Jul 11

Red Moon Pizza Has Décor and Prices From Another Era – NYTimes.com

Red Moon Pizza Has Décor and Prices From Another Era – NYTimes.com.

The outside of Red Moon Pizza

Is it a Sin to Judge a Pie by Its Cover?

Don’t pillory me but I have to admit that I am confused about how I am going to write this blog post. I am aware that this is not an aspicious way to start an article. The problem is that I have a few, compelling but competing lines of thought about why this visit to Red Moon Pizza came about and why I am pushing it further forward and choosing to write about it.

It may be that Stan Parish writing in the New York Times on Sunday is a virtuoso on selling a place in print. It may that I am at best gullible and possibly too intrigued by a deal. At a minimum, I can say that I read selectively. At the worst, I may have to face the fact, that I am seeing a generally positive food experience through jaded eyes, and more frighteningly, eyes jaded about good pizza. Perhaps its all four?

So here is what happened. This past Sunday, Mrs. P Chef, Granny Mrs. P Chef & I read the Gray Lady, The New York Times, as 2 little P Chefs squabbled, played and were generally cute and endearing around the big wooden kitchen table. We saw a blurb on Red Moon Pizza hidden in the back of the paper, describing a secret gem of a “Joisey” pizza joint. Enticing, right?

Who wouldn’t want to see a “Pizzeria From Another Era,” where Sicilian emigrant brothers, Salvatore and Gaetano Spera (Sal & Guy) have been slinging pies for 30 years made from daily fresh dough? Who wouldn’t want to try that place at a premium price, never mind for a pittance of $2 a slice? I was sucked in, picturing swarthy, acccented brothers with dark, waxed handle bar mustaches working in linen togs and greeting the customers with a joyful “Buon Giorno” as they kneaded another batch of their famous dough. Maybe a Corleone would stop by, or a Soprano? I had to see.

Upon arriving, I realized that I must have glossed over some words in Stan Parish’s article. Words like “To step inside is to be aesthetically transported to the early 1980s. The booths are unforgiving orange plastic, and the wall art seems standardized for pizzerias of a certain age” and “The plain slice ($2) is the epitome of by-the-slice pizza, the sauce sweet and faintly tangy under just enough stringy mozzarella cheese,” jump out at me now after my visit.

I was hanging out happily in East Coast Pizza places in the 80’s. I’d seen the hair styles, heard the music and watched the Trans-Ams flash by but I am not sure I want to go back. It was a literal golden age of youth for me, and that invigorated, vibrant part I personally cherish but independently of the clothes, the slang and the whole “80’s” feel.

Since I was in college for much of the 80’s, I also know that epitome means “a perfect example of something,” though I was lulled by its more usual useage to mean a perfect example of something good like “elegance” or “charm.” I read Stan Parish’s line with embedded word and jumped to my own happy conclusions. I failed, at the time to consider that “epitome” could, almost by definition, mean “average.” Similarly, I did not dwell on the fact that “Another Era” did not necessarily mean another “fabulous” era.

Inside Red Moon Pizza

"Another Era" is a "Spot-On" description

If the preceding paragraphs sound therapeutic, they were. I think I needed to sift and organize the thoughts to see that my experience at Red Moon is clouded by bias, both personal and…, well mostly personal, and that I should probably recuse myself from any further commentary.

But I can’t. Was I wrong to expect a Robert De Niro look alike (in period Little Italy costume) to be my new favorite pizza maker? Was I wrong to expect a pie, either NY Style or Sicilian to even come close to the storied pies of my college years at Caserta’s Pizzeria on Federal Hill in Rhode Island? Well was I?

I guess I was. And admitting it, I can see my issue here, the one at hand at least: expectations clouded by nostalgia.

What I should have chosen to see, was talented people working hard to be of service to their community by offering good food at a very fair price. Mea Culpa.

"Sal" and the Team work the Pizza Giving Ovens

And though the sauce was not my perfect cup of tea, as served, it was good and easily doctored with the red pepper, oregano and garlic salt sitting on the table. They were not just catering to me but to every diner. A slice can be spiced up but not down. I understand the larger choices. Both slices spiced up Sicilian very nicely.

Now freed up from a petulant fog of expectations, I can say that the crust on the Sicilian Pizza at Red Moon is a new favorite. It is chewy and delicately crispy in just the right measure.

Slices from Red Moon Pizza

NY Style Thin Crust & Sicilian Style from Red Moon

I will visit Caserta’s again, or maybe order a Fed-Ex pie, but for now Red Moon is closer than Rhode Island and closer than 1985.

P Chef

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Feb 11

Pomo Pizzeria Napoletana

Don Alfonso Pizza from Pomo

The Quatro Stagioni

We have been hearing the buzz about Pomo for months now but have not been able to visit and sample the Verache Pizza Napoletana because Mrs. P Chef has been on a Gluten-Free diet for 4 months now (as a way to try and combat headaches). She unreasonably requests that we eat at places where she can find a filling, satisfying Gluten-Free Meal.

She even phoned Pomo in advance in December 2010 to see if they had any Gluten Free Pizzas, but being true to the ancient traditions requires gluten in the pizza dough. I am a lover of tradition as you can tell from the posts about what James Madison or Thomas Jefferson ate here or there and was dying to try authentic Neopolitan pizza. I am not against modern items either, in general if it is good, I like it, but there is a special place in my heart for the foods of our ancestors.

Perhaps Mrs. P Chef’s headaches stem from an insistent husband but she gamely tagged along (as did our friends Steve and Debbie). Mrs. P Chef had a nice salad, which is pictured below. I had the Buffala D.O.P. and was very impressed with the lightness, and crunch. The San Marzano D.O.P tomato sauce was excellent as was the signature buffala (buffalo) mozarella. The price is not light, $13-$17 for our pizzas but as experience, or an outing we thought it was worth it and will go back.

Buffala DOP Pizza

The Buffala DOP Pizza at Pomo

Before you go crazy asking yourself about the D.O.P., let me explain. D.O.P. stands for Denomination of Protected Origin in Italy. Did that help? Maybe not. In English we might call it a Protected Denomination of Origin, which means that the product so designated is made, processed and produced in a specific geographic area that has been thoroughly surveyed and certified. The reason for the claim is that certain regions claim to produce superior product by virtue of the land/climate. Think of Champagne, the most famous case. If that sparkling wine is not produced in the Champagne it is technically not allowed to use the name.  A similar term is Protected Geographic Indication, which means that at least one stage of the production of the product occured in the designated region.  So why does all that matter?

Buffala Mozarella from Pomo

A Gluten Free Side Dish Ordered for Mrs. P Chef

Come try Pomo Pizzeria Napoletana and find out for yourself. The Italian Buffala makes a difference, as do the San Marzano Tomatoes which are a good reason they named the joint Pomo (tomato in Italian).

The Parma Pizza

Mrs. P Chef's Gluten Free Roma Salad

They don’t have a Caesar’s Salad at Pomo but the Caesar substitute is the Roma Salad which Mrs. P Chef enjoyed. I hope she liked it enough to go back. If not the desserts, might be a draw.

Croccante alla Crema

The Croccante Alla Crema

The Croccante is a mixed nut basket, filled with mascarpone cream and topped with fresh seasonal fruit. 


Semifreddo Di Mandorle

The dessert above is the semifreddo di mandorle, which means semi cold in Italian but I have to admit I ordered it because I have always wanted to try the dish that is inexplicably linked up with the Godfather Series in my brain. The semifreddo is a traditional Italian dessert which is a very light cold mousse topped with amaretto cookies. I enjoyed mine but mostly from the place of being food curios. On my next visit I may be enjoying the Tiramisu.

Lastly, if you can’t visit in person, you might get a kick out of the History of the Pizza that Pomo has on their web site.

'Pomo Pizzeria Napoletana on Urbanspoon

Jul 10

Eataly NYC

The Entry to Italy's Eataly Super-Market-Restaurant

Is This What Manhattan Can Expect for its Eataly?

There is some buzz building around the proposed late August opening in New York of Eataly. Mario Batali and partners’ latest American restaurant. As reported there will 7 restaurants and retail shops serving such delicacies as artisanal buffalo mozzarella, authentic Italian vegetables, and wood fired pizza. They will also have crudo (a raw fish dish dressed with olive oil, sea salt, citrus juices, such as lemon and occasionally vinegar) and a pasta bar. Topping the whole edifice will be a 4,500 square foot roof top beer garden.