Yesterday we talked to Forcella pizzaiolo Giulio Adriani about his deep-fried montanara pizza, the soon-to-open Forcella location on Bowery, and the proper way to eat a Neapolitan pizza. Today, he shares his favorite New York pizzerias and the secret to a great Margherita.
Besides Forcella, where do you like to eat pizza in New York?
My favorites are Kesté, which is run by one of my good friends; Motorino, which is very good; and PizzaArte, which is a new place where I was originally supposed to be one of the partners. These three places are some of the more authentic places in New York. Regarding nontraditional Neapolitan pizzas, I like Paulie Gee’s. He makes something that’s close to Neapolitan, but it’s not quite Neapolitan because he is an artistic person who likes to use crazy toppings, but still he makes a good pizza. I also like Co. and Patsy’s on the Upper West Side.
How do you feel about New York-style pizza?
I don’t like calling pizza “New York-style” or “Neapolitan-style” or “Roman-style.” Technically this is a mistake. Pizza is universal. Look at pasta; you have spaghetti with tomato sauce, and you go through seven regions of Italy and you can have it seven different ways, but we don’t call it “spaghetti with tomato alla Romagna” or “alla Siciliana,” just “spaghetti.”
The truth about what is called New York-style pizza is that when immigrants came from Italy, they were looking for a job and lots of them decided to become pizza makers. Now, they weren’t originally pizza makers, so they would contact their grandma at home and ask, “How do you do this?” So from this big experiment came the New York-style pizza.
Like any pizza, when made with heart and the right away, it can be very good. The problem is most pizzerias in New York don’t make it this way. What I want people to understand is that a slice for $1 can’t be made with good ingredients. This is a battle worth having. Just the mozzarella costs 40 cents; so how can the rest of the ingredients be any good?
Let’s talk about good pizza. How do you make a perfect Margherita?
The cooking of the dough is the real secret. We want it so that you can taste every single ingredient — this can only be achieved by cooking it for the right amount of time. Cook it too much and the tomato will acquire a different taste. Some say cook it for between 1 and 1½ minutes; I say between 60 and 75 seconds.
How about the sauce. Do you use San Marzano tomatoes?
San Marzano is a really, really small area close to Napoli. The small producer that I like, they don’t have enough for consistent deliveries to America, so I prefer something more stable. I like to use San Marzano-type tomatoes which are cultivated in areas close to San Marzano, like Sarno or Napoli, where the terrain is still rich and the product is still good. You don’t really notice the difference.
What about the cheese?
We make it ourselves. I usually make it two times, once around 11 a.m. and once around 5 p.m. We produce around 40 to 50 pounds a day. In Italy, the fior di latte is almost like mozzarella di bufala. Here, the fior di latte is dry and tasteless, so I decided to make my own so I could adjust the saltiness and consistency, because in Napoli we like our mozzarella to be a little more moist.
Is there anything from Italy that you wish you could get here in America?
The law here doesn’t allow us to import salami. Prosciutto is OK, but not salami. The Italian salami you see here is really made in America, just made in an Italian way. I wish I could also have some of the sausages we can’t import. I wish we could also get vegetables like rapini, because here it’s a little too bitter while in Italy it’s sweet. I wish we had the Italian eggplant, too. Here they’re very bitter and full of water. At the supermarket they look so huge, but when you cook them down they really shrink.
What do you eat when you’re not eating pizza?