The First Pizza

After pizza frustration set in, it was time to start making my own pizza.  I performed many hours of research on the web to try and find a recipe to make a Buffalo style pizza.  Unfortunately there was literally no information out there.

I came across a very cool and useful website called pizzamaking.com.  After browsing through many of the forum posts, I finally settled on a recipe to try.  This post right here was what I started with.  It was a Papa John’s recipe clone.  The person that had posted the recipe was making some pretty tasty looking pizzas so I figured I would give it a shot.

The date was February 2nd, 2014 which was also Super Bowl Sunday.  I made the dough the night before like the instructions said, and we cooked it up the pizza for the big game.  We used some pizza sauce from the grocery store that was supposedly from a pizza place out of New Jersey.  We used Sorrento/Galbini mozzarella cheese and pepperoni from the local grocery store.  While the pizza itself may not look like anything special, it was certainly delicious!  Even though it was good, it still wasn’t what I was looking for.

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We had a hard time making the dough round so we ended up with two square pizzas.  At the time, I wasn’t aware of how a proper Buffalo pizza should be cooked so we tried to put it right on the stone.  We had a hard time getting it transferred, so we ended up using parchment paper.  It worked out pretty good and like I said, the pizza was delicious.

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The last picture above is the second pizza that we made.  It was just a cheese pizza.  We also made some chicken wings too!  Making chicken wings as good as they make them in Buffalo is a completely different story!  Below is a picture of some cajun wings we made for the game.

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It was certainly a lot more work than dialing a phone number and asking for a large cheese and pepperoni and 20 wings, but well worth it.

Pizza Frustration Begins

The first few months we lived in Atlanta, we visited a few different pizzerias and ate some decent and bad pizza.  It was then that I realized that Atlanta is a city built on chain restaurants.  Having just a left a city where I never ate at a chain (unless it was a local one), it was a tough adjustment and tough one for my taste buds.

Due to Buffalo’s size, fortunately and unfortunately the city doesn’t get many chain establishments.  This is unfortunate as they will most likely never get a Chick Fil A, but fortunate that you won’t see a bunch of chain restaurants or pizzerias that serve up mediocre food.  A few of the chains Atlanta has that aren’t available up north are Marco’s, Papa Johns, Jet’s, Mellow Mushroom, Dominos, Little Caesers, Uncle Madio’s and probably a few others.  Yeah I know there is like one Little Caesers, Dominos, and Marco’s in Buffalo, but not for long.

So anyways, shortly after moving in to our new home, I tried to order a pizza from Marco’s.  This was one of the worst experiences I’ve had ordering pizza.  The first location I called, the call kept disconnecting and there was a lot of static on the line.  The second location that I tried to call, the phone just kept ringing and ringing.  Eventually someone answered and I was able to order a pizza.  Oh and by the way, if you order a cheese and pepperoni pizza, you are getting one cheese and one pepperoni pizza :-).  I picked up my pie from Marco’s and ate it.  It actually wasn’t all that bad.  If I had to rate chain pizzerias, I would put Marco’s up towards the top.  If you have one near you, you can order up a large thick crust pizza with old world pepperoni.  This is similar to something that you would get from Buffalo, but not identical.

Marco’s thick crust with old world pepperoni:

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Next up is a Sicilian pizza from a place called Italy’s Pizza and pasta.  I specifically remember when I called and ordered this pizza.  They sounded very surprised that anyone had ordered it.  Anyways, after a 45 minute drive to a place that was five miles away, we got our pizza.  Notice how strange it looks!  It was actually pretty decent…just a pain to get to, especially on a Friday.

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Most people would probably be satisfied with something like the pizza above, but not me.  I needed to find or make something identical to what would come out of a typical Buffalo, NY pizzeria.  So needless to say, before I really ventured in to figuring out how to make pizza, I tried as many places as I could.  All of the pictures below are from local pizza places and not chains.

Cosmo’s Little Italy 18″ thick crust pie – Lawrenceville, GA

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Not too bad!  But still didn’t hit the mark.  Unfortunately the pizza was cold by the time I got home.

Mellow Mushroom Lawrenceville, GA

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The pizza from Mellow Mushroom actually is pretty good.  If you have one near you, I would recommend you try it out.  It’s not going to be Buffalo style, but it’s decent.  Mellow Mushroom is a pretty large chain that started out of Atlanta.  I would actually go there more often but their pizza is too expensive for what you get.  The 16″ pie above cost around $18-20.

Galla’s Pizza – Sandy Springs – GA

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So what we have here is a pizza from a place called Galla’s.  They are a local restaurant down here in Atlanta.  They serve up Buffalo, NY style pizza and food.  Unfortunately the pizza above was probably not their best effort.  They do use good pepperoni and it’s definitely worth trying if you live in the Atlanta area.  Just don’t expect it to be as good as say Bocce’s or Pasquales.  It’s more like Just Pizza.  I’ll post more about this establishment in the future.

Luigi’s A Slice of Italy Pizza – Buford, GA

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This one should give you a good laugh.  They made a hole in my pizza!  This was one of my most frustrating experiences ever with a pizzeria.  We were about 30 minutes away and I decided to call them up and order a pizza.  Figured it only takes about 6 minutes to make a NYC style pizza so no big deal!  Well I got there, and had to wait in line for 20 minutes to pick up my pizza.  To make matters worse, the pizza hadn’t even gone in the oven by the time I got to the front of the line to pay.  I was also very frustrated that the person on the phone didn’t tell me that I could have two extra toppings free of charge.  So yeah, I paid $18 for a large cheese pizza with a hole in it.  It wasn’t all that bad though, they gave me a free slice.  The pizza itself wasn’t very good.  Basically cardboard with a bitter sauce on it.  I haven’t been back to this establishment since.  I had one of the worst chicken parm subs in my entire life from this place.  I actually threw half of it out as it was just nasty!

Italian Pizza Pie – Dacula, GA

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This place was especially disappointing.  Their yelp photos looked promising and ordering the pizza was like ordering from a place in Buffalo.  I simply called them up and asked for a large cheese and pepperoni pizza and 10 wings.  They said 20 minutes.  I said OK and hung up.  That’s how it’s supposed to be!  Anyways, I went and picked up my pizza and wings.  Got in to the car and noticed that they had given me the smallest chicken wings that I’ve ever seen.  Whatever, I drove home and started eating the pizza.  It was absolutely disgusting.  They didn’t cook it long enough.  I only ended up eating half of a slice and threw the rest out.  The wings actually tasted good, they were just incredibly small.  Maybe slightly larger than a quarter.

So there you have it.  Pizza frustration!

The Drive Down to Atlanta

About a month after I moved, I had to go back up to Buffalo to pick up a few things that were left behind (including a car).  At this point, I still wasn’t really missing pizza or wings yet.   I started my drive down to Atlanta and at about 5 PM I was approaching Charlotte, NC.  I noticed a sign on the side of the interstate that had mentioned something about Buffalo.  The next time I came across a food sign, I saw that it was actually for a pizzeria called Taste of Buffalo Pizzeria.  I figured, hey what the heck, I’ll check it out.

It took a little while to find and I almost gave up.  My trusty Google maps navigation system was having a hard time finding the place.  Eventually I did find it and liked what I saw as I parked my car.  A few Sahlen’s patio umbrellas and a bunch of Bills and Sabres paraphernalia.  It was almost like I was back in Buffalo!

The inside of the pizzeria had a cool painting of the city of Buffalo, as well as some Flutie stuff (grrrr) and of course a bunch of Bills and Sabres items.  I ordered a “large” pizza to go.  I guess I didn’t notice at the time, but you need to order margherita pepperoni if you want the classic cup and char pepperoni that comes on pretty much all pizza’s sold up north.  Anyways, I got my 16″ large pizza and was on my way.  I didn’t realize this yet, but I guess in the south, a large pizza is either a 14″ or 16″ pie.  Much different than the 18″ large that I was used to.

Anyways, the pizza was pretty good!  Not really sure how to compare it to anything up in Buffalo, but it’s thick and has a lot of cheese on it.  I would definitely recommend checking this place out if you are passing through the area.

http://www.tasteofbuffalopizzeria.com/

Address:
9610 Sherrill Estates Rd.
Huntersville, NC 28078
Phone:(704) 439-0546

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The Journey to Making Good Pizza!

Back in August of 2013, my wife and I moved from Buffalo, NY down to Atlanta, Georgia.  Little did I know how difficult it would be to find pizza that was either edible or similar to the pizza I moved away from.  I remember a conversation that I had with my brother (who has lived in Atlanta for about 10 years) a few months before we moved.  I asked him if he had found a good pizza place.  His answer was “No, and you aren’t going to find any”.  I figured he probably didn’t try too hard to find a decent place as I could not fathom the possibility of a city the size of Atlanta not having a decent pizzeria.  It turns out that his answer was partially right.  There are plenty of decent and very good pizzerias in Atlanta,  just not any that live up to Buffalo standards.  I should mention that there is one place that is pretty decent called Galla’s.  They serve Buffalo style pizza and food.  The quality of pizza isn’t bad, just a little too far of a drive from my house.

This began my determination to make a delicious Buffalo, NY style pizza at home.  When starting this process, I didn’t realize how little information there was out on the internet in regards to making Buffalo style pizza.  There was literally no info at all other than a ton of people that wanted a recipe.  The pizza that I am going to show you how to make has taken me over a year to perfect.  I’ve experienced many (and I mean many!) failed pizzas that were practically inedible.  Hopefully I can help you avoid these same experiences.

On my website, I will post the recipes, techniques, and any other tips that may be useful for baking your own Buffalo style pizza at home.  The featured image is the last pizza that I ate before moving down to the ATL.  It was from Picasso’s in West Seneca.  It was the last day before they swapped out their ovens for a conveyor belt pizza oven.  I’ve been back many times and unfortunately their pizza is not nearly as good as it used to be.  I would’ve rated it a 10 before, now it’s maybe a 5 at best.  At least there are plenty of other pizzerias in Buffalo to choose from!