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What is a Grandma Pie?

Pizza lovers can be forgiven for confusing the grandma pie with the more common Sicilian-style pie. At first glance, these two pizzas look similar, but one key difference in preparation gives the grandma pie a different twist.

How is a grandma pie made?

Like the Sicilian pie, the dough of a grandma pie is stretched in an olive-oil lined pan. However, the dough of a grandma pie is given only a short period of time to proof, giving it a thinner and denser crust than it’s Sicilian cousin.

The generous dousing of OO does more than separate the pizza from the metal when it’s done baking – it crisps up the bottom layer of the crust, imparting the delicious flavor of fried bread on the outside and creating a sturdy structure for the cheese and sauce on top.

The classic grandma pie recipe calls for the cheese to go on the pie before the sauce, which may prevent the cheese layer from becoming overcooked. Some parlors stick to pizza’s typical order of operations (sauce -> cheese), but the end result is roughly the same.

Who invented the grandma pie?

Umberto’s Pizzeria of Long Island, New York is widely credited with bringing the grandma-style pie to the masses. Originally, owner Umberto Corteo made the pie as a quick staff meal for his employees. Those around Corteo pushed him to take the square slices public and they quickly became the most popular item at the restaurant.

However, as the name suggests, grandma-style pies were baked by Italian-American grandmothers long before that. With a quick-proof for the dough and little-to-no advanced cooking time for the sauce, grandmas (the greatest chefs of all) figured out an efficient way to make pizza for the whole family without the aid of a fancy 800° oven.

Where can I get a grandma-style pizza pie?

Grandma pies are widely available in the New York area, including Williamsburg’s famed Best Pizza.  Round pizzas remain the top attraction in NYC, but you’d do well to also get a nonna-style pie when you’re in the city.

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