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Ryan 06-02-2007 06:55 PM

NY Pizza
I just got back from NYC. I was asking around in several of the pizza shops and they all told me that the secret to their dough is the local tap water. Any thoughts on this? By the way, if any of you happen to go out there I recommend Cafe Palermo for their Cannolis.


dmun 06-02-2007 08:44 PM

Re: NY Pizza

Originally Posted by Ryan (Post 11026)
they all told me that the secret to their dough is the local tap water. Any thoughts on this?

New York City, or most of it, has very good water. It comes from reservoirs in the Catskill mountains, and it is untreated except for clorination and filtering out big chunks. NYC owns huge amounts of acreage upstate to preserve their watershed, and polices the adjoining areas with an iron hand to protect the water at it's source.

As a side note, the reason that New York is a five story high city, except for the highrises with the wood storage tanks on top, is that that is the level that water will rise to, from gravity.

This said, New Yorkers will tell you that everything they have is the best in the world. Why else would someone pay two grand for a three-hundred-seventy-five square foot studio there? I can tell you from personal experience that some of these claims are, how can you say, exaggerated.

I think you can make pizza with any drinkable water. If in doubt, a neutral flavored bottled water can be used. After all, can Naples have water worth anything with all those active volcanos around?

Ryan 06-03-2007 08:24 AM

Re: NY Pizza
Thanks. I was just curious. I live in Colorado and our water is great. Basically snow melt fills the local river and the taste in my opinion is better than bottled water.



CanuckJim 06-03-2007 08:45 AM

Re: NY Pizza
Ryan, Dmun,

I've posted on this subject before, I think, but it's worth repeating. Sure, you can make pizza or bread with just about any water and get fairly good results. There are a few buts, though.

Through experience and research, I've come to a few conclusions that might be helpful. The first is that any dough is really quite simple, in that you have only four basic ingredients: flour, water, salt and yeast. On the other hand, the interaction among them can be quite complex. It makes sense, then to consistently use the best of these ingredients you can find for the result you're after. Yeast, in any form, does not like chlorine. This is especially true of wild yeast. However, chlorine is a gas that will dissipate in water if it's left out, uncovered for about a day. Yeast seems to favor minerals in water, so snow melt or mountain water would be ideal. I use water from a very deep well drilled into a glacial morraine that's basically a very thick belt of sand and gravel, with springs running through it. The water is very soft, mineral rich and perfect for the type of hearth breads I make. Using water like this leads to optimum yeast performance that's repeatable.

Bottled water is usually a bit too "clean" for dough making, and some have a sodium content. Yeast does not like direct contact with salt, either, and that's why I always add salt only when the dough is in the "shaggy mass" stage. Again, though, I'm usually working with slower acting wild yeast.

I guess if you travel enough, you'll always run into NYC-like comments. In Dublin, where the huge Guinness brewery is, they'll tell you that the "black stuff" is so good because the water is piped in from the Wicklow Mountains to the south. True? Maybe. They'll also tell you outside the city that Guinness "does not travel well." This I got from a bartender in Dundalk, some thirty miles to the north of Dublin. "I only drink it in the city," says he.



JoeT62 06-04-2007 05:46 PM

NYC Pizza...and bagels while we're at it!
I have heard the water claim many many times. I grew up in NYC, and I do think that the pizza and bagels tends to be better there than in many other places. But I've had great pizza elsewhere as well. Of course, they make so much more of each than anywhere else, and I've had bad pizza and bad bagels in NYC as well.

Living in southern New England, the everyday pizza is fairly blah. The crust is completely non-chewy, and the cheese tastes artificial at most places. I'm sure they could do better, but if it sells, why bother? Which is not to say I can't get a decent pie around here. There are places in Rhode Island that make excellent pizza, and the North End in Boston has some fine stuff as well.

With the large Portugese population in these parts, there is one thing I like: all the local pizza shops offer linguica as a topping.

I still haven't had a decent bagel though....

CanuckJim 06-05-2007 02:49 AM

Re: NY Pizza

I'm in the same position in rural Ontario. Solution? Make your own bagels. Jeffrey Hamelman's book, Bread, has an excellent recipe that works consistently well. A customer of mine in Pennsylvania says mine are better than what she was having shipped in from NYC. Go figure.

Bagels are, however, time consuming to make. They take two days and must be boiled. The real trick is to keep the dough extremely stiff, if not almost dry. If the dough is at all wet, you end up with hockey pucks.


JoeT62 06-05-2007 04:05 AM

Re: NY Pizza

Originally Posted by CanuckJim (Post 11135)

I'm in the same position in rural Ontario. Solution? Make your own bagels.

I'll definitely give it a try at some point. I have a good friend who lives in the "West 80s" and he keeps me in supply from H&H bagels. I usually have a few ziploc bags hanging in the freezer.

For the record, the best I've had come from Bagel Oasis on the service road to the LIE out in Queens. Ahhhhhhh......

james 06-05-2007 04:07 AM

Re: NY Pizza
Naples is very proud of its water as well. Something about the water naturally filtering through the volcanic layers. One big natural brita filter.

I can attest that the espresso there is great.

edschmidt 06-05-2007 08:05 PM

Re: NY Pizza
If memory serves me correctly in "scent of a woman" when they are in a resteraunt in I believe NYC Al Paccino talks about how he dreams of the rolls at this the resteraunt. He said that the secret is the water and that other cities water have too much alkaline. I know its a movie but its the only time I remember a discussion of water relating to bread and NYC.

Balty Knowles 06-05-2007 08:41 PM

Re: NY Pizza
Sounds like a New Yorker answer to me. I imagine by the time the water gets to the tap in NYC it will be the same standard as any where else. ie full of chemicals. Perhaps he gets it from the Hudson river

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