New York has held a celebrated position in the history of pizza in America, ever since the early immigrants from Naples, Italy, brought their pizza-making skills to their new homeland. In this city, pizzaiolos continue to riff on styles old and new, contributing to an exciting, ever-changing pizza scene. Below we break down some of the new pizzerias that have opened in the past year.
Pizzaiolo Nino Coniglio is a born-and-bred Brooklynite who grew up eating his Italian grandma’s homemade pizza pies. She would spread the dough on the baking pan, and instead of waiting hours for the dough to rise, she would cook it right away for her hungry grandson. That method, shared by many Italian-American grandmothers, was the origin of the grandma pie that pizzerias around the tri-state area began serving in the 1990s, Coniglio explained.
At Coniglio’s Crown Heights pizzeria, the dough is prepared in the traditional way, with flour imported from Italy, but the grandma pie is fancied up with new combinations, like sliced apples, bacon, walnuts, smoked housemade mozzarella, and gorgonzola on the Apple Bacon pie ($25). The classic margherita will also win you over with its aromatic fresh basil ($20).
Coniglio also makes classic New York round pies. He won the title of Pizza Maker of the Year at the 2016 Annual International Pizza Expo for his Tartufo pie: a smoky, rich blend of porcini truffle cream, rosemary, smoked scamorza, and mozzarella, studded with fragrant pine nuts ($29). BrooklynPizzaCrew.com
This Financial District spot also gets creative with the grandma pie by forgoing the pan and baking the pizza directly in the oven, giving it an extra crunchy texture. The pizzaiolos stretch the dough to their liking and serve the irregularly shaped pies in sheet pans. The Pickled Peppers pie is a mouthwatering combination of piquant and spicy, with the peppers getting an intense zing of flavor from marinating in Champagne vinegar and spices ($14). Other creative combinations include the Sausage pie with mozzarella and balsamic caramelized onions ($16); and the Brussels Sprout with mozzarella, pancetta, and Calabrian chili oil ($18). SauceAndBarrel.com
One of the most well-regarded pizzaiolos in Naples right now is Gino Sorbillo. He’s had lots of practice: Sorbillo is a third-generation pizzaiolo who started making pizza when he was 9 years old. He is known for his deft hands that can handle dough delicately. Through a translator, he explained that the warmth of the hands is bad for the dough. He has to work quickly in order to ensure there’s as little physical contact as possible, and the pizza comes out of the oven light and airy.
He says the key to excellent pizza is the ingredients “and knowing the story behind them, the people who grow them.” Sorbillo uses only Italian produce and organic flour from the Caputo mill in Italy. The highlight of his Little Italy shop is the fried pizza: a puffy pocket of dough, deep-fried to perfection, with a golden crisp. Oozing out is a juicy combination of tomatoes and ricotta, filled with flavor from Italian ham ($11). Facebook.com/GinoSorbilloArtistaPizzaNapoletana
At this new location of Kesté, pizzaiolo Roberto Caporuscio presents inventive takes on toppings, with over 40 different pizzas to choose from, including ones inspired by the specialty products in different regions of Italy. The Tyrolese pizza features white truffles, while the Tuscan pizza is topped with black kale and Tuscan pecorino. But the base is always Neapolitan style. The Pizza Del Papa tastes as bright and brilliant as it looks: butternut squash cream, roasted peppers, smoked buffalo mozzarella, and smoked ricotta blend together for vegetable-filled bliss ($21). Meanwhile, the Noci e Zucchini stands out for its layer of smooth walnut cream, soft and earthy against basil and zucchini ($23).
For meat lovers, there is the Macellaio (literally “butcher”), with a different meat on each quadrant of the pie: sausage, porchetta, salami crespone, and prosciutto from Parma ($24).
Caporuscio is also very proud of his gluten-free pizza, made with a blend of rice, potato, and soy flours from the Caputo mill. The texture and flavor is remarkably similar to regular pizza, so people seeking gluten-free options won’t miss out. KestePizzeria.com
Matt Hyland is the pizza master behind Emily, the pizzeria named after his wife. For a typical deep-dish, Detroit-style pizza, cooked tomato sauce is added after the pizza comes out of the oven. Hyland’s riff is to add raw tomato sauce before the pie gets cooking. He spreads the cheese all the way to the edge of the pie, making for a cheesy crust that breaks apart with a definitive crunch, while the inside stays soft. Hyland combines enticing flavors together: The Colony pie consists of fiery pickled chilies, pepperoni, and honey ($21), while the Madre has bright tomatillo sauce as the base, topped with bits of chorizo ($19). The Pig Freaker harbors a surprising Asian twist: a cheesy, ranch-dressing-like sauce made from miso, combined with the funkiness of kimchi and fatty bacon ($22). PizzaLovesEmily.com
This Washington chain stands out for its unique pizza shape: oblong pies that co-founder Michael Lastoria says guarantees maximum surface area for toppings when cut up and prevents the pie from getting soggy during delivery. Guests get to personalize every aspect of the pie, from the dough (traditional wheat, producing a focaccia-like crust; ancient grain, a combination of 12 different grains; or gluten-free, made of tapioca and brown rice flour), to the sauce, the cheese, and the toppings. Each location of &pizza features local producers. In New York, it’s Mike’s Hot Honey for a chili-infused drizzle and Luke’s Lobster for wild-caught shrimp, among others. If you’re indecisive, try signature pies like the Moonstruck, heady with truffled mushrooms, goat cheese, garlic ricotta, and a fig-balsamic drizzle, and the Salad Pizza, piled with romaine, basil pesto, ranch dressing, cucumbers, and pickled red onions for a most appetizing way to consume salad ($10.10 for all). AndPizza.com