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- WTF is NYS?
- Let's make some dough!
- Sweet things to come
Hey there Pizza Lovers of the world!
I hope you all are enjoying these strange times and taking life one slice at a time, but if you’re anything like me, it’s usually two at a time. Time for a Newsletter since we have had so many interesting responses to our New York slice, both in house and in our new delivery program, which is as NEW YORK a way of having your pizza as grabbing a slice to go. (BTW, the delivery is going really great and we are excited to soon be expanding to more neighbourhoods. Check out the zones here and make sure you enter MAGICNEWSLETTER in the discount code for 20% off any order this month)
HOWEVER!!! SHOCKINGLY!! The question I’d never thought would come up in my life has come up more than any other question I’ve ever had to answer.
WTF is a New York Slice?
Lot’s of locals and by that I mean Europeans, not just Germans, are asking what’s this all about? What’s different about it? What’s the big deal?
To the last question I’ll say right away, it’s pizza and not an existential issue so don’t lose sleep on it. Also I’ll say as an expat, that finally having a proper New York Slice in Berlin is HUGE! (Sorry for the Trumpian adjective, but he has taken so much from us, he can’t have the word “HUGE” also)
Bottom line is, I guess what pizza is to you all depends on what pizza you grew up on.
New York Sliced Pizza is the most common style of Pizza in the states.
It’s based on a considerably higher protein flour then the ones used in Europe. That’s what allows it to stretch so big and thin while maintaining strength to make large crispy slices. A NY Slice is made to eat on the street, often while walking to or from work or school (here you call it running, in New York it’s regular walking). In order to be eaten while in motion, this thin slice needs to ‘hold’, meaning, be crispy and not flop around while holding all it’s toppings.
Not to take shots at Neopolitan Pizza, (I love Neapolitan) but try to eat one of those on the move and that’s a trip to the burn unit and/or then the dry cleaners. You can sit down to eat a NYS but you don’t have to. You can use a knife and fork as well, but that’s just silliness tbh, it’s pizza not steak.
Flavour wise, the essence of a NY slice is that every bite you have is saturated with whatever type of topping you chose. For example, I make sure every bite of our olive, or pepperoni slice, contains olives or pepperoni.
I’ve seen people eating slices here in some very interesting ways, prompting us to start working on a quick how-to guide, or instruction manual if you will, on how to consume this unique regional delicacy.
Until this manual masterpiece is published, here is a quick two step guide:
-Fold your slice lengthwise down the middle (cheese on the inside please)
-Start eating from the pointy end not the crust (this unfortunately, has to be said)
More to come soon with my 8 points on what makes a New York Slice Joint.
Lets Make Some Dough!
As promised in last month’s newsletter, here are some tips on dough making for any caker, baker or pizza maker!
I wanted to share some ground rules that I’ve picked up over the last years, whether you're making pizza or cinnamon rolls, if it has dough in it, these rules will help.
So I’ve been cooking for many years but baking always scared the shit out of me! There's no wiggle room in baking, once in the oven, it is what it is. Making great pizza at home is easy and fun, as long as your dough is good. If you want to make pizza at home you’ll need a baking stone or steel and a simple peel or a screen. I recommend working on a screen, it’s much more manageable in a small home oven. There’s a ton of recipes and methods online, I’ll share some of mine in the future, but here It’s going to be too much.
So if you suck at baking like I did, whether bread or pizza:
Rule No.1 - Repetition.
Pick up a recipe you like and make it over and over. If it’s perfect on round one great! Be prepared to fuck it up next time.
Rule No. 2 - Make at least 2 batches every time
You can variate in real time and let one rise more, bake more etc. Especially good if you have guests coming and you’re not sure if that loaf is baked through all the way.
Rule No. 3 - Tasty Water
Our dough is a 60% hydration, meaning 600ml of water to every 1000g of flour. Neopolitan pizza dough is generally north of 70% hydration, In other words water is a huge part of your dough flavour. I personally do not like hard water, no need to get geeky but it’s also not very helpful for things like dough spring and crunchiness from what I’ve learned.
Berlin tap water is not great for dough making (at least not the dough im making), though tasty, it’s just too hard. I recommend cutting your tap water 50% with distilled water or looking up a mineral water with a ppm count under 200 that is low on calcium and magnesium.
Rule No. 4 - Take Notes
Have a notebook and note the changes you make, quantities, rise time, bake time etc. Dough temperature after mixing is key, for this you need to calculate your desired temp, here’s a good tool. I’ve had the best results with 27.5-29.5 degrees celsius for my pizza dough.
Try to only make a single change at a time, nothing new to any of the sciencey types reading this but for us creative people a control group sounds like something we’ve run away from all our lives.
Rule No. 5 - Keep making
Back to No.1 no matter how good it is on round one, keep making it. As you become more consistent you’ll find little tricks and tools on your own to make it better and make the recipe yours. When I had the recipe and method in my head and didn’t have to think about it anymore, is when I started experimenting and actually having fun.
Sweet Things To Come
In September we’ll be finally adding two desserts to our menu!
Two of my all time favourites! One that I’ve made literally hundreds of times in many forms over the years and the other that my better half Uli has mastered similarly. The first is my Coconut Key Lime Pie. If you come from the states, some version of this is the most fundamental closer in many American joints. I’m a huge fan of the sweet sour combo with a buttery base. Roasted Coconut is my little twist, just works so well with lime.
The second is our version of peanut Banoffi (sorry nut allegics). With Banana, caramel and peanuts has a special place in my heart, I haven’t met many that can refuse this killer combo.
Still working on method and packaging, should be with you shortly :)
On a final note, I hope the Ronacoaster hasn’t been too scary on your end thus far. I can’t say that opening a new business at a time like this is exactly peaches and cream either, but all in all your feedback has been awesome and very encouraging… please don’t stop!
We have had some litigious types in the hood that have protested our flyers on their doors, and when I say litigious I mean lawyer’s letters!
We appreciate all your support in posting and sharing and letting friends know we’re around, since a menu with a little sticker on a doorbell is for some people equivalent to property damage. If you have a minute to give us a review in any of the usual outlets (google, Trip Advisor, Foursquare etc.) I’d really appreciate it.
Aiight, hope you enjoyed this round, do get in touch with questions or comments.
Looking forward to seeing you in the shop or online.
I hope everyone’s having a great summer.
So far here on O-Street things have been lovely! We’re enjoying this time as much as possible when we can host some of you inside the shop, in the fall this space will have to make way for our new oven, a larger dough mixer as well as much needed production space and from then on we’ll only be offering window service.
Greatest news is that we’ve finally started delivering in Mitte this week.
Have a peek here at our current zone map.
Our zone will expand in the coming weeks, step by step, to cover all of Mitte. If you’re not yet in our zone but are in 10115,10117,10119 or 10178, stay tuned, we will be getting to you soon. We only deliver curbside due to Corona, this means you’ll need to come downstairs and meet our delivery person on street level. Both delivery and pickup pre-orders can only be made online as we’d like to keep this cashless (again the Rona).
The reason it has taken us this long to get delivery going and why we are starting with a relatively small zone, is that we are doing this on our own and not with a third party provider. We get so many positive comments on the vibe and service in the space and feel that it is important to give that experience also outside our four walls.This can’t be achieved when outsourcing to a third party. We want people who care about our pizza bringing it to you. Especially if things go wrong (and they occasionally do) you can talk to our crew directly and not to a broker of sorts. It’s important that we hear from you not just when we did a great job. Please give us your feedback anytime here as well.
Berlin finally has proper Pepperoni!!!
The Sausage Man Never Sleeps is delivering the first batch of our own Pepperoni on July 30th!!
There is no Pepperoni to be found in Europe let alone in Germany, at lease nothing that I'd want to have on a pizza. American Pepperoni is a Pork/beef mix sausage that doesn’t seem to have much of a market here and I’m not into flying food across the globe. I finally got a hold of Simon Ellery, aka The Sausage Man Never Sleeps and we collaborated on a recipe for our own Magic Pepperoni that he’s exclusively producing for us!
The test runs were absolutely smashing and the Proper New York Slice shop claim can no longer be in doubt, now that Pepperoni Slice is on deck. We have also started getting our Salsiccia meat from The Sausage man, not only is it extremely delicious but all of Simons meat comes from sustainable and ethical sources, if you’d like to read more about it have a look here. Also check out TSM on Instagram, for some daily mouth watering action, the Bacon and Nduja are mind blowing!
We might be popping off a little sausage party to celebrate this, will post spontaneously on Instagram if we see that we can swing that.
Get yer drink on!
In August we’ll be adding a bottle of red wine and a bottle of bubbly to our delivery menu and hope to have a variety pack from the Mama crew to go with a local spirit, for those of you looking for a Kiki with your pie :) Possibly a similar collab with Roy crew in the works… stay tuned.
In the next newsletter I’ll get geeky about dough making and give you some tips for home baking. Ill also explain the fundamental differences between New York Pizza and Neopolitan style. It seems that many people and even some pizza connoisseurs in Berlin don’t know the differences between the two styles. Yes they are both pizza just like football and hockey are both sports, they just have different rules and offer a very different experience.
I want to especially thank all you lovely foodies, bloggers, photographers and journalists for giving us a chance to shine through your wonderful reviews and posts, it means a lot to me personally but for the crew as well and is very helpful in getting this corona baby up on its feet. We'll be putting up a page on the site dedicated to all of your posts and articles soon.
That's it, enjoy the rest of your summer, stay safe.
Much Love and stretchy cheese from above!
So finally there is a quiet moment, albeit at 1am, that I get to sit down and put fingers to keyboard for my first newsletter.
First of all thank you for asking to receive this. I promise to only send out a newsletter when there is actual news and not bother you with bullshit or deals, this is not what this is about...
I want to thank everyone as well again for the warm welcome, words of encouragement and your support. It’s been a dream for many years now to open a proper New York slice pizza joint and to hear such positive feedback means the world. Having said that….we will screw up. We are only human and not always perfect, please know that you can always reach out directly if we did a bad job, we will make it right. This is still a work in progress and COVID-19 really pushed us to open somewhat prematurely and we’re getting better everyday.
Berlins first and (for now) only New York pizza shop!
Our lease came in for signing on the first week of March, shortly before the shutdown. I did hesitate for a minute there but after searching for a space for so long and just knowing that Berlin needs a proper slice joint, I decided to move forward. A designer and builder by trade, I`ve built many spaces, restaurants, clubs, showrooms, pop ups and luckily I had the skills and tools to do a good portion of the construction pretty much solo. Since both my other companies were shut down I also had the time. I must admit that the four weeks of construction, though stressful financially due to Corona, were quite relaxing for the same reason, the city was empty and peaceful in a weird way.
As I know that things are never as you plan them in the restaurant business, I put everything in the space on wheels. Besides the sink everything is movable, including our 750kg oven. I expect the space take a completely new shape in the coming months. Pizzerias were born out of bakeries and that is really how I see the space and the product evolving. Expect to see some breads down the line as well. I have made some incredible foccaccias that I would love to add to our shelf. Specifically an olive focaccia and parmesean focaccia.
The never-ending search for Pepperoni continues!!!
This is a pain in my ass tbh. American Pepperoni does not exist in Europe to my knowledge and flying product across the globe is not my thing. It is a staple of a proper New York Slice shop and absolutely should have it’s place on the rack. I am looking at having this produced for us here in Berlin, theres some testing already in the works, I will be making an announcement in the coming weeks.
Gluten free option is another immense hurdle. First of all there is no greater oxymoron than a gluten free New York slice - but challenge accepted. My attempts using cauliflower were nothing to write home about and the goal is, as we did with our Butternut Slice (vegan), is to create a slice that anyone would love to try at least once, regardless of any dietary constraints. So this will take a minute as well Im sorry to say… fall is a realistic goal.
I have managed to keep our food buying limited to Germany, Poland and Italy. I hope to be able to shrink this down solely to Germany and ideally Brandenburg in the coming months, I feel that the closer the better for many reasons. Our flour is, as of two weeks ago, a German flour mix from the south and I have finally cracked the code so to say on getting strong enough dough for our pies with local product - this was a huge task. Getting a lot of comments from expats on how we’ve hit the nail on the head and that this is ’the real deal’ is music to my ears. We’ve made proper original New York slice with local product!
The next one is cheese, which is our largest ticket item and to my knowledge the greatest contributor to CO2 emission. At the moment 90% of our cheese comes from Italy. I am in touch with a local producer in Brandenburg who will hopefully begin production on a dried mozzarella next year.
Our crew working behind the counter and soon delivering (we’ll get to that in a minute) is my highest priority and anyone whose ever run a business will tell you this is the hardest job. Pizza always took me to a happy place and that is what I wanted MJ’s to be. It has to, first and foremost, be a happy place for the team, only then it can be that for our guests. From the feedback so far it seems we’ve succeeded in creating that experience, both behind the counter as well as in the front.
Delivery is finally approaching!!!
We should be up and running finally with delivery in the coming weeks. I know I’ve been saying that for a minute but I feel that we are finally getting to a place where our team and therefore our product is stable and consistent enough to offer out of house service. We will start initially in the evenings from 18:00-23:00 (last order 22:00). Online ordering will be available and it will be 100% cashless, we will not be taking any delivery orders on the phone for this reason, phone orders for pickup will continue to be available.
If you have a company within our delivery zone and want to get in touch about an account, we will be delivering orders of 100€+ in the coming weeks, feel free to get in touch with us at email@example.com and we can set up weekly or monthly billing for large orders.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. I welcome your feedback or questions and will do my best to answer everyone promptly.
Lastly, stay tuned for regular updates on our instagram and if you enjoyed your pizza and have a minute, a comment and rating on Google would be greatly appreciated.