Local Hawaii ingredients used with an international flair
Sunday, November 19, 2006
Free Range Gourmet Does New York: Quest for the perfect NY pizza
The quest part isn't hard -- Google (and all the guidebooks) can tell you that John's Pizzeria is the place to go for a perfect New York style pizza. Since the number of meals we can manage on a short trip is limited, why not take advantage of technology.
So although we were tired after the direct Continental flight from Honolulu, we didn't let the pizzeria across the street tempt us. Nor the one around the corner, nor the one down the block. We bundled up against the cold and headed for John's 44th Street location. John's Pizzeria is practically next door to the Helen Hayes Theater, in a building that once was the Gospel Tabernacle Church, dating from at least 1890.
The interior is impressive, from the original church dome to the monochrome murals by Douglas Cooper to the three or four coal-fired brick pizza ovens, two upstairs and two downstairs. For a photographic tour, see the Gallery photos on their website at johnspizzerianyc.com.
Nanette ordered a Margherita additionally topped with fresh garlic and mushrooms. We watched the flames dancing purple and orange in the coal-fired brick ovens where the temperature reaches 900 degrees. When the pizza came to the table it was done to perfection--the thin crust was crisp but not like a cracker. The pizza pan was supported on top of a wire rack that kept it about 10 inches from the table top. This had many advantages. Since the pizza was closer to our nose, we could enjoy the garlic more. It allowed the large pan to be placed on a table already crowded with dishes (we had just finished our appetizer of roasted vegetables and mozerella). And for larger groups, the wire rack enables the waiter to carry and double-deck on the table two different pizzas.
So with pizza above and a caraf of house wine (a Montepulciano, which is a good match for pizza) in hand, we admired the murals, the dome, hanging chandeliers and the ovens, and yes, we observed the New York scene. It was good to see the diversity of the city reflected in the patrons of this restaurant. New York pizza transcends all divisions. It has universal appeal. Now, if only we could find some in Honolulu...
Our quest for the perfect tiramisu is beyond the capabilities of Google to expedite. To arrive one day at the ultimate dessert, we feel it's imperative that we personally try tiramisu whenever it appears on the menu. Tonight's research did not disappoint. It's not the perfect New York tiramisu, but it's right up there.
It's good to be back.
260 W. 44th Street
New York, NY 10036
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