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Pizza Month

Summer of Pizza 2013

Back in 2007, I began my Pizza Month tradition, eating a slice of pizza every day for the entire month of April.

In 2008 – the year I started this blog – I also ate pizza every day in April, but did so at a new pizzeria every day. In 2009, I did the same thing.

2010 was a big year in Pizza Month history. I ate nothing but pizza for an entire month. It was ridiculous, and harder than I imagined, but I pulled it off.

Since then, I’ve quietly continued my Pizza Month tradition every year. In 2011, I made a point to only get pizza from pizzerias that I had never previously visited before in my life. In 2012 I followed a similar plan as in 2008 and 2009. During those past two years, I have spent decidedly less energy writing on this blog about my pizza exploits though, opting instead to keep track of my pizza thoughts and activity on Daytum and Twitter.

This year, however, I decided I would try to mix things up a bit. So, instead of the traditional month of pizza eating, I’ve decided to eat a slice of pizza every single day for the entire summer season. The Summer of Pizza begins today and continues through September 21. That means a total of 93 days with at least one slice each day. I will also try to incorporate as much variety as I can, visiting new pizzerias and avoiding repeat visits. 93 days is a long time though, so I imagine I will end up with at least a handful of visits to the most convenient pizzerias.

I can’t promise that I’ll be posting about every slice on this blog, but please feel free to follow along on at @Pizza_Rules on Twitter, where I’ll be checking in regularly.

Pizza Month 2010: Complete

Pizza Month 2010: Complete

I’m glad to report that I successfully achieved my Pizza Month goal of eating nothing but pizza for the entire month of April. I already addressed some of the biggest issues early on in the month, but I figured it’d be worth taking a look back to share a few thoughts and answer some of the most common questions I’m asked about the experience. It’s also a good excuse to make some lists.

First of all: no, I’m not sick of pizza. It helps to understand that I eat a lot of pizza anyway; it isn’t uncommon for me to eat pizza everyday for a week at a time. This doesn’t mean that the whole endeavor wasn’t hard though. On the contrary, it was much harder than I expected. Consider, for instance, the following situations (all of which happened to me during the month):

  • You attend a business lunch, but end up having to order nothing and watch every one else eat because the restaurant doesn’t serve pizza. This of course also involves trying not to come across as a total dick while you explain to everyone why you’re not eating with them.
  • It is the warmest, most beautiful day of the year in New York City and you can’t eat an ice cream cone.
  • You are on Martha’s Vineyard for an extended trip and end up needing to scrape the bottom of the local pizzeria barrel in order to fulfill your daily quota for new pizza.
  • While on Martha’s Vineyard, you are staying for a week with your boss, whose wife is the editor of a magazine that focuses on local food. You can’t eat their undoubtedly delicious home-cooked meals or act on recommendations for the best local restaurants (unless they serve pizza).
  • You attend a catered dinner with tons of amazing food that is also free, but you can only eat an undercooked pizza which you picked up beforehand.

I could go on, but you get the general idea.

To only cite difficult situations would be unfair, though. I had many outstanding experiences throughout the month which probably wouldn’t have taken place if I were eating a normal diet. For example:

  • Doing an interview for the local news which would be re-broadcast on stations around North America
  • Appearing in the news in other forms around the country, including interviews for the Chicago Tribune and a conservative fundamentalist right-wing talk radio show in Alabama (?!)
  • Visiting 18 pizzerias that I have never been to before in my life, many of which were a pleasant surprise
  • Hearing or reading feedback from people who thought my plan was entertaining, admirable, stupid, or otherwise thought-provoking
  • Losing 2 pounds (yes, I lost weight)
  • Having an easy conversation topic to fill awkward silences
  • Receiving an e-mail from a girl I’d never met, asking if I wanted to go on a pizza date with her

Since writing about every single slice I ate all month would take forever, I will instead name some superlatives, yearbook style:

  • Pre-gamer – Pizza I ate the night before Pizza Month started to get psyched up: Patsy’s Pizzeria in East Harlem, Manhattan
  • Hidden Gem – Previously unexplored pizza I wished I had known about earlier: Bacci & Abracci in Williamsburg, Brooklyn
  • Letdown – Most disappointing pizza based on the amount I expected to enjoy it and the amount I actually enjoyed it: Pulino’s Bar & Pizzeria in Lower East Side, Manhattan
  • Surprisingly Good – Most impressive pizza based on the amount I expected to enjoy it and the amount I actually enjoyed it: a Vegan Macaroni & Ground “Beef” slice from Vinnie’s Pizzeria in Williamsburg, Brooklyn
  • Healthiest – Pizza which probably provided the most nutrients I was missing out on elsewhere: a Dell’ortolano pie from Acqua Santa in Williamsburg, Brooklyn
  • Worst – Pizza I enjoyed the least: Vox Populi in Back Bay, Boston
  • Best – Pizza I enjoyed the most: a tough call, but I’m gonna go with the Greenpointer pie from Paulie Gee’s in Greenpoint, Brooklyn
  • Out with a fizzle – last pizza I ate during pizza month (also the runner up for pizza I enjoyed the least): Fresh Pasta Shoppe in Edgartown, Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts

On May 1st, after eating nothing but pizza for an entire month, these are the first 3 things I ate (in order):

  • a single sunflower seed
  • a slice of cold leftover pizza
  • a sandwich with cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and olive oil

In conclusion, I’m glad I went through with this year’s Pizza Month challenge, but I’m not sure I’ll do it again next year. I might return to the same challenge from previous years, to eat one slice every day from at least one different pizzeria every day. Another option I’ve considered which might be interesting is to eat from at least one pizzeria I’ve never been to in my life at least once a day. We’ll see…

Subtract 1:32 from my 15 minutes of fame

I like how it says “Pizza lover” under my name for the onscreen graphics.

Pulino’s: an early impression

I’ve gradually moved away from writing reviews on Pizza Rules! because I find that many pizzerias have been sufficiently covered already. Over the past few months, the site has grown to focus more on pizza-related cultural topics, specifically those that exist in the realm of the artistic and/or weird. However, I will continue to write up various pizza reviews when I think there is something to be said that hasn’t been already.

Such is the case with Pulino’s Bar & Pizzeria, which just opened in Manhattan, on the corner of Bowery and Houston. I kicked off my month-long pizza-only diet at Pulino’s last week and thought I would share my experience for those who are still seeking opinions.

Pulino's Bar & Pizzeria

I was definitely excited when I first heard about Pulino’s because it’s a project of Keith McNally. I don’t personally know McNally or really anything about him, but one of his other restaurants, Schiller’s Liquor Bar, is one of my favorite brunch spots in the city (their french toast is so good!). The Schiller’s connection is definitely felt in the interior of Pulino’s; in fact, many of the same exact architectural elements have been brought over (bottles on the wall, tiled and mirrored pillars, same doors, same lights, etc).

Pulino's Bar & Pizzeria

Given my enthusiasm for lettering and typography, I’m somewhat biased, but one thing I must admit I was disappointed about with the design of Pulino’s is their “famous exterior” signage. They almost got it right with a classic format of fabricated three-dimensional neon lettering, but the choice of Helvetica as the typeface in which to render the name seems so default and unispired. I might not usually mention such a point, but it’s so disappointing when considering the lovely lettering styles at Schiller’s, which are much more closely connected to the traditional styles of architectural lettering in New York that give the city its distinct flavor. It’s a subtle distinction, but one that goes a long way for exuding a sense of authenticity (which seems to be a goal for Pulino’s).

Photo by Mattron on Flickr

Photo by JesC on Flickr

When I got to Pulino’s at around 1:00 last Thursday, it was rather busy but we were seated right away. The overall atmosphere inside was a bit hectic. It almost seemed that there were too many servers, and the relatively tight seating arrangement didn’t help (my menu was knocked off the table multiple times by passing waitstaff). We were also asked to order multiple times by different servers, furthering the impression of disorder. Of course this isn’t surprising for a new establishment that is still settling in to its groove.

But enough about the extraneous details; let’s move on to what really matters – the pizza. Most descriptions I’ve read of the pizza so far are pretty accurate… it’s somewhere between New Haven pizza and Midwest bar pizza: super-thin crispy crust with a decidedly dark shade of reddish orange. We got a plain margherita pie and a marinara pie which we had sprinkled with some grated parmesan (I forget if “margherita” and “marinara” are the names they use on their menu, but they generally match those styles). The crust was almost brittle at first, but as the oil and sauce settled in it became a bit more chewy in the center.

Pizza Month 2010, day 1: Pulino's Bar & Pizzeria

I really enjoyed most of the pizza; the sauce/cheese/crust ratio worked well and even the sparse simplicity of the cheeseless marinara pie was delicious with the ingredients they used.

I do have some gripes though. First of all, our marinara pie had a huge scorch mark that went straight through (see photo below). I’m all for the typical charring of any pizza that is cooked in a really hot oven like this one, and actually prefer a little spotting; but this was a huge solid chunk of pure carbon that, instead of accenting the flavor, made that slice basically like biting in to a solid piece of carbon.

Pulino's Bar & Pizzeria

Note: orange-ish pool in above photo isn’t pizza grease, but chili oil which I poured on to the pan for dipping.

My second gripe is related to the end-crust (or “cornicione”). Eating the wet part of the pie was so good, but when you got down to the “bones”, as my friend Lister calls them, the crispness that was a benefit in the middle of the pie made it become a chore to eat at the edges. Instead of complementing a crispy outer shell with softer dough inside, these end-crusts were hard all the way through, which made eating them feel like chewing on twigs. I think one of the servers even noticed me struggling with the task because they suggested the chili oil that was on the table. While the chili oil was indeed good, it was almost irrelevant for “bone”-dipping because the crust was too hard to soak any of it up.

Pulino's Bar & Pizzeria

My third and final gripe is one which I’m almost certain will be a major topic of discussion in the future in relation to Pulino’s: the cutting of the pizza into square slices instead of normal triangular ones. I get the conceptual link to this cutting style that is used for so many pizzas in the Midwest, especially in bars. It even makes sense for “party” pizzas that are too big or hefty to otherwise divide in to triangular slices. But these pizzas are neither big nor hefty, so square slices are just not practical. With this cut style, the middle “slice” is left without any natural grip area, forcing you to either resort to fork usage or sloppy grease-hands. And, as my friend Yvonne points out, the square-peg-in-a-round-hole approach just isn’t fair: if you’re splitting the pie between any number of people, there are bound to be huge inconsistencies in what each person gets from each slice. In the case of this pie, where the wet portions are notably delicious and chewy but the end-crusts are hard and comparatively low in flavor, such uneven distribution could mean the difference between perceiving the pizza as amazingly good or unpleasantly bad.

Don’t get me wrong: overall I am in favor of Pulino’s, if for no other reason than that they tried – even invented – a new style of pizza. It’s definitely worth checking out for yourself to see if it matches your style, because I can’t reasonably say “if you like this other pizzeria, you will like Pulino’s”; it’s its own thing, and I value that. Plus, any pizzeria whose chef gets arrested for carrying a knife has to be bad-ass, right?

I will be going back for a return visit as soon as tomorrow, and definitely after a few months when any early quirks will hopefully be worked out of the system. After all, this is a new venture, and it wouldn’t be fair to judge it otherwise.

Pulino’s Bar & Pizzeria
282 Bowery (at Houston); New York, NY 10012 [map]

Reflections on a pizza-only diet after 3 days

Three days in to eating literally nothing but pizza, I can already tell that this year’s Pizza Month challenge is going to be much harder than I originally thought.

First I’ll clarify the specifics of the rules I’ve set out, because many people ask about them. The first part is pretty simple: anything I eat during the month of April will be pizza. This means no snacks, appetizers, desserts, candy… nothing. When I went to Pulino’s for pizza on the first day of the month, and my friend Dan got olives before our pies came, I did not eat any because they were not on a pizza.

Some people I’ve talked to have tried to find loopholes that they would take advantage of, like eating soup, but I’m going to try to keep it as legit as possible: Anything I chew and swallow until midnight of April 30 will be pizza.

On top of that, as with previous Pizza Months, I’m also attempting to eat at a different pizza place (i.e. one that I haven’t been to yet this month) every day.

Despite what you may think, the eating of pizza isn’t the hard part. There are many factors that I hadn’t really considered when deciding to eat only pizza for a month. For instance, pizza is often a social meal; but if I’m hungry and I can’t find anyone to get pizza with – as is often the case in the middle of the day – I have to either wait for someone or go eat alone. It’s fine if you’re just getting a slice, but I’m guessing I’ll probably also end up being that creepy guys alone at a restaurant many times throughout the month. This isn’t made any easier by the fact that I tend to stay up late at night, when many pizzerias are closed and potential dining partners are asleep.

Another thing I hadn’t really realized before is how much of my normal diet consists of food that isn’t the main course of a normal meal. So many foods that I love to munch on between meals are conspicuous in their absence. It’s similarly difficult to walk past all the awesome bagel shops and bakeries in New York without stopping in to grab a small bite. Furthermore, considering my normal diet, life without dessert or candy is going to be brutal. Finally, other than a few places where breakfast pizza is offered, normal breakfast will be greatly missed.

So far, I’ve been drinking a lot of liquids to tide me over between pizzas. I’ll probably put down many cups of orange juice and smoothies before the month is through, and I’m relying on those kinds of things to keep me from getting scurvy.

Because of all this – and contrary to the common assumptions about a pizza-only diet – I’m predicting that I might actually lose weight over the next month. This certainly isn’t my goal, but I’ll be curious to see what the correlation is.

Pizza Month 2010: stepping it up

Back in 2007, I began a personal tradition I call Pizza Month. The specifics of the challenge have evolved over the years, but the general premise is that I eat pizza every day for the entirety of April.

In 2008 and 2009, to make Pizza Month more challenging, a new stipulation was introduced in which I had to get pizza from a new place every day (no repeats). It made the whole endeavor much more exciting than just grabbing a slice from my local pizza spot every day.

For Pizza Month this year, I’ve decided to step things up another notch and eat nothing but pizza for the entire month of April.

While many people think that eating pizza every day would be challenging, the hardest part to me for this new level of pizza dedication will be the elimination of candy and desserts. Luckily, Coca-Cola is basically candy in liquid form and happens to also be the best beverage to complement pizza with.
I’ll try to post updates and notes here throughout the month. Also keep an eye on my Flickr photostream for photographic documentation.

For more info on my previous Pizza Months, see the related wrap-up entries from Pizza Month 2008 and Pizza Month 2009, as well as all my Pizza Month photos on Flickr.

Pizza Month 2009: complete!

Pizza Month 2009: complete!

I completed my third annual Pizza Month yesterday at Stone Hearth Pizza in Cambridge, MA. As with the past two years, I ate pizza every day for the entire month of April. Similar to last year, I managed to do so without getting pizza from the same pizzeria twice.

Since I’m currently in vagabond travel mode, I got a lot more variety this year, geographically, than in past years. New York got some heavy representation early on, followed by a string of various Massachusetts pizza.

Billy (who participated in Pizza Month with me the previous two years) folded only 3 or 4 days into the month after forgetting to eat a slice, so I did this one solo.

I must say I was really surprised at how easy it was to complete Pizza Month this time around. I’m starting to think about stepping it up somehow next time (Pizza Season???)

I’ll let you know.

Pizza Month, day 11: Random Kaiju pizza

Pizza Month, day 11: Kaiju pizza

Unfortunately, the pizza I ate on day 11 of Pizza Month is of unknown origin. I had it at a party at the Kaiju Big Battel studio, which is in Somerville, so it must’ve been from that area. When I asked the person who bought it where it was from they couldn’t remember the name, and whatever location they described to me I didn’t recognize and/or remember.

With that said, I’ll put off writing about this one for now. I don’t really remember too much about the pizza, so there’s probably not much to tell anyhow.

Pizza Month, day 10: New York Pizza

Pizza Month, day 10: New York Pizza

Despite its name, my stop for day 10 of Pizza Month is located in Boston.

I’d file this pie under college pizza. It’s almost exactly what you’d expect from a pizza shop that’s right next to Emerson College. It’s quick and dirty, but fills the void; almost the exact opposite of Teatro, which is right up the street. It could definitely be waaaay worse and still stay in business, especially considering the relative lack of many competitors in the immediate area.

It’s a good slice if you’re hungry, and don’t have lofty expectations or mind dining in the company of Emerson students.

New York Pizza

New York Pizza


Pizza Month, day 9: Bostone Pizza

Pizza Month, day 9: Bostone Pizza

For day 9 of Pizza Month, I checked out Bostone Pizza on Newbury St in Boston. There are actually way less pizza spots on Newbury and the surrounding area than you might think, and Bostone is one of the few non-chain options.

One of the unique aspects here is that they’re one of only a few pie shops in Boston that I know of who offer sicilian slices all the time. That doesn’t really sway me one way or the other because I’m not too into sicilian, but I’m sure it’s a bonus for some people.

Bostone Pizza

Another thing that stuck in my head about Bostone is that they are obviously huge Red Sox fans. There were Red Sox balloons outside, some other decorations inside, and they had multiple TVs playing the game that was on at the time.

Bostone Pizza

The general decoration motif was slightly on the fancier side, but nothing crazy. I’m guessing nitty-gritty slice shop probably wouldn’t do too well on Newbury St.

Bostone Pizza

The pizza itself wasn’t especially memorable. It wasn’t bad at all, but not worth really getting too excited about. The bottom crust was on the crispy side, but the slice wasn’t super light and thin the way it often is with a crispy crust.

Bostone Pizza

Minus points for lack of Coke. Root beer available however.