A little local pizza history story; bootleg pizza

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Mosca
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2005/01/06 23:55:33 (permalink)

A little local pizza history story; bootleg pizza

It's a little thing, really, but somehow I like this story.

Today I had customers, Aniello and Renee, who own an absolutely GREAT Italian restaurant here in Hazleton, Alta. They are just the greatest people, so warm, and so friendly, and so generous. Anyhow, Neil is from Italy, and Renee is a hometown girl.

We shared a lot of talk about the different styles of pizza here in northeast PA, from Hazleton bar pizza (served cold) through the wood pizzas, and about the Old Forge style, and talking about how different restaurants cook different dishes differently (Alta makes an absolutely KILLER chicken dish, Pollo Alta, with boneless chicken, onion, garlic, black olives, peppers, etc; it's been a few months since I had it, I'm not going to get the ingredients right). Anyhow, Renee told me this story about Hazleton bar pizza.

"Bar pizza" has been around for a while in the area. It is a soft square shell covered with a thick sweet sauce and sharp romano cheese, baked and then allowed to cool. It is then cut into squares and either boxed or individually wrapped in Saran wrap, and sold, served, and eaten cold.

Anyhow, Renee told me that back in the '70s, Senapes would make and bake the pizza after midnight, to have cold for the next day. Around 3AM, teenagers would line up outside the bakery and up the stairs to the bakery, because that was when they could get the pizza hot and fresh. It was kind of like going to a Speakeasy, or a place that sold wine to teenagers; pizza out the back door. They called it "bootleg pizza". They would either eat it right there, or take it home to have for lunch the next day. And, you didn't want to get there late, or be near the end of the line, because you ran the risk of getting up to the door and seeing the sign "no more bootleg pizza".

It's a little story, but there's something about it, a place, a time, a feeling. Kids at the end of a night of fun knowing to go to Senape's back door at 3AM for bootleg pizza; "Hey, lets get some bootleg!" Kinda cool. I can feel what it was like.

If you're crossing PA on Rt 80, you can probably get a couple slices of Senape's or Longo's right off the White Haven exit, at the western end of the Poconos. At the exit go north on 940 about 100 yards. The UniMart on the right usually has it wrapped in Saran wrap next to the cash register. It's really good.


Tom
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12 Replies Related Threads

    Michael Stern
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    RE: A little local pizza history story; bootleg pizza 2005/01/07 03:43:12 (permalink)
    I love that story! Never heard the term bar pizza, but as a longtime fan of leftover pizza straight from the refrigerator shelf for breakfast, I can relate. Thanks.
    #2
    zussers
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    RE: A little local pizza history story; bootleg pizza 2005/01/07 05:51:11 (permalink)
    That is a great story! I would join those kids in line at 3am!
    #3
    chezkatie
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    RE: A little local pizza history story; bootleg pizza 2005/01/07 08:49:28 (permalink)
    Thank you so much for this great post. I loved the story............I bet there are other wonderful stories like this that we have never heard.
    #4
    emsmom
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    RE: A little local pizza history story; bootleg pizza 2005/01/07 09:54:57 (permalink)
    I think that my daughter likes the leftover cold pizza from the fridge about as good as she does the fresh pizza. It is hard to watch someone eat cold pizza at 7:00 in the morning. But, those college days really changed her eating habits
    quote:
    Originally posted by Michael Stern

    I love that story! Never heard the term bar pizza, but as a longtime fan of leftover pizza straight from the refrigerator shelf for breakfast, I can relate. Thanks.
    #5
    tmiles
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    RE: A little local pizza history story; bootleg pizza 2005/01/07 10:27:02 (permalink)
    "Bar Pizza" to me was a term for the free stuff that the bartender gives away to keep you drinking. Those days are gone for me, but I ate my share. That was a great story. Thanks for sharing.
    #6
    Mosca
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    RE: A little local pizza history story; bootleg pizza 2005/01/07 12:48:02 (permalink)
    I think it's one and the same, tmiles. It's served cold, because a lot of taverns didn't have a kitchen then. And it's cheap; even now it's .50 a slice and 3/$1.

    It's an amazing slice, really, not like what you think of when you think "pizza". There's lots of sauce and very little cheese. It's a thick crust. THe sauce is a little sweet, and the cheese is very sharp.

    There's also a dichotomy that goes on between center squares and edge squares. Sometimes you absolutely CRAVE the edge square, especially a corner, for the crunchiness of the bread and cheese at the edge. Sometimes it just HAS TO BE a center square, because it's so soft and the cheese and sauce cover the entire slice and you can fold it and take huge bites, filling your mouth with flavor.

    It also hits a point whare it's "ripe". The cheese just barely starts to give up a little oiliness, and the crust is just starting to lose its moisture. That's when it's at its best.


    Tom
    #7
    Rocketeer
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    RE: A little local pizza history story; bootleg pizza 2005/01/07 12:53:56 (permalink)
    I love cold pizza too.

    I thought you might like to know that one researcher says she has discovered the scientific reason cold pizza tastes so good!

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/scotland/692122.stm
    #8
    pmtn
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    RE: A little local pizza history story; bootleg pizza 2007/12/10 19:21:02 (permalink)
    http://www.jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/071504/enm_16090226.shtml
    Just came across this on the internet, thought stanpnepa and mosca might find it interesting.
    Later,
    Pete.
    #9
    Mosca
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    RE: A little local pizza history story; bootleg pizza 2007/12/10 21:06:18 (permalink)
    Nice, pmtn! Thanks! Longo's is Senape's main competitor for this market. Notice the secret formula is maintained: "...Romano, Parmesan, and two other cheeses."


    #10
    billyboy
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    RE: A little local pizza history story; bootleg pizza 2007/12/10 21:13:44 (permalink)
    Reminds me of the cold tomato pies we used to eat from the Italian bakeries in Central NY when I was a kid. It waould pop up at every birthday party in school when some kid had to bring something to eat for the entire class and their mom would pick up a sheet pie and we'd chow down: crust, tomato sauce and parm cheese. Oh, I miss it!
    #11
    kilerclown
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    RE: A little local pizza history story; bootleg pizza 2008/01/03 20:10:31 (permalink)
    Thats an awsome story...thanks for sharing. I think Im gonna go bang on the back door of the local pizza joint tonight.
    #12
    Jimeats
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    RE: A little local pizza history story; bootleg pizza 2008/01/04 09:37:17 (permalink)
    Many bakerys here in the Boston area {the good ones anyway} have this type of pizza available. The pizzas are a by-product of the bread bakeing and popped in the ovens after their bread runs. Somedays they have it and other days you go without, they sell quick too. Chow Jim
    #13
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