For those of you who can't get to the NY Times link, here's the whole article:Brooklyn Style Pizza’ Meets the Real Deal
By KIM SEVERSON
Published: November 8, 2006
IT took no small amount of courage to walk into one of the great Brooklyn pizzerias with a Domino’s Brooklyn Style Pizza in our hands.
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Left, Lars Klove; Right, Joe Fornabaio, both for The New York Times
Domino's Brooklyn style pizza with pepperoni, left, and the pizza served at Totonno's, in Coney Island since 1924.
“Get that thing out of here,” was the first thing Totonno’s owner, Louise Ciminieri, said when she saw the Domino’s box.
Once we explained that we were on a mission to determine exactly what constituted a Brooklyn Style pie, she softened. Sort of. “When they say Brooklyn Style Pizza they’re referring to us,” she said. “We were the first ones.”
“But Domino’s has a lot more money than I do so I guess they know what they’re doing,” said Mrs. Ciminieri, who is known as Cookie.
At Totonno’s in Coney Island, pizza has been made the same way since 1924. Along with its Brooklyn pizza brethren Di Fara’s, Grimaldi’s and Franny’s, Totonno’s is considered among the best in the country by people who have dedicated their lives to the subject.
We purchased our Domino’s pie just a few blocks away from Totonno’s on Neptune Avenue. That it was handed to us over bulletproof glass turned out to be the most authentically Brooklyn part about it.
Domino’s, which began selling Brooklyn Style pies at its 5,100 United States stores last week, designed the pizza to mimic what most New Yorkers get when they go for a slice. The crust is stretched thinner than that of a standard Domino’s pizza, and the cornmeal cooked into the crust gives it certain crispness. The pieces of pepperoni and wads of sausage the company suggests as toppings are freakishly large.
The slices are so big you can fold them, which, it seems, is the Brooklyn-y part.
Tony Muia, who runs A Slice of Brooklyn Pizza Tour, said the first problem with the Domino’s pie is that it’s cut into six slices instead of eight.
And he doesn’t like the cornmeal. “O.K., so you put cornmeal on the bottom of your pizza. So what?” he said. “You go back to Naples, there’s flour on the board.”
Still, any time Brooklyn gets a nod, that’s not a bad thing. “But anyone in the Midwest who thinks this is real Brooklyn is getting fooled,” he said.
That’s the basic message from Mrs. Ciminieri at Totonno’s, who was finally persuaded to taste a Domino’s slice in the name of research.
“In Utah, they’re going to love it because they use ketchup and American cheese on their pizzas,” she said. “It tastes like any other pizza you get at the corner slice joint. They used the same tomatoes, the same processed cheese, the same preservatives.”
Domino’s uses its standard sauce and a blend of mozzarella and provolone on the Brooklyn Style Pizza. At most slice stores in Brooklyn, you won’t find cornmeal on the crust, and the cheese is usually a blend of shredded part skim and whole milk mozzarella. The typical sauce is usually not as sweet as Domino’s, but it doesn’t compare with Totonno’s.
Totonno’s uses unadulterated tomato sauce and thin slices of fresh mozzarella hand-pulled with just a little salt in it, and a dusting of pecorino-Romano cheese.
The Domino’s pizza has an oddly sweet crust that somehow manages to blend the characteristics of cotton and rubber.
Totonno’s dough is made fresh the day it’s baked and is never refrigerated. The result is crust that blisters nicely in the coal-fired oven. It has an airy chew, and it cracks a little when you fold the slice.
That’s just the taste Anthony Saltarelli is looking for. He had driven to Totonno’s from Staten Island with his wife, Josephine, and their friends of 36 years, Jean and Al Bloise.
“All I want in a pizza is to be reminded of my childhood,” he said.
The group eyed the Domino’s box with suspicion. “I’ll tell you what, I won’t eat it,” said Mr. Saltarelli.
The notion of a Brooklyn-style pie stumped Stan Kagan, 22, who grew up in the neighborhood and has been eating Totonno’s pies his whole life.
He doesn’t doubt the pizza will be successful. “It’s about marketing, not taste,” he said.
Not that he has any idea what a Domino’s pizza tastes like. He’s never had one. “I’ve just ordered their Buffalo wings a few times,” he said.
Adam Kuban, the founding editor of www.sliceny.com,
a Web site devoted to New York pizza, felt it was his duty to taste the new pizza. Mr. Kuban declared it good — for a Domino’s pie, that is. And he’s just as puzzled as the next Brooklynite over what constitutes a Brooklyn-style pizza.
“It seems to be the same style you get in Manhattan and Queens,” he said. Pizza in the Bronx sometimes has a cornmeal crust, and in Staten Island the best places bake pizzas with a little more crunch in the crust. But Brooklyn probably has the best pizza of the five boroughs, he said.
“Manhattan has sort of dropped the ball,” he said.
Marketing experts for Domino’s, which is based in Ann Arbor, Mich., said they studied pizza in Brooklyn carefully before introducing the new pie.
“We found that Brooklyners like to eat their pizza differently,” said Dana Harville, a spokeswoman for Domino’s. “They like floppy, large slices, and they fold them into almost a sandwich.”
But that’s no different from the way thousands of people in any of the other boroughs eat a slice. So why call it Brooklyn Style as opposed to, say, Staten Island Style?
“Brooklyn has such a big personality,” she said. “It’s a little different than the Manhattan-style personality. We’re really having a lot of fun with the culture.”
As part of the marketing of that culture, Domino’s has started a couple of contests. One is a drawing for a vintage New York taxi, even though everyone knows it’s almost impossible to hail a cab in Brooklyn.
The rest of the marketing blitz rests on television ads and on a Web site, www.brooklynstylepizza.com,
which features characters purchased at the Brooklyn Stereotype Store.
An older Italian woman yells out of a brownstone window. A man with the look of an extra from “The Sopranos” pumps iron on the roof. A Rosie O’Donnell lookalike berates a taxi driver for not folding his slice like a man. And there’s an African-American guy. You can’t hear what he’s saying because the rap music pouring from his car speakers is too loud.
That kind of imagery just grinds at Marty Markowitz, the Brooklyn borough president.
“It’s a multinational right-wing company, mass marketing the Brooklyn attitude with obsolete ethnic stereotypes, not to mention flimsy crusts,” he said through a spokesman.
Mr. Markowitz has yet to taste the Domino’s pizza. But that didn’t stop him from offering an opinion: “To our sophisticated palates, Domino’s is about as Brooklyn as Sara Lee Cheesecake is Junior’s.”
The right-wing reference is to Domino’s founder, Thomas S. Monaghan, who sold the company in 1998. He has supported the anti-abortion organization Operation Rescue and earlier this year announced his intention to build a town called Ave Maria in Florida based on strict Roman Catholic principles.
Arthur Schwartz, the Italian food authority and author of “Arthur Schwartz’s New York City Food: An Opinionated History and More Than 100 Legendary Recipes” (Stewart, Tabori and Chang) said he might be to blame for this turn of events. He was a consultant to Domino’s last year, suggesting — among other things — that they use cornmeal in the crust.
He said the phrase Brooklyn Style Pizza never came up, and he doesn’t believe there is such a thing.
He didn’t know what Domino’s was planning.
“If I caused this,” he said, “I apologize.”