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Staff Picks: Our Favorite Pies and Slices of 2013

Wow, what an unexpected honor! To be on the same list as UPN and Franny's, let alone PG's and Totonno's, I'm blown away and so humbled, clearly a man among giants. Thanks for the love Kelly!

My Pie Monday: Grapes, Corn, Zucchini, and More!

@TXCraig1 that pizza is so sexy.

@Markclark way to start the youngins' off right!

A Slice of Kenya: Building a Pizzeria in Nairobi, Part 1

@scott123 even though Kenya is equatorial, there are a huge number of microclimates. I hope that we can find a local (at least Kenyan) flour consistently with comparable specs. The shipping container is climate controlled, and I've learnt that amount includes flour not just for pizza, but also pasta, bread, and pastry, so it will be cycled quickly.

@riteshdoshi Good to network! It'd be great to meet up and chat about the local scene, produce, vendors, etc. Hit me up with your local number at tributepizza@gmail.com and I'll get in touch!

A Slice of Kenya: Building a Pizzeria in Nairobi, Part 1

Hey everyone, excuse me for being so late to this party! I’m still getting acclimated here, and my access to wifi is spotty, but I appreciate your guys’ interest in this crazy adventure, and I hope I can keep it entertaining for everyone in subsequent dispatches.

Cheers,
Matt

@imwalkin don’t be pissed, things take time. This pizzeria in Nairobi is the sister restaurant of a successful cafe that is 15 years old. And when the time is right, if you build it, they will come, even in Birmingham, Alabama. I would come. I will come. Someone smarter than I once said "Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're right." Believe that.

@Kelly Bone Always enjoy sharing a pie with you, and can’t wait if you’ll remind me how I made that whimsical artichoke and almond based vegan “ricotta.”

@frackle I’m already experiencing some pretty unique challenges, which I can’t wait to tell you about soon. Some things I had considered, some things I hadn’t. Thanks for the well wishes!

@jim s so far so good, hope it stays that way!

@scalfin there’s a pretty successful chain called Pizza Inn following in the footsteps of Little Caesar’s, and, in my limited and anecdotal experience here, 100% of the Kenyans I’ve shared meals with had toast with their eggs, pita with their falafel, naan with their curry, and slices with slices!

@tyrgyzistan not tomorrow, but soon.

@Brian Oh @portail32, @Roadwarriorafrica nailed it. The pizzeria, called 360° Artisan Pizza, is indeed at ABC Place Shopping Centre, directly next to Nairobi Java House. Address is P. O. Box 21533 James Gichuru Rd, Nairobi, Kenya. Soft opening is tentatively scheduled for Sept 15, but look for updates in subsequent dispatches, and feel free to hit me up via email (tributepizza@gmail.com)!

@Kieron thanks for hosting me in this amazing country! I’ll write more later, but some of markets and local good are simply incredible. Realistically though, some things won’t be local to start, but the game plan is experiment with blending the imported flour with locally grown and milled flour, and laying down an infrastructure to eventually exclusively use the local stuff. And tomatoes, I’m not giving too much away, if I say they’re already in the ground! And like I was referring to above to @scalfin, this venture isn’t designed for the ex-pats and immigrants here, Nairobi has a very vibrant middle class of natives and Kenyans residing here from around the country who we think will flock to honest pizza from caring hands.

@The Food Curator I’ve been out sampling as much of the competition as I can belly, but Naked Pizza is on the list in the next few days!

@scott123 Yes, very recently I’ve made pizza at elevation in preparation for this, and am familiar with the adjustments I need to compensate for, but still, I really appreciate your advice, and am sure to need it!

@pauliegee since I quoted you above, I can quote another man (man?) smarter than either of us: "Do or Do not. There is no try." And I will. I will Do.
That oven size is my mistake, I measured today, and it’s a 150. You thought ol’ Stef was holding out on you?

@Niki Achitoff-Gray thanks for covering for me while I’m incommunicado, a world or hotspot away.

@gaffer how about goat cheese? Seriously though, I’ll have to defer to the judgement of my Kenyan counterparts, and we’ll see if a cool idea like that might work.

Dear Slice: Texas Pizza Summit II

TXCraig1, once again showcasing that he's standout among standouts in the home baker commnunity. Impressive lineup of pies, guests, and it seems, good times; cheers, thanks for sharing!

Pizza Obsessives: Jimmy Coponi

I’m late to this party, but here goes:

Back when he was in NY, Anthony Mangieri’s menu, you might remember, had quite the manifesto. “All the square, round, thick, stuffed and over-topped pieces of dough may be to your liking, but don’t call it pizza,” he wrote. For nearly a full two pages of about 10pt font, Anthony continues to discredit most other pizzerias and pizzas throughout the world, calls baking in a gas-fired oven a “disgrace in the eyes of a true pizzaiuoli,” and itemizes the only ingredients permissible for true pizza, his. It’s dismissive, narrow-minded, and pretentious. But that discourse on the old UPN menu concludes with this statement: “Taste may be an opinion, but quality is a fact.” Discarding the customer's personal preference and tastes takes serious cajones, and Jimmy clearly has them, at 17.

UPN has been called on this site the Church of Pizza, and Jimmy is a disciple, and that’s his prerogative. On this site are the true believers, of whatever it is that we hold to be holy and true in the pizzaverse. I might disagree with Anthony and Jimmy on a few things, and even how they say it, but I struggle to believe the product wouldn't be near perfection, but even if not, absolutely no one here is in a position to say that he should hold his tongue, or that he’s wrong for preaching his beliefs. He’s a missionary at this age, who knows what he’ll be at 27. I feel privileged for the opportunity to watch that journey.

@Jimmy Coponi You might not like the pizza I make, or the process I take, but I hope one day that you’re willing to give it a shot. Even more, I look forward to trying your pies, because even if we care about different things, or prioritize different values, what we're talking about, it’s pizza, it's passion, and for more people than I think you realize, it's our lives.

VIDEO: Behind the Scenes at Di Fara

I ate at DiFara for my first time on Wednesday. In a vacuum, I'd say the pizza was great, but by no means the best in the world, or even in Brooklyn. But nowhere else have I ever stepped into one kind old man's write existence.

First, disregard the long wait times, the $5.00 slice, the occasional burnt edge, and the dilapidated fixtures; at this point, especially as a reader of Slice, what you're really going to DiFara for is to see Dom, hunched over, like in every photo, doing his thing. Honestly, at least for me, DiFara was more about paying to see him work, with slices an hour and a half later as a nice byproduct. When you see first hand that he really has asbestos hands, handling square pie pans straight out of the oven with bare hands, that's part of the ticket price. His daughters, especially Maggie, really are unnecessarily sweet, given the circus of fire-code-violation crowds of impatient diners from Yelp and Best Of lists and shows the world over, and not to mention enthusiastic bloggers maneuvering foot-long telephoto lenses in a living room sized space. His daughters, and the crowd, are part of the ticket price. We've all heard that some of the legend might be apocryphal, but you shouldn't mind. Instead, consider his grace in impromptu celebrity, politely accepting and simultaneously disregarding the pedestal he's been put on.

After watching Dom make 35 pizzas before my slice pie was in the oven, it occurred to me that he might prefer the route Chris Bianco has taken, handing over the peel, becoming a teacher, and sharing his passion with a larger audience than is possible when you handmake each pie personally at 78 years old. Or maybe, he'd like to just retire, like folks many years his junior younger do.

But when you've built something like he has, with the legend and celebrity, it's clearly not that simple. Not only is he the brand, that brand is supporting alot of people, but probably most of all, he must feel like the shop, the oliera, that ladle, are his entire identity, and no one wants to lose that. I don't know what Dom wants in his heart of hearts, but I feel he's going to pass with dough dried in his knuckle hair. That's kind of beautiful. Cheers to Dom, for living the legend, and doing it his way. Frank Sinatra would approve.

My Pie Monday: Polly-O Pan Pie, Spicy Bacon Jam, Detroit-Style Marco Pollo Pizza, and More!

Just some fine quality pies this week, everyone.

@Cheesus That looks superb, you made me look up samphire, was it foraged? What kind of flavor profile does it have?

@dhorst I don't know your background, but I know your excellent looking pies, congrats on going pro in a WFO!

@TXCraig That pie evoked a "Holy Shit!" it looks so good.

My Pie Monday: Hickory Burrata, Napa Cabbage, Buffalo Detroit and More!

@Effanzo_Mane Your steel results are looking superb, crust looks proper.

@TXCraig1 Your WFO neopolitan pies have always looked beyond professional, and this Detroit shows broad range, quite impressive. Let me join the others wanting to know when you're opening your shop.

@Scott D That could pass for an Una Pizza Napoletana Filetti, and I'll have two.

My Pie Monday: Pretzel Pizza, Pizza Bun, and Baking Steel Pizzas Galore!

@dellavecchia - I love pie based on a great concept, and that looks just so damn tasty, I think you found the elusive Great White Buffalo. Or, Buffalo Buffalo Buffalo.

@cheesus - True to your username, that is some holy cheese melt!

@Adam Kuban - For no broiler top heat, that much browning on top is still impressive. Are you using convection?

Behind the Scenes in the Epic Del Popolo Pizza Truck

Oh man, I've said it before and I'll say it again, that rig is the jam and an engineering marvel. Beautiful photos of beautiful pies. I love his philosophy, like Bianco says, the most Neapolitan thing you can do is to find the best ingredients you can in your region. Can't wait to get back to the Bay to check this out!

First Look: Ballard Pizza Company Brings East Coast Casual to Seattle

Can we agree the to have the giant hanging pizza wheel as an industry standard, the equivalent of the barber pole?

Photo of the Day: Sweet Shot of Del Popolo Truck

What a beaut. I might not be the fool who tries to copy it, but I might let it inspire me to try something similar. Nothing like a self-made pizzaiolo making it happen, doing it right and inspiring awe, the way Caleb Schiff, Keith Freilich, Casey Crynes, Paulie Gee, Keith Freilich and Jeff Krupman have for this whole community. It's such an exciting time for real pizza, can't wait try del Popolo, can't wait to see what's next.

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