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Side trip – and a homecoming – to Totonno’s

Last March, the great New York pizzeria Totonno’s shut down due to a severe fire. I was upset. After a dozen rumored opening days – including, most recently, one thwarted by Wednesday’s winter weather – today was Totonno’s first day back in almost a year.

Totonno’s has a special place in my heart, both as (arguably) the best pizzeria in New York, which is to say probably the entire world, and as one of my general favorite places to hang out and drink beer from a paper cup. I couldn’t resist getting one of the first pies out of the oven, so around noon I hopped an F train with a few friends and headed for Coney Island.

The place looked just like it did before the fire, including all the signed pictures of people I’d never heard of. There were a few people there taking pictures, but the tables were only half full. After about 20 minutes (they were doing some big takeout orders, unsurprisingly) we got our first pie, a plain:

Totonno's plain

Totonno's plain

Picking up the first slice, I was surprised by how crisp the crust was. I could grab the piece by the cornicione, and the entire slice, all the way to the tip, would support itself. Part of the issue is that the pie was a bit more well done than average, which is in my view a good thing. There was something a bit off about the dough, though, as if it had been dried out a little bit, making it a bit too dense. One of the things I love about Totonno’s is the jaw workout you get from the yeasty, chewy cornicione, but this pie’s outer ring had more structure than I expect, even from Totonno’s.

The second pizza was a pepperoni:

Totonno's pepperoni

Totonno's pepperoni

This pie was also on the well done side (maybe because Lawrence Ciminieri was making them, instead of the skinny guy who’s usually stretching when I go), but had just a bit less structure than the first one. It was only when I started eating this pizza that I really started to remember why I love Totonno’s so much. The close-up below shows, somewhat gratuitously I might add, just how their hours-old mozzarella blackens and their pepperoni fries in its own grease in their super hot oven:

Totonno's pepperoni closeup

Totonno's pepperoni closeup

A stroll down the snowy beach topped off a great lunch. I couldn’t be happier that Totonno’s is open again. CUNY Pie should get out there while the gettin’s good.

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