How do you eat a slice of pizza? Knife and fork? The one-handed lift – cursing if it's a soggy crust and your toppings go sliding off? Or the safe "fold and hold", to keep all that juicy cheese and toppings safely enclosed in dough?
Here in Australia, a lot of us like the lift – and resort to the fold only when we're faced with a soggy base or an overloaded slice. But here at SBS Food HQ, after watching The Pizza Show (okay, we confess, we binge-watched all 6 episodes of the first series in less than 24 hours!) we're feeling the love for the fold.
The Pizza Show, hosted by New York pizza man Frank Pinello, is now on SBS VICELAND (Tuesdays 8.30 pm). From Chicago deep dish to char-crusted Neopolitan-style pie, Pinello eats a LOT of slices, as he goes from New York to New Haven, via Chicago and Korea. Mostly folded.
Fresh off the plane in New York after a trip to Italy to shoot more episodes, our new fave pizzaiolo had a chat to us many things pizza, including the ‘New York fold’.
"That’s a classic New York-style thing. It’s a classic giveaway too – if you’re in a pizzeria and you see someone eating pizza in New York and they don’t have it folded, or they’re eating it with a fork and knife, it’s usually a dead giveaway that they are a tourist," Pinello says. "Because everybody in New York eats their pizza the same way – you grab a slice, you throw whatever you want on top – some people do nothing, some people put parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes - then you fold it in half and you eat it, while you’re walking around the block or in a pizzeria. It’s our way of eating pizza."
Why? Well, it seems it's partly because of that affection for grabbing a slice and eating on on the go, and partly because New York slices are big.
"I think it’s just that we started selling these pizzas that are a little bigger in America, cutting them into six or eight. You’d get this big slice and it was kinda harder to eat it just flat, you know? If it’s folded, it’s just a little bit easier," says Pinello.
"I realised in Napoli they have sort of the same thing, where they fold their pizza, these little slices - but what they also do, they take the tip and they flip it in."
If you really want to nerd out about the New York Fold, over at Serious Eats they've detailed three different kinds - apparently which you use depends on the kind of pizza you're eating.
When we chat to Pinello this week, he's multi-tasking - explaining folds and dishing on deep dish to us, while welcoming arrivals at his very very new joint La Rosa, which only officially opened on Tuesday. It's a joint venture with Matt DiGesu, who worked at Pinello's other joint, Best Pizza.
He's been busy. He's been back just a couple of days, after spending a little over two weeks in Italy shooting more episodes of The Pizza Show. Unsurprisingly, he ate "a lot of pizza", from Palermo in Sicily to Rome and Naples.
We can expect to see the results of that expedition in forthcoming eps of the show, but first up, what can you expect when you tune in to season one? Well, having developed quite the hunger for a char-bottomed, chewy round topped with fresh mozzarella after our Pizza Show binge, we predict as follows. You will smile at the idea of "grandma pizza". You might decide to time any trip you might make to Chicago to take place in winter (because, Frank tells us, that's when a big slice of cheesy deep dish is right on the money) but then again you might not, because as he discovers, there's another very different style of bar pizza that Chicago also embraces. And you'll have a keen eye for "leoparding".
Yep, if you don't know, you can probably guess, but we asked Pinello about that too.
"A lot of time, especially in the Napoli-style pizza or pizza that’s made with double zero [flour], when you cook the pizza, you get these spots on the pizza, almost like a leopard skin, a leopard print. It was one of my favourite characteristics of Roberta’s pizza when I was working there. ‘Leoparding’, that’s what they’d call it. I didn’t coin the term, it’s just what I heard a lot of the cooks calling it."
"In Napoli, it was the same thing, all these pizzas had these blisters on the side. It kinda looks like a leopard print. I love seeing it... growing up, pizza wasn’t like that – it was all in gas ovens, and no-one cared about getting char on it, and getting little burnt spots on it. So when it started getting popular here, I really loved it, and we tried to incorporate that at Best Pizza as well."
Finally, we asked the obvious question. Is he coming to Australia?
"I haven’t been yet but I’ve been hearing nothing but amazing things about the pizza scene out there. I’d be really excited to get out there and try some pizza and see what the scene is like. Maybe we can convince Vice to do an episode in Australia. Maybe we can mix some New Zealand and Australia in there. Yeah, convince Vice to bring us down. Let’s do it! "
Vice, are you listening? #BringThePizzaShowToOz
Peeps, if you agree, get social. Hashtag the heck out of Vice, who make the show. Let 'em know how good our pizza is and why Frank should be heading down under!