I have my own favorite places to go in the City to get Pizza, and hopefully will get around to posting some reviews. I guess we can use this thread as a launching pad to link all of the pizza reviews on the forum, as a master list.
For now, read this article about why New York City has the world's best tasting pizza.
"New York has a grand tradition of pizza making and holds it dear," Batali says. Which means institutions like Arturo's have been using the same equipment for decades. "An oven captures the gestalt of beautifully cooked pizza. And it imparts that."
I'm not comfortable attributing a pizza's quality to gestalt — it sounds like something a California pizzeria would list as a topping. But Batali's theory makes sense to David Tisi, a food-development consultant who has spent much of his career studying pizza.
"As you cook, some ingredients vaporize, and these volatilized particles can attach themselves to the walls of the baking cavity," Tisi says. "The next time you use the oven, these bits get caught up in the convection currents and deposited on the food, which adds flavor." Over time, he says, more particles join the mix and mingle with the savory soot from burned wood or coal — the only fuels worth using — to create a flavor that you can't grow in a garden: gestalt, if you will.
That explains why the only San Francisco pizza I can tolerate is from Tommaso's, a restaurant whose wood-fired oven has been crackling since 1935. Still, there's something off with the crust.
"Water," Batali says. "Water is huge. It's probably one of California's biggest problems with pizza." Water binds the dough's few ingredients. Nearly every chemical reaction that produces flavor occurs in water, says Chris Loss, a food scientist with the Culinary Institute of America. "So, naturally, the minerals and chemicals in it will affect every aspect of the way something tastes."
Batali himself encounters the water problem at his upscale New York restaurant Del Posto, where he makes traditional Italian food. The tap water in Manhattan is far different from that of the motherland. His solution: create his own mineral-water composite. Working from a chemical analysis of l'acqua italiana, Batali's team basically clones the H2O that gives the food in Italy its — well, its gestalt. He plans to do this at Pizzeria Mozza in LA, but the joint's Italian-style pie is too lightweight for my taste.