Sunday, January 31, 2010

idea for pizza making

Last night my friend and his parents came to Roberta's while I was working. My friend is a vegan and his parents are vegetarians. So I tried my hand at a non-meat, non-dairy pie for them and came up with one with tomato sauce, garlic, red onions, Brussels sprouts, red pepper flakes and oregano.

At about 11 I had my dinner break and and made the same pie minus the onions . Then something pretty cool happened. I started to add gorgonzola to each slice I had. The strong flavor of the gorgonzola mixed incredible well with the bitter, slightly burnt flavor of the brussel sprouts. Then to top it off, the pepper flakes curbed both the gorg and the sprouts before they became overwhelmingly dominant- ending each bite with a spicy kick. Despite putting two ladles of sauce on the pie, I couldn't taste the tomato at all!

That gave me an idea for a new approach towards making pies. I'm very meat and cheese centric when it comes to developing new types of pizza. I'll think of a spicy soppressata or a creamy burrata and use that as the jumping off point for the rest of the pie. Maybe I'll add some olives to the salami or some onions to the burrata and then try to think of another ingredient that compliments the first two flavors well- building the pie outward from there. I start with the cheese or meat because they are generally the most distinguished ingredients.

But what if you started with a vegetable as the center of your pie first and only added other ingredients (including cheese and meat) that were complimentary to it? This is what I did last night when I made the pie for my friend and his parents. I thought of brussels sprouts first, and only afterwards, did I think of the gorgonzola. I think this approach will yield some interesting new vegetarian (and non vegetarian) pies. I'm excited to try it.

I'm also very excited about the brussels sprouts, gorg, and pepper flake combo. I think it has a lot of potential to create an intensely delicious pie.

I'll keep you posted on my progress.

Monday, January 25, 2010

I worked at Roberta's all weekend, including doing my first double shift on saturday. It was stressful to say the least ( i barely looked up from my station all night). So if anyone came in to say hi, thanks for stopping by. Sorry I didn't see you.
I'll write more about work soon. For now, I'm pretty exhausted (my back and neck the most). But to say the least, I think I will really like working at Roberta's. Within the last few days I've already learned sooo much about how temperamental the dough can be . I'm looking forward to learning more.

Below are some pictures of me and my brother making pizza over christmas break. We made the pies in my godfather's brick oven which he just finished building himself. We got a really nice rise out of our dough.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Depitting Olives

Today was my first day at Roberta's Pizzeria in Brooklyn. It was a bit of slow day. The lack of costumers lead me to other things, such as depitting olives. I depitted 293 olives today- give or take. It's hard to tell the exact number because every dozen or so I'd forget that I was counting and just guess at the correct number.

I depitted the olives by smashing them against a baking pan. I quickly discovered that to successfully smash each olive, I couldn't smash more than two at a time. It went very slowly at first.

Then something miraculous happened. The olives began to warm up and they became easier to smash. I could smash THREE olives at a time! Eureka!


I quickly tried to smash 4 olives at once and discovered that it was an impossibility. It was just one olive too much. I had gotten too prideful. I humbly moved back down to three.

Not all olives are created equal. Some are soft and some are hard. Some have small pits that easily detach themselves from their olive meatiness and others possess large, stubborn pits that fight the entire way- making my fingers work harder.

What kind of olive would I be? An easy going olive that gleefully jumps from its outer shell or a tough little fucker that's sole purpose is to make the guy who depits them angry and spiteful?

These are a few of the questions I asked myself while depitting 293 olives- give or take.


A party of six comes into Roberta and places a large order.

"Hey Zach, you need an extra hand making those pies?"
"No, Gus. Just keep depitting those olives. You're doing a great job."


There's a one pizza one shift role at Roberta's which means each day I get to make and eat my own pizza. The pie I made today was a mishmash of all the toppings I've wanted to try but havent gotten a chance to yet: It had tomato sauce, mozzarella, taleggio, speck, red onions, and brussel sprouts. It was an overcrowded pizza that wasn't particularly good.

The taleggio and sprouts were easily my favorite ingredients.
The taleggio is very well balanced- creamy and strongly tart towards the end. I can't imagine that it will stand out too well with a tomato based pizza though. I mostly see it working well on white pies- acting as an anchoring flavor-pulling together your mozzarella, ricotta and even parmigiano.
I was surprised at how flavorful the brussel sprouts are. They have a clean, slightly bitter taste that reminded me of a good egg roll. Can't wait to start experimenting with it as a topping.

I was least impressed by the speck. I don't have anything against Roberta's speck specifically, just speck in general. It tasted way to salty too me. And though it adds a nice textual crunch, I don't find it to have the same body of flavor you get with a soppressata.

That's it for now. More on my olive depitting adventures next post.

New Job and great pizza

It's been a few months since my last post. a quick update: I just got a job at Roberta's !

It's in Bushwick off of the L train. Anyone in Brooklyn or greater NY should come out and visit me. I'm working today.

I'll post more soon about Roberta's friendly environment and great selection of pies. Until then, hopefully this will tide you over.