MY FAVORITE LOCAL PIZZA, AND A CHIANTI THAT MAKES IT UNFORGETTABLE
BY NICOLAS HARARY
As a chef, my life has revolved around food for as long as I can remember, and a critical component of my passion is…arguing. When it comes to me and my buddies, there always seems to be the need to determine a ranking of what’s best… regardless of the cuisine. My bachelor party, for example, was a tour in New York City to, yes, celebrate the end of my single years, but also to settle a dispute as to the “best tasting and most unhealthy foods.” (Let me, as a result, suggest avoiding any event that starts by eating appetizers at Virgil’s Real BBQ and ends with entrées at Peter Luger.) Two things I distinctly remember from that evening were answering “Yes!” to the question,”Do you want extra grease?” and comedian Bill Murray (a frequent customer at Jean-Georges) joining our party.
I guess I haven’t really matured. Last Monday, some friends and I revisited a number of pizzerias—from New Haven to the five boroughs—to settle a recent heated question. I’ve been making a lot of pizza this summer, so the “best pizza” argument comes up weekly, and my friends went wild when I said, “I think Denino’s Manhattan might be better than John’s of Bleecker Street.” In the end, we did manage to come up with a list. It is, in order (and yes, we field complaints):
Denino’s Greenwich Village
New Park Pizza in Howard Beach, Queens
Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana in New Haven
Denino’s in Staten Island
Joe’s Pizza, also in Greenwich Village
Di Fara Pizza in Brooklyn
Joe & Pat’s Pizzeria & Restaurant in Staten Island
Whether you are onboard with these choices or not, youmight agree at least that I’m a sucker for a good pie, but I also crave fine Chianti. This signature red is not unlike pizza, for as much as I like it, out of the 1,000 or so wineries that exist in the Italian region of the same name, I can count on one hand how many estates are really, really good. Corzano e Paterno, an organic farm and winery just 20 minutes from Florence, is one. Winemaker Joschi Goldschmidt and his wife, Toni, actually run two businesses on these 300 or so acres of Tuscan paradise, and the results are astonishing.
The first operation is a small fromagerie, making several different types of sheep cheeses (their cousin, Tylo, tends 700
Sardinian sheep on half the property), but sadly, the restaurants of Florence take 100% of the production (I’m working on a way to
smuggle some here, though the chances of it traveling further than the kitchen of our home ain’t terriffic).
Their other business is wine, where the Goldschmidts make terriffically food-friendly Chianti with wonderfully pure fruit; it’s almost like Pinot Noir, with just a touch of earthy
rusticity. They farm organically, too, having used zero chemicals for more than 20 years. It’s an oasis in the rolling hills of the region—a must visit if you go to Tuscany.
The 2014 is a stunner, fresh and long on the palate—a gorgeous bottle of wine.