A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeye's fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from December 19, 2008
White Pizza

"White pizza” (pizza without tomato sauce) is found at many pizzerias in the New York area, but is not often found in other parts of the country. The Italian “pizza bianca” is a “white pizza,” but it often is simply olive oil, herbs and bread. A New York-style “white pizza” often contains mozzarella and ricotta cheeses, parsley, thyme and black pepper; a white sauce contains heavy cream, onion, olive oil and garlic.

The New York-style “white pizza” appears to date from the 1960s-1970s, where it was served at the original Ray’s on Prince Street in Manhattan.

Wikipedia: Pizza
Pizza (pronounced /ˈpiːtsə/ listen (help·info), in Italian: [’pit.tsa] - from the Latin verb pìnsere, to press) is a popular dish made with an oven-baked, flat, generally round bread that is covered with tomatoes or a tomato-based sauce and mozzarella cheese. Other toppings are added according to region, culture or personal preference.

Originating as a part of Italian cuisine, the dish has become popular in many different parts of the world. A shop or restaurant where pizzas are made and sold is called a “pizzeria”. The phrase “pizza parlor” is also used in the United States. The term pizza pie is dialectal, and pie is used for simplicity in some contexts, such as among pizzeria staff.
White pizza (pizza bianca) uses no tomato sauce, often substituting pesto or dairy products such as sour cream. Most commonly, especially on the east coast of the United States, the toppings consist only of mozzarella and ricotta cheese drizzled with olive oil and spices like fresh basil and garlic. In Rome, the term pizza bianca refers to a type of bread topped with olive oil, salt and, occasionally, rosemary leaves. It’s also a Roman style to top the white pizza with figs, the result called pizza e fichi (pizza with figs).
New Haven-style pizza, also known as apizza, popular in southern Connecticut. It has a thin crust that varies between chewy and tender, depending on the particular establishment. The default version is a “white” pizza topped with only garlic and hard cheeses; customers who want tomato sauce or mozzarella cheese have to ask for them explicitly. Apizza has a very dark, “scorched” crisp crust that offers a distinctive bitter flavor, which can be offset by the sweetness of tomatoes or other toppings.

1 loaf frozen whole wheat bread dough, thawed
Or any bread dough recipe
2 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. cornstarch
2 c. milk
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. white wine, optional
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. oregano
2 tbsp. Parmesan cheese
1 c. shredded mozzarella
1 c. shredded provolone

Roll bread dough on lightly floured surface to fit pizza pan or baking sheet. Place on oiled pan. Pinch edges of dough into 1/2 inch rim all the way around pizza.

In medium saucepan saute garlic until soft. Blend in cornstarch, salt, pepper and spices. Gradually add milk, wine and Parmesan cheese. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly, cook approximately 2 minutes. Let white sauce cool slightly.

Brush dough surface with small amount of olive oil. Then spread white sauce over crust. Sprinkle mozzarella and Provolone over sauce. Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

2 August 1970, Oakland (CA) Tribune, “Una Pizza Bellissima” by Martha Lee, pg. 2S, cols. 2-3:
Purists insist that the true Italian piiza does not contain tomatoes. They say it is a cheese pie flavored with oregano, basil and garlic. A popular onion-topped variation known as Pizza Bianca is preferred by Neapolitans.
Three to four cups unsifted flour
One cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
One package active dry yeast
One egg (at room temperature)
One-fourth cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine melted
Two teaspoons sugar
Two and one-half teaspoons salt
Two tablespoons margarine
Two cups sliced onions
Two large cloves garlic, crushed
One teaspoon oregano, crushed
One-fourth teaspoon basil, crushed
Two cups (eight ounces) Mozzarella cheese, shredded
One-fourth cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salad oil. (...)

11 February 1972, Fresno (CA) Bee, “Calzone’s Pizzeria: Strictly A Family Affair” by Woody Laughnan, pg. B2, col. 3:
The specialties include...white pizza with oregano, onions, olives and mushrooms.

13 December 1973, Washington (DC) Post, “Making a Meal of Delicious Little Morsels” by Edith Vanocur, pg. K10:
Per person
1 pizza bottom, or a half muffin, or Sahara bread split into rounds
Olive oil
Minced onions
Minced Garlic
Caraway seeds

26 April 1975, North Adams (MA) Transcript, “Napolitano to open pizzeria shop in city,” pg. 6, col. 6:
They make up pizzas half-and-half and also feature a special one called Pizza Bianca for the person who likes piiza but can’t eat tomato sauce.

2 January 1980, New York (NY) Times, pg. C1:
...in New Haven, you can find a version of “white pizza,” a thick, yeasty dough covered with white clam sauce.

Google Books
1 March 1982, New York magazine, restaurant directory, pg. 113, col. 1:
MARCO OF LEXINGTON—127 Lexington Ave., at 28th St., 532-7674. Casual. Regional Italian. Spcls: white pizza, zuppa de pesce, fresh seafood, osso buco.

16 February 1983, New York (NY) Times, “The Pizza Trend in America” by Florence Fabricant, pg. C1:
The “white pizzas” without tomatoes sold at places like Ray’s on Prince Street, Dean & DeLuca and DDL and the “pizza blanca” popular in Rome share a common inspiration.  Another kind of white pizza is the white clam sauce pizza, which many people associate with Sally’s, a restaurant in New Haven. It is also made at Tomasso’s in the Italian North Beach area of San Francisco and, for the last two years, in New York at Aiello’s Pizza Emporium on Second Avenue and 32d Street.

5 September 1983, New York magazine, pg. 55:
The burnished bar holds trays of tramezzini, those obligatory shrink-wrapped sandwiches. But here they’re on pizza bianca or tiny tricolor rolls of spinach, beet, and
potato flour.
(DDL Buffet Bar at Trump Tower, 725 Fifth Avenue, at 56th Street—ed.)

New York (NY) Times
Agrippa and the Hamburger
Published: January 24, 1988
Thousands of Romans have therefore become accustomed - although reluctantly -to grabbing a sandwich at an espresso bar for lunch, or buying a slice of pizza bianca (consisting of dough and mozzarella), or wolfing down meatballs in some rosticceria.

29 August 1990, Rocky Mountain News (Denver, CO), “White Pizza’s taste comes from the finest of fresh mozzarella” by Jane and Michael Stern:
It is called pizza bianca, and is pure white except for whatever herbs are sprinkled on top. It makes a great, uncomplicated meal or terrific appetizers…

9 December 1992, Restaurants & Institutions, “Great American Foodstuffs (exposition on culinary favorites)”:
American restaurateurs have begun to prepare an extremely old version: pizza bianca, or white pizza, Roman style, made without tomato sauce,...

14 July 1995, Fort Worth (TX) Star-Telegram, “Joe’s Pasta-N-Pizza upper-crust flavors,” star time section, pg. 16:
Joe’s brings the taste of an authentic New York pizzeria to the Midcities. (...) Joe’s also offers a “white pizza”—ricotta and mozzarella without tomato sauce ($8.95 for a 12-inch pie, $9.95 for 14-inch and $10.95 for 16-inch),...

New York (NY) Times
Canadians Bearing Trees Invade Manhattan
Published: December 23, 1995
Mr. Palmer, 49, is from Toronto and went to British Columbia to recover from a back injury in 1979. He never left, staying to set up a pizza business. Though he said he regrets that he has no time to take in a Rangers hockey game in New York, he makes a point of studying New York pizza, which he regards as the best. On the first trip, he learned not to put oregano in the sauce, and on another visit, to make white pizza without tomato sauce and with lots of ricotta cheese. This trip he hopes to learn to make his own mozzarella.

11 April 1996, Washington (DC) Post, “Fresh Grown Pizza: Viva Italia! Tomatoes, Herbs Make the Sauce” by Adrienne Cook:
A pizza is hardly a pizza without tomato sauce. Sure, there are California-style white pizzas and fancy gourmet sauces. But a real pizza has a tomato sauce as a base.

Google Books
American Pie:
My Search for the Perfect Pizza

By Peter Reinhart
Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press
Pg. 196:
This is my version of a white pizza I had at Ray’s in New York City (yes, on Prince Street, not any of the other Ray’s). It uses a white sauce instead of tomato sauce, and is generously topped with seasoned ricotta cheese. For a more adventurous version, substitute an equal amount of any pesto for the ricotta cheese, or add streaks of pesto, to taste, on top of the ricotta topping.

Serious Eats: Recipes
New York-Style White Pizza
Posted by Kerry Saretsky, December 19, 2008 at 4:00 PM
New York-Style White Pizza
Adapted from American Pie, by Peter Reinhart.
- makes one 12-inch pizza -

1 New York-Style Pizza Dough ball, 12 ounces (recipe follows, or buy from your local pizzeria)
Unbleached high-gluten or bread flour, cornmeal, or semolina flour for dusting peel
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried or chopped fresh thyme
1/8 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 cup White Sauce (recipe follows)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
New York-Style Pizza Dough
5 cups (22 1/2 ounces) unbleached high-gluten or bread flour
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar or honey
2 teaspoons table salt or 3 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
3 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil or solid vegetable shortening
1 3/4 cups room-temperature water (70°F)
White Sauce
- makes about 1/2 cup -
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme or marjoram
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

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New York CityFood/Drink • (0) Comments • Friday, December 19, 2008 • Permalink