Your regular pizza routine may be one of this New York pizza-maker's pet peeves.

Margaret Eby
April 05, 2019
Courtesy Upside Pizza/Molly Tavoletti

At Upside Pizza in Manhattan, co-founder Noam Grossman works really hard to make sure every pie tastes just right. He sources seasonal ingredients from the farmers' market. He makes mozzerella fresh in the basement. The dough is made from a sourdough starter, not commercial yeast, a process that takes a lot of painstaking experimentation to get right. So by the time a slice of sausage and pepper pizza is ready for purchase, a lot of TLC has gone into it. So there are a few things that Grossman really hates to see customers do with that nice pizza. 

You're allowed to eat however you want, of course, and if taking a slice of fancy pizza and smearing peanut butter all over it gives you joy, no one is going to throw you in pizza jail. And of course, not all pizza is created equal—there's a diffference between grabbing something at the airport and sitting down to a fancy Neopolitan pie. But it's worth considering Grossman's directives in terms of tasting a really well-constructed slice of pizza, just as it's often worth tasting your food before reaching for the salt, pepper, or hot sauce. 

Don't Blot Your Pizza With a Napkin

"When you cook cheese and oil, the end product is going to be a little bit oily," Grossman said. "The texture is part of the finished slice, not just an accidental careless byproduct. Pizza requires oil and cheese, which are oily. I understand why people do it. But just don't do it in front of me."

If You're Trying Nice Pizza the First Time, Don't Do Delivery

"One of my major goals is to fix the delivery pizza box," Grossman said. Why? Because when you bake a pizza pie and then slide it into a cardboard box, the pizza keeps cooking in the confines of the box, often to the detriment of the pie. "You're essentially steaming the pizza in the box," he said. And that's not optimal, particularly if you're trying out a spot for the first time. The crispiness in the crust gets lost on the way to your house. 

Don't Fold It the Wrong Way

New York-style pizza is built for folding lengthwise in order to eat the whole slice without having to navigate an overly wide wedge. Folding is just fine, Grossman said, but he's seen people fold it by bringing the tip of the slice up to the crust. "That just doesn't make sense," he said, in terms of getting the right ratio of sauce, cheese, and crust in a bite.

Don't Sprinkle Garlic Powder All Over the Slice Before You Taste It

At Upside Pizza, Grossman doesn't provide a shaker of garlic powder alongside the oregano and red pepper flakes, a controversial move in a New York pizza joint. "We have plenty of garlic in the pizza," Grossman said. "Adding more throws everything off balance. Just trust me." It's also a good reminder to actually take a bite of the slice before adding spices to it. 

Don't Ask for Extra Cheese

"We don't do that here because the ratio of cheese is important to making the slice good," Grossman said. "Just trust me. We've thought a lot about it."