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.

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Entry from December 19, 2008
Garlic Knots (Pizza Knots)

Garlic Knots (also called “pizza knots") are usually made in pizzerias with pizza dough, adding garlic and sometimes Parmesan cheese, oregano, and parsley. The dough is shaped into a square knot, and several garlic knots are sold together (three for $1, for example) or given away with the purchase of a meal.

Garlic knots are first cited from Long Island and the 1988 Newsday story (below) appears to be the definitive account of their origin.


Wikipedia: Garlic Knots
Garlic knots are a type of garlic bread appetizer found in many pizzerias around the world. Unfortunately, garlic knots are non-existent in the states of Massachusetts and Missouri. They are usually made with pizza dough, and garlic (or garlic powder). They can also be topped with Parmesan cheese, oregano, and/or parsley. A general process for cooking garlic knots includes: steeping oregano and basil in olive oil or butter, then brushing the dough with it before baking. They are called “knots” due to their shape resembling that of a square knot. They are about the size of a large golf ball. They are also called “Gar Knots” in some regions. Garlic knots tend to be one of the least expensive itemsd on a pizzeria menu, with some businesses providing them as complementary. 

Food Network
Garlic Knots
Recipe courtesy Alex Guarnaschelli
Show: The Cooking Loft
Episode: By the Slice

Ingredients
Leftover pizza dough
1 whole garlic clove, grated
Olive oil
Sea salt
Directions
. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
. Place about 1/2 cup of olive oil into a bowl. Grate the garlic right over the oil.
. Break off pieces of leftover pizza dough and roll into little logs. Next, fold into a knot. Place the knots into the olive oil mixture and place onto the baking sheet. Season with salt, to taste, and place in the oven. Bake until the garlic knots are golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes.

18 November 1978, Globe and Mail (Toronto), “An aromatic welcome to world garlic capital” by Nino Lo Bello, pg. 47:
To get to the Garlic Capital of the world, you don’t need a road map. Just follow your nose . .

Here in this tiny village of 3,000 garlic growers, some four hours north of Paris near the Belgian border, garlic is passionately revered for its character and taste. Let it be said that if you have an anti-garlic prejudice, do your tourism in this garlicky hub and learn why Arleux scorns the scorners of the Lilicea, genus Allium sativum.
(...)
During the annual garlic festival, stalls are set up on Arleux’s winding main street, all of which dispense garlicky products and garlicky hot dishes of every kind. One stand gives out free bowls of garlic soup to any tourist who isn’t French. Other stalls go in for such take-home specialties as garlic cheeses and sausages, dried and smoked garlic, garlands of braided garlic bulbs (some of which are three feet long) and hot slices of garlic bread.

The festival is climaxed in the evening with a garlic ball in the town hall, sumptuously decorated with stringed garlic knots (what else?).
(It is unclear what “garlic knots” means in this context—ed.)

15 January 1986, Lexington (KY) Herald-Leader, “Meal won’t trade taste for time in kitchen,” pg. E1: 
Remove garlic knots from oven; sprinkle with Parmesan.

6 November 1986, Park Cities People (Dallas, TX), “Pizza for Mustangs at last,” pg. 12, col. 4:
There’s a Pizza Parlor open in the Park Cities. Mustang Pizza, owned by native New Yorkers Bill DiDio and Ted Stallone, opened its doors almost two months ago.
(...)
Bill brings his family recipes to Mustang Pizza with such dishes as lasagne and ziti pasta, calzone sausage rolls, broccoli pops, garlic knots, salads, Italian sandwiches and of course pizza.

6 July 1988, Newsday (Long Island, NY), “Irresistible Garlic Knots Twists of garlic are cheap and popular munchies in the bread baskets at several local restaurants” by Marie Bianco, food section, pg. 3:
SIMPLE ingredients - flour, water, yeast. It’s how the cook treats these elements that determines whether French baguettes or pita bread will make an appearance on the dinner table.

But if your name is Frank Zitoli, rest assured that the bread basket will include garlic knots, tiny morsels of bread tossed with olive oil, lots of fresh garlic and grated Romano cheese. In a word - irresistible.

“My Uncle Mike first introduced me to them,"said Zitoli, referring to Michael Prudente, co-owner of Prudente’s restaurant in Island Park. Prudente’s garlic knots were a slightly different shape, said Zitoli “but when he asked me what I thought of them, I told him they were great.”

Zitoli loved garlic knots, but would the public? At the time, he owned Pizza Delight in Plainview. “I put a bowl of them on the counter and offered them free to customers. I waited for their reaction. As soon as a person would pop one into his mouth, his eyes would light up and a smile would come to his face.”

That was 10 years ago, and he sold thousands at 10 cents a piece.

But Zitoli didn’t stop there. He splits garlic knots and stuffs them with provolone, prosciutto or sausage. He stuffs the dough with slivers of cheese before baking, adds whole-wheat flour, substitutes semolina. For champagne parties at his restaurant, Franina, in Syosset, Zitoli tucks in smoked tuna and smoked salmon. He has gone as far as presenting filled garlic knots in the shape of wreaths and Christmas trees.

“I feel they are a success because I fuss with the details,” he said. “I hire part-time people who do nothing but peel garlic, and the cheese is grated here.” Why Romano cheese? “It brings out the flavor of the garlic,” he said.

Will garlic knots catch on? Are they the garlic bread of tomorrow? Danny Horton, owner of Victor’s Pizza Delight in South Huntington, learned to make garlic knots from the former owners, Zitoli’s sister and brother-in-law. At Victor’s you can still buy them for a dime apiece or eat them with the daily specials - lasagna, chicken parmesan, ziti. “During a busy day, we can make as many as 1,500 garlic knots,” said Horton.

Across Route 110 and down the road at Francesco’s Pizzeria, owner Michael Macchia said he believes they’re popular because “People love garlic.” A regular customer who was waiting for two pizzas to come out of the oven said she picks up garlic knots when she buys pizza and leaves them in the refrigerator as snacks for her children after school. “A few seconds in the microwave makes them taste freshly baked,” she said, “and it makes a good alternative to a sugar snack.” Macchia charges 15 cents each for garlic knots. “They take a lot of time to make because they’re formed by hand,” he said.

Zitoli doesn’t have a problem employing knotters. When he needs extra hands he calls on his three children, Victor, 13, Elisa, 11, and Alphonso, 8.

Here’s Zitoli’s recipe. You will have more of the garlic / oil mixture than you need. Save it for the next baking day or brush it onto sliced Italian bread and run it under the broiler. Garlic Knots 1 ounce fresh yeast 1 cup water 1 tablespoon granulated sugar 1 pound all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon salt 3 tablespoons olive oil 4 to 5 large cloves garlic

1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup corn oil salt to taste garlic powder to taste
1/4 cup grated Romano cheese

1. Combine yeast, water and sugar in a bowl and allow to proof. Add the flour and salt and mix with an electric mixer until well combined. Add the olive oil. Knead with dough hook for 10 minutes or until dough is smooth.
2. Divide dough into two equal portions. Brush dough with a little extra olive oil on all sides and allow to rise in a shallow pan 60 minutes, covered with plastic wrap, or until double in size. Remove dough and place on a flat surface. Roll each out with a rolling pin into a 6-by-12-inch rectangle. Using a dough scraper, cut each into two 3-by-12-inch rectangles. Cut each rectangle into 12 3-by-1-inch strips.
3. Loosely form each strip into a knot taking care not to stretch the dough. Place formed knots 1 inch apart on a greased baking sheet and bake in a 400-degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned on top. Remove, place in a large bowl.
4. In a blender, process garlic with olive and corn oils until creamy. As soon as the garlic knots come out of the oven drizzle them with 4 tablespoons of the oil mixture and toss two or three times. Sprinkle with salt and garlic powder and toss until knots are well coated. Sprinkle with Romano cheese and toss once more. Makes about 48 garlic knots.

5 March 1989, New York (NY) Times, “A la Carte: Bread” by Joanne Starkey, pg. LI19:
Garlic knots, addictive, tempting morsels, have been drawing raves recently in casual Italian dining spots all across the Island. I first encountered them at Franina’s, 58 West Jericho Turnpike, Syosset (496-9770). It was love at first bite.

10 June 1990, New York (NY) Times, “And It Was Once a Corner Pizza Parlor” by Joanne Starkey, pg. LI29:
First tastes of the food are addictive, chewy garlic knots and a complimentary plate of bruschetta (toast rounds mounded with fresh tomatoes and onions).

New York (NY) Times
A la Carte: Unexpected Quality at the Buffet Table
By RICHARD SCHOLEM
Published: June 2, 1991
BUFFETS, especially low-priced ones like the $9.95 Monday- and Tuesday-night offering at Ristorante Venere in Westbury, are often tugs-of-war between restaurateurs and diners.
(...)
Baskets of hearty warm bread and garlicky pizza knots complement the dinner.

New York (NY) Times
A la Carte; An Italian Restaurant, to Be Sure, but Unlike Many in the Hamptons
By RICHARD JAY SCHOLEM
Published: August 22, 1993
ITALIAN restaurants in the Hamptons are usually (1) Tuscan and (2) expensive, but Baby Moon in Westhampton Beach is neither.
(...)
Prices also include a parade of complimentary samples: warm pizza knots, vibrantly seasoned bruschetta, parchment-thin grilled eggplant, aromatic garlic bread and ripe mozzarella.

28 April 1996, New York (NY) Times, “Garlic Knots Excel in Now-Plush Decor” by Joanne Starkey, pg. LI15:
(Review of Franina, 58 West Jericho Turnpike, Syosset, 496-9770—ed.)
CALL them pizza knots, garlic knots or warm rolls. These tiny twists of baked pizza dough, glistening with garlic butter, were love at first bite when I tasted them at Franina in Syosset more than a decade ago.

They are still there, piping hot, peeking out from the impressive bread baskets.  And, they are just as compelling and addictive as ever.

Google Books
New York Eats (More):
The Food Shopper’s Guide to the Freshest Ingredients, the Best Take-Out and Baked Goods, and the Most Unusual Marketplaces in All of New York

By Ed Levine
New York, NY: Macmillan
1997
Pg. 75:
Ferruci’s also makes my favorite garlic knots in New York. I always end up buying a dozen to take home, but by the time I get there there’s only three or four left.
FERRUCI’S
169 First Avenue (between 10th and 11th Streets)

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