America has regional pizza styles all its own, and each one has a fascinating story to tell. This summer, get out there and taste them for yourself. Here’s your road map
Now a new wave of pizza innovators is shaping up into a legitimate movement, investing the humble pie with some of the roughhewn appeal of those handkneaded coal-oven pies of yore. These artisan types follow in the floury footsteps of sourdough pioneer Chad Robertson, of San Francisco’s Tartine Bakery, and Chris Bianco, who opened Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix in 1988. (These two apostles of hand-milled heirloom grains actually joined forces earlier this year in Tartine Bianco, the all-day cafe at the Manufactory at ROW DTLA, a restaurant-bakery-market in Los Angeles.) “My ‘Tartine Bread’ cookbook is in pieces, I’ve referred to it so much over the years,” said Sarah Minnick of Lovely’s Fifty Fifty in Portland, Ore. “I was dedicated to the American-style pie, but done as Chris Bianco would, with really nice olive oil and great flour,” said Joe Beddia of Pizzeria Beddia in Philadelphia.
Some nuovo pizzaiolos bump up against the notion that pizza should be cheap. “What’s overlooked is that pizza can be an expression of agriculture,” said Rick Easton of Bread and Salt in Jersey City, N.J. “So much effort and labor goes into producing ingredients of quality. Pizza becomes this incredible way to showcase that.”
My ideal pizza road trip includes a mix of regional classics and nuovos. A knowledge of the former helps you assess the latter—which, in turn, ensures that you get your vegetables, in the form of delicious and, it must be said, highly photogenic toppings. Like their predecessors, these new-wave pizzaiolos have product to move.