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Pizza Sells (But Who's Buying?)

The post below may contain thoughts that we have previously stated in other posts. Apologies in advance if we end up repeating ourselves, but we truly don't read these once we post them, so it's hard to remember what we've said and what we haven't. Re-reading your own blog post is a narcissism too far even for us; it's the textual equivalent of having picture of yourself hanging in your house (awards and magazine covers exempted).

The great pizza debate, or rather, the great pizza complaint is about as tired in food conversations as any someone who says "I'm from ____ so I know great _____" (business idea, food cliche' Mad Libs, who says no?).

The reality is there are great pizza places almost anywhere (except, I imagine, Ohio. Ice cream doesn't count and chili is from Texas).

I've had spectacular pizza in Los Angeles, Chicago, New Haven, Austin and Albany. Heck, the consensus best pizza maker in the US, Chris Bianco, is from Phoenix. At the risk of losing all of my New York cred (I'm still a Jet fan, so that's a pain that should give me cred for life), there are some very good pizza joints in Naples that are every bit as delicious as the corner spot you grew up with on Long Island, New Jersey, Connecticut or anywhere else in the greater Tri-State area; the motherland of tomato sauce, cheese and dough. At the risk of upsetting any Yalies, I'm including New Haven in the Tri-State area for the sake of laziness.

For takeaway, Dominick Pizza on Davis is very good, as is Nunzio's on Pine Ridge. For sitdown, I'll put the sauce at LowBrow or PizzaJones! up against anything I've had elsewhere.

So why do people who live here keep saying how terrible the local pizza is? Btw, this isn't just a Naples thing. It's a complaint I've heard pretty much anywhere but New York or Chicago. Oh, while I'm at it, Chicago, stop with the cutting pizza in squares (unless you're doing Sicilian). Only children on Friday in elementary school should be eating traditional cheese pizza cut into squares. It's "One slice, please," not a "one square."

My Nobel pizza prize winning thesis on why pizza is PERCEIVED as terrible is...quantity, not quality.


There are as many mediocre to bad pizza places in metro New York as there are spectacular ones, but the difference is there are just SO MANY good ones. Growing up on Long Island, literally every strip mall had a pizza place (if you've ever been to Long Island, there's literally a strip mall about every thirteen feet). Were all of them good? Nope, but were at least half of them good to very good to great? Yes, indeed.

New York has the cultural advantage of a large Italian population that started their American experiment in New York Harbor about the 130 years ago, which ingrained the slice into the local culture the same as tacos in California or Denver omelets in Colorado (actually, I have no clue about that last one, but I assume they have a lot of ham and peppers and cheese in Colorado). When you have something that built into the local culture, you're going to have a LOT of them, and with a lot of anything you need to keep the quality up to survive in a crowded market. One thing you rarely find in any non-touristy neighborhood in the area is that undercooked, too thick crusted white-not-browned cheesed pie with way too sweet sauce that you find in beach bars, amusement parks and tourist traps that are more concerned with getting you in and out quickly than actually cooking your pizza correctly.

Next time you complain about the quality of pizza in Naples, or anywhere else that has more than a couple, realize it's not because the pizza itself is bad, but because the good pizza isn't around the corner, on every corner.

Ed note: Takeout/Delivery doesn't count because the time spent in the delivery process does not allow the pie to be presented in its original temperature or crispness

Ed note 2: All pizza should be judged as a plain cheese slice. Pepperoni and sausage are inherently delicious on their own and skew the flavor upwards.

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