Reimagining the Pizza Parlor

The different evening, as I ready to enterprise exterior, the sky took on the ominous tone of gunmetal, and my telephone lit up with a warning: extreme thunderstorm approaching, flash floods and hail seemingly, search cowl. All of my instincts informed me to retreat, and but I had an appointment that I merely couldn’t miss, come hell or literal excessive water. I’d lastly been granted the likelihood to order from Stretch Pizza, a pop-up by the chef Wylie Dufresne, tucked into Breads Bakery, simply off Union Square.

With no particular gear, he ferments the dough for forty-eight hours in his rental’s fridge and cranks up the oven as excessive as it can go.

Perhaps this appears like the ravings of a madwoman; possibly you’re questioning if any pizza could possibly be price it. But what’s a bit of tempest, actually? It felt surprisingly refreshing to expertise such heightened drama round one thing as low stakes as pizza. I headed for the subway. By the time I arrived at Fourteenth Street, the storm had handed, and it was barely drizzling. At the high of the station stairs, a girl hawked umbrellas with a comfortingly acquainted rhythm: “Five-dollar, five-dollar, five-dollar!”

From left to proper: pie with asparagus, recent mozzarella, anchovy cream, and garlic bread crumbs; pie with tomato sauce and each recent and low-moisture mozzarella; pie with sliced potato, caramelized onion, recent mozzarella, roasted-garlic cream, and capers.

Early in the pandemic, Dufresne—who made his title with wd-50, his lightheartedly avant-garde Lower East Side restaurant, and who, lately, had turned his skills to doughnuts—found a forgotten pizza oven in his basement. For months, he geeked out on it; a 12 months later, he determined to share his R. & D. with the world.

Dufresne’s crust, created from dough flecked with complete wheat and cold-fermented for seventy-two hours, is notably tangy, and satisfyingly chewy beneath its crackly exterior. It makes a wonderful base for every of the 4 pies (plus one calzone) accessible, together with the Classic New York, with tomato sauce and shredded low-moisture mozzarella, and my favourite: the Everything, topped with cream cheese, poppy and sesame seeds, dried garlic, and salt, and completed with recent chives—a toasted bagel with melty schmear, in pizza kind.

“Upstairs” refers to Kay’s fifth-floor condominium, which he shares with one other chef.

Still, I can’t precisely advocate the byzantine course of it takes to acquire Dufresne’s pies, climate however. Tuesday by means of Thursday nights, Stretch presents a restricted variety of reservation-only time slots for pickup, which promote out quick. Nothing got here of including myself to the on-line wait record for varied dates. When, after weeks of randomly checking the Web web site, I lastly snatched up a gap, I needed to each preorder and prepay, days upfront.

The month prior, once I’d made it off the a lot friendlier rolling wait record for Pies Upstairs—the same if scrappier operation that, frankly, I’d forgotten I’d signed up for—it felt extra like profitable the lottery. “Upstairs” refers to the fifth-floor Crown Heights condominium of David Kay, a former Gramercy Tavern chef, who began his dwelling pizza enterprise in January. If you’ll be able to’t make it when your quantity is up, he’ll give you one other time.

Hundreds of pizzas into the pop-up, Kay is working by means of a listing of individuals ready for lots of extra.

Kay produces simply twelve ten-inch pies an evening, at a most of two per buyer, twice every week, and in addition sells his personal cream soda (seasoned with vanilla and cocoa nibs) and cookies from Best Damn Cookies, the pandemic venture of one other chef, who occurs to be Kay’s roommate. My pizzas—one pink, with mozzarella, soppressata, and pickled peppers, the different white, with mozzarella, caramelized onion, thinly sliced potatoes, roasted-garlic cream, and capers, each bearing superbly bubbled crusts—had been faultless, the cream soda and cookies (dark-chocolate chunk, made with brown butter and coconut sugar) every an argument for its kind. Being ushered knowingly towards the elevator by a person consuming nachos in the foyer felt like a ceremony of passage.

In May, 2020, Gabriele Lamonaca, a local of Rome who lives in Harlem, started bartering selfmade sq. pizzas—together with his signature Burrapizza, for which every slice is topped with a complete ball of burrata—by way of Instagram. For a 12 months, he met strangers on avenue corners, swapping for something from caviar to guitar classes. Last month, he opened Unregular Pizza, a slice store not removed from Breads. Accepted tender is generally conventional, however you’ll be able to nonetheless add your self to the record for his single every day commerce. (Stretch pizzas $19. Pies Upstairs pizzas $13-$16. Unregular Pizza slices $4.50-$12.) ♦


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