Get a few pizza geeks together and conversation can sound more like a mix of forensic engineering and anthropology than table talk.
There are issues of crust rigidity and pliancy as slices are lifted from the pan and diners pinch and fold; there are ratios of sauce to cheese to toppings; and even "hole structure" — bubbles in the crust. Moreover, there's how a particular specimen reflects regional traditions or responds to someone's Platonic pizza ideal.
This sort of talk bounces all around the cinderblock walls at Pizza Delicious, a specialized and detail-driven pizzeria carved into a Bywater warehouse. It's a destination spot few people are likely to just stumble upon, but that hardly matters — the Pizza Delicious reputation precedes the restaurant by miles.
Greg Augarten and Michael Friedman started Pizza Delicious in 2010 as a once-a-week, takeout-only pop-up in a nearby catering kitchen. These New York transplants modeled their pies on the thin-crust exemplars they missed from home, and the chord they struck was as clear as the line of customers snaking out the door. The cachet of underground eats may have contributed to the initial appeal, but enough people were sold on the actual goods to answer the call when Pizza Delicious started a crowd-funding campaign to equip a restaurant and go mainstream.
The space is small and loud but comfortable enough, in a post-industrial, cement-and-cypress way that fits the new Bywater style (don't mind the people wheeling 10-speed bicycles through the dining room; they're employees). There are quality draft beers and well-chosen, inexpensive wines, and although the menu is short on options it's long on quality. Daily salads are fresh and pastas often are handmade. Both far exceed pizza parlor standards.
The menu offers a handful of possible pizza topping combinations each day. I was excited to see the bushel of kale loaded on one pie, but less thrilled when it all slid off slices that quickly grew soggy.
But lightly loaded and at its best, the Pizza Delicious crusts strike the golden mean between crisp and chewy, a balance that's more complex than simply being thin and is essential to this style of pie. There's a crunch, but then the bite pulls into soft elasticity, bringing along cheese and mildly tart sauce.
Slices are handy, but to experience Pizza Delicious eat a whole pie through its entire lifespan — hot from the oven when the cheese is gooey, a little later as the grease settles in, and then a cold slice lifted from the leftovers box and reheated the following day.
Each phase has its own particular pleasure, and it's the particulars that elevate everyday pizza to something worth talking about. At my table at Pizza Delicious, that talk invariably gets around to when we can pay another visit.