Grandpa pizza is an increasingly popular style of thin-crust pizza, which can be customized with various toppings for maximum variety and enjoyment.
The pizza is baked in a heavy steel pan, featuring a crispy bottom. Additionally, a generous amount of garlic oil has been drizzled onto it for extra flavor.
New York City pizza establishments are known for two main styles of thin crust pizza: classic thin crust pizza that can be cut into large cheese-topped foldable slices and Sicilian pizza, featuring thicker dough, square shape, and rectangular-cut slices. But recently, there has been another emerging style: Grandpa pizza! This unconventional style has gained considerable momentum within New York pizzerias since it was first discovered.
No one knows when exactly this unique pizza was first created, but its popularity spread throughout Long Island. Reminiscent of what Italian housewives would make at home without an oven (quickly stretched and pressed dough, hand-crushed tomatoes and cheese), it became more commercialized as New Yorkers demanded this nostalgic dish.
At Umberto’s of New Hyde Park, known as the epicenter for grandma pizza, this pie is sold just like any other Sicilian-style pizza but distinguished itself through a sauce made of peeled, hand-crushed plum tomatoes combined with garlic and olive oil – something no other pizza shop in New Hyde Park offers.
Before baking in a heavy pan until their crusts turn golden brown, pies are then sprinkled with herbs such as oregano, basil, and salt before being topped with sausage and broccoli rabe for topping. Orders come through using Antonietta’s corded touch-tone phone at the counter; Antonietta then carefully tapes orders onto slips of paper to complete them in an organized row.
Grandma pizzas are a variation of Sicilian-style pizzas made in a rectangular pan, where the dough is stretched thin before topping with cheese and tomatoes, reminiscent of homemade versions created at home by Italian housewives without an oven. First popularized by Umberto’s of New Hyde Park on Long Island.
Sicilian and grandma pizza differ primarily in that Sicilian dough is given more time to proof before topping and baking, which results in a fluffier and airier crust. Grandma dough doesn’t receive as much rising time and, therefore, becomes denser and thicker.
Traditional Sicilian pies tend to be smaller. Additionally, their dough often includes some whole wheat flour for a nutty flavor and texture.
Some restaurants provide grandpa pizzas as vegetarian options for their diners, like Natalie DeSabato of Traze Pizza Lab in New York City, who offers an entirely vegan grandma pizza at punk shows and art spaces across New York City.
Grandpa pizza may be hard to come by outside New York City, yet its popularity continues to increase. Making Grandpa pizza at home is easy if you have access to gluten-free flour mix that includes potato starch, corn starch, white rice flour baking powder (sodium acid pyrophosphate monocalcium phosphate sodium bicarbonate), xanthan gum brown rice flour and sorghum flour as ingredients.
While a grandpa pie usually consists of just cheese and sauce, you can customize your pizza to make it more filling by including sausage, pepperoni, or mushrooms as toppings. All of this topping goodness goes on top of the dough that has only had limited proofing time before being doused in olive oil, which then crisps it up when baked in the oven and helps create an easy way to make delicious yet crispy, flavorful pizza!
Pizzas may be baked in both traditional pizza ovens and deck ovens – the latter is more often used when creating Sicilian and Grandma pies – for optimal results. A deck oven tends to speed up the baking process more rapidly while allowing the crust to brown more rapidly; Grandma pies can be created at home using either a pizza stone or baking steel to ensure even cooking of the dough.
Emilio’s Grandpa Pizza features parallel strips of light mozzarella cheese layered between homemade marinara sauce that has been cooked for four hours and extra virgin olive oil, all on an ultra-thin crust available in only one size – making this slice one of Emilio’s lesser-known New York-style pies.