The problem was that in those days, the Mom & Pop steam table lunch shops would close up after 6pm when all the factory workers went home for the day. They offered a blend of ethnic fare: Chinese, Italian and Spanish, often tastes of each ladled into a single aluminum take-out dish. About 2000 calories of fried chicken, BBQ ribs, fried or saffron rice or pasta, meatball, chicken parmigiana, you name it... all prepared fresh every day. I don't know how we got back to work after those lunches...
The problem was, when we worked late, we had to go several long blocks either west or east of our neighborhood to the residential areas in order to find dinner. There were a couple of family style diners, an Arthur Treacher's Fish & Chips, one fast food burger joint (ugh) and a few restaurants that offered take out. But there were also a few pizzerias, and new to the neighborhood was Goldberg's Pizzeria--which quickly became one of my all-time favorite pizza joints. "A Jewish Pizza?" people always would declare.
Now, the special thing about Goldberg's was that their pizza was different from any New York style pie. And although New Yorker's had no idea about its origins, the Goldberg pizza was a deep dish, Chicago style pizza. The dear, departed Larry Goldberg achieved a bit of fame for his "Jewish" pizza concept back then. He was on TV and newspapers did big write-ups on his pizza. Sure, Goldberg offered his attention getting Goldilox pie (with lox), and the Nixon pizza (ketchup and cottage cheese toppings), The Garbage Pizza, the A-Little-of-Everything Pizza and the SMOG (Sausage, Mushrooms, Onions, Green Peppers), but the sausage, mushroom, pepperoni or meatball pizzas were the real stars. In all, he offered only 8 types of pizza on his menu in various sizes. These were amazing pizzas!
In 1970, New York Magazine and its Underground Gourmet column named his New York's Best Pizza over all others they reviewed. The sauce was sweet and the crust was thick and steamy in the middle while holding a decent crust underneath. The crust had a sort of sweet taste on the tongue (as I remember it), much more robust and bread-like than its New York style counterpart. Bits of cheese and misplaced sauce would burn a bit at the edges of the individual aluminum foil pans, but this only added flavor to the crust. Although I don't remember specifically, Goldberg's Pizza was made upside down, as all Chicago style pizzas are made--the toppings are on the bottom, the sauce on top, and lots of oregano finishing it all off. He pressed everything down with a spatula right before baking.
(Click here to read a 1970 LETTERS to the editor section of New York magazine, where readers some readers debate whether a Chicago style pizza should have won the award... and as a bonus, Larry Goldberg himself wrote an interesting letter where he talks about opening his new location on "Third Avenue in the 20s". That's the one that I frequented! ..... And here's another great article I discovered called The Skinny on Fats, referring to Larry's nickname of Fats Goldberg given when he was a younger, heavier 320 pounds before losing 150 pounds on his "controlled cheating" diet which he wrote about in his diet books.)
Well, reaching back into my fond memories, I tried to remember the flavors, the texture of the crust, the taste of the sauce... and I decided I'd try to make my own recreation of a Goldberg's Pizza. The trouble is, Larry Goldberg always talked about his "secret ingredient" but never put it in writing. There were theories and a lot of talk about some detecting a taste of rye flour in the crust. I have no memory of rye... but I think I had an idea what that special ingredient might be.
The texture was a tad gritty. The crust was sort of stiff and well done on the bottom and sides, but inside was steamy and on the sweet side... it was also a bit more yellow than a normal pizza crust. Kind of like a corn muffin, I thought. (Lightbulb) That's when I got my big idea to try... Adding corn meal to the dough.
Ingredients (for 2 - 9 inch, deep dish pizzas)
1-1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1-2/3 cups water (at 115 ℉)
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup (to start) King Arthur's Bread Flour
1 cup Stone Ground Corn Meal (yellow or white, it doesn't really matter)
1 cup King Arthur's Whole Wheat Flour
1-1/2 tablespoons salt
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Our Pizza Sauce (Click for recipe) or one of your own
16 ounces of part-skim mozzarella, shredded (Goldberg used part skim always)
2 tablespoons of dried Oregano
Meat topping of your choice (Goldberg would use, pre-cooked, crumbled sausage, or sliced little meatballs, pepperoni, etc.)
Preheat the Oven and Pizza Stone set on the middle rack to 450℉.
You will need 2 - 9" cake pans oiled on the bottom and sides with Olive Oil (to be authentic I used 2 disposable aluminum pans for this recipe)
- Mix the yeast and honey with the warm water in a 2 cup vessel (I use a measuring cup) and set aside to "proof" (foam up)... about 10 minutes.
- Oil up a separate bowl (use olive oil) and set aside (this is to rise the dough in later).
- Use a standard mixer with a dough hook if possible. (You can also use a food processor with a dough blade).
- Place the one cup of Bread Flour, Sugar and the Salt in the mixer bowl and mix a bit while dry.
- Once your yeast looks foamy (no more than 10-15 minutes or so) pour it in with the flour and mix on a slow speed setting. Add the Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Scrape down the bowl and beater once in a while.
- When the flour mixes with the yeast into a slurry, add 1 cup of the Corn Meal and continue to mix on low speed.
- Mix and then scrape until the dryness is gone and then add 1 cup of the Wheat Flour until the dough starts to form a slightly sticky ball that will climb up the dough hook. If it looks too wet or sticks to the sides of the bowl, add another 1/4 cup of Bread Flour.
- You want the dough to mix until it separates from the bowl--but it should still be a bit sticky. Go slow with adding more flour. A dough that's too dry will make a tough, leathery crust. You want it soft and a bit sticky. If the dough is sticking to the sides of the bowl a little, you can dust the sides of the dough ball with a little flour, then use a spatula to separate it from the sides before turning it out onto your work surface.
- Flour your work surface in an area about the size of the pizza you are making.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead by hand. Flour both your hands and flour the top of the dough on the board. Fold the dough over toward you, turn 1/4 turn and keep repeating until the dough looks smooth, soft and slowly bounces back when you stick it with your thumb.
- Tuck in or pinch together the bottom of your dough round and make it into a flat round shape, then put it in the oiled bowl to rise. Coat both sides with oil. Cover it with plastic wrap and let it rise at room temperature for 1/2 hour.
- For pan pizzas, after the first rise, you need to form your dough into the deep dish pans and then let the dough rise again, covered for another 30-45 minutes at room temperature.
- Turn out your single dough ball onto a floured surface and then cut it into two equal parts using a large knife or bench scraper blade. You can weigh them to make sure they are equal. Briefly knead each dough ball and reform into ball shapes, then set aside for 3-5 minutes to rest (covered) before shaping into your pans. (This relaxes the dough and prevents springing back).
- Next, press each ball of dough on a floured work surface and enlarge until they are a little larger than the diameter of your pans. Pressing with your fingers, press down the dough in the middle of the pan, then shape the dough up onto the sides of the pan. Think of lining a standard dessert pie. You want to have dough flat along the bottom and flat up the sides to the top of the pan.
- Once the dough is in the two pans, cover them with plastic wrap and set aside to rise another 30-45 minutes.
- After they have risen, using a fork, tap a series of little holes over the bottom of the dough. This prevents a bubble from appearing. If needed, reform the dough up the sides of the pan. It's time to put on the toppings in an upside-down manner.
- Press the Mozzarella gently all over the bottom of both pans.
- Then add any meat or veggie Toppings of your choice next.
- Ladle on some sauce over the top and then press flat with a spatula (the way Larry used to).
- Sprinkle with the Oregano to finish.
- Place the pans in your oven on top of the pizza stone--one in each corner of the stone.
- Bake for 30 minutes, checking at periodic intervals to ensure the crust is browning, but not too much.
In the end, I think I re-created a decent representation of the Goldberg's Pizza. Sure, I can tinker with the sauce a bit (and I probably will, the next time... I think a tad sweeter, the sauce made only with crushed tomatoes). And I will try some rye next time, though I really don't think that was his secret ingredient. Perhaps you'll want to try your own SMOG or NIXON or even throw some lox on top to make a Goldilox. It's up to you to do Larry Goldberg proud.
Bless you, Larry. You gave a lot of people full, satisfied bellies and great memories....
--Jerry Finzi, Pizzaiolo