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Download Pizza: A Slice of Heaven: The Ultimate Pizza Guide and Companion epub

by Ed Levine

Celebrates one of our most beloved, ubiquitous, and debate-stirring foods. Pizza is the most popular food in the world, and everywhere in America you can find it. American’s consume 33 billion dollars worth of pizza annually from approximately 63,873 pizzerias. Levine and some of America's best writers and cartoonists set out to answer every cosmic question involving this beloved food: Is Chicago pizza really more of a casserole? What makes New York pizza so good? What and where is the Pizza Belt? Is there such a thing as a good frozen pizza? All these questions and more will be answered by Levine and Calvin Trillin, Ruth Reichl, Roy Blount, Jr., Arthur Schwartz, Mario Batali, Jeffrey Steingarten, and Eric Asimov, among others, who tackle the profound questions and never-ending debates that invariably arise whenever the subject of pizza is brought up in polite company.
Download Pizza: A Slice of Heaven: The Ultimate Pizza Guide and Companion epub
ISBN: 0789320460
ISBN13: 978-0789320469
Category: Cookbooks
Subcategory: Baking
Author: Ed Levine
Language: English
Publisher: Rizzoli Universe Promotional Books (April 20, 2010)
Pages: 320 pages
ePUB size: 1232 kb
FB2 size: 1540 kb
Rating: 4.2
Votes: 378
Other Formats: azw txt rtf lrf

I understand the Chicago reviewers ire. When a New Yorker calls their style of pizza nothing but a casserole he is going to get slammed. After all, why be a jerk? However, I don't think Levine's opinion on deep dish pizza makes it a 1 star book. Levine doesn't even mention my favorite style of pizza, but I'm not taking it personally. Ok, maybe a little -- I deducted 1 star.

This book is the opinion of a New Yorker who advocates for pizza from his perspective, and the book really is a wealth of information. If you want info on the East Coast styles of pizza or the artisan style of pizza (like Pizzeria Bianco in Arizona) then Levine's book, and also Reinhart's American Pie: My Search for the Perfect Pizza, are both two of the best you can buy (Reinhart is also a NYer). Both books are very thorough, the authors are quite knowledgeable, and most importantly the authors can write in a very engaging style that keeps you turning pages.

Now, if we could only get a writer that will to preach the value of California style pizza. No, not the stuff with goat cheese and salmon, but the original style -- Straw Hat, Shakey's, and Round Table. It might be commercial pizza, but it is the pizza I grew up eating, and I love that thin crust with layers of flakiness and a small amount of puffiness, and all topped with a good variety of toppings. New Yorkers can have their cheese pizza, and New Haven can have their clam pizza, and Providence can have its grilled chicken pizza, but I want pepperoni or a good combination pizza from Shakey's. I've been living on the East Coast for the last 15 years, and I sooo look forward to visits back home where I can get a decent pizza.
The best book on pizza pie that I have read. And to think that I missed eating a pie at Chris Bianco's when lived in Scottsdale.

Casserole in Chicago, right on. Frozen pizza is ca ca, how true.

Too bad that Ed missed Frank and Angie's in Austin, a place that I rate at three pies.


Georgetown, Texas
In all this debate as to what is pizza and what constitutes good pizza, let me suggest that pizza purists recognize that their pizza establishment does not employ gimicks to sell their product; just plain pizza.

Let me mention a place that NEVER served by the slice; NEVER had a special or coupon; NEVER offered delivery; DOES NOT serve anything except pizza - no salads; no pasta; no calzones; HAS only a limited number of toppings; and customers must stand in the cold or rain for an hour to get into the place, and then another 1/2 hour for their pie.

More is not better. I know of a place that serves pizza with toppings that make it about 3" high - nah! I heard of a place that advertises "Mexican pizza" which is nothing more than a tortilla with tomato sauce on it. Although the Chicago Cassarole dish can be tasty, it is still debatable as to whether it (or the Mexican pizza) can be justifiably called "pizza."
`Pizza, A Slice of Heaven' by New York Times culinary journalist, Ed Levine and a proverbial cast of thousands is a digest of many different opinions about pizza making around the country and around the world. The cover states that the author includes contributions from Nora Ephron, Mario Batali, and Calvin Trillin, but the `and many others' includes many heavyweights in the world of writing about food in general and pizza in particular, including Jeffrey Steingarten, Ruth Reichl, Robb Walsh, and Peter Reinhart.

There have probably been many more books recently on pizza, but the only one really worthy of consideration to my knowledge is Peter Reinhart's recent `American Pie' which takes a much less democratic and much more analytical and rational and professional approach to the search for the greatest pizza. It is immensely satisfying that these two very different books came up with the identical conclusion that the very best American pizza is Chris Bianco at Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix, Arizona. Bianco was easy to pick, as he is the only pizzaiolo to have been awarded a best regional chef award by the James Beard Foundation.

For those of us who do not live within easy driving distance of Pizzeria Bianco, all is not lost. Things are especially good for those of us who live in Levine's `Pizza Corridor' stretching from Boston to Washington, D.C., the landing sites for the great wave of immigrants from southern Italy in the latter half of the 19th century. Particularly good are pizzas available in famous shops in New Haven, Connecticut, New York City, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and, to a lesser extent, in Baltimore and Washington.

Levine's book is collected from two or three kinds of articles, depending on how you want to slice them. The most common type of article is the informal survey of pizzeria's in various parts of the country and the world. Many, but not all of these are written by Levine. Others are written by correspondents who report on the state of pizza affairs in lesser pizza hot spots, such as the report from Charlotte by baking teacher Reinhart and the report from Argentina by Tex-Mex expert, Robb Walsh. The non-survey articles can be divided into introductory pieces written by Levine to lay out the land for the survey articles and background articles, many of which are reprints from other authors' collections.

The very best thing about the survey articles is that they give knowledgeable ratings for both whole pies and slices from a very large number of famous and almost famous pizzerias. This means that if you are a serious pizza lover, you can travel to many major cities in the United States and have on hand a reference to several good pizzerias, especially in the northeast corridor. The only drawback about these ratings is that they are not all done by the same people. Some ratings appear in articles by contributors such as Nora Ephron who is not a culinary professional. I will grant that she is a gifted amateur in pizza circles, but there is no guarantee she will evaluate things in exactly the same way as Mr. Levine. Thus, it is important to read the narrative evaluations and not go by just the number of icons given to rating the slices or pies.

The use of so many different contributors means that there is a fair amount of overlap from one article to the next. Levine edited well enough so that this overlap is not annoying, but it is there none the less.

One item which raised my opinion of Mr. Levine's judgment in food matters was his criticism of a Consumer Reports evaluation of frozen pizzas. He not only disagreed with their specific recommendation, but he questioned their overall competance in evaluating food products. I am certain they are honest. I am not certain they pick the right criteria on which to judge things.

In addition to the survey of great independent pizzerias around the country, Mr. Levine also evaluates the great pizza chains and frozen pizza products. There are no big surprises here, as Mr. Levine's opinion of almost all the chains is pretty dismal. While I have probably less than one thousandth of Mr. Levine's experience in evaluating pizza, I have a hunch that pizzas from major chain outlets may show a lot more variability than he may indicate. I am certain that on average, it is simply not as good as the very best you can find, but it may, on average, be as good or better than what you get from an undistinguished local pizzeria. It's the old Howard Johnson rule. It may not be the best, but in unfamiliar cities, you know what to expect from them.

Two pizza icons which get a tepid reaction from Mr. Levine are Chicago style deep dish pizza and California pizza. Levine goes so far as to say that deep dish pizza is really a casserole rather than a pizza. His take on Wolfgang Puck and Alice Waters is relatively gentile, but also tends to treat them as a footnote to the great classic Neapolitan / American pizza standard.

If you are really interested in a serious discussion of what makes a great pizza, and how to make it yourself, then get Reinhart's `American Pie'. If you simply enjoy reading about pizza and want to know where the very best can be found, get this book. Just don't follow any advice found in Jeffrey Steingarten's tongue in cheek essay on how to achieve a very hot pizza baking environment.