and even dropped just-finished pies right after experiencing the "Oh man, it's finally done and perfect!" feeling when peeking in the oven. It's so heartbreaking... and seems to only get worse the better I get. My wife said once, "what's the big deal, it's just a pizza." And that may be true, especially in a commercial establishment with tons of dough, ingredients, etc. But, man, at home, ruining a home-made pizza that is another data point in our collective obsession is just the pits.

Pizza Protips: A Different Sort of Peel

Neat! I know a number of pizzaiolo who use a wooden peel for building and delivery to the oven and then a metal peel for manipulation (turning, moving) and extraction.

Top This: Momed's Etli Pide

This is an awesome article! One clarification: on slide 5 of 6 you say "convention oven" and it's not clear if you meant conventional or convection (I assume conventional since it's talking about longer cooking times).

D. Trump Offers Worst Excuse Ever for Using a Fork to Eat Pizza

Good comedy for sure... My wife is from Chicago where, she claims, even the thick crust (which they only ate occasionally back in the day) they eat with their hands. So, I get a lot of grief using a fork in our house... I *enjoy* using a fork at first and then using my hands when I want to. I do fold when folding seems necessary (but I don't do it because there is some social norm that says I should fold). ::) So, I'm going to have to agree that the crime here is Famiglia's when they're not starving.

Building a Pizzeria: Behind-the-Scenes

Small world. I'm also an NAU alum and a former planetary astrophysicist who worked on modeling and observation of planetary atmospheres... now I do something very different and am also crazy about pizza. If you're located close to the bar scene, one easy way to get a leg up on this other place (I graduated in 2000, so don't know this Fratelli's place): stay open an hour later, especially on weekends. Flagstaff has a great bar scene for the young ones, but it was so hard to find good food at late hours... sounds like your oven might dictate your hours, so maybe that's unrealistic. Anyway, if you can get in good with the college kids *and* the locals, which can't be hard if you make pizza to cry for, I think you'll do very well.

My Pie Monday: Memorial Day Edition

Awesome, thanks! ... and I didn't mean to sound entitled... very much appreciate all that you all do. (Was just thinking about slice as I just had a grandma slice at Gino's in Jersey City Heights over here and it was very good. They also have a "Brooklyn Grandma" slice that is like 2x as thick as (what I presume is) the Jersey version.)

My Pie Monday: Memorial Day Edition

Hmm, why only four pies? I sent a submission in way before the deadline and don't see it here. Did I not make the cut? Is there some problem with the submission email account?

Pizza dough: Moving from a food processor to stand mixer

Well, I tried again and got great results... here's what I do:

1. all dry ingredients (I use sugar) in the bowl with hook, mix to blend.
2. with mixer on slow, pour cold water in slowly.
3. when it is reasonably coherent, stop mixer.
4. cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 10 minutes (autolyse).
5. add oil and salt and mix on low for a minute.
6. "scrape down" and mix for a minute more.
7. being a former baker, I can't *not* knead dough, so I move it around on the bench for a minute until it feels silky.
8. put the ball in an oiled bowl, very lightly oil the top, cover with plastic wrap and let sit 1-5 days.

Then I ball it straight out of the fridge and let sit on a lightly oiled cookie sheet for 2-3 hours.

It stretched wonderfully doing it like this. A bit bubbly, but I think that's just either too much post-fridge rise or not enough handling during the ball or stretch. I'll have a pic in my pie monday of the results but here is one of them:

Pizza dough: Moving from a food processor to stand mixer

Thanks so much for the gracious responses!

I've been sick, so sorry for the delayed response (and I'm fundamentally an underling at my job, so gotta get my SE in doses).

@derosa : I do a bulk cold ferment for 2-3 days, remove from the fridge and immediately form them into equal-weight balls (14 oz.) and then let them sit, rise and come up to temperature for 2 hours before stretching. I suspect my stretching technique (or one of these steps) might be working the dough too much. So, "if it's tough, let it stretch" sounds like a good mantra.

@dbcurrie : I don't know what bread fans would do without you.

@akuban : awesome pointers... I had no idea that it's pretty hard to overknead. Thanks, again, @dbcurrie.

@CoreDefence : you wouldn't pay 50p/tonne?!?! I tend to have a "bad pizza is like bad mexican food" philosophy (which may not translate well across the pond): even the worse stuff is actually not completely horrible (corollary: I can find something good about most pizza... even if it's just "well, it is pizza!").

As for sauce and toppings... Kenji's sauce is the awesome-sauce and keeps me with a few random onions in the house (which is a good idea, like having a few random fresh lemons/limes). I'm kind of weird about toppings... my current favorite is toasted walnuts, baby sage, mild gorgonzola and caramelized onions... but that's a bit of a pain in the ass. My wife really likes spicy+sweet, so fresh jalapeƱo and fresh pineapple ("Hot Hula") can be very good. My wife is a vegetarian, but I like me some soppressata. I definitely aggree with @dbcurrie, raisins are a messed up idea for toppings.

Dinner tonight: Seared Ahi Tuna

The only dish I've ever made that my wife literally cried (out of joy, amazement) when she started eating it was when I made Cat Cora's Sesame-Encrusted Tuna recipe.


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