YOUNG & FOODISH Thu, 14 Sep 2017 10:00:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Will Zobler’s at The Ned Soak Up or Suck Out the Soul from Jewish Deli? Sun, 27 Aug 2017 14:56:40 +0000 Zobler’s Delicatessen, The Ned London‘s New York deli fantasy, is a really big deal and a good one. too. But because I fear its pleasures and prices may not endure, I’ve slapped a sell-by date on my recommendation.

The ground floor of the 5-star Ned London, with its seven restaurants amid 92 verdite columns, repurposes a magnificent banking hall in the City of London. The Grade-I-listed former head office of the Midland Bank  was designed in 1924 by the great architect Sir Edmund ‘Ned’ Luytens for the clearing of transactions, not potato latkes. As a hotel lobby it is spectacularly sumptuous, but the scale of it is disorientating.

The Ned could stand to soak up some badly needed soul from Zobler’s restorative matzo ball soup. Or it could suck the soul out of it instead. Time will tell.

The Ned London grew out of a partnership between Andrew Zobler of New York’s Sydell Group and Nick Jones of the London-based Soho House & Co. Jones likes to bring over expert chefs on temporary visas to get his regional American restaurants off the ground in spectacular fashion, as he did with Pizza East and Electric Diner. To open Zobler’s he enlisted a legendary name or, more precisely, the heir to one: Zobler’s consulting chef is Isaac Gellis, the great great grandson of the Isaac Gellis, once the Lower East Side’s foremost purveyor of cured and kosher delicatessen meats. (Zobler’s is not a kosher restaurant.)

With his six-month visa nearly up, young Isaac’s future in London is uncertain and so too is Zobler’s enduring quality.

Go ahead, Nick Jones, prove me wrong. The potential for lasting greatness is there. Show me you have the will for it, too. Make Zobler’s even better, with or without Isaac Gellis.

Zobler’s #19 sandwich is a nod to Langer’s and that great LA deli’s Original #19 Sandwich – pastrami, coleslaw, Swiss cheese, Russian dressing on twice-baked rye. This homage is a beauty:

The toasted rye is packed with tender, high-impact, house-smoked pastrami, though the peppery kick is fierce, leaving a faintly bitter aftertaste. Less pepper and more fat on the meat would do wonders.

My dining companion, chef Jonny Rothfield, and I tried Zobler’s corned beef, the Jewish deli standard Londoners know as salt beef, on two sandwiches ordered a half-hour apart. The quality varied from cut to cut: The lean corned beef on The Purist, a no-nonsense sandwich dressed only with mustard (French’s, sadly, not deli mustard), was superb albeit a tad dry. The slices of corned beef on the wonderfully obscene Reuben, however, were marvellously moist and melty.

By asking just £3 for a bowl of matzo ball soup that actually has nice chunks of chicken in it and £8 for the powerhouse Purist, Zobler’s Deli offers incredible ROI – by which I mean the return on your investment, if not necessarily that of Ron Burkle, The Ned’s billionaire backer.

Go soon, before November 11th 2017.

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Ice Cubes on a Pizza Thu, 29 Jun 2017 06:42:16 +0000

What’s the most outrageous pizza topping you’ve ever tried– or sworn off ever trying? Pineapple? Spaghetti? Hot dogs? Sauerkraut? Kimchee? Pastrami? Tortilla chips?

The great Stefano Callegari of Sforno Pizza e Vino in Rome tops his Cacio e Pepe Pizza with a base layer of – I kid you not – ice cubes. I had the opportunity to ask Stefano what purpose this served when he presented this creation at the pizza show organised by Ferrarelle for the 2017 Taste of London Food Festival in The Regent’s Park.

The pizza layering with cacio (grated Pecorino Romano “cheese”), pepe (ground black pepper), extra virgin ollive oil over ice cubes was a lip-smacking hit with the Bobbies.

London Pizza Festival: The Judges Sun, 18 Jun 2017 17:59:23 +0000

The Making of Radio Alice’s Potato & Lardo Bruschetta Thu, 04 May 2017 11:07:22 +0000 Last night I had the pleasure of attending a spring pizza party at Radio Alice, the Hoxton Square pizzeria that will be competing at the May 28th London Pizza Festival. Radio Alice will open a second London pizzeria in Clapham next month.

Testing out some new spring pizzas, the great Matteo Aloe applied a creamy white spread to some sourdough mini-pizzas already coated with a layer of tomato. What I speculated might be a whitefish pâté or a cannellini bean paste was in fact a blend of potato and lardo. It was one terrific new pizza topping and needs to go on the menu fast – and, sorry, not just for spring.

A good hour later Matteo served hunks of his sourdough bread to accompany glasses of the elegant sparkling Pignoletto from Orsi Vignette San Vito. I asked if I could have my slices of sourdough with a schmear of the potato lardo spread. A potato lardo bruschetta of sorts.

No probs. Pizzaiolo Alessandro Cenni even improved upon my suggestion, tossing diced pancetta over the spread (as if more pork fat were necessary). I tasted the bread and swooned with giddy pleasure. “The only thing that could improve this,” I said, picking myself up off the floor, “would be an egg yolk.”

And thus was born Radio Alice’s potato lardo sourdough bruschetta with pancetta & egg yolk.

Music to Make Pizza By Sun, 12 Mar 2017 17:37:29 +0000 The longest hour of my life consisted of 60 interminable minutes waiting for a couple of slices at Di Fara Pizza in Brooklyn. Years before he turned 80, pizza legend Dom DeMarco worked at a pace all his own.

On a return visit earlier this month I didn’t watch the clock. I focused instead on Dom, shadowing his slow movements, tuning out the backround noise of the pizzeria and tuning in to the vocals of Claudio Villa, the “little king” of Italian song, playing on the pizza maker’s small red boombox. If ever there was music to make – and wait for – pizza by, this was it!

Taste of New Haven’s Colin Caplan Tests his Pizza Faith Mon, 23 Jan 2017 11:12:57 +0000

Colin Caplan in Naples at Pizzeria Brandi, the mythical birthplace of the Margherita pizza.

Author, historian and architect Colin M. Caplan is a great champion of New Haven-style pizza, which the locals know, according to the old dialect spoken in New Haven’s Little Italy, as apizza. He operates Taste of New Haven and the Elm City Party Bike, leading pizza tours for both, and helped organize the New Haven section of Where To Eat Pizza as the global pizza guide’s regional expert for Connecticut. For most of his life he has been as sure as red sauce is red that New Haven has the best pizza in the world.

But that was before he traveled to Italy in December to get married and, yes, eat pizza. For the location of their destination wedding Caplan and April Amellin chose the Museo della Bussola in Amalfi, a town with two claims to fame: Its spectacular coastline is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it’s one of New Haven’s sister cities.

photo by Emanuele Anastasio

For native New Haveners like Caplan and Amellin the attachment to Amalfi runs deep: There are more than ten times as many people of Amalfi stock living in the New Haven area as there are what the New Haveners refer to as Amalfitanis residing in Amalfi itself.

Caplan ate pizza on every day of his wedding voyage, from Rome to Naples to Sorrento to Amalfi. In Naples he stopped at the legendary L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele and  Pizzeria Brandi, the mythical birthplace of the Margherita pizza. “Both amazing places,” he says.

On the flight home Caplan looked down at his belly, and then out the window, gazed at the ocean dividing the old country from the new, the Italian peninsula from his Little Italy on Wooster Street, and reached this conclusion:

“The best pizza in the world, in my world of course, rests in New Haven.”


New Haven pizza was popularized in the 1920s by Frank Pepe, an immigrant from the Amalfi coast town of Maiori, 34 miles southeast of Naples. Much as I love the white clam pizza at Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana and revere apizza as one of the truly great regional styles in the pizza diaspora I wouldn’t necessarily say New Haven has the best pizza in the world, in my world. But I would be crushed like tomatoes for the famous tomato pie at Sally’s Apizza, another New Haven classic, if Colin stopped believing it was.

It’s bad enough when anyone turns their back on their hometown pizza, the pizza they grew up with, the pizza they shared with their mom and dad. But when the pizza town is Amalfi’s sister city in Connecticut and the anyone is no less of an anyone than Caplan, the bond is sacred.

I don’t wish to contemplate a world where Colin M. Caplan no longer thinks the best pizza in the world – in our world ­– looks like this biomorphic beauty:

Frank Pepe’s original tomato pie with mozzarella

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Sitting in the Queue at Pizzeria Gino Sorbillo Thu, 08 Dec 2016 11:57:50 +0000

When, on November 22nd, I took my Naples VIP Pizza Tour to Pizzeria Gino Sorbillo the last thing I expected was that we would be made to sit in the queue. My idea of a VIP welcome is being shepherded through the hordes waiting outside the restaurant to the most desirable location within.

But rather than roll out the red carpet for us, as expected, the Sorbillo waiters set up a red table, on the street.

I was red with embarrassment, dismayed by what the world-renowned pizzaiolo and consummate showman had – or, more to the point, didn’t have – in mind for our visit.

I wasn’t really that have worried, as you will see in the short video below: The best seat in the house, any house, is nothing compared to the best seat outside the house, Gino’s House, at the little red Formica table, on the Via dei Tribunali, at the epicentre of the pizza universe.


My next Naples VIP Pizza Tour will be March 21st-22nd. For more info click here.

Focaccia col formaggio: The most addictive food on the planet? Mon, 17 Oct 2016 07:17:33 +0000


There are all sorts of good things to eat at the Mercato Metropolitano, the new, mostly Italian food market near London’s Elephant and Castle (map), from Neapolitan pizza to fried calamari, gelato to stracciatella cheese.

But the reason you must go immediately, if not sooner, is focaccia col formaggio. The speciality of Recco, in the Italian region of Liguria, was praised in “Recipes From Paradise“, Fred Plotkin‘s definitive cookbook on the food of the Italian Riviera, as “probably the most addictive food on the planet”.

The Manuelina Focacceria at the Mercato Metropolitano, like a similar bakery at the La Renascente shopping mall in Milan, owes its identify and bread to the beloved Ristorante Manuelina, which opened in Recco in 1885 and is famous for its focaccia col formaggio. This “focaccia with cheese” is not the thick, dimpled yeast bread most of us recognise as focaccia but rather a shallow, fragile, delectably crisp, divinely cheesy pie.

So is focaccia col formaggio still the most addictive food on the planet, as Plotkin proposed back in 1997 – years before the advent of crack pie, Korean fried chicken and the Cronut? To make your own determination you must try it hot. Wait, if you must, for a fresh pie to be pulled from the oven and cut into slices. When you watch the hot melted Stracchino spilling from the cut sides of each rectangular slice you can almost feel the effects. If it’s true that cheeses produce morphine-like opiate compounds, then I’d wager this wonderfully tangy variety yields a double dose. The focaccia col formaggio elicits uncontrollable craving even before you’ve taken a bite.


Like all the hottest temptations it was messy business: Easy to succumb to, impossible to manage.

Me, I loved the touch of Manuelina’s oozy, crunchy focaccia col formaggio as it broke apart in my fingers. Like all the hottest temptations, food or flesh, it was messy business: Easy to succumb to, impossible to manage. But after the last luscious mouthful melted away I experienced no euphoria, no high and, sorry, Fred Plotkin, no impending addiction. More than anything I felt anxiety tinged with fear – fear of making it through today, Monday, and all the Mondays to come: The Mercato Metropolitano and its foccacceria are closed on the first day of the work week.

Ethereal Pizza: In the Spaces Between Tue, 02 Aug 2016 13:16:17 +0000 Ethereal

In Beauty, the Design Triennial Exhibition at the Cooper Hewitt in New York, curators Andrea Lipps and Ellen Lupton define “ethereal” as it relates to design:

Designers create forms that shape space, time, light, or air, sometimes defying permanence and weight in favor of ephemeral or fleeting effects. An object or building might exist in the space between or the space left behind more than in the thing itself.

Now, try substituting “pizza bakers” for “designers” in Lipps and Lupton’s first sentence and “a pizza” for “an object” in their second sentence and see how it reads:

ethereal edit2

The artistry of Franco Pepe, Gabriele Bonci, Ciro Salvo and other master pizzaioli is found not just in the thing we eat but also in the air, the bubbles, the spaces between.

(c) 2016 Luciano Furia

photo by Luciano Furia


And the winner of the 2016 London Pizza Festival is… Sun, 17 Jul 2016 08:46:09 +0000 stampcardsTo celebrate the publication of Where To Eat Pizza, the 2016 London Pizza Festival featured 5 great pizza makers from the Experts’ Guide to the Best Pizza Places in the World:

The Hearth, Homeslice, Pizza Pilgrims, Rosspomodoro and Yard Sale Pizza competed for the love and ultimately the votes of 700 pizza-loving Londoners.

Held at the renowned Borough Market, the London Pizza Festival was presented by Young & Foodish in partnership with San Pellegrino Sparkling Fruit Beverages and Skinner’s Lushingtons Sunshine Pale Ale. In addition to world-class pizza the festival featured fine Pugliese salume and cheeses from Pulia, freshly hand-filled cannoli from Casa Cannoli and hand-made ice cream from Sorbitium Ices.

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