"The Food That Built America" host Adam Richman is an old-school born-and-bred Brooklynite. As he told Mashed in an exclusive interview, "The Brooklyn I grew up in was not the one of the ironic mustache, trucker hat, and hot yoga." He was raised in a grittier, pizza-obsessed Brooklyn, and he has strong pizza opinions as a consequence. New York has a pizza place on practically every corner, but for an outsider, it can be hard to tell which spots are worth visiting. If you remember what Richman looks for when he buys a New York City slice, you'll know whether or not you're getting the real deal.
Per Richman, thin crust is mandatory, but not cracker-thin — we're not talking about St. Louis-style pizza here. "For New York-style, it needs a little bit of a crisp, a little bit of a tear, not too doughy," he said. The toppings also have to taste right: "Sauce has to be rich, tangy, not too sweet. The mozzarella can't be too salty." If you're serving pizza to Richman, don't even think about haphazardly scattering the toppings on the pie — each slice should have an even distribution of meat and veggies. As he explained, "It always sucks when you get the pizzaiolos who don't care. The pizza comes, and it's like one guy's got a buffet on his pizza, and one guy's got no toppings."
Read more: The Best Pizza Place In Every State
Richman's Favorite Pizza Spots In New York
Richman has moved around the New York City area over the course of his life, and he's found great pizzerias wherever he's lived. These days, he's located outside the city in Westchester, and his number one spot, Pizzarelli's, specializes in focaccia pizza. "It comes out sizzling, and the focaccia's pillowy and crusty. You taste the quality of the olive oil," he said. He speaks highly of the restaurant's classic thin-crust slices too. As for toppings, Richman is a traditionalist. He loves pepperoni — so much so that he's working with pepperoni manufacturer Hormel to promote the brand's Pepperoni Pizza Pop-Up Shop, which is selling a wide variety of limited-edition pepperoni-themed merch.
For Richman, life is a series of opportunities to try new pizza places — although he gets more pizzerias suggested to him than he can try without wrecking his health. He recounted, "Someone just said, 'What, you've never been to Eastchester Pizza?' I said, 'Well, I'm trying to do crunches and stuff, man. I'm trying to see my belly button.'"
The Hormel Pepperoni Pizza Pop-Up Shop is selling pepperoni-themed wearables, home goods, bedroom gear, and more for as long as supplies last.
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