Hip To Be Square: Grandma Pizza Feels Right At Home In New York

Grandma PieWho knew that “grandma” could be so in fashion? I’m referring, of course, to the grandma pizza. Or grandma pie, as it appears on the menu at GG’s in New York City’s East Village. If, that is, you even bother to look. “It’s the one thing that people order as soon as they sit down, and they don’t even look at the menu — they order it before they order drinks,” says executive chef Bobby Hellen.

Indeed, Hellen’s signature six-slice pie, liberally dotted with little pepperonis and flagged with fresh basil, has become quite the sensation since the restaurant opened last fall. The Village Voice raved about the sauce, colorfully describing it as “more herb-stocked than a Colorado dispensary.” (Hellen grows many of the ingredients in the restaurant’s garden out back.) Eater, meanwhile, has gone into exhaustive detail in outlining the chef’s intensive pizza-making process.

But while Hellen’s grandma pie is perhaps the most prominent of its kind at the moment, it is far from the only example of this increasingly popular, yet relatively new style of pizza. From old-school joints like J & V Pizzeria in Bensonhurst to newer spots like Best Pizza in Williamsburg, grandma is flourishing on menus across the city — and beyond. Once considered a strictly New York phenomenon, the style is beginning to transcend its regional trappings. Writing in Pizza Today, California-based pizza maker Tony Gemignani, who serves his own version of the grandma at Slice House in Rohnert Park, recently recounted his first encounter with a grandma pizza in Italy, at a place run by a Staten Island ex-pat who wanted to bring this new style to the old world.

What is a grandma pie? Continue reading

Montreal Vs. New York: A Matchup That Transcends Hockey. Bagels Involved.

canadiansBAGEL.jpg__0In the lead-up to Thursday’s big game, Food Republic spoke with NHL forward (and doughnut mogul) Jeff Halpern and restaurateur (and die-hard Habs fan) Joel Tietolman to get a better sense of how both food scenes match-up, regardless of the outcome on the ice. Read the full article here.

Green Is The New Gold: The Raw Facts On How Juicing Is Taking Over Our Lives

MILFChicago chef Jared Van Camp is perhaps best known for his work with charcuterie. You could say he wears his penchant for pork on his sleeve, with a vintage-looking English butcher’s diagram of pig parts proudly tattooed on his left forearm. Not the type of guy you’d expect to see pushing pints of liquefied kale, carrot and collard greens. “I’m not a vegetarian by any stretch of the imagination,” says Van Camp. Come springtime, however, he plans to be slinging all sorts of cleverly crafted plant-based concoctions at a fancy new juice bar called Owen + Alchemy. “The timing is right to inject some liquid green vitality into the land of deep-dish and sausage,” says Chicago native Anne M. Owen, a former magazine publisher who is Van Camp’s partner in Owen + Alchemy. The Windy City duo is aiming to capitalize on a trend that’s swept across New York and Los Angeles like a superfood tsunami in recent years and is now spilling throughout urban America. “These days, you throw a rock, you hit a juice bar,” says Melvin Major, Jr., operator of New York’s popular Melvin’s Juice Box, with two locations in Manhattan and plans for a third…. Continue reading

Tuile of Fortune: Michel Richard Drops a Ritzy Potato Chip Burger on Manhattan

VillardBurger1The recent opening of Villard Michel Richard, tucked inside Manhattan’s Palace Hotel, marked not only its namesake chef’s return to New York after a 40-year absence. It also foisted another gussied-up slab of ground beef onto the city’s escalating up-market burger scene. Behold, the Villard Burger, Richard’s fussy French take on the classic American sandwich. Listed at $26, the burger is a far cry from, say, the outrageous Le Burger Extravagant at Serendipity 3 — that $295 Wagyu-flavored, diamond-toothpick-skewered publicity stunt on a bun which claims to be the world’s most expensive burger. Richard seems to expect real people to actually order his burger. A comparatively affordable option, the Villard Burger falls into the same gourmet category as the popular Black Label Burger at Minetta Tavern ($28) and the original short rib-and-foie gras-stuffed burger at Daniel Boulud’s db bistro moderne ($32). It’s also essentially the same burger that Richard serves at his Central restaurants in Las Vegas and Washington, D.C. Same olive oil brioche bun, baked in-house. Same tomato confit and homemade garlic mayo. Same crunchy potato tuile on top — a fancy chip that has become one of the chef’s signature ingredients. Only at Villard, Richard’s burger costs $8 more…. Continue reading

Cracking Wise: Some Background on Lafayette’s Chef de Cuisine

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAArguably the biggest restaurant opening of the year, Andrew Carmellini‘s French revivalist brasserie Lafayette has been racking up the star ratings of late. (As ably aggregated by Eater: “Platt gave it two, Sutton gave it two and a half stars, and Cuozzo gave it three.”) This week, the Times‘ Pete Wells knocks the Carmellini love down a peg or two, with a single star review best summed up by the phrase: “I don’t love it.” Mostly displeased about the service–noting, for instance that staffers had trouble pronouncing “simple French words on the menu”–Wells did have some nice things to say about Carmellini’s chef de cuisine, Damon Wise, whom the critic described as anace technician.” Continue reading

‘A What? Globo?’ My Interview With Derek Jeter

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Watch out, Equinox! New York Yankees captain Derek Jeter is partnering with the international 24-Hour Fitness chain to open three new “classy” sports clubs in Manhattan this year. What, you were expecting a Roger Clemens-run juice bar? The first will be a 28,000-square-foot facility on Fifth Avenue, conveniently located just a short guilt-ridden walk from Danny Meyer’s Shake Shack in Madison Square Park. Additional locations are planned for SoHo and also in Midtown, a few blocks from the pro slugger’s own $13 million pad in the Trump World Tower. The healthy and wealthy Yankees shortstop recently took a breather to talk with me about the project. Continue reading