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Beyond less propensity for side char to accommodate Chris's longer baked style, raising the platform moves the heat source a tiny bit closer to the dome and a tiny bit further away from the floor, which probably goes a little way in correcting the top/bottom heat balance that Chris sees in his high dome ovens. With the amount of volume they do, I'm sure they don't have much time for doming, and this platform most likely helps in that regard.
"Judging by the regularity of My Pie Monday contributors and pizzamaking.com visitors, I'd say the spread is most likely much bigger, so we're being generous here."
Wait, so, today, with the wolf at the door, it appears as if we're valued, hobbyist, brothers in arms, raising our peels to the sky in a show of unity and strength. But tomorrow, THAT's when we go back to being circle jerking photograph judging pretenders. Is that about right? :)
You better be careful, Kenji. The way you're talking, it almost sounds like we're a community. At least, for today. :)
Larry, if you go, my suggestion would be to go for dinner. I have a theory that the dinner dough has been fermented longer and thus has a bit more flavor.
30 bucks a pound? Whoah. Can I get these on layaway?
Nice review, Kenji. 7-10 minutes is longer than I personally prefer, and the paleness of the crumb seems to point towards the possibility of a same day dough (FWIW, Best is same day as well), but that undercrust tops 99.9% of the stuff I've seen in this area. I'm not planning a special trip, but, if I'm in the area, I'll grab a slice.
I've never seen a new pizzeria open that didn't have some sort of oven related growing pains, regardless of how long they've had the oven in place. Neapolitan joints get a lot more leeway in this regard, because wood fired oven tending takes such an incredibly long time to truly master, but there's a considerable learning curve with this style as well.
I'm not in love with the bread reference (great pizza should never be bready) and a 600 deg. peak temp, for NY style pizza, isn't much of a selling point, but I'm willing to give them time. On the plus side, the paleness on the undercrust points to a relatively balanced bake- if not a little top heavy, which, for this kind of oven, is encouraging. If they ever decide to mod the thermostat and push the oven to 650, this could get pretty magical.
You're the troll, Mal. Isn't getting a rise out of me your goal? ;)
You come along and raise this incredibly tired "you can't judge a pizza by a photo" argument in the midst of one of the mostly highly judge-able photos I've ever seen and expect me to just sit back and agree with you?
If you want to say that photos, generally speaking, are not great indicators of how a pizza will taste, it's an argument that's been beaten to death, but, hey, I'll gladly have that argument with you. But this photo? Seriously?
That's right, Mal, I'm an armchair quarterback who can't tell from this photo that the completely incinerated pizza reveals a brutally obvious heat imbalance.
This photo tells us absolutely nothing. Why would I ever think something was wrong here? I jumped to a conclusion that I had no right jumping to. It looks burnt beyond all recognition, but who the hell am I to judge? Fuck my decades of thermodynamic research. I will make sure to never comment on a pizza photo again, because pizza can only be judged by taste.
@11USCCH7, Experience, unfortunately, can't trump science either. The Valoriani's perform perfectly fine with longer bake times (Jeff Hayden's experience):
but when you crank up the heat and move into Pizzahacker-ish shorter bakes, the Valoriani's imbalance becomes woefully evident.
Thanks, I'm glad we agree :) A couple decades of thermodynamics research doesn't hurt either. Jeff has world class skills, but skills can't trump science. He can't snap his fingers and make an imbalanced oven act like a balanced one.
@11USCCH7, 1. I trust Paulie's opinion implicitly. He has publicly stated that Jeff's pizza was the best he had on his trip and he hit all the top spots in the area 2. I have eyes :) If you look at this
and say "yum," we're in two different universes. Are you really trying to tell me that the pizza in this shot can't be judged by a photo?
"Friends don't let friends open pizzerias with Valoriani ovens, lol."
I think, between the whole wheat and the malted flour/caputo blend, they're obviously doing something very different. I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and chalk up that undercrust as a growing pain.
This being said, going from selling pizzas on the street to partnering on a brick & mortar is a gargantuan step. I have tremendous faith that Jeff is destined to do more great things, but, like I said in an earlier discussion, I don't foresee Forge matching the ethereal quality of his previous work. Forge may work through what could be typical new pizzeria growing pains and put out great pies, but they won't be pizzahacker pies. With the countless hours of tinkering Jeff has done with his pizzaforge setup, and the thermodynamics knowledge he has to have amassed, I can only assume that the Valoriani decision was his partner's and not his. Hopefully this undertaking will make him enough money so that he can venture out on his own. The world definitely deserves a true pizzahacker brick & mortar.
Hey Paulie, can we settle up on that wager now? How about payment in the form of pizza? ;)
In a previous Totonno's related article, I made some comments, that, after having some time to think about it, I came to perceive as being insensitive. I attempted to have them retracted, but was unsuccessful. Since the topic has come up again, I'll take this opportunity to make amends. In the wake of the Sandy tragedy, it wasn't the time and the place to broach those particular topics. I apologize for my insensitivity.
Totonno's is a NY institution. The Pero extended family are good and kind people and completely undeserving of the adversities that have been plaguing them these last few years. I am happy to see their financial issues being alleviated and wish them all the best as they move forward.
While I'm ecstatic to see Paulie getting some well deserved recognition, the NY style side of this list is pretty abysmal, imo.
Steve's in Miami?! This
gets a mention over New Park and Pizza Town? Even Best, which I feel has seen better days, is better than that.
They should build a tall, comfortable, tennis umpire chair that Patsy can sit in and have a view of all the pizza being made.
@Scott569, that's definitely arugula. Arugula and some basil.
So, Jay Jerrier's going to do NY style? I wish him well.
I don't visit every link in TWIP, but there's always at least one that catches my interest. For me, it's a vital bridge to the extended online pizza community. I don't post comments too much because I used to post and be the lone poster, but it's, by far, my favorite part of Slice.
Adam, if it is getting to be too much work, would "This Month in Pizza" make it any easier? How about removing the time component completely and just going with random, schedule permitting, updates?
In a perfect world, you've have a clone doing this and readers would both get updates and they'd be timely. If it's between less timely and not at all, though, I'm all for less timely.
If it's business in the front and party in the back, I can only assume that the back is ordering the pizza.
It depends on where you are in NY. Slice pies are most frequently 18", but, as you move out to the outer boroughs, you'll find the occasional place that goes larger. My favorite place growing up sold slices from 21" pies.
There's also the notoriously huge slices in Hoboken, but that's something different.
And, while we're on the topic of slice pies, I think it's worth mentioning that, for some places, slices are better than whole pies. Because the slices are from larger pies, the cheese and sauce to rim ratio is better, but, more importantly, I think that because slice pies end up on display, I get the feeling owners give them a little more attention. You obviously don't want a slice that's been sitting around, but between ordering a new pie or getting a slice pie straight from the oven, I'm going with slices every time.
"It is a big green egg with an open door on the front. It is a wood fired LBE. It is a wood fired MPO. It is a wood fired Two Stone. It is a wood fired Brick Oven Box."
Jeff, the unique component of this device is that rather than being an insert to an existing piece of equipment (MPO, BOB) or a method of adding components to an existing piece of equipment to make it pizza friendly (LBE, BGE), it's an actual piece of equipment engineered for pizza. A 2stone inferno is a portable gas fired pizza oven and that too is engineered specifically for pizza, but this is a portable wood fired pizza oven. I wouldn't necessarily call this a wood 2stone, since the fuel component is pretty intrinsic to the engineering. The concept is unique.
"Can there be a market for something in the middle? With better looks, easier to use, that can bake a pizza in 2 minutes?"
Neapolitan is the belle of the ball. If people are shopping for pizza devices, that's the feature they're looking for. Some people might consider 2 minutes to be Neapolitan, but it's not firmly in the parameter. Anyone looking for Neapolitan in a device like this will want as much baking time leeway as possible. Regardless of how many people might feel 2 minutes is Neapolitan, as you move up from that, you both lose any Neapolitan definition, Neapolitan features and, frankly, good eating qualities, until you hit NY at 3 and 4.
If you're buying a piece of equipment to make Neapolitan pizza, you're going to buy a device that will comfortably hit those times, not one that will come extremely close. If you're buying a device for NY, the market is saturated. Unless you can do $100 for something that will give you a 4 minute bake outdoors. That hasn't been achieved.
Jeff, while I agree that the design, as it stands, will never produce a Neapolitan bake time (and most likely not dip that much under 3 minutes), I'm not in agreement regarding it's similarity to other designs. While I've, in the past, been kind of a dick to people who I feel are attempting to cash in on unoriginal ideas, this is one of those rare times where I think the idea is actually original. This is one of those unusual grill related inventions that isn't a 2stone grill insert ripoff. In order to be viable, it might end up breaching 2stone inferno territory, but, right now, it's unique. It won't work, but it's unique :)
As long as the inventor isn't stealing anyone else's ideas, making specious claims or taking anyone's hard earned cash, I say dream away.
"Helps to have Colombo backing."
So you're telling me that the hordes of people fighting over seats in L&B during almost every moment of the day are there because they're afraid of getting their kneecaps busted? Or does the place have lines out the door because the pizza is consistently great?
@Chris E.Crowley, if you really think this is just my own opinion, you haven't read much of this site lately. 'Great' hasn't been used as a descriptor for Totonno's for a long time. Even it's most diehard fans are throwing around prevaricating terms like 'still pretty good' and 'brings back memories.'
If you want Totonno's to always be around for nostalgic reasons, I'm all for it. It's a huge historical player. Lombardi's stopped being a viable pizzeria years ago and is now just a museum, so why not add Totonno's to that list as well? But 'Church of Pizza?' I worship pizza as it tastes this very moment. You can't eat history.
Totonno's opened February 2010 until Sandy hit in late October 2012. That's 20 months. Regardless of how long they were closed for before that, a NY pizzeria making truly great pizza in an area like Coney Island should have absolutely no problem paying back a loan like this. For great pizzerias, $200K is a drop in the bucket.
There's nothing crass about Darwinism. It's not pleasant. It's not happy. But it isn't crass. When the lion takes out the slowest gazelle, the other gazelles don't recoil in horror and say "oh, that's crass." It's survival of the fittest. And Totonno's stopped being fit a while ago.
@Chris E.Crowley, have you been to Nathan's in Coney Island in the last three years? Did you ever NOT have to wait in line? Sure, there's tremendous seasonal fluctuations involved, but to make the implication that Coney Island is somehow off the beaten track is a bit ridiculous.
How far is L&B from Totonno's? L&B is not only one of the most profitable independents in the NY area, but most likely one of the most lucrative independents in the history of pizza. This pizza making juggernaut could pull together an extra $200K in a matter of weeks. Have you ever heard anyone complain about a drop in quality from L&B? They've maintained their standards, year after year, and, year after year, the money keeps pouring in.
If L&B is too 'central' for you, take a good look at New Park's bottom line. How often does anyone make it out to Howard Beach? Yet they're still rolling in it. And what about Mount Vernon way up North? Do you think there's any chance, with the quality of pies they make, that Johnny's is pulling in any less than a fortune? To the West, Pizza Town, in Elmwood Park, NJ, is churning out a large pizza almost every minute in a space half the size of Totonno's. Trust me when I tell you that there's no tourists in Elmwood Park. No beach, no history, no Nathan's, no Cyclone, just a state highway with box stores.
If you make it (great pizza) they will come. Totonno's stopped making great pizza and people stopped coming. They had a couple really tough breaks, but it's not the calamities that have put them in this situation, it's the crappy pizza they've gravitated towards in recent years.
Not to belittle the tragic impact Sandy had on our area, nor am I making light of Totonno's devastating 2009 fire, but, any pizzeria with this level of national acclaim and historical significance that can't pay back a $200K loan in 3 years shouldn't be open.
Making good pizza is like printing money. The fact that they're having money problems only further confirms the drop in quality that many contributors here have recognized.
And this "it's not a business, it's a passion" garbage? Give me a break. Do you really think that it's not a passion for Paulie Gee? Do you really think Paulie would EVER have trouble paying back loans?
Make good pizza and these kinds of problems evaporate.
Ah, yes, the buttressing. Interesting stuff, Jeff. Thanks for sharing this.
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