Friday Pizza Box 1/27/23
Department of corrections
Welcome to the Wordloaf Pie January Friday Pizza Box, a weekly roundup of links and items relating to pizza.
But before we dig into this week’s slices, I need to mention something about the tavern-style pizza recipe from John Carruthers that I published the other day: A small but important set of details was left out and has now been corrected, which is that the dough balls get put into the fridge once shaped and container-ed. And once it comes time to roll them out, the containers are left to sit on the counter for 2 to 3 hours to warm up first. Sorry about that, hope nobody has had doughs sitting out on the counter, overproofing all this time.
And now, the news:
Wanted to alert my NorCal readers about this excellent SF Chronicle roundup of the Bay Area’s best pizza joints, and to make the rest of us jealous of the bounty of options they have. I especially liked this bit of detail on how to find Freewheel Pizza Co., a place I’d very much like to arrive at someday:
Located in a Clayton shopping center in a nondescript building behind a Safeway, Freewheel can be a bit of a challenge to find (its website instructs: “Go to Sherwin Williams make a left, we are at the end of the alley”). But know that your reward will be outstanding pizza. The low-key operation makes just 40 pies a day — styles span New York, grandma and Detroit — and only accepts online orders.
It was news to me, but my friend Dennis Lee, of Food is Stupid fame (who just DEEP FRIED a black truffle), also has a newsletter about the Chicago food scene, apropos-ly named The Party Cut. And this week he published an excellent guest piece by Brian Erst, all about deep dish pizza:
The controversy outside the city is whether deep dish pizza is even pizza. John Stewart and millions of New Yorkers dismissively call it a casserole. Eating pizza with a fork and knife is so déclassé that they universally mocked their own mayor when he did so.
The controversy inside the city is over which of the indigenous styles of pizza in Chicago deserves the term “Chicago style.” Chicago has at least five separate styles of pizza invented or popularized here (deep dish, deep pan with caramelized cheese, stuffed, thin crust, and double decker) and each has its own partisans. But the big, knockdown fights are between the thin crust aficionados and the deep dish lovers.
Pizza the hut
Jonathan Surratt, at the excellent sandwich blog Bounded by Buns (which I surely have already plugged here in the past), is spending all of January focusing on melty sandwichy things, a project he is calling Meltuary. This week he wrote all about Pizza Hut Melts, a hybrid between pizza and quesadillas:
A Pizza Hut Melt is very similar to a quesadilla but instead of using a flat flour tortilla, it’s using a yeast-leavened flatbread like naan, pita bread or more specifically a thin pizza crust. I don’t have inside knowledge, but the official Pizza Hut Melts are almost certainly Pizza Hut’s Thin ‘N Crispy pizza dough cut in half for each melt.
It’s thin crust, but it’s thicker and crunchier than a tortilla typically used in a quesadilla. Each Pizza Hut Melt is stuffed with toppings—now fillings—and mozzarella cheese.
As Jonathan mentions, the PHM is one of those things that ends up being better in theory than in practice, which is why he also included a recipe for a homemade version that actually lives up to its promise.
That’s it for this week’s pizza box. May you all have a peaceful/pizzaful weekend.
That Utica tomato pie looks suspiciously like our homegrown favourite (of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada), Roma pizza! Vice even did a video on it: https://video.vice.com/en_ca/video/this-slab-pizza-has-been-building-a-devout-following-for-50-years/5ab56163f1cdb314914727d1
Yeah, for sure! Roma Pizza is a classic Hamilton, Ontario party food - potlucks, picnics, and birthday parties will often have one. It's a rectangular pizza with just bread and sauce, and a few varieties have toppings (banana peppers on one ,pepperoni on another) but no cheese - people disagree whether to eat it warm or cold (I eat it cold). Growing up, I thought it was all over, but even moving to the next city they don't know it. It's from a single, old-school bakery: https://romabakery.ca/pizza/
And here's a clip from a newspaper article that's also probably locked for non-subscribers
"Roma pizza has a cultlike following, with its secret sauce, bakery-fresh crust and unusual toppings — that is, there aren’t any... The seemingly blasphemous absence of cheese isn’t the only quirk: while the bread-style pizza can be heated in an oven or barbecue, it is traditionally served cold.
“Sometimes we’re a bit dumbfounded by it too, the huge following,” says Anthony DiFilippo, one of the family owners of the business, which next year will mark 70 years in the city. “But the product is all handmade, no preservatives or trans fats, it’s vegan and healthy.” (Their menu does offer a non-traditional option with pepperoni, presumably for those who skulk in from Toronto.) He admits that those who first encounter the pizza often don’t get it. “But if you grow up in Hamilton — you just know."