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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Brooklyn style pizza my ass

Joe Fornabaio for The New York Times

Domino's Brooklyn style pizza with pepperoni,
left, and the pizza served at Totonno's, in Coney
Island since 1924.

‘Brooklyn Style Pizza’ Meets the Real Deal
Published: November 8, 2006

IT took no small amount of courage to walk into one of the great Brooklyn pizzerias with a Domino’s Brooklyn Style Pizza in our hands.

“Get that thing out of here,” was the first thing Totonno’s owner, Louise Ciminieri, said when she saw the Domino’s box.

Once we explained that we were on a mission to determine exactly what constituted a Brooklyn Style pie, she softened. Sort of. “When they say Brooklyn Style Pizza they’re referring to us,” she said. “We were the first ones.”

“But Domino’s has a lot more money than I do so I guess they know what they’re doing,” said Mrs. Ciminieri, who is known as Cookie.

At Totonno’s in Coney Island, pizza has been made the same way since 1924. Along with its Brooklyn pizza brethren Di Fara’s, Grimaldi’s and Franny’s, Totonno’s is considered among the best in the country by people who have dedicated their lives to the subject.

We purchased our Domino’s pie just a few blocks away from Totonno’s on Neptune Avenue. That it was handed to us over bulletproof glass turned out to be the most authentically Brooklyn part about it.

Domino’s, which began selling Brooklyn Style pies at its 5,100 United States stores last week, designed the pizza to mimic what most New Yorkers get when they go for a slice. The crust is stretched thinner than that of a standard Domino’s pizza, and the cornmeal cooked into the crust gives it certain crispness. The pieces of pepperoni and wads of sausage the company suggests as toppings are freakishly large.

The slices are so big you can fold them, which, it seems, is the Brooklyn-y part.

Tony Muia, who runs A Slice of Brooklyn Pizza Tour, said the first problem with the Domino’s pie is that it’s cut into six slices instead of eight.

And he doesn’t like the cornmeal. “O.K., so you put cornmeal on the bottom of your pizza. So what?” he said. “You go back to Naples, there’s flour on the board.”

Still, any time Brooklyn gets a nod, that’s not a bad thing. “But anyone in the Midwest who thinks this is real Brooklyn is getting fooled,” he said.

That’s the basic message from Mrs. Ciminieri at Totonno’s, who was finally persuaded to taste a Domino’s slice in the name of research.

“In Utah, they’re going to love it because they use ketchup and American cheese on their pizzas,” she said. “It tastes like any other pizza you get at the corner slice joint. They used the same tomatoes, the same processed cheese, the same preservatives.”

Domino’s uses its standard sauce and a blend of mozzarella and provolone on the Brooklyn Style Pizza. At most slice stores in Brooklyn, you won’t find cornmeal on the crust, and the cheese is usually a blend of shredded part skim and whole milk mozzarella. The typical sauce is usually not as sweet as Domino’s, but it doesn’t compare with Totonno’s.

Totonno’s uses unadulterated tomato sauce and thin slices of fresh mozzarella hand-pulled with just a little salt in it, and a dusting of pecorino-Romano cheese.

The Domino’s pizza has an oddly sweet crust that somehow manages to blend the characteristics of cotton and rubber.

The folks at Totonnos are known for their nastiness. That took balls. Real balls. But the real problem with Dominos pizza is that oven they use. Works fine at Quiznos, but not with pizza. Pizza has to be baked. In a hot oven. With real cheese.

posted by Steve @ 2:03:00 AM

2:03:00 AM

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