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.

Recent entries:
“Did you ever notice that the first piece of luggage on the carousel never belongs to anyone?” (5/19)
“I prefer my kale with a silent ‘k‘“ (5/19)
“I’d tell you an economics joke, but there’s not enough demand” (5/19)
Bull Dyke or Bulldyker (dyke or dike); Bulldyking (5/19)
“Thanks a melon” (thanks a million + melon) (5/19)
More new entries...

A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z


Entry from January 26, 2009
Grandma Pizza (Grandma Slice)

Entry in progress—B.P.

A “grandpa pizza"/"grandpa slice” is sometimes sold, but there are no standard ingredients for this.


Wikipedia: Pizza
New York-style pizza is a style originally developed in New York City by immigrants from Naples, where pizza was created. It is often sold in generously sized, thin and flexible slices. It is traditionally hand-tossed, moderate on sauce, and moderately covered with cheese essentially amounting to a much larger version of the Neapolitan style. The slices are sometimes eaten folded in half, or even stacked, as its size and flexibility may otherwise make it unwieldy to eat by hand. This style of pizza tends to dominate the Northeastern states, and is very similar to the basic style common through the United States and known simply as pizza. Many pizza establishments in the New York metropolitan area offer two varieties of pizza: “Neapolitan”, or “regular”, made with a relatively thin, circular crust and served in wedge-shaped slices, and “Sicilian”, or “square”, made with a thicker, rectangular crust and served in large, rectangular slices. Another type of pizza, more popular on Long Island but can be found, albeit rarely, in Queens and Manhattan is Grandma pizza. It is cooked in a square pan like Sicilian, but it is much thinner. It has a thin, crispy crust, usually has tomato chunks in addition, or in exception, to the sauce. Generally, it will contain less cheese than regular slices, and sometimes has extra spices or oils baked into the crust.

New York (NY) Times
A LA CARTE
By RICHARD JAY SCHOLEM
Published: October 30, 1994
(...)
Umberto’s, at 633 Jericho Turnpike in New Hyde Park (437-7698), completed an extensive two-year renovation last week. It originally opened in a wood frame building in 1965 as a pizzeria with a few chairs. The present 240-seat, nearly 30-year-old restaurant occupies three buildings, has a 130-seat upstairs catering room, a newly installed old-fashioned wood-burning pizza oven and an antique brick interior.

Although Umberto’s has hired an additional chef, the menu and prices remain unchanged, and the Sicilian pizza first served in 1965 continues to be featured. Entrees range from $13 to $16.50. Pastas cost $8 to $11.95. Umberto’s is owned by two brothers, Umberto and Carlo Corceo.

New York (NY) Times
DINING OUT; From Pizzeria to Red-Sauce Italian Fare
By JOANNE STARKEY
Published: November 27, 1994
FROM a glorified pizzeria to an Italian palazzo,” a reader wrote describing the recent renovations at Umberto’s of New Hyde Park. The 29-year-old landmark made an Island-wide name for itself with its hearty Sicilian pizza.
(...)
So it is possible to sample Umberto’s famous pizza and still enjoy white-tablecloth dining. Both the regular and Sicilian versions are commendable, though the Sicilian was the hands-down favorite.
(...)
Umberto’s
Very Good
633 Jericho Turnpike, just west of Lakeville Road, New Hyde Park, 437-9424.
Atmosphere: Grandiose Italian villa.
Service: Warm, “can do” efficiency.
Recommended dishes: Sicilian pizza, cold antipasto, red snapper livornese, chicken Sorrentino, tiramisu, sorbets.

New York (NY) Times
In an Ocean of Marinara Sauce, 12 Places Where Dining Is More Than Molto Bene
By JOANNE STARKEY
Published: November 12, 2000
(...)
Missing, too, are the Italian restaurants that pizza built: Eddie’s in New Hyde Park, famous for its pies with cracker-thin crusts; the string of Umberto outposts, where the grandma’s pie is drawing crowds; and Nick’s in Rockville Centre, a recently arrived, transplanted champion from Forest Hills.

Tristate Region—Chowhound
Wanted: Grandma Pie (Pizza) info
Fellow hounds, I want to learn everything there is to learn about the Grandma Pie, the thin, square pizza that seem to exist only on Long Island and in Queens. ANY information on the origins of this delicacy, as well as where the best specimens can be found, will be much appreciated. If you know of something that has already been written about Grandma Pie, do let me know.

I’ll share everything I learn in Newsday and will let you know when the article appears.

What do I know? I’m from Brooklyn,
Erica Marcus
Erica Marcus May 27, 2003 03:22PM

Newsday (Long Island)
PIZZA Alla Grandma
Local pizzerias popularize a simple, home-style pie.  Now, word of this Island specialty is spreading.

By Erica Marcus
STAFF WRITER
October 8, 2003
American pizza falls into two basic categories: thin and round, thick and square. But in many Long Island pizzerias, regular and Sicilian pies are joined by a third: Grandma.

A starting player in the local pizza lineup for the past decade, grandma pie is virtually unknown west of Queens. “I’ve never heard of it,” said Jeremy White, executive editor of Pizza Monthly, the nation’s leading pizza industry magazine.

Pizza Monthly, it should be noted, is headquartered in Louisville, Ky. But even closer to home, grandma pie flies well below the radar. Michele Scicolone, Manhattan resident, Italian food expert and co-author of “Pizza: Any Way You Slice It” (Broadway Books) hadn’t heard of it, either. “What is grandma pizza?” she asked.

Variations abound, but the basic outlines are as follows: a thin layer of dough is stretched into an oiled, square “Sicilian” pan, topped sparingly with shredded mozzarella, crushed uncooked canned tomatoes, chopped garlic and olive oil, and baked until the top bubbles and the bottom is crisp.

Scicolone observed that grandma pie sounded a lot like “pizza alla casalinga” (housewife-style pizza), “the kind of pizzas you’d get in Italy if you were invited to someone’s home.”

And indeed, among the men who left Southern Italy to find their fortunes making pizza on Long Island, many cherished childhood memories of a pizza made at home by mama or grandma. This pizza was modest, thin-crusted, strewn sparingly with chopped tomatoes from the garden and just a little cheese (because it was expensive), then baked in a pan (mama had no pizza oven).

For such a recent culinary phenomenon, grandma pie’s origin is curiously cloudy. Interviews with many area pizza makers yielded only a vague sense that it started popping up during the ‘90s. A break came from Emilio Branchanelli, owner of Emilio’s in Commack and Pasta-eria in Hicksville. “It started at Umberto’s in New Hyde Park,” he said. “A guy who worked for Umberto made it.”

After a few phone calls, Branchanelli came up with a name: Angelo Giangrande, now of Cugini Due in Albertson. With the help of Giangrande and the principals at Umberto’s and King Umberto’s in Elmont, we pieced together at least one version of the history of this Long Island specialty:

In the early 1970s, a home-style pan pizza surfaced at Umberto’s of New Hyde Park. Founded in 1965 by Umberto Corteo, who came from Monte di Procida near Naples, Umberto’s now is a vast operation encompassing a pizzeria, restaurant and catering hall. But when Carlo Corteo arrived in 1970 to work with his older brother, it was a simple 60-seat pizza parlor. “Back then,” Carlo said, “we used to make the pizza for ourselves. Umberto would say to me, ‘Make me that pizza that Mama used to make.’”

Umberto served the pizza to friends who urged him to put it on the menu, but he resisted. “In the old days,” Carlo said, “there weren’t so many pizza places and there were lines out the door at night. Umberto said, ‘How are we going to put another pizza on the menu? It will slow us down.’”

Here the story moves about two miles south, to Elmont. The Corteos had opened a satellite pizzeria, King Umberto’s, that was the domain of another Corteo brother, Joe. In 1976, after Joe moved to Florida, the restaurant was sold to two Umberto’s employees, brothers Rosario and Sal Fuschetto. During the ‘80s, they in turn hired two other pizza makers - first Ciro Cesarano, then Angelo Giangrande - who got their start at Umberto’s.

“Umberto still wasn’t selling [grandma pie] to customers,” Rosario said, “but Ciro and Angelo saw its potential.” So when they arrived in Elmont, they put the still-nameless pizza on the menu.

Some time between 1986 and 1989, a conversation occurred at King Umberto’s that would change the course of this very narrow slice of pizza history. Cesarano and Giangrande were chatting with a customer, Anthony “Tippy” Nocella, about what to call the pie. Cesarano recalled that the word “grandpa” came up, “but Tippy said ‘No, it’s really more grandma. You want to call it grandma.’”

Another milestone in the spread of grandma pie: In 1989, Nocella (who died in 1999) accompanied Giangrande and Sal Fuschetto to a pizza-making contest in Farmingdale sponsored by Delicato Foods, a wholesaler. Giangrande recalled that, over Fuschetto’s objections (like Umberto, he was a bit of a traditionalist), he took the grandma pie. It was a hit. “All the pizza guys loved it; everybody ate it,” Giangrande said. “My pizza was gone before the competition even started.”

By this time, other pizzerias, including Umberto’s, had put grandma pizza on the menu. But it really took off about 10 years ago, a chronology that dovetails with the evolution of grandma pie sales at King Umberto’s. From the beginning, pizzas destined to be sold by the slice sat on high counters above the eye level of many customers, but in 1994, King Umberto’s undertook a renovation: the installation of a glass-enclosed showcase, much like a jeweler’s display, that displaced the posted menu as the focal point of customers’ deliberations.

“When we put in the showcase,” said King Umberto’s co-owner, Rosario Fuschetto, “people saw the grandma pie and asked ‘What’s that thin one? Let me have one of those.’”

(Fuschetto regrets never having trademarked the name “grandma pizza,” but was determined not to make the same mistake twice. One of the most popular items at his restaurant are fritter-like morsels fried to a golden brown and filled, improbably, with a creamy amalgam of capellini and white sauce. In 1995, Fuschetto secured a trademark for “fried capellini balls,” which now appear on the menu bearing a government-certified “TM.")

As with books and knock-knock jokes, pizza popularity is transmitted by word of mouth. Unaware of the origins of grandma pizza, local pizza makers put it on their menus in response to customer demand. Natale Tartamella first heard of grandma pie during the ‘90s at a pizzeria he owned in Valley Stream, adjacent to Elmont. “People used to say ‘Why don’t you make grandma pizza?’ I didn’t know what the heck it was.” But he’s a quick study. Since he took over Vinnie’s of Mulberry Street in Hicksville two years ago, Tartamella has been making a grandma pie that was voted Long Island’s best in a 2002 longisland.com contest.

Another mechanism for the dissemination of pizza varieties is the migration of pizza makers. Just as Cesarano and Giangrande moved from Umberto’s to King Umberto’s, so dozens of pizza makers moved from the grandma-nexus of central-western Nassau west to Queens, south to the Five Towns, and even east into Suffolk County. And these pizza-pollinators took grandma with them.

In 1991, Angelo Giangrande and his cousin Antonio Franzella opened Cugini’s in Mineola and, in 2000, Cugini Due in Albertson. Giangrande developed a grandma pie that was thicker than the one he had left at King Umberto’s, but still thinner than Umberto’s. It was this pie, he said, that his brother Mario took with him when he got a job at Gino’s in Long Beach, now a prime purveyor of grandma pie.

Branchanelli said grandma pie arrived at Emilio’s in Commack via his partner’s father-in-law, who was friends with Umberto Corteo. At Emilio’s, Branchanelli took the heretical step of substituting a smooth tomato sauce for the uncooked chopped tomatoes that are grandma’s hallmark. “I defied their recipe, yes,” he said, “but sales have quadrupled.”

Peter Cinelli, scion of the family that owns Cinelli’s pizzerias in Franklin Square and Williston Park, said, “We started making it 10, 12 years ago in the Franklin Square store.” Three years ago, Cinelli, who refers to Umberto Corteo as “the pope of pizza,” moved south of the Mason-Dixon Line and opened up a Cinelli’s pizzeria in Cary, N.C., where grandma pie now outsells regular.

And remember the Corteo brother Joe, who moved to Florida? He presides over Umberto’s of Long Island, a restaurant in Pompano Beach that serves grandma pie to former Long Islanders and native Floridians. Corteo also is part-owner of Pizzeria da Enzo in Las Vegas’ Venetian Hotel. Now that’s taking grandma pizza to the big time.

Even in Brooklyn, grandma pie is making inroads. Tommy Napoli, at 25, a pizza-making tenderfoot, opened Papa’s Pizza on Fifth Avenue in Bay Ridge a year ago. “We put this menu together with stuff from all over,” he said. “And where I come from - Franklin Square - they make grandma pie.”

Initially, Brooklynites were wary of the alien pizza. “But every week we sell more and more,” Napoli said. “The people, they love it.”

PMQ Pizza Magazine Quarterly (March 2004)
The Secret of Grandma’s Recipe
by Tom Boyles
(...)
Many places in Long Island make Grandma’s Pizza, but Umberto’s was the first.

How to Make a Grandma’s Pizza
As Carlo begins to make the Grandma’s Pizza, I look at him and tell him the secret is out. “Everybody in the pizza industry is going to be copying this after this article runs,” I say. He looks at me and smiles like a proud father who is sending his son out into the world to make a name for himself. I start taking pictures as he shows me step-by-step how it’s done.

“This dough was pressed about two hours ago,” Carlo explains. “The dough is thin, but not too thin. Somewhere between a Sicilian dough and a traditional New York crust. This was my mother’s pizza, but we didn’t have cheese on it when she made it in Italy. We couldn’t afford it. She made bread and the last couple of doughs were used for pizza. It was basically fresh squeezed plum tomatoes that are drained for at least 30 minutes to remove the excess water, garlic, olive oil, oregano and anchovies. We started making it here at Umberto’s about 15 years ago, but it has really caught on in the last couple of years and now everyone here makes it. We Americanized it a little by using mozzarella.

“You press this dough out in a square pan that is coated with olive oil. The sauce is the secret, but not that much of a secret. It’s just peeled, hand-crushed and drained plum tomatoes, garlic, spices, oregano, olive oil, basil and salt. We start by layering the dough with fresh mozzarella we make here (Chef Bruno explains how to make your own mozzarella in this issue on page 99. You don’t want to use too much cheese because this type of cheese will break up and also burn because of the cooking time, which is about 15 minutes. You take the sauce and spatter it on in spots on top of the cheese.” Next, he adds some garlic and places it in random areas around the pizza. “You gotta have the oil,” he says as he takes an oil pot and pours a little under the edges of the crust and then drizzles some over the top.

When it comes out, we all have a seat and I begin stuffing my face. This pizza goes back to the basics of pizza making. The bottom is slightly fried from the oil, but not too much. The sauce is rich, but doesn’t overpower the other flavors because rather than covering the entire pizza, it is spotted over the pie. Every now and then, you get the flavor of the garlic, which is enhanced by the olive oil. This pizza is, like the name implies, a pizza that is made in the old school way. When you come to New York for the New York Pizza Show, Carlo will be on-hand to answer your questions about the Grandma Pizza and will also be in his restaurant if you want to drop by and try it out, which I recommend you do.

New York (NY) Daily News
SLOPE’S BIG SLICE
BY RACHEL WHARTON
Wednesday, August 30th 2006, 9:23AM
LA VILLA PIZZERIA & RESTAURANT
261 Fifth Ave., near Garfield Place, Brooklyn, (718) 499-9888; 6610 Avenue U, Brooklyn, (718) 251-8030; 8207 153rd Ave., Queens, (718) 641-8259
must-haves
Appetizer: Fried calamari, $9
Entree: Focaccia della Nonna, “Grandma’s Pizza,” made with house-made mozzarella, San Marzano tomatoes, garlic, herbs and Tuscan olive oil, $22

New York (NY) Times
Dining Briefs
Published: June 20, 2007
Dean’s Pizzeria & Restaurant
215 West 85th Street, (212) 875-1100
As we all know, good pizza is round. Yes, there’s Dominico DeMarco’s sublime rectangle at Di Fara in Brooklyn, but that’s a genius’s idiosyncrasy, Baryshnikov hoofing on Broadway.

For New Yorkers, pizza with corners has meant dull Sicilian slabs. On Long Island, they serve grandma pizza — thinner pies baked in a four-corner pans. But that’s, you know, Long Island.

But Nick Angelis is from Long Island and he likes grandma pies. Mr. Angelis, who established his pizza greatness 13 years ago when he opened Nick’s Pizza in Queens, has been serving a pie with a weightless crust to the Wall Street lunch crowd at Adrienne’s Pizza Bar, which he’s co-owned for the past two years.

Now, as a consultant at Dean’s, which his sister, Mirene Angelis, just opened on the Upper West Side, he’s pressing the grandma beachhead deep into Manhattan.

Located in a former hotel ballroom with Greek columns and elaborate crown molding, Dean’s, along with its full Italian menu and full bar, is offering both an “old school round pizza” ($13 and $15, plus toppings) and an “old-fashioned square pizza,” ($16, plus toppings). The latter is especially thin, without the unappetizing gooey layer of dough above the crust that grandma pies usually have. The sauce on all the pies is uncooked, milled tomatoes; the squares have a garlic and oregano kick. The round pies use all fresh mozzarella, the grandmas half fresh and a high-quality chewier variety seen in some of the better slice joints.

Roasted, the blend of cheeses, tinged with fresh tomato, give Dean’s grandma pies a golden hue.

Since they’re baked in a pan, not directly on the oven’s brick floor, their dough can be coated with olive oil, flavoring and burnishing it. It gets a nice, brittle crunch and a wonderfully chewy topping. The round pie is essentially the fine one sold at the Patsy’s chain, which Ms. Angelis’s husband owns. But next to the earthy, robust grandma, it seems a little tame. Way to go, granny. NICK FOX

Slice
What Is Grandma Pizza? Erica Marcus Explains Once More
Posted by Adam Kuban, September 12, 2008 at 4:00 PM
This story on grandma pizza is a bit of a reheat, both on Newsday’s part and on Slice’s. This story ran in 2003, and I think we linked to it at some point, but it looks like people have been asking more and more about this style of pie. And so Erica Marcus, who wrote the article almost five years ago, trots it out again. It’s definitely worth it, as in the last five years the grandma pie has exploded onto the scene. It used to be hard to find outside of Long Island, but now it’s all over Brooklyn and in several Manhattan pizzerias, too. Marcus defines it as thus:

Variations abound, but the basic outlines are as follows: a thin layer of dough is stretched into an oiled, square “Sicilian” pan, topped sparingly with shredded mozzarella, crushed uncooked canned tomatoes, chopped garlic and olive oil, and baked until the top bubbles and the bottom is crisp.

[Michele] Scicolone [Manhattan resident, Italian food expert, and co-author of
Pizza: Any Way You Slice It] observed that grandma pie sounded a lot like “pizza alla casalinga” (housewife-style pizza), “the kind of pizzas you’d get in Italy if you were invited to someone’s home.”

Funny to take that trip back in time. Now almost everyone in the city here knows what grandma pizza is.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Monday, January 26, 2009 • Permalink