#83 King Umberto, Elmont, N.Y. (Grandma Pizza)
By now, most pizza lovers know what a grandma pie is, or have at least heard of what you could argue was one of the modern era’s first secret menu options. But just because it has become more well-known doesn’t mean everyone knows how to make a great grandma pie. Those looking to establish a baseline with the genuine article will still want to visit Long Island. For the uninitiated, the well-known report by Erica Marcus is the best primer. The short version goes thusly. In the 1970s, a home-style pan pizza surfaced at Umberto’s of New Hyde Park, where Umberto Corteo (from Monte di Procida near Naples) and his brother Carlo would make the pizza "Mama used to make" for themselves. They served it to friends but didn’t put it on the menu. The brothers opened satellite pizzeria King Umberto with another Corteo brother, which upon his retirement was sold to two Umberto’s employees. Two pizza makers that they hired who’d gotten their start at the original Umberto’s saw the potential of the grandma pie and put it on the menu. You have them to thank for this light, thin, crispy-chewy pie with light crushed tomato sauce and a scattering of mozzarella, that every pizza-proud Long Islander knows is better than Sicilian, better than deep-dish, heck, better than many pizzas you’ll find in Manhattan.