The Foodie Report
Ruminations on food, cooking in and eating out in our area.

It's entirely possible to be a vegetarian in Porkopolis. Pop culture reporter Lauren Bishop blogs about products, recipes and restaurants she's tried for others who eat meat-free. E-mail her at lbishop@enquirer.com.

Nicci King is an unabashed foodie and the Lifestyle/Food editor in The Enquirer's features department. She loves to discover new food faves, and she's on a daily quest to answer one burning question: What's for dinner? E-mail her at nking@enquirer.com.

Enquirer Weekend editor Julie Gaw tends to order the same dish every time she eats at a restaurant, but periodically ventures out to discover something new and fabulous. After living in China, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Thailand for more than 8 years, she craves tasty Asian food. E-mail her at jgaw@enquirer.com.

Food/dining writer Polly Campbell loves every quirk and secret of Cincinnati's food personality, and is on a constant lookout for something good to eat. Keep an eye out for her restaurant picks, or see how she's progressing toward becoming famous for her apple pie. E-mail her at pcampbell@enquirer.com.

Communities reporter Rachel Richardson is on a mission to prove vegetarians eat more than lettuce. She shares both her graduate work on American food culture and food-related news.. E-mail her at rrichardson@enquirer.com.

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

When the moon hits your eye....

My husband and I jetted off to New York a weekend ago. The trip arose unexpectedly and was tragically short, so we didn’t have much time to plan an itinerary. Friends and family asked us what we planned to do there, expecting to hear a visit to the Statue of Liberty or a tour of Ground Zero. They were a bit taken back when I announced we wanted to visit the very first pizzeria in the United States.

What can I say? I’m a food culture historian and I love pizza.

Pizza was introduced in America in the late 19th century by Italian immigrants. Gennaro Lombardi lays the claim to the first United States pizzeria opened 1905 in New York City at 53 ½ Spring St., an establishment still open today. Originally a grocery, Lombardi originally sold what he called tomato pies, wrapped in paper and tied with a string, to Italian day workers. By 1930, the shop transformed into a sit-down restaurant with spaghetti added to the menu.

Still, pizza didn't catch on in the U.S. until after WWII, when returning American GIs raved about the pizza they ate in Italy. In 1943, Chicagoan Ike Sewell opened Pizzeria Uno, offering a classic twist on the traditional pizza recipe. Sewell's was a deep-dish style pizza baked in thick cast-iron pans in giant ovens, more casserole than pizza. The newly-christened Chicago-style pizza became so popular Sewell soon had to open another establishment, Pizzeria Due.

Cincinnati was a little slower to catch on to the pizza craze. When Buddy LaRosa announced his plan to open a pizzeria in Westwood, his Sicilian-born father told him he was crazy.
"You gonna sell pizza? ‘Med-i-gans never gonna buy pizza from you," he said. Fortunately for the now legions of local fans, LaRosa opened his Boudinot Avenue pizzeria anyway in 1954. LaRosa's has since become the largest Italian chain in the Tristate.

Americans' love for pizza inspired others to follow suit, with the first frozen pizza introduced in 1957. And the rest, as they say, is history. According to The Pizza Joint.com, Americans now eat approximately 100 acres of pizza each day.

Sadly, we didn't get the chance to visit Lombardi's, but we did try another pizzeria that's garnered rave reviews. This was our second experience sampling authentic New York-style pizza and my husband and I can now definitively say, “Give us Chicago-style pizza any day!” For us, real pizza is meant to be eaten with a fork.

nother fabulous pizza gem we’ve discovered lies not in New York or Chicago, but in Nashville, Tenn. On a weekend trip there to celebrate my husband’s birthday several years ago, we set off in search of a high-end restaurant. But after an hour of fruitless searching and rumbling stomachs, we finally pulled in to a college dive near Vanderbilt University called Pizza Perfect.

The pizza there truly lived up to its name: the crust was crisp and thick, yet not too thick, and the toppings were fresh and piled on. In fact, for my husband’s birthday trip the next year, he chose to go back to Nashville, just for the pizza.

So, what do you prefer: Chicago-style or New York-style pizza? Do you have any other pizza finds to share?


at 2:16 PM Blogger Mary said...

I once ate at one of the oldest pizzerias in the world in Napoli, Italy. My god I've never eaten anything better than that simple, wood-fired pizza. Simple tomato sauce, buffalo milk mozzarella (but only a little bit)and fresh basil on a thin crust. Seriously, one of the best meals I've ever eaten, but impossible to duplicate here. It's the water, the tomatoes, the fact that the Bay of Napoli has to be within your vision range in order to taste the same.

at 2:22 PM Anonymous TJ Jackson said...

So where was the place in NY you did get a pizza at, Rachel?

I am going to guess either Di Fara, Franny's, Totonno's, Bleecker Street Pizza, Una Pizza Napoletana, or Patsy's.

at 2:29 PM Blogger Rachel said...

Actually, I don't remember the name off-hand - our friends picked it out.
We had pizza our first night there at a place just off Times Square (Nick's maybe??), and the next day, we went to another place in the East Village, where I ordered a calzone and my husband spaghetti. We just couldn't stomach any more NY-style pizza.

at 2:36 PM Blogger Rachel said...

Okay, confirmed it. John's Pizzaupper off Times Square is where we had pizza, and we ate at Nick's Pizza in the east end the next day.

Oh yeah, we totally hit up Serendipity for dessert. My husband and I split a piece of chocolate cake and I sampled my friend's frozen hot chocolate, for which the restaurant is famed.

at 3:03 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

The best out of town pizza I've ever had is Pizzapopolis in Greektown - Downtown Detroit. The deepdish takes almost 45 minutes when you order but it is SO worth it!!

at 3:20 PM Anonymous TJ Jackson said...

Ahhh.....you like the thick Chicago-style stuff

Make sure you check out both of the following then.....

Mio's Mt Washington. There are other locations, but the MT Washington location is the best in my experience. Their stuffed pizza compares well with Giordano's in Chicago, as attested to by several former Chicagoans I know who tried it out for me

I have not been to Bourbon House and Pizzeria in Florence (http://www.bourbonandpizza.com) yet, but a friend swears by their deep dish as the very best in town.

at 3:41 PM Anonymous Greg said...

You can actually take a Brooklyn Pizza Tour. My wife & I did it last fall. It was a blast. In addition to hitting a couple of pizza joints the bus had a flat screen TV that showed scenes from the numerous movies filmed in Brooklyn. The tour guide had the films perfectly synched with the streets we were currently on.

at 12:55 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pizza Za'a in Russian Hill in San Francisco still sticks in my mind as the best I have ever had. Corn meal crust, amazing fresh toppings, and so hot it will burn your mouth until next week. A must try if on the coast.

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