Pizza and Pop: The Two Ps of the late 1950s & early 1960s in NYC

Finished cheese pizza

It’s not perfectly circular, but that makes it more delicious!

I’m surrounded by East-coasters at work who often complain about Cleveland’s pizza scene. Everyone agrees that the gourmet pies are great (looking at you Dewey’s and Angelo’s) but what about your average, Friday night pizza? These East-coasters claim that this is the pizza arena in which Cleveland falls short, saying it’s a bad mix of Chicago style and New York style. Being a good-Ohioan, I put up a fight, but without knowing much about NY style pizza, my argument didn’t last long. I realized searching for flights to NYC just to try a slice seems a little too crazy, so I decided to make my own pizza. I found this recipe on a great blog called Serious Eats. As the name would suggest, they’re pretty serious about their food. I love that this article compares a few different pizza dough methods and explains what’s happening at a science-y level. (Science-y is the technical term if you were wondering.)

The Grooves

Many a months had passed and I still hadn’t finished the pizza post. For example, it’s currently December 31 and the pictures below are from my family vacation to Michigan in July. You might be asking “Pizza seems like a pretty simple post to write. What’s the hold up?” and that’s a fair enough question to ask because I was constantly asking myself the same thing. And my answer time and again would be “this playlist has become the bane of my existence.” Dramatic? Probably. But just what music truly captures pizza? Besides Macaulay Culkin’s hilariously amazing band Pizza Underground, which transforms different The Velvet Underground songs into beautiful works about pizza. But even though Lou Reed loved a slice of pie, one band mockingly covering another band does not a pizza playlist make. What’s a gal to do? A little more research and I read that America’s favorite food is pizza, so I needed some mainstream grooves that appealed to a lot of my fellow countrymen. Then, I found this article in New York Eater that describes the various pizza scenes in New York. Dom DeMarco runs a quintessential New York Style Pizza Eatery called Di Fara and he started slinging pies in 1961. So I decided to make a playlist capturing the mainstream music scene in NYC in the late 1950s & early 1960s. This also seemed to be a little challenging until someone told me about the Brill Building Sound. I strongly recommend reading this Paste Magazine explanation of Brill Building music, but here’s a little snip it, “Such music (British Invasion) is seen as eternally rebellious. But it’s an immature rebellion, pure arrested development—Peter Pan’s cry of “I don’t want to grow up.” The Brill Building Sound creators were interested in growing beyond that, musically, emotionally and intellectually.” Bold claim, I know. So this playlist attempts to give you just a taste of the writers and musicians from this Better-than-the-Beatles era.

For added topping: To honor this by-gone era, The New Pornographers played their new hit, Brill Bruisers, in the Brill Building.

The Grub

This recipe makes 3 pies!!!! And it’s fantastic, but it’s certainly not for the faint of heart. Everything has to be measured using a kitchen scale. You can certainly attempt to make the dough without a scale, but I felt I should warn you. As for the toppings, classic NY style is just mozzarella cheese, but I made both a margarita and a pepperoni pizza that turned out quite well. I haven’t tried this, but according to the internet (and when would the internet lie?) you can bake just the crust and freeze for later. That way, instead of cutting back on the recipe to make just one pie, you can make all three and have some on hand for future use.

dough ingredients


  • 22 1/2 ounces (about 4 1/2 cups) bread flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 1/2 tbs sugar
  • .35 ounces kosher salt (about 3 teaspoons)
  • 2 tsp instant yeast
  • 3 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 15 oz lukewarm water
  • Toppings of choice


  1. Combine flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in bowl of food processor. Pulse 3 to 4 times until incorporated. Add olive oil and water. Run food processor until mixture forms ball that rides around the bowl above the blade, about 15 seconds. Continue processing 15 seconds longer.
  2. Transfer dough ball to lightly floured surface and knead once or twice by hand until smooth ball is formed. It should pass the windowpane test (also, see picture below). Divide dough into three even parts and place each in a covered quart-sized deli container or in a zipper-lock freezer bag. Place in refrigerator and allow to rise at least one day, and up to 5.
  3. At least two hours before baking, remove dough from refrigerator and shape into balls by gathering dough towards bottom and pinching shut. Flour well and place each one in a separate medium mixing bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow to rise at warm room temperature until roughly doubled in volume.
  4. 1 hour before baking, adjust oven rack with pizza stone to middle position and preheat oven to 500°F. Turn single dough ball out onto lightly flour surface. Gently press out dough into rough 8-inch circle, leaving outer 1-inch higher than the rest. Gently stretch dough by draping over knuckles into a 12 to 14-inch circle about 1/4-inch thick. Transfer to pizza peel.
  5. Add toppings of choice.
  6. Slide pizza onto baking stone and bake until cheese is melted with some browned spots and crust is golden brown and puffed, 12 to 15 minutes total. Transfer to cutting board, slice, and serve immediately. Repeat with remaining two dough balls, remaining sauce, and remaining cheese.

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