Published April 09, 2012
Cheesy mounds ooze luscious orange aioli out the sides while doughy bubbles trap warm delicious flavors inside. Presented on a thin savory platform of crispy crust you can only manage by folding in half, this edible masterpiece can only come from one place: New York.
Sure, you can debate which style is the best -- Chicago deep-dish, Neapolitan, Sicilian -- or argue the merits of how big a pizza should be.
But who can resist a golden slice of cheesy goodness made in the city where it all started -at least in America. Since the first pizzeria in the U.S. opened in New York City’s Little Italy in 1905, New York-style pizza has catapulted into a worldwide cuisine phenomenon.
New Yorkers and visitors confess you cannot find a better slice of pizza than you can in New York. Michele Scicolone, author of Pizza; Any Way you Slice It (Crown) travels to Italy several times a year to explore and research for her cookbooks. He says, “A slice of New York pizza is like a slice of New York. There is nothing else like it anywhere else in the world. One bite and you know you are home.”
Given that customers can’t seem to get enough of these tasty pies, one talented chef and pizza fanatic opened his very own pizza making school so N.Y. pizza lovers everywhere could learn the secrets to delicious N.Y. pizza recipes. Mark Bello, founder of Pizza a Casa teaches his students how to make N.Y.-style pizzas at home and without using fancy cookware or ingredients. The price for a 4-hour workshop is about $150.
“I’ve traveled all over the world but you can’t beat the N.Y. style, there are a lot of people that have tried N.Y. pizza, loved it and then just can’t get it out of their head,” Bello told FoxNews.com
Bello teaches a four-hour long class that takes his students through all the basics of pizza making from how to make the perfect dough mix to slinging them into pizza pies. By mid-class his students are huddled around a long kitchen table gleefully sprinkling on ingredients like homemade sausage pieces, savory sautéed peppers and of course, fresh mozzarella cheese.
“The secret to a great slice is thin, crisp, dark crust. Then top it with light cheese, lots of veggies and jalapenos, that’s my idea of a perfect slice,” celebrity chef and Food Network star Cat Cora told FoxNews.com.
Intimidated pizza-lovers don’t need a culinary degree for Bello’s school. You won’t find ritzy kitchen tools or wood-burning ovens in his classroom. Bello prefers to use regular 500 degree electric ovens to show how you can make a N.Y. slice in the comfort of your home kitchen.
With an array of lively jazz and swing beats playing in the background, pizza after pizza get fed into the oven. “We want people to have fun, but we really want them to walk away with the knowledge. We teach our class the way to recreate that perfect char and how to get those great bubbles,” Bello said.
“Mark was so helpful, he taught me everything I was doing wrong and it came out so great. I’m really excited to go home and try to make them now,” Robin Depalma, a student from the Boston area told FoxNews.com.
Mark says the real key to a great slice is by using quality ingredients and remembering “less is more”.
“Buy a better cheese and don’t use so much of it and your pizza will taste better,” Bello told FoxNews.com. “You’re not going to taste all the components of the pizza if you over dress your pizza with cheese and toppings, nothing will taste distinct,” he adds.
Although there are handfuls of renowned pizzerias in New York ( Bello says Totonno's in Coney Island is still one of his favorites) he says people at any age and from all over the world come to Pizza a Casa to learn how to bring a little piece of New York taste back with them.
“What we get is a lot of people who are passionate about pizza or cooking, everybody kind of bonds on that common thread. It’s a table full of strangers that all get together in one world and make pizza,” Bello said.
When we asked Bello what his favorite type of pizza slice was he told us, “Pizzas are like children, you can’t pick a favorite.”
Now that’s amore.