Sunday, July 11, 2010
Name: Brozzetti's Pizza
Location: 72 Baldwin St., Johnson City, NY 13790
Phone: (607) 797-9960
Price: Around $10 for a small pizza (10 slices), about $20 for a large (24 slices)
Review: Brozzetti's is perhaps the most famous and definitely the most controversial of the Triple Cities' pizza places, with many people proclaiming it their favorite pizza EVER and many others who refuse to acknowledge its existence as actual pizza. There's no doubt this stuff is different from any other pizza around here. If you're looking for a typical New York style, foldable slice, go to Grande's or Nick's. If you're looking to try something different, much sweeter than what you are normally accustomed to calling pizza, give Brozzetti's a shot. Words of advice: check your preconceived notions of what constitutes pizza at the door.
I think Brozzetti's might be a kindred spirit to the "Old Forge" style of pizza found an hour south of Binghamton in the suburbs of Scranton, PA. Old Forge, PA has proclaimed itself the "Pizza Capital of the World" for having more pizza parlors per person than anywhere else, and they all offer up similar fare: a rectangular pizza (called a "tray," not a "pie") with 10 or 12 cuts (not slices) that is known for a crispy, biscuit-like crust, sweet sauce, and soft cheese on top (American? Fontina?) that sticks to the roof of your mouth as you bite into it. Here is a picture of what Old Forge pizza looks like, courtesy of roadfood.com:
I haven't had this pizza, but I'd really like to try it out--in part to see if my theory that Brozzetti's is really just a rogue Old Forge pizza joint holds true!
Brozzetti's is located on Baldwin St. behind Wilson Hospital and has been operating out of this same tiny location since 1949. It continues to be a family-run operation and the secrets to their mysterious-tasting pies remain closely guarded. The place is strictly a take-out joint: no seating is available which is kind of annoying; if you're going to order Brozzetti's, I recommend calling ahead so that you don't stand there for too long looking like a fool. You can walk in and usually grab a pre-made plain pie, but if you want any other toppings, definitely call ahead. "797-9960. Call Brozzetti's for pizza to-go!" That's what the radio commercials used to say.
I ordered a 10-slice sausage pizza.
A-ha! That does look kind of Old Forge-ish, no? On sight alone, this is not particularly great looking pizza. The first thing you notice is that the toppings and sauce extend nearly the whole way to the edge of the pizza. When you pick up the small slices, you notice that the pizza is considerably lighter than other pizza you might be accustomed to. It's more like bread than usual dense, doughy crust. But then there's the taste...
This stuff tastes truly great. The first thing you will notice is the sweetness of the sauce and how perfectly it works with the sweetness of the crust. Yes, the crust is sweet too, and a little salty. The cheese is perhaps the most interesting element of this pizza. The consensus seems to be that the cheese is typical sliced American cheese and hence is somehow sacrilegious to the pizza-making universe, but I'm not so sure. Whatever it is, it's definitely softer than the traditional stringy mozzarella, and has a tendency to stick to the back of your front teeth as you bite into it. The homemade sausage adds a nice dimension to the flavor.
I do have a couple of very minor criticisms: lack of seating for folks waiting for their pizza is not cool, and I have found that the pies can be somewhat inconsistent. Sometimes one side of the pizza can get short-shrift with regard to the cheese/sauce/toppings, meaning that some slices are superior to others, but the pie I got today was absolutely great in every way.
Forget the naysayers who say this isn't pizza. It's real pizza, and it's spectacular. And you'll never get anything like it anywhere else. Except maybe, just maybe, Old Forge.