|A thin crisp slice at Joe and Pat's|
Foremost among my thin-crust favorites have been Tacconelli's in Philadelphia, Trenton tomato pies like DeLorenzo's and Papa's, and two Staten Island stalwarts - Lee's Tavern and Denino's. (Click on any of these for full review and pics).
On a Saturday afternoon during the endless winter of 2014, we made a stop at another Staten Island pizzeria of high repute - Joe and Pat's on Victory Boulevard. They have been in business since 1960. Even with a recent interior renovation, the inside looks like a pizza parlor. However, there is an extensive menu of soups, salads, pasta, seafood, and Italian entrees. I'd love to sample some of it - but this trip was just lunch and focused entirely on the pizza.
|View from the dining room|
Pizzas options include a personal-sized pie, round or Sicilian pies of 14" or 16", a gluten-free pie, and a "Grandma Sicilian." Our waitress explained that the Grandma is a thin-crust Sicilian pizza.
|Prepping the dough|
We ordered a large round pie with pepperoni and a Grandma pie with sausage, and asked for both to be "well-done." Our waitress explained that the Grandma pie takes 20 minutes to cook, and that our round pie would be ready first.
The pepperoni pie arrived covered with curled cups of pepperoni and a golden brown cornicione. The slices were indeed thin and crisp as expected - but there was a generous amount of sauce and cheese too. Enough toppings that it made sense to eat the first bite with knife and fork.
This pie went right up to the edge of too much sauce and cheese, but not over it. And the sauce was delicious, reminding me of a Trenton tomato pie. No hint of it being overcooked or overseasoned - just a bright fresh tomato tang. The cheese was shredded conventional mozz, and the ideal role player.
|Crust was crisp, browned, crunchy, perfect|
The pepperoni was absolute top shelf, curled and crisp and oily. This salty pie succeeded on every level - a crust wonderful in flavor and texture, sauce that sings, and perfect pepperoni. I wolfed down two slices and could have rapidly inhaled two more, but I needed to save room for the grandma pie, which arrived soon after.
|The Grandma pie|
Here was another pie with a magnificent appearance. This was made with fresh mozzarella (although we could have chosen conventional shredded if we wanted). That white cheese made a lovely palate for more of the same simple and wonderful red sauce and a lot of chopped fresh green basil.
Like a Sicilian pie, the Grandma pie is baked in a square pan. The crust was excellent at the edges, chewy and crisp. The fresh mozz, sauce, and basil were well matched. The sausage was genuine stuff and high quality, but I was disappointed that it was pre-cooked and sliced, rather than rough chunks that cook on the pie. Tasty still, but not the magic that happens with sausage at places like DeLorenzo's.
|Under Grandma's hood|
The downside of most rectangular pies is that the inner four slices have no cornicione, and here, they were inexplicably moist. The pie was not overloaded with toppings, but perhaps the fresh mozz gave up moisture that accumulated in the center. Slices of this Grandma pie improved substantially upon a reheat in my oven at home on a perforated pan; that process removed the excess moisture and allowed the slices to become crisp.
The Grandma pie was excellent overall, but the conventional round pie was the star attraction. The term I over-use in this blog is "old-school" but it certainly applies here. This is the way authentic pizza looks and tastes. Joe and Pat's is destination pizza, and the good folks of Staten Island are lucky to have world-class pie without having to wait hours for a table.