As a teenager and later in my twenties, a slice was many times all I could afford. Living in New York City it was the perfect food because I could literally eat it while running to school or to one of my many jobs. I knew of a shop in almost every part of town, none of them were famous, or cool, or even nice in any way, they all had a simple, killer plain slice.
I moved to Berlin from Brooklyn back in 04 and for the most part, I didn’t look back. I fell deeply in love with Berlin and this love affair seems to get stronger every year. Over time though the slice craving was absolutely relentless, the desire just did not stop, I had to have it again and apparently I’d have to make it myself.
I started researching this project back in 2014. I read and watched every dough-making book and video I could find. I interviewed shop owners and dough makers in the states and geeked out on equipment forums online. I tried many different flours, water filters, cheeses, sauces etc. (and I still am and probably always will be). I made a lot of pizza.
Finding comparable local ingredients to those used in the states was not easy. North American flour is much stronger than European flour, water is softer, low moisture Mozzarella is a household item and Pepperoni actually exists in the US. These were just a few hurdles to overcome, some things I hacked, some things had to be made from scratch but everything is from the German market, besides a few basics like tomatoes and olives which come from Italy.
The hardest part to be honest was finding a space in Mitte that I felt had the right vibe and reasonable rent. Over the last years the project kept going in and out of my desk drawer, out as a perspective space was on the horizon and back in again after a failed negotiation. It was very frustrating.
Finally, in the fall of 2019 a space on Oranienburger Strasse 48, the former infamous "Obst & Gemüse" Bar, appeared on my screen and we began negotiating a contract. At the end of February 2020, a final draft was on my desk to sign. I signed the contract and took over the space March 15th 2020, simultaneously Berlin was shut down completely due to Corona. Magic John’s opened April 20th and we have had an amazing reception from Berlin.
Beyond just making my favorite pizza it was very important for me to give friendly and fast service. Creating a happy place to come to work every day is key obviously, if it’s happy for myself and my crew, then it will surely be happy for everyone else. The New York service pace and style was perhaps the other thing I missed occasionally over the years, It’s all about the music and tempo.
That’s it really.... well there’s lots of juicy details I’ve skipped there but that’s it in a nutshell.
I hope you enjoy the pizza and the crew at the shop, it is absolutely a labor of love.