People Like the Pizza They Grew Up With

Have you ever noticed that people from New York like New York pizza and people from Chicago like Chicago pizza? What is true with pizza is probably true with most foods. It is just natural for people to have an affinity for the foods they grew up with.

I grew up in New York and I like New York pizza. For me it is all about the crust. The crust needs to have texture and a little char. There is a pizzeria about 100 yards from my mother in-law’s in Yonkers NY that makes a great pie. Tony’s gets a consistently perfect level of char on the crust. They have one little problem. There is an issue with the ovens and the place burns down every ten years or so. The story goes that the mob controls the Mozzarella business in the New York area. Maybe Tony has more than an oven issue but he make a great pie.

Back in the 1990’s we moved to Memphis and my wife asked me to pick up a pizza for the kids on the way home from work. I ordered a pie from a national chain and was waiting on line to pick it up. The guy in front of me in line who I didn’t know from Adam turns around and asks me: Can you believe that we are waiting on line for this crap? I said to him, you are from the east coast? And he says yeah: Boston. People like the pizza they grew up with.

Around that same time my buddy John Nangle from New York came out to visit us in Memphis. John grew up working in a pizza joint in our old neighborhood. He got the brilliant idea that he needed to open a pizzeria in Memphis. My wife and daughter were out of town so we did a survey of pizzerias. My son Brian (age 9 at the time) was in heaven. He got to eat pizza for 9 straight meals until his mom came home. Uncle John after seeing what people in Memphis like quickly came to the conclusion that his standard of pizza wouldn’t sell here. People like the pizza they grew up with.

Uncle John with our daughter Jennifer (age 11 months)

In our neighborhood I have become famous for my grilled pizzas. I make a wide variety of gourmet pies that I grill on my gas grill at high heat getting a nice char and then finish on a pizza stone in the oven. The beauty of these pies is that they are great for entertaining. I make them in advance and then just reheat and serve. I knew I was in trouble when my buddy Scott Flora moved to New Haven CT and was bragging to people he worked with there about my pizza. Pizza was almost invented in New Haven and besides, people like the pizza they grew up with.

Check out the recipes

Pizza Dough


Wild Mushroom, Caramelized Onion and Gorgonzola Pizza

Shrimp and Bacon Pizza

Meat Lovers

A pizza menu is great for a supper club kickoff party. We have used it several times. The variety lets you keep everyone happy from meat-lovers to vegetarians. There is a chapter about pizza in Impromptu Friday Nights – A guide to Supper Clubs that is coming out next week from Morgan James Publishing.


If you are in Memphis February 1st stop by for the book signing event:

Where:      Novel Bookstore (The Old Davis Kidd)

When:       Thursday February 1, 2018

Time:         6 pm

Address: 387 Perkins Extd Memphis TN 38117


Hoping to see you there

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