Few would argue that the standard New York slice is in need of modification — but Times critic Pete Wells gives some credit to the Upper West Side’s Mama’s Too! for its different approach to the holy slice, awarding the restaurant one star in today’s New York Times restaurant review.
Owner and pizzaiolo Frank Tuttolomondo, Wells observes, “has learned how to genetically modify pizza.” He writes:
The bulge of crust at the edge of what Mama’s Too calls the “house slice” is brown, more rough than smooth and baked to a ferocious crackle. You could tear it off and enjoy it on its own, or maybe with butter or olive oil, just as you can with the best Neapolitans. Yet the flat layer of crust on the bottom is firm, without the soupy center of the Neapolitan style. True to New York form, you can hold it in the air by the curved rim and it will stay flat and parallel to the floor.
Prior to baking, the raw dough — primed with olive oil — is covered in the low-moisture mozzarella known colloquially as “pizza cheese,” Wells explains, then ladled with tomato pulp. “You could, I suppose, think of the house slice as a white pizza with tomato-sauce topping,” he writes. After baking, Tuttolomondo tops the pies with grated two-year-old Parmigiano-Reggiano and basil leaves for the final touches.
As with any classic slice shop, the pizza at Mama’s Too! — which opened last December — can be taken on a paper plate out onto the street to be eaten, but Wells asserts that the flavors are on par with more formal sit-down pizzerias like Sorbillo, Ops, and Una Pizza Napoletana.
In addition to the triangular Neapolitan slices, Tuttolomondo also slings squares that are a combo of the rectangular Sicilian pizza and Roman pizza al taglio, and Wells describes the browned, fringed cheese on the outskirts of these squares as “crunchy and delicious.” According to the critic, the most impressive square is the pepperoni, which has tomato sauce, browned mozzarella, and crunchy pepperoni pieces slicked with spicy red oil.
“The pepperoni slices are small and concave, like contact lenses made of meat,” Wells writes. “It may sound as if I approached this slice with cool, analytical detachment. The truth is I ripped into it like a pack of hyenas.” One star.