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Let me start by saying I’m not a pizza expert. I haven’t attended pizza school or even done extensive pizza-and-wine pairings, like Mr. Gary Vaynerchuk. But my friend Nancy Silverton, co-owner and original pizzaiola at L.A.'s Pizzeria Mozza, knows quite a bit about the subject. She can recite the guidelines for real Neapolitan pie (which include dictates on the size, shape and ingredients). More importantly, she can take a look at and then a bite out of a slice and tell you just about anything you want to know about the dough.
And that’s what Nancy did the other night at the days-old Motorino in NYC's East Village. Here’s her assessment of our two pies, which looked just perfect to me, with nicely charred, medium-sized bubbles in the dough and a judicious amount of toppings, one with Brussels-sprout leaves and pancetta chunks, the other with melted stracciatella, a soft, tangy cow's-milk cheese. “It’s a really, really well-executed dough,” she said. “You can tell it's light by the bubbles. And the toppings are terrific. But,” she continued, "I think their oven is a little hot. I’d cook it a little lower for a little longer; less quick char, more cooked through with better lasting qualities.” (It’s true, the pizza got doughy pretty quickly. And for the record, at Mozza, pizzas are baked in the 500° range for at least 8 minutes; Motorino's manager told us they baked theirs at about 675° for 3 to 4 minutes.) Nancy's final words invoked Chris Bianco, who makes what many people consider to be America’s best pies at Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix, and who blessed the ovens at Mozza before they opened. “It’s a Chris Bianco dough, but not a Chris Bianco bake.”