As everyone knows, New York is the center of the Pizza Universe (sorry Chicago, sorry Italy). The New York pizza solar system has grown exponentially in the past few years, with new "traditional," "artisanal," "organic," "Neapolitan," and fried pizza establishments seeming to pop up every week. It is not just the master pizza makers who have brought New Yorkers these new pizza experiences — a diverse array of chefs, from different culinary backgrounds, have all tried their hand at making the ultimate pie.
A herald of trumpets, a frenzy of online pronouncements, and breathless anticipation usually signal a new pizza temple in the Big Apple. So how is it that one of New York’s best new pizzas has flown completely under the radar? The chef behind it has a top-notch résumé. The pizza is fantastic. And one of the two places you can sample this pie is at that epitome of cool summer food scene, Rockaway Beach. I bet you still can’t figure out what pizza I’m talking about.
The pizzeria in question is DP Pizza. The man behind the operation is Jeremy Spector of the Brindle Room in Manhattan’s East Village. DP Pizza grew out of a project Spector was consulting on to develop different flat breads. They were trying different variations using cast-iron skillets when he had the idea of making pizzas instead. After a little trial and error, DP Pizza was born.
Spector is one of the best chefs in New York that you probably haven’t heard of. His food résumé is unimpeachable — he went to culinary school in San Francisco, he worked in the kitchens of Balthazar, Lupa, Gramercy Tavern, Schiller’s Liquor Bar, and Vinegar Hill House, and he was the chef at Employees Only. Spector also founded Dogmatic. Perhaps it is due to his upbringing in Oklahoma, or the fact that he is just a truly nice guy, but Spector doesn’t go out of his way to seek attention. He just cooks and lets his food do the talking. But while he is not a household name yet, DP Pizza may change that.
In 2010 Spector opened the Brindle Room on East 10th Street. It quickly became a neighborhood favorite and garnered rave reviews for a number of its dishes, including the Brindle Burger and a poutine with gravy and duck confit. A breakfast concept soon followed, with decadent house-made donuts and great pour-over coffee. So how did I find out about the pizza? I went into the Brindle Room for lunch. My heart was set on the bahn mi sandwich (one of the best in the city, seriously) when Spector asked me, "Do you want to try a pizza?"
Pizza traditionalists, be warned. Spector’s methods for making his pizza are unconventional. But they yield a pizza that is rich, toothsome, and deeply flavorful.
All great pizza starts with the dough and Spector lets his ferment for three days. He then begins building the pizza with a cold ball of dough and a cold cast-iron skillet. He stretches the dough in the skillet and spreads it until it covers the entire bottom of the pan. Once the dough is ready, he places the skillet over a flame and builds the pizza in the pan while the crust begins to cook. He adds tomato sauce, cheese, and toppings — once the pizza is assembled it goes into the oven to finish.
The pizza I had featured three cheeses: pecorino, Parmesan, and mozzarella. It was sprinkled with spicy sopressata and spoonfuls of pesto. It was delicious. The crust was dense and chewy, with the outer edges crisp and light. The mix of cheeses gave the pizza a sharp, rich flavor that combined with the sopressata for a wonderfully spicy pie that was nicely balanced with the herbal flavor of the pesto.
So the big question is, "Where do I get DP pizza?" You have two options. The first is for those living in the East Village. DP Pizza is available for delivery on SeamlessWeb. It is run out of the kitchen of the Brindle Room (and now that you know this, you can order it at the Brindle Room even though it is not on the menu). The pizza I described above is available for delivery. All the pies are individual size and they have several different kinds, including a classic margherita and a Hawaiian pie that features grilled pineapple wrapped in bacon. You can also design your own pie.
The second place to get DP Pizza is on the boardwalk at Rockaway Beach at the 96th Street block. This is the building that also houses Vinegar Hill House’s Motorboat & the Big Banana, The Commodore, and the Rockaway Taco Annex. The pizzas here will be a little different from the pizzas coming out of Brindle Room; the pies will be bigger, cooked in pans, not skillets. You will be able to design your own and, because the pies are bigger, they will also be available by the slice. For now, DP Pizza in Rockaway is open on Fridays and weekends but the days should expand as summer heats up.
So, pizza fans, and fanatics, you have a new pie to devour and discuss — you will not be disappointed. Oh, did I mention that DP Pizza is also making meatballs, mozzarella sticks, and amazing arancini (photo)? Don’t get me started.
DP Pizza — 96th Street Boardwalk Stands, Rockaway Beach
Seamless — www.seamless.com
(Brindle Room — 277 East 10th Street, NYC)