GQ Top 25 Pizza Places in the US


Great Lakes Pizza in Andersonville was rated the #1 pizza place in the country. I was back in Chicago for a few days last week, and my boy Matt hooked me up with a spontaneous trip to Great Lake. He'd been raving about it for months. We ordered a crazy awesome wild mushroom pizza. Apparently they have 3-4 pizzas on the menu and they constantly change. The oven only cooks 2 pizzas at a time, which would seem ridiculous, but they only have 4 tables inside and 3-4 outside.

The list is a little surprising to the giants of the pizza blog world. Lots of newcomers, and some places that the pizza experts at Slice hadn't heard of. "I don't know if I should admit this, but of the 25, I had not heard of the following: Bob & Timmy's (Providence, R.I.), Luigi's "the Original (Harrison Tawnship, Mich., and "Niki's (Detroit)". Guess what folks, I dined and blogged about Bob & Timmy's almost exactly one year ago. I'm also kicking myself for not having tried out Luigi's, Tomatoes Apizza, and Niki's while I was living outside of Detroit, or Pizzeria Bianco when I was in Phoenix for a conference. But, overall, for a novice, I think I'm doing pretty good as a pizza expert. I've been to 5 of the top 25, and I'm planning on picking up another 2 in the next couple weeks.

01. Great Lake (Chicago)
02. Lucali (Brooklyn, NYC)
03. Pizzeria Delfina (San Francisco)
04. Pizzeria Bianco (Phoenix)
05. Bob & Timmy's (Providence, R.I.)
06. Sally's Apizza (New Haven, Conn.)
07. Tomato Pie (Los Angeles)
08. Co. Company (Manhattan, NYC)
09. Tacconelli's (Philadelphia)
10. Totonno's (Brooklyn, NYC)
11. Tarry Lodge (Port Chester, N.Y.)
12. Frank Pepe (New Haven, Conn.)
13. Luigi's "the Original" (Harrison Township, Mich.)
14. Gialina (San Francisco)
15. Buddy's (Detroit)
16. Antica Pizzeria (Marina Del Ray, Calif.)
17. A16 (San Francisco)
18. Al Forno (Providence, R.I.)
19. Galleria Umberto (Boston)
20. Famous Joe's (Manhattan, NYC)
21. Tomatoes Apizza (Farmington Hills, Mich.)
22. Osteria (Philadelphia)
23. Santarpio's (Boston)
24. Niki's (Detroit)
25. Una Pizza Napoletana (Manhattan, NYC)

I plan to check out the two representing North Phila as soon as possible. Here's the wood-burning oven from Osteria. Isn't that beautiful?! Makes me want to cry a little.


Re-evaluating vision statements

I've changed cities for the 5th time in 4 years (Urbana->Chicago->Vass, NC->Ann Arbor->Philadelphia). That makes for 11 different addresses in the past 10 years.
This nomadic lifestyle is not for me anymore. I'm ready to settle into a neighborhood and call it home.

Here I am in Northeast Phila, with this latest geographical change, a revised vision statement for the blog is necessary.
The old one looked a little something like this.
It basically said, hardworking, innovative, creative citizens like yourselves need to focus your energy and talents for something greater than just your job. We need to get back to the basics of being good neighbors, family members, partners, etc. I think one of the easiest ways to do this is to arm ourselves with the basic skills to cook healthy meals at home, hold interesting and meaningful conversations, listen to music that makes you and everyone around you dance. And the bottom line is, the bottom line at work, or at home should not dictate our happiness on a daily basis.

Actually, that sounds like an ok mission statement for now. If I tweak it, I'll repost.

In the meanwhile, isn't this song hottttttttt? BBU



Happy Belated National Pizza Day

To celebrate, I posted some sexy pics of the best pizza I have ever made.


Dough recipe

I'm following a recipe published on Slice (the gold-standard for pizza blogs) written by Jeff Varasano.

Keep in mind when planning your pizza party, the dough takes 2-3 days to rise in the fridge.
These measurements should makes enough dough for 3 pizzas.

You'll need the following ingredients:
90 grams sourdough culture
(see post below for activation instructions)
345 grams bread flour
I haven't tried lower protein flour, but I'll give it a try and compare
6 grams salt
220 grams water

You'll also need the following tools:
Mixer (I use a kitchen aid, Jeff Varasano swears by the Electrolux DLX)
Digital Scale

Using the digital scale measure out approximately 75% of the flour, all of the salt, the culture and water.

Combine the ingredients in the mixer.
Mix on lowest speed for 1-2 minutes. Cover the mixing bowl with a moist towel for 20 minutes.

Resume mixing on low for 8 minutes.
After 5 minutes, begin adding the remaining flour slowly.
Increase the speed slightly for the final 2 minutes.
The dough should form a ball on the dough hook, but it should be wet enough to fall off the hook when the mixer stops.
When this happens, cover again for another 20 minutes.
Separate the dough equally into 3 Tupperware containers.
Put the dough in the fridge for 3 days. The sourdough flavors will really start to develop with this slow of a rise.

Sourdough Culture Activation

3/4 cup All-purpose flour
1 cup Water
Sourdough culture mix (bought online at sourdo.com)

Combine ingredients into a 1qt canning jar
Mix till it's a smooth batter

Keep it warmed to 90 degrees for 12 hours.

Use a styrofoam cooler (I found this one on the street)
Put the jar of culture under the cooler with a 25 watt light bulb. (bought a 25 watt party bulb at Meijer)

Monitor the temperature over the next 12 hours to ensure it's maintained at 90 degrees
After 12 hours check to see that the culture has risen to near the top of the jar.
Now your sourdough culture is active and ready to make some amazingly delicious doughs.


Fire at the Taco Bell

Since your birth in 2005, you've brought joy to lonely trips in the car
Occasionally causing great distress.

Cheesy Bean and Rice Burrito, always two at a time
Two at a time, I thanked you for nourishment at a discount price

But now we must part ways
20 grams of fat is way too much
$1.29 is just too much

Don't try calling



A new pizza party menu to honor Italian pizza

RED PIZZA - tomato pie, no cheese

WHITE PIZZA - goat cheese, mozzarella, olive oil, wild mushrooms, shallots

GREEN PIZZA - pesto, mozzarella, tomato slices



Bread Experiment #2

3.5 cups bread flour
1 cup water
1 cup active sourdough culture
2 tsp fine sea salt

Combine Ingredients and knead.
Proof for 5 hours
Punch down and form a ball
Proof for 3 more hours

Preheat oven with stone to 450 degrees bake for 15 minutes
spray the oven with cold water every 5 minutes (humidity in the oven helps form a crust)
reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake another 45 minutes

Let cool for a half hour.

This one definitely had the best form. The dough was firm, easy to shape and rose much higher than the previous one. I had used all-purpose flour on my first attempt, and my culture was more active this time.
Flavor-wise, this one was fairly bland compared to the first one, which had a deliciously strong sourdough flavor.