Noam Grossman grew up in New Jersey, eating cheese pizzas on a weekly basis. His love of pizza grew into not one, but two successful operations: Upside, in Midtown Manhattan, and now Norm’s in downtown Brooklyn. In both cases, he is focused on high quality ingredients sourced from the best artisans. At Norm’s, he’s offering a clear alternative to the subpar $ .99 joints that dot the landscape.
When you’re part of the Manresa group – a widely celebrated 3-star Michelin rated restaurant in Los Gatos, California – you focus on ingredients and technique. Avery Ruzicka has worked with Chef David Kinch for almost a decade, but over the past few years she’s been focused on Manresa Bread, with three locations in Silicon Valley. At her Campbell, CA location, she does a “Pizza Night” on Wednesdays, selling an artisan Sicilian pan pizza; while it’s on hiatus during the pandemic, she’s hoping to bring it back at the end of June or in July. Steve Dolinsky spoke with her just before the lockdown.
Steve sits down with one half of the team behind Sofia Pizza Shoppe, on the East Side of Manhattan, just North of the United Nations. Tommy DeGrezia is the force behind the “Doughdici,” as well as a number of creative slices at this tiny shop on 1st Avenue. Known for their ideal NYC triangles and Grandma-style squares, the shop also gets creative with vodka sauce and a spinach-artichoke flavor that initially went viral (in a good way).
Steve talks with the friends and partners behind Square Pie Guys, one of the latest Detroit-inspired pizzerias in San Francisco. They freely admit they take some liberties with the rules (no brick cheese, for instance) and have built their brand partly via the pop-ups they did and on Instagram.
Rosanna D’Amato is the 3rd generation of her family to run the namesake bakery on the Near West Side of Chicago. Known for their coal-fired oven, D’Amato’s produces some of the best sandwich bread and focaccia, but they also produce a Sicilian pan “bakery” pizza that is one-of-a-kind. Steve talks to Rosanna about how she grew up in the business and what makes their pizza so special.
Dave Acocella has spent a lifetime in the restaurant business, but waited until he was 50 before opening his own pizza place. Philomena’s offers both traditional wedges and Roman-style squares, airy and light, with incredible crunch and chew. Despite most of his training on wood-fired ovens, his dexterity with ovens, and his embrace of the remarkable Roman square shows a keen eye and advanced palate.
Tony Gemignani has won multiple championships in Italy for his pizza making prowess, but he’s also authored books on the subject, teaches would-be pizzaiolos how to make various styles (and certifies them) all while overseeing a pair of San Francisco pizzerias that produce upwards of 17 styles of regional pizza between them. Steve spent an afternoon talking (and eating) pizza with the man many refer to as the ultimate Pizza Ambassador.
Steve talks with Dan Costello, the President and CEO of Home Run Inn, one of the nation’s largest frozen pizza companies (in 40 states), but also the great grandson of the founders of this Chicago-based pizzeria. They started on the city’s Southwest Side, offering square-cut, thin pizzas, which have come to define Chicago pizza (among locals). They have no idea how a deep-dish is made, nor would they ever attempt to make one.
Steve talks with Massimo Laviglia, proud son of Tuscany, who only moved to the U.S. in 2012. His story of hard work, perserverence and most important of all, his courage to ask for help from some of New York’s top pizza makers, ended up saving his fledgling business from going under. Laviglia is now widely considered one of the top pizza makers in New York City, and L’industrie is a must-stop if you’re ever in Brooklyn.