Many New Yorkers will tell you that the best pizza in the world can be found in the five boroughs. But Staten Island cousins and pizza restaurateurs Sal Basille and Francis Garcia are demonstrating there are other regions worth considering as Season 2 of their Cooking Channel series “Pizza Masters” gets going Wednesday (Sept. 23).
“I always was under the same impression,” Garcia admits his own pro-New York pizza bias to Zap2it. “Like, you go to Los Angeles, the pizza is awful. You know, a lot of places in Florida, the pizza is awful. I mean, these are places that we’d frequent. We always went to Florida, our grandparents had a house there and you could never get good pizza — until Sal’s uncles moved out there and they opened up a bunch of pizzerias and made a fortune. … But you can find great pizza anywhere.”
Wednesday’s episode takes the cousins and co-owners of the New York pizzerias Artichoke Basille’s to Miami, where they sampled the artichoke pizza — their specialty — at Thea’s Pizzeria.
“Of course, we had to go there to try the artichoke pizza and it was really good,” Garcia says. “It was totally different from ours and it was really a fun time.”
But they didn’t try only the pie while in Florida’s largest city.
“We did Cuban sandwiches at this place called David’s Cafecito,” Garcia says. “And he had this Cuban coffee that was like rocket fuel — like you needed a Tylenol PM to go to bed at night. It was this insanely strong coffee and they serve it to you in little thimble-sized cups, that’s how strong it is. The stuff should be like illegal.”
Later in the season, the cousins venture to Providence, R.I., where they try the grilled pizza.
“It might be one of the best pizzas we’ve ever done on the show, really amazing,” Garcia says. “… He grills the dough on an Argentinian grill. … They didn’t have pizza ovens and he wanted to put pizza on the menu so he claims to have invented grilled pizza.”
“I mean, it has a totally different flavor profile because you’re getting that direct flame and it’s just really good,” he says. “… You eat it with a fork and knife. They don’t cut it. They just throw it on a dish and you cut it at the table.”