Is East Coast pizza better than West Coast pizza?

It's important to both 1) understand the history of pizza in the United States, and 2) know what is meant by "East Coast" and "West Coast" pizza to answer this question properly.

The pizza we're largely familiar with in the United States is Pizza Napolitano (from Naples). This is the thin crust pizza, often served as a pizza margarita (after Queen Margherita), with the three colors of the Italian flag (red tomato sauce, green basil, and white mozzarella). Pizza Napolitano came to the United States with Italian immigrants in the late 19th to early 20th century.

East Coast pizza is generally typified by pizza from New York and New Haven, both homes to large Italian immigrant communities. New York pizza tends to be extremely thin; New Haven pizza can range from thin (Sally's Apizza) to chewier (Frank Pepe's, opened in 1925), but both tend to be charred on the crust. East Coast pizza has historically tended to be more traditional in terms of what is put on top of it: sauce, cheese, sausage, pepperoni, other meats, and vegetables.

What we generally refer to as "West Coast" pizza is a more modern creation, and results from the combination of pizza with California cuisine: a chef at Wolfgang Puck's restaurant Spago was credited with creating California pizza before leaving to start California Pizza Kitchen, where the style was popularized. Toppings play a larger role in California pizza and tend to be less conventional than on the East Coast (you would never find arugula or bbq chicken on a true New York slice), and historically, less attention has been paid to the crust.

So when we say that East Coast pizza is better than West Coast pizza (I say this as someone who spent 4 years in New Haven, and has spent the last 2 years in San Francisco going to every pizza place in the city), we might mean that it is more authentic to the archetypal America pizza, New York/New Haven, which long pre-dates California.

It's worth noting, however, that in the past few years, there's been a movement that stresses authenticity of ingredients. This means that far more care is being put into crust and sauce (type 00 flour, artisanal wood-fired ovens, San Marzano tomatoes), as well as fresh and inventive toppings–and this is happening on both coasts (cf., Lucali and Di Faro in New York; Pizzeria Delfina and Tony's Pizza Napolitano, in San Francisco).

What is your favourite kind of pizza?

Thin crust pizza. Hey, I am loyal to my New York culinary tradition!

Pizza comes from a pizzeria. Home ovens (unless modified) just aren’t hot enough.

The best toppings – well, I love different combinations:

  • Anchovies with garlic and olives (good olives, not the canned junk)
  • Pepperoni
  • Sausage and mushroom
  • Clam, parsley, garlic, lemon and cream, from Pizzeria Serenata
  • Wild mushroom

What percentage of Italy's population moved to the United States at the beginning of the 20th century?

This is a little bit tough to answer, because the period of heavy immigration extended for many years, during which Italy's population grew. 1901-1913 was very heavy, with about 1.7% of the population leaving each year.

Also, about half the people moved back to Italy from, and the record keeping on these numbers is not as good.

The year with the largest numerical and percentage fraction of Italians leaving is 1913, so let's look at that.

The population of Italy was about 35,351,000 in 1913. In that year, 872,598 people left. That's 2.46%!

Most went to Argentina and Brazil, maybe 20-30% came to the United States.
We have a number of 265,242 Italians emigrating in 1913, that's 0.75% of the Italian population that year.

Also note that transportation was NOT instant – a steamship doing 12.5 knots would take 323 hours from Genoa to New York, assuming no unfavorable winds and good fixes from the GPS satellites ;-). In reality 12 to 20 days was reasonable for a direct trip, any additional ports would add days.
So the leaving – arriving numbers will not match well.

About half the people who left Italy later returned to Italy – a very high return rate. Many went out to make money, made it, and then left.

A famous example: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sal…
Salvatore Ferragamo

Many became U.S. citizens and stayed.

Over a number of years, some died and some would move to other countries, Canada, Argentina, etc.

>> " In a 1927 study by the Italian government, it was estimated that there were approximately 9,200,000 Italian immigrants living overseas — almost 20% of the Italian population." [3] In 1927 the Italian population was about 40 million.

We know that most of the Italians went to Argentina and Brazil with the United States being the third choice. Using our 20-30% range, we would get about
4 to 6% of the population of Italy in the U.S. in 1927.

Answer:
For the early 20th Century, about 4 to 6 % of the world wide Italian population was in the United States. Note that this Italian population would only include citizens of Italy and possibly a number of dual citizenship holders, the children born in the United States being U.S. citizens.

[ 1 ] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ita…
[ 2 ] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dem…
[ 3 ] http://www.italianlegacy.com/ita…
[ 4 ] http://www.mtholyoke.edu/~molna2…

**************

What about the number of people with Italian ancestry in the U.S.?
Since that goes back to the 1600s (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tal…) that will be left as an exercise for the student 😉

{I have always wanted to write that}

How do you make the best pizza dough?

You need wheat flour, water, yeast and salt. I also use a bit of olive oil.

The wheat flour would be labeled "typo 00" in Italy, which means it has a lot of gluten and a high protein content. (I don't know the US categories, so someone might want one to suggest an edit here and add this information).

Use a mixer with dough hooks.

If you use fresh yeast:

  • Dissolve 20-25 g of yeast in 300 ml water at room temperature (a fork helps)
  • Put 500 g of wheat flour in a bowl
  • Start mixing and add the water with the yeast in small portions. Mix thoroughly – it takes time!

If you use dry yeast:

  • Put 500 g of wheat flour in a bowl and add the dried yeast. Blend with a fork. Move the mix to the margins of the bowl to create a pit in the middle.
  • Pour 300 ml of water at room temperature into the pit.
  • Start mixing in the center of the bowl, collecting the flour mix from the rim in small portions. Mix thoroughly—it takes time!

Continue (in both cases) like this:

  • The dough is supposed to be elastic; if not add some more flour or water, but only very little at once! It is OK when your mixing machine starts to protest.
  • Let the dough rest for a few minutes.
  • Then add a tea spoon of salt to the bowl and a table spoon of olive oil. Knead the dough with your hands for five minutes so that salt and oil are slowly worked into it. If do it with clean hands, the dough won't stick to them when your finished.
  • Put a towel on the bowl and let the dough prove at room temperature for app. 90 minutes. Alternatively, you can put wrap on the bowl and let it prove in your fridge (make sure to have enough headroom!). It will prove within 4 hours there and stay fresh for more than 48 hours, so you can prepare your dough days before.

If your ready for your pizza production, make four (thick) to six (thin) portions and roll the dough on plenty of wheat flour to the size you like. Roll it immediately before the pizza goes into the oven; if you can cook only one or two at a time, have the other dough balls covered with your towel.

Pizza is all about heat. Heat your oven to the max, put the pizza onto a solid oven tray (pre-heat it if you can) and use one of the bottom slots. Don't overload it with ingredients.

Enjoy!

What is the best pizza in Seattle?

My favorite is at Via Tribunali.  They have multiple locations now.  I like the original one in Capitol Hill the best.  The best things to get there are the Calzone al Salame and the Via Tribunali Pizza.  I also like the Primavera, which is sort of like a salad pizza and the Lasagne Pizza.  Basically everything on the menu is really good.

Everything in the restaurant is imported from Italy pretty much (staff, ingredients, bricks for the oven, etc.)  The pizza is thin crust Neapolitan style.

Also, Via Tribunali was my favorite restaurant in Seattle.  I used to go there 5 or 6 times a week (not an exaggeration.)  It's really fantastic.

What is the best pizza in Pittsburgh?

My favorite pizza in Pittsburgh is Beto's on Banksville Rd.  However, it's not for everyone, as it's definitely a unique experience.

When it comes to standard everyday pizza, the best in the Burgh are (in no particular order): Fiori's (Beechview), Vincent's (Forest Hills), and Mineo's (Squirrel Hill).

How do I cook pizza?

For NY/Neapolitan style pizza, you want high-hydration dough (60-70%) and an extremely hot oven. A wood/coal-fired brick oven is ideal. A home oven that can be opened during the self-clean cycle, with a thick, high quality pizza stone works very well too. Either way, you're looking for 750-900 F on the cooking surface, and about 1000F above the pizza. Cooking time should generally be in the 60-120 second range.

Read Jeff Varasano's website http://www.varasanos.com/PizzaRe…. It's by far the most complete guide to home pizza making I've seen. I've been using his technique for almost 3 years and it rivals the best Neapolitan places in NYC/SF/etc.

What is a quick and easy way to make pizza dough?

Jim Lahey's 18 hour no-knead dough is dead simple and produces a fantastic end result.  It only requires four ingredients, active time is minimal, and so is cleanup.  No stand mixer, and as mentioned in the title, no kneading.

The full technique, which isn't very long involved, is available here: Jim Lahey's No Knead Pizza Dough

Here's a pizza I made with it the other day: