"This is my take on a traditional grandma pie," says chef Bobby Hellen about the most popular menu item at GG's, Nick Morgenstern's sleeper hit of a restaurant in the East Village. Hellen grew up on Staten Island, a borough with a profound pizza heritage. He knew he had to do justice to the pie and didn't want to reinvent it, just make the best possible version and one that was also healthier to boot. To get the right flavor profile, he uses a fresh mozzarella cheese made in Brooklyn. He won't disclose the manufacturer but claims that "it is what all the best pizza shops use." The brand of the thick-cut pepperoni that dots the pizza is similarly under wraps. Rather than using a raw sauce, like many pizzerias, Helen cooks his for three hours, infusing it with fresh herbs that he grows in the back yard at GG's. Raw sauce tends to be very acidic says Hellen. By cooking his down, he both reduces the acidity and develops more complex flavors.
But it's his dough that really sets the pie apart. Hellpen uses a natural unbleached and unbromated flour from upstate NY. The chef says that it is more "digestible," and adds a crispness when cooked. He also adds a small amount of AP flour for its high gluten content. The dough is cold fermented for 24 hours after mixing, before being tempered and then stretched in a pan for proofing. A day later the chef bakes it for around six minutes and then lets it cool completely. It is then ready for the final stage where he tops it with cheese, tomato sauce and pepperoni and cooks it for another six minutes.
Watch as Hellen makes the grandma pie in the slide show above.