Serious Eats' primer on NYC pizza is a mouth-watering education in the many ways that a delicious pie can be made and consumed. Pizza being my most deadly downfall, I'm finding this hard to read.
One thing you might not be familiar with is the fact that some NYC pizzerias use anthracite coal to cook their pizzas. (Then again, I know that Brooklyn-based Grimaldi's has made inroads into Texas, so maybe you do know coal-fired pizza.) Pizza geeks have long been into coal-fired pizzas. The ovens cook at a hot-enough temperature that a skilled pizzamaker can create an amazing crust that is both crisp and chewy at the same time and that is not dried out and tough. Also, the way that most of these old-school coal-oven places make the pizza, they just sort of know how to make a nice balanced pie, one that doesn't go too heavy on the sauce or pile on too much cheese.
Most of the coal-fired pizzerias in NYC are part of an old and venerable family tree of pizza history. Lombardi's is widely thought of as having been the first pizzeria in NYC and indeed the nation (at least on paper). That's probably oversimplifying things (see this post on Lombardi's for its history), but the fact remains that many of the other beloved coal-oven pizzerias in NYC were founded by people who once worked for Gennaro Lombardi in the early 1900s.
NYC Pizza Cultural Literacy
(Image: Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from miamism's photostream)
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