I want to introduce a term that I’ve been using, on yelp reviews and this site with the pizza explorations of the summer. I don’t know if this is a Jeff Orlick original or not, but at the very least, it’s existed in my mind for a while. I think an introduction is in order… The Coastline.
What I’m referring to is the area where the cheese and sauce meet the crust. And I don’t think this gets the attention it deserves. Sometimes there’s a large coastline, sometimes it’s an abbreviated one. Sometimes the sea has flooded over and is now nonexistent. Sometimes it’s red, sometimes the cheese melds and bubbles with the dough. Will the cheese reach the sand? or will it be a shallow red to the dunes? I imagine the cheese as the wave, and the sauce as the darkened sand where the water retreats and the crust which can take any form of nature like dunes or a cheese-crusted marsh.
To me, it all seems natural. Maybe it’s because pizza slices and the waves were omnipresent when I was growing up on Jones Beach. Hundreds of hours spent staring at crusts has created intrigue and metaphor in my focal point, the coastline.
Let’s look at some coastlines:
Check out this slice from Gennaro’s in Staten Island. The coastline is mostly red, with a thin area of beach at the top. This creates three distinctive portions of the slice: The cheese, the sauce, and then the crust.
Check out this slice from Canteena in Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn. This slice has basically no coastline at all! The cheese and sauce go right up and even over the coast. Nice rippling, some charring of the overflow cheese was much appreciated.
Let’s look at Motorino’s pie. Some heavy char areas, lots of bubbles on the beach. High dunes not touching any waves created from their cheese dollops.
Delmar of Sheepshead Bay’s slice gets a little sandy up on the crust. The flour makes a much appreciated appearance coming up from the bottom. Some cheese bubbles on the crust is nice, but not as nice as the dough bubbles.
The DaVinci’s of Bensonhurst slice has a high coastline, with some nice bubbling. The cheese goes all the way up the beach, sometimes reaching over the dunes.
Fascati’s of Brooklyn Heights has a well defined, sturdy coastline. It’s high, stiff and won’t allow the cheese or sauce to rise up on it. The cheese does not ride up on itself and there is a good mix of waves and retreat of the cheese.
Check out this close-up of a Brother’s slice in Staten Island. Take into account this picture taken after a slice fold, but the integration of beach bubbles, waves and cheese is outstanding. This is precisely the reason the coastline needs to be defined. This is my favorite part of the slice.
Am I crazy? maybe. Sick? By the end of the pizza tour I was. Look, I’ve been staring at pizza slices this entire summer. I can’t stop creating metaphors for pizza pies. This is not a science, and there are still many terms to be defined concerning the beach / pizza relationship, but I think there is something to it. It’s a start, maybe you can come up with something. You may just wax poetic pizza too.