Cornering the Pizza Market
New York's pizza scene is having a bit of a square moment right now. Roberta's and Emily, two of the city's most destination-worthy new-school pizza shops dropped news recently that they will start serving square pies—Roberta's officially debuted its pie at a restaurant takeover at Humboldt and Jackson late last week, and Emily will open a sandwich and square pie spot called Emmy Squared sometime early next year.
The move is a bold one. New York's pizza scene has always been cautious (let's be honest, sometimes even spiteful) of other styles, but an open-mindedness has hit the pizza community in recent years with quality versions of other styles gaining footholds: Roman thin crusts received acclaim at Nick Anderer's Marta, Speedy Romeo's signature St. Louis-style secured an upcoming restaurant in Manhattan and Chicago-style deep-dishery Emmett's has soldiered on in Soho for a couple now.
Square pies aren't exactly new to the scene—the one at Di Fara's is what dreams are made of—but Roberta's and Emily have made their respective names on round, personalized pies, so the change is a big one in the pizza world. Roberta's new squares are inspired by Sicilian slices that Roberta's pizza man Anthony Falco's family has been making for 100 years.
Meanwhile, Emily's going for Detroit-style square pies. Let us explain: Detroit pizza is essentially a performance-enhanced grandma pie with a crisp, deep-dish crust formed by twice-baking in square pans and brushed with oil or butter, and a liberal ladling of sauce atop the cheese. The style supposedly started at Buddy's Rendezvous in 1946.
At Emmy Squared, the Emily team plans to serve two renditions, one red and another white with caramelized onions and ricotta, and probably a special or two. Meanwhile, Roberta's seems to be keeping it classic, at least for now.
Pizza expert and founder of Serious Eats' Slice, Adam Kuban seems to be on board with Detroit pies landing in New York: "I'm psyched to see what Matt and Emily come up with," he says of Emily's husband-and-wife team, Matt and Emily Hyland. "It's great to see they've teamed with [pizzaioli] Lou Tomczak . . . . He was always interested in different pan pizzas. He's a longtime pizza geek and super thoughtful about pizza. He's methodical about engineering a delicious product."
And as for Matt, he's not terribly worried about the reception of his square pies. "The frico [a crispy cheese] crust is an amazing part of pizza, and there is no reason it shouldn't be represented in Brooklyn."
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