Special Sauce: “Is Deep Dish Pizza a Casserole?” And Other Pressing Pizza Questions

Special Sauce: “Is Deep Dish Pizza a Casserole?” And Other Pressing Pizza Questions


Top view of Neapolitan pizza cooked in a Pizzeria Pronto pizza oven[Pizza photographs: J. Kenji López-Alt]

Welcome back to part 2 of Ed Levine’s Special Sauce conversation about pizza in the wake of the revelation by pizza historian Peter Regas about the true origins of New York City pizza.

If you recall from last week, Regas has demonstrated that Lombardi’s, which was long thought to have been the first pizzeria in New York, was in fact not the first. This week, Regas shares a little bit of what he’s discovered about the origins of Chicago’s iconic deep dish pizza. As is par for the course with any discussion about deep dish among pizza-heads, this bit of history is accompanied by a lot of talk about whether deep dish is or isn’t a casserole. (It’s a casserole, folks!)

Ed then gets Regas and Sasha to talk about their favorite pizza joints in Chicago and New York and beyond, which they do with only a little bit of reluctance. A few of the names you might recognize, as either a local or a pizza enthusiast: Coalfire, Spacca Napoli, Mama’s Too, Speedy Romeo’s…did I hear someone say the Illuminati?

In the second half of the episode, Ed has on J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, who needs no introduction, and they talk about Regas’s revelations and the nature of history. Kenji also gives us a preview of some new menu items on the menu at Wursthall, his restaurant in San Mateo, Calif, where he’s planning on doing flammkuchen, which is a kind of-not really German pizza, and he shares a little bit of why he enjoys making pizza and pizza-type things so much. “Because you’re interacting with a live thing,” Kenji says, “that certainly takes a lot more skill than working with something like sous vide…There’s nothing precise at all in the pizza oven. So, when you get it right, it’s pretty nice.”

That’s just a small taste of all the pizza talk packed in this episode, and we hope you give it a listen.

Special Sauce is available on iTunes, Google Play Music, Soundcloud, Player FM, and Stitcher. You can also find the archive of all our episodes here on Serious Eats and on this RSS feed.

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Transcript

Ed Levine: Hello Serious Eaters. We’re back with another, another pizza centric episode of Serious Eats. We’ve got Peter Regas back. We have Sasha Marx back. We’re going to have Kenji López-Alt weighing in on pizza because everybody needs to weigh in on pizza. Of course Peter Regas has now convinced me that pizza in New York, and therefore America, at least as far as we know, did not begin at Lombardi’s.

Sasha Marx, who is one of our culinary editors and recipe developers at Serious Eats, who spent much time in Rome growing up, and he makes, I can tell you that he makes really good pizza. He’s actually a really good cook, a really, really, really good cook. So, he’s back with us.

Sasha Marx: Thanks so much.

EL: Then we’re going to get Kenji López-Alt in here. It’s going to be a great episode about pizza.

EL: So, Peter, what in your research explains the fascination that we all have?

PR: As you said, even not-so-good pizza is pretty good pizza.

EL: It’s still melted cheese on bread.

PR: It’s still good. It’s very hard to screw it up. I think there’s an interest in regionals and that sort of happens so that even if your local pizzeria or the type of the pizza that you have in that particular part of the country is good, you’re not experiencing the other ones that may be great. Even though you have an average pizzeria to you, it’s very good.

EL: Yeah. Sam Sifton, who’s now the food editor of the New York Times in my pizza book, if you remember, he espoused the pizza cognition theory, which stated that the pizza you grew up with became in your mind the power of dogmatic pizza. For people in the Midwest, it’s possible that it’s a chain pizza because that’s the pizza they grew up with and they didn’t know, as you said, they didn’t know about all these other places. So, it was damn good to them.

PR: Exactly.

EL: Everything else then becomes not pizza in their minds.

SM: Which would be a huge shame, but I feel like pizzas in the states and in other countries, people get really worked up talking about food. I feel like I’ve had so many sort of knock down, drag out debates over food in Italy, but in the states, you don’t find that as much, and especially not on a national level. I feel like people sort of have regional pride for certain dishes and stuff. I feel like pizza is one of the few things that all across the country, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t have an opinion about pizza, and usually people have very strong opinions about it, which I really like. There are few things I can have like a real set of fired up talk about.

EL: Sasha and I got into it at Una Pizza Napoletana because-

SM: Don’t blow up my spot.

EL: But it’s great. No, you see, I love the joust. That’s part of the fun for food for me.

EL: When I wrote New York EatsSM: Yeah. It is interesting how much the internet has changed how we debate food matters, and especially about things that are as contentious as pizza.

EL: Yeah, I mean, we were talking when my pizza book came out, and I said in my pizza book, that at best, Chicago Pizza is good casserole. A columnist at one of the Chicago dailies when there were many Chicago dailies, took me to task in two columns and just is like, “If I were you, Mr. Levine, I’d watch your step if you ever come to Chicago.” I was like, really? I’m just stating my opinion and I like casseroles.

SM: I lived in Chicago for two years and I would definitely agree on that take on deep dish. My favorite Neapolitan pizza places in Chicago though, Spacca Napoli, which is—

EL: Yeah, which is solid, I think. Yeah. Now you do have a bonci, right?

SM: A bonci, yeah. As far as deep dish goes, I’m a Pequod’s guy.

EL: Of course, the original Pequod’s Pizza, Pizzaiolo, opened Burt’s, which was a legendary place that Anthony Bourdain, the late great Anthony Bourdain, put on his television show and yet it closed.

PR: Burt Katz died.

SM: Yeah. He passed away.

EL: Yeah. Burt Katz died, and then a couple of young guys have revived it, right.

SM: Oh, really? I didn’t know that.

PR: That’s correct. Yeah. Yeah. There’s good and bad in everything, right? There’s good deep dish and bad deep dish. There’s good New York slice, there’s bad New York slice. There is, I think a problem sometimes when you have that deep dish that can hold virtually anything, anything can be stuffed in that pizza. You can put a half an inch of Mozzarella in there, even though it’s way out of proportion and it’s still functional. You can still cook the pizza that way. It’s a little bit of a crutch.

EL: Yes, and you can put a one-pound sausage patty on top. Of course, then they decided to double down on the crust, right, with double crusted pizza.

PR: Stuffed pizza.

EL: Stuffed pizza.

PR: One on the bottom, one on the top.

EL: Which makes each pizza 10 pounds.

PR: Right. But it’s important to say that’s not the original deep dish.

EL: Right? No, for sure.

PR: Stuffed pizza came much later.

EL: But it became a thing. Right?

PR: It did become a thing.

EL: Did you have a stuffed pizza when you were in Chicago? Was that just a slice too far for you?

SM: It was a slice too far from me, but I had deep dish. I mean, I tried the Giordano’s and the Illuminati.

EL: Lou Malnati’s. See, he’s Italian. So I love that he said Lou Malnati.

SM: Yeah, that’s like one of the running jokes in Chicago is that you’re part of the Illuminati. But yeah, those ones, I mean, that’s a lot of cheese.

EL: It’s so much cheese. Even if you like sausage, just that pound of sausage.

PR: Can I give you a little preview of my deep dish chapters go?

EL: Yeah.

SM: Please.

PR: Is that fair?

EL: It’s not only fair, it’s required.

PR: All right, well I’m going to make the claim, I think, as the research now that the deep dish didn’t really start off that deep. They had the deep dish. That’s true. I have a photograph of it in the mid ’40s, but when they originally started, it was much thinner than it turned out to be. That’s why I think there’s some evolution into it.

PR: Now, don’t forget they’d started that Pizzeria Uno in 1943 when they had rationing.

EL: Right. This was started by a GI who’d come back from the war?

PR: No.

EL: No? Okay. That was another pizza tale.

PR: Right. It was started by… That’s an issue to start in itself, but it became public knowledge at some time that the people behind it were Ike Sewell and Ric Riccardo. Ric Riccardo was a famous restaurateur in Chicago. Had his Ric Riccardo, the restaurant on Rush street.

PR: The best information that I have is that when they were making it in the ’40s, it was not nearly as thick as it turned out to be by the ’60s. We could say that it did become thicker, it looks like, and the cook times expanded. So you have a thicker dish, you want to cook some more, but the key crutch is that they had their deep dish. So it didn’t really… I mean, anyone could have done it, it could have been even thicker.

PR: What we think of deep dish is not necessarily what was there in the ’40s or ’50s for that matter.

EL: Got it. That’s interesting because I think a little bit of why Sasha, I think, likes Pequod’s, as do I, and like Burt’s Place when, I haven’t been there since the new one opened, is that it isn’t quite as deep and it’s lighter. The dough is lighter at Pequod’s and at Burt’s Place.

PR: One of the critical things about deep dish is the amount of fat they put into it, and by fat, I mean either oil or a butter of some sort. So it’s not just the thickness of it, but the heaviness of that dough. That’s why one slice can fill up most people.

EL: Yeah.

SM: To me, the addition of butter into the dough is where you lose me on it being pizza. I can’t really—

EL: Sasha sort of got one foot in the purest camp and then one foot in the—

SM: I am perfectly happy as long as it’s delicious. I feel like to be pizza, it needs to have some things. Yeah. What I like about Pequod’s, it’s a little more bready and then it’s a little more restrained with the cheese. To me, it reminded me more of a Pizza Rosa or something like that.

EL: Right. Pequod’s was the place that Burt had the cheese run into the crust. Right?

PR: Correct. You caramelize the crust by putting the cheese deliberately on the side of the cross to burn or to caramelize if you want the nicer word.

SM: Detroit-y, almost.

EL: Right. Of course, Sasha’s right in terms of pizza styles constantly evolving, and people bringing new pizzas to us all. Now, Detroit Pizza, the thing in New York. When I wrote my pizza book, there was not a slice of Detroit pizza to be had. Is there going to be Detroit chapter in your book?

PR: I got to get the book out. It’s been 10 years. I don’t think so. I mean, there’s some point you have to cut things off. I liked the origins of the things. I like the early origins. I’m really fascinated. I’m from Chicago, so I’m going include that, too, but at some point the madness must stop.

EL: We’re going to have JKLA on, who has his own version of pan pizza, which is really, really delicious. I’ve made it and it’s not that big. It’s not that thick. So, it’ll be interesting to see what he has to say about this because he has a lot of strong opinions about pizza.

EL: That’s the great thing. Maybe the one thing that everyone has, one of many things that people have in common when they work at Serious Eats is that they do have a passion for pizza. I didn’t even know that Sasha had a passion for pizza. Now Sasha, you make pizza. Peter, do you make pizza or do you just eat it?

PR: I do make pizza. I do make pizza.

SM: What kind?

PR: Who said it was a Neo—

EL: Neopolitan American? Jeffrey Steingarten?

PR: Yes. Neapolitan American. That’s sort of like the crispy outside, tender inside, big whole crumb structure. That’s my type.

EL: Yeah, that’s a little bit. It’s like Totonno’s style I think.

PR: Exactly.

EL: I want to know from you, Peter, and from you, Sasha, I want to know top five pizza, top five-

PR: Oh, my God.

EL: Come on man.

PR: I’m walking on that one.

EL: All right, so I’m going to phrase it differently. Five pizzerias that you love in Chicago. I’ll settle for three if you can’t get the five. It could be any style.

PR: I’m thinking, I’m thinking. You’ve got me frozen in the headlights here.

PR: Well, the one that comes to mind is no longer there, called Great Lake.

EL: Right. That was awesome.

PR: That’s a sad day when that left. Some rumors that he might come back.

EL: Right.

PR: The other one that I loved in Rosemont is gone, too, called Romanos. I grew up on that one. So that one’s gone, too. In Champaign-Urbana, I went to college with Papa Del’s, which is a sort of a deep dish type. It’s not deep dish, but it’s kind of like that. I like Coalfire. I liked Spacca Napoli. You wanted a third one? Lou Malnati’s is always very good.

EL: Are you a fan of Chicago bar pies, Like Vito & Nick’s?

PR: Yes. I mean, I would categorize that is good, solid pizza. It’s not destination pizza but it’s a good, solid pizza and they’re very good.

EL: What about you, Sasha? Could be Chicago, New York, just like five pizzerias you love.

SM: For five pizzas I love in New York, I only moved back to New York, I was born in New York but I only moved back here.

EL: All right, so I’ll allow you New York, Boston, and Chicago.

SM: All right, well, for New York so far, I live pretty close to Mama’s TOO, which just mentioned earlier and that’s a great-

EL: It’s a beautiful thing.

SM: Sort of Neo New York pie.

EL: Yes, and he just cooked at the Beard House, dude.

SM: Yeah, I saw that. Then, I mean, you had mentioned in your piece that he sort of created, along with like they do round pies, they can get by the slice, and then he does these sort of square that are sort of a hybrid between a bonci dough and a sort of Sicilian style, or grandma’s slice style, and that’s pretty great.

SM: Ops Pizza-

EL: In Bushwick?

SM: Yeah. Very solid. I like Speedy Romeo’s.

EL: You do? You like Speedy Romeo’s?

SM: Yeah. It’s a good pie.

EL: You liked Una Pizza, but you didn’t love it. Right? It’s okay.

SM: No. Una Pizza Napoletana is great. I think that sort of the real craftsmen, Anthony really cares about every step of the process-

EL: He lives and dies with every pie.

SM: I mean, his Filetti pizza is so, so, so good.

EL: Which is the one with cherry tomatoes? That is amazing.

SM: Yeah. It’s banging. It’s crazy good.

EL: That might be my single favorite pizza in New York.

SM: It’s a great, great pie. It’s just sort of, for me, I love the chefs that he’s collaborating with on that spot. I love Contra, I love Wildair, but it’s sort of that place, it feels a little different than the sort of pizzeria that I grew up going to.

EL: Yeah. In fact, I think it’s moving more towards the pizzeria you grew up with because I think when Pete Wells reviewed it, he said, I’m really reviewing two restaurants in one here.

SM: Right. I remember that. Although I would not be upset with eating that Filetti pie and Fabian’s Tiramisu every day. Both of those things that are ridiculously good.

EL: Boston?

SM: Boston’s a weird town for pizza.

EL: It is weird.

SM: My close friends that I cooked with in Maine, one of them has a spot in the Fenway area called Tapestry, and they have great pizza. Fenway’s this weird area now for food. I wouldn’t say that Boston has the most amazing pizza I’ve ever had.

EL: Santarpio’s is an old classic. It’s not clear to me that it’s a great pizzeria, but it’s old.

SM: Yeah. I feel like that’s one of these interesting things, looking at sort of the history of pizza is not necessarily, I was debunking who came up with the first slice or this or that. But how many of these institutions are still really good?

EL: Right. Are they just old? You’re 100% right, because what people do is they get confused and diverted by the romance.

EL: Thank you, Sasha Marx, Serious Eats, Senior Culinary Editor for so much pizza wisdom, and opining about pizza because that’s one of my favorite things to do.

SM: Thanks so much.

EL: Thank you, Peter Regas, for writing a book on the history of Pizza in America, and for teaching me the true lineage of pizza in the states.

PR: Thank you.

EL: But Serious Eaters, don’t hit the stop button while the oven is hot. We can talk pizza with restaurateur, Kenji López-Alt, Consulting Culinary Editor at Serious Eats, and someone we’ve known forever. Author of the Food Lab, who knows a thing or two about this most democratic of foods.

EL: Welcome to Special Sauce. Welcome back to Special Sauce, Kenji.

J. Kenji López-Alt: Thanks, Ed.

EL: Kenji, I guess Regas’ revelation that Lombardi’s was not the first pizzeria in New York is no headline on the west coast?

JKLA: That is interesting, and I’m glad to know this before the pizza chapter in my next book is published.

EL: Yes, it’s very important. We’ve all been singing the same song in terms of-

JKLA: Yeah, but that’s the nature of history, right?

EL: I know. It’s true.

JKLA: It has to be willing to accept that history is going to change with new information. History is our interpretation of what happened.

EL: That’s true. It’s true. This guy was looking at phone books, and then he started talking to the descendants of different families.

JKLA: I see. He makes you look bad, not because you were wrong, but because he’s doing this job so much better than anybody else.

EL: Exactly. He did his job better than we did.

JKLA: Well, you should be happy.

EL: We are happy. Pete Wells said in last week’s episode of Special Sauce, it was like discovering that somebody else wrote the Declaration of Independence besides Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin.

EL: We had Peter on, and then we had Sasha on. He spent much of his childhood in Rome, and he actually made pizza at a Ken Oringer restaurant in Portland.

JKLA: Oh, Earth?

EL: Yes. Earth. He manned the ovens at Earth and he said that nothing was so satisfying to him as a chef as when you turned out a perfect pizza.

JKLA: Oh, yeah.

EL: Do you agree with that? Could you elaborate on that?

JKLA: Yeah, it’s pretty nice. We got our wood fired oven repaired at Wursthall. We’re adding, well, flammkuchen, not quite pizza. German pizza to the menu and it is pretty nice, too. Because you’re interacting with a live thing that takes a certain amount of skill, certainly a lot more skill than working with something like Sous Vide, where you’re working with super precise temperatures. There’s nothing precise at all in the pizza oven. So, when you get it right, it’s pretty nice.

EL: It’s actually, I guess what you’re saying that making pizza is much more a combination of art and craft because there’s those variables.

JKLA: Yeah. When I make a good pizza, to me, the feeling I get from making good pizza is the same feeling I get from if I successfully build a snow fort or if I get a fire going while camping. It’s like you’re battling forces that are not predictable and you have to use skills that you’ve developed, and learned, and practiced to get it right, which is not the same as what you’re doing when you’re cooking on a predictable stove top or in an oven.

EL: Right. I remember when I was writing my pizza book, that Alice Waters told me that cooking is easy and pizza is hard. I think what she was referring to is just what you were talking about. That famous line that Chris Bianco told me was that I could teach a monkey how to make one great pizza. The hardest thing is to make 100 great pizzas when all the variables have changed in the course of the evening.

JKLA: Yes. That’s the real trick, the next phase at Wursthall is going to be is training and getting the station set up, optimizing the station so that we can make pizza at production speeds and training the staff to do it.

EL: Yeah.

JKLA: Right now, we’re kind of just fooling around and making a couple at a time.

EL: Right. Are you making like tarte flambé?

JKLA: Yeah. I mean, essentially, we’re using a, not quite Neapolitan dough, we’re cutting it with some rye flour and with some spelt flour, fermenting overnight. Then, we’re rolling it super, super thin, actually rolling it with a rolling pin. So, yeah.

JKLA: Flammkuchen is sometimes made with a leavened dough, often made with an unleavened dough and as opposed to Italian style pizza, it’s generally super crackery and thin. Ours is not quite that thin, but it’s thinner and crisper than Italian. Because I would say texture wise, it most resembles a Roman pizza where it’s a little bready, but sort of crunchy and crackery.

JKLA: The classic one we do is with fromage blanc, actually what we use is, we tried a whole bunch of different creams and the one we found worked best was Mexican sour cream.

EL: Oh, interesting.

JKLA: Yeah. It bubbles nicely when you cook it, and it’s really easy to spread thin. So we use that instead of fromage blanc. Bacon that we slow cook for 48 hours with Rosemary and black pepper, shaved onions, and that’s it. Olive oil.

EL: Wow. I love that. So you use Mexican sour cream? Is that what you said?

JKLA: Yeah. Yeah. We used that on two of the flammkuchen. So there’s the classic one and then we do another one with the Mexican cream on the bottom, fresh chorizo that we make in house, dry cured Spanish chorizo, pickled chilies, and cambozolo, which is like a double cream. It’s sort of like brie, but it’s inoculated with penicillium. So it’s like a blue cheese, but brie style blue cheese from Germany.

EL: Yeah. Interesting.

JKLA: Works nicely with the Spanish chorizo.

EL: How did you first get into making pizza? Were you just doing it at home, or was it when you were in the restaurants?

JKLA: It was one of my first restaurant jobs at Cambridge, 1, in Cambridge, on Church Street in Cambridge.

EL:Oh, I remember that place.

JKLA: Yeah, I started working there right when they opened, which was just after graduating college for me, so 2002 I think, something like that. It was one of my sort of first full-time jobs.

EL: Really?

JKLA: Yeah. The pizza there was grilled pizza and we used the method that they used at Il Forno.

EL: Il Forno for everyone was the seminal grilled pizza restaurant in the United States, at least in Providence, Rhode Island still around, even though it was owned by a husband and wife team and George German passed away a few years ago. He really did man the grill for the pizza oven. But they’ve continued the tradition. I’ve gone recently and it’s still really good.

JKLA: Yeah. When we started Cambridge, 1, we actually hired a chef from Il Forno to come up and show us the technique. So it was essentially an Il Forno clone as far as the pizza goes.

EL: I didn’t realize that your pizza skills go way back.

JKLA: My first restaurant job after college, just making pizza. All grilled pizza, and it’s still one of my favorite ways to make pizza.

EL: You have a very ecumenical approach to making pizza. You are not a slave to one style. I think, for example, Sasha is more of a purist. I mean he likes Roman Pizza, but he really likes Neapolitan Pizza and he likes both kinds of Roman pizza. But you have a more Catholic approach, right?

JKLA: I like all kinds of pizza. I mean if I had to pick a best, it’s going to be a New York slice because that’s what I grew up with. But yeah. I mean I love all kinds of pizza. It’s all good. I don’t know why you would have to pick one over the other.

JKLA: People are very into making false dichotomies in food.

EL: Yes. There’s one good way and then everything else sucks.

JKLA: Yes, yes. It’s not worth eating if it’s not this particular thing. That’s a really weird approach to take. People do it with food more than other things, I feel like. It’s like you don’t say, hey, this is the best Beatles song. Therefore none of the other songs are worth listening to. So yeah, there is certain types of pizza that I think are best, but I love all kinds of pizza.

EL: Yeah. Even I, even though-

JKLA: Including that the Imo’s, the St. Louis style.

EL: That’s really funny, made with provel, which is nobody’s idea of a purest pizza.

JKLA: My take on that is that the way to enjoy it is to not think of it as pizza, but to think of it as pizza flavored nachos.

EL: I think of it as melted cheese on warm bread.

JKLA: Well, but the the crust can be super crackery if it’s when it’s good.

EL: It’s true. Haven’t you been monkeying around with a deep dish pizza-

JKLA: For years. Yeah.

EL: When I said in my pizza book back in 2006 or 2007 that at best Chicago pizza was a good casserole and that my life was in danger.

JKLA: Yeah. I have a recipe that is going to be in the next book, but yeah, I have [inaudible 00:26:57] for years.

JKLA: Ed, have you been yet to Windy City Pie in Seattle?

EL: No. Was it good?

JKLA: All right. Well, yeah, it is the best Chicago Pizza I’ve had anywhere including—

EL: That’s so interesting. Better than Burt’s Place in its prime?

JKLA: Oh yeah. Yeah. Well, I mean, I don’t know if I’d been to Burt’s place in its prime, but it is sort of Burt’s Place style. He uses a kind of a thicker pan pizza crust as opposed to the pie dough that you would get at wherever at one of the big other places like Uno’s. It’s a thicker pan pizza, but unlike what I’ve had at Burt’s and at Pequod’s was that it looked great, but then the dough itself was kind of a little too dense and not seasoned at all. There’s almost no salt in it. That’s something that’s kind of a running theme in Chicago pizza I think.

EL: Yeah. Pequod’s pizza lacks salt.

JKLA: It’s like everything you like about those pizzas but seasoned properly, and done with good—.

EL: Interesting, interesting. I’ll have to try it.

JKLA: Everything you like about those pizzas, which is assuming that there are things that you personally like about those things, but it’s got the crispy cheese cheese burnt down into the pan. It’s got a little crispy cheese crust, the sauce is slow cooked and it’s done really well. It’s all just good.

EL: Exactly.

JKLA: Windy City Pie. I know you’re going to be in Seattle in a few months.

EL: For my book you did a clam pizza, sort of inspired by Zuppardi’s, right?

JKLA: Yeah.

EL: When I read the recipe it was like, this is not a recipe for beginners. This is a serious pizza recipe. To really do it right, you need the right equipment.

JKLA: Yeah. I mean, you can do that recipe using the no knead method, and pretty much any mixing technique is going to work with any recipe. So long as it’s with a no knead method, it just has to be hydrated above, around like 65% or so, and it should work fine with any recipe.

JKLA: Yeah. I can’t remember what I called from the book, either a food processor or a stand mixer maybe, but any recipe that calls for this, you can do by hand, either knead by hand until it gets to the stage that the recipe recommends or don’t bother kneading it at all. Just mix it together, set it on your counter covered overnight. Use the no knead method, which will, by the next day, will give you a dough that feels as if it’s been kneaded and rested.

EL: Then you talked about either using, I think you talked about using a pizza steel.

JKLA: Well, steel or stone. I mean a steel I’ve recommended over a stone. It transfers heat better than stone does. It also lasts much longer. It’s more expensive. A pizza steel will probably cost you two to three times more than stone will. I used to break pizza stones every couple of years and replace them. A slab of steel is never going anywhere.

EL: Yes, the steel is going to last longer than the New York City subway system.

JKLA: Oh yeah. Yeah. It’ll be your grandkids. Yeah. I recommend preheating a pizza steel and then clicking on the broiler, just before you throw the pizza in there.

EL: What I realized in talking to you now is that this is one of the things we bonded over. You and I, we bonded over pizza. We bonded over a few foods, but pizza was one of them. It is one of the things that I love about pizza is that it draws people together. Even if you have different opinions. You and I sort of share most opinions, but even if we didn’t, it’s one of those great things about pizza.

JKLA: Pizza’s built for sharing.

EL: It’s built for sharing. It crosses socioeconomic lines and it crosses ethnic lines. It’s one of the few foods that’s really like that.

JKLA: This is the theme of my children’s book. That’s right.

EL: Kenji is writing a children’s book that’s going to be out in 2020. Right?

JKLA: Yeah.

EL: And do we have a title yet?

JKLA: It’s currently called Every Night is Pizza Night.

EL: Got It. Thank you Kenji. We really appreciate your taking the time away from Alicia and projects. I can’t wait to try Wursthall and to read—I read the Children’s book. It’s awesome.

JKLA: You haven’t been yet? It’s been open for a year.

EL: I know, it’s pathetic. But if we do get out there in March, we’re definitely going to go. But anyway, thanks again. We really appreciate it. We’ll talk to you soon.

JKLA: Yeah, thank you.

EL: And we’ll see you next time, Serious Eaters.

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