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Slicin' it Syracuse style

For an unexpected twist on an American staple, local pizzerias offer a "Syracuse-style" pie.

Open up the piping hot box just delivered to your house and you may find a pizza cut into strips and squares instead of wedges.

The presentation may not be what most expect, but that is what makes it Syracuse's signature slice.

Following is an interview with with Dan Ross, owner of Twin Trees Too in Syracuse, and the Rochester Pizza Guy.

Photo: Brittany Guino
Dan Ross, owner of Twin Trees Too, shows off a "Syracuse-style" cheese pizza

Q: What's the most important part of a piece of pizza?

Ross: Crust is definitely up there.

Pizza Guy: The crust, without a doubt. It can vary somewhat from one style to another, but in general it should be crisp on the outside and breadlike and chewy on the inside.

Q: What is your favorite style of pizza?

Ross: New York style is pretty good.

PG: New York style. That doesn't just mean thin crust. Some places around here, and probably in Syracuse, claim to make New York style pizza, when in fact they just make thin pizza. It's not the same thing. Again, the crust is the main thing. Yes, it should be thin, but there's more to it than that. The crust should be crisp enough that a slice will stand out almost straight when you hold it by the edge (a little floppiness at the tip is OK), but pliable enough to fold. The underside shouldn't be greasy at all and should be a little charred on the surface.
The toppings are less important, but generally a basic tomato sauce and mozzarella is all you need, not too much, not too little, in proportion to the thickness of the crust. A good pizza is all about balance - the crust, sauce, cheese and other toppings have to be in balance with each other, regardless of the style.
But I also like other styles besides NY style. I've been accused of being biased against thick crust pizza, but I've had excellent thick crust pizzas too.

Q: Do you have any fond memories of pizza? (Your first time trying it, venturing far to get a good slice, etc)

Ross: My favorite pizza growing up was the sausage pizza from Shuffles.  It was a Sunday tradition at my household to get two pies for dinner.

PG: Sure, nothing too interesting I'm afraid, but food has a way of sticking in your memory. For me, as a kid, Friday nights we'd often have homemade pizza, made with Pillsbury hot roll mix, Contadina sauce, Muenster cheese and hand sliced pepperoni. I'm sure it wasn't really all that good but it's a fond memory. Just like a lot of pizzerias around town when I was growing up, most of which are probably long gone. They weren't necessarily that great, but each one was distinctive and I can remember exactly what their pizzas tasted, smelled and looked like.
I can't think of any real pizza adventures I've had, but every time I travel to NYC I almost literally live on pizza while I'm there. (Believe it or not I do not live on pizza the rest of the time.) I usually go armed with a map and a list of places to try. So while I haven't gone particularly far to get a single slice, I'm sure I've logged many miles hunting down various pizzerias all over the City.

Q: Do you have any advice for a pizza newbie in search of the tastiest pie in Syracuse?

PG: Ask around, keep your eyes open (I've become very alert to "PIZZA" signs on buildings), and check the Yellow Pages and Syracuse New Times for listings and ads.
If I were in Syracuse, I'd also want to track down the older pizzerias, the kind of places that have been in the same family for generations. They may not necessarily make the best pizza in town, but they're probably distinctive and it will give you a sense of whether there really is a traditional Syracuse style.
Conversely, I'd also look for new places doing wood-fired pizza or other high-end pizza. They can be disappointing sometimes but there may be some gems too.

Whether you dig deep dish or stuffed crust, floppy New York-style triangles or the strips and squares of Shuffles Special peetz, don’t miss our top picks for where to get a slice in Syracuse below.

On the hill:

Cosmo's, Varsity, and Acropolis may not serve Syracuse-style pizza, but they sure are tasty and convenient options close to campus.

Off the hill:

And for the brave souls venturing off the beaten pizza path, follow our guide if you ...

Seeking a Sustainable Slice?

Try: Strong Hearts Café

Who says a pizza needs real meat or cheese to have real taste? All pizzas made at Strong Hearts are 100% vegan and 100% delicious. If you’re adventurous you can create your own, or pick from one of their sig slices. The spicy “Chicken Wing” pizza features hot sauce baked right into the crust and is topped with soy chicken strips marinated in hot sauce. That’s hot.

Want Wood?

Try: Movino's Pizzeria

They serve the kind of wood-fired pizza RPG suggests every pizza adventurer seek to sample.

Need Some Post-Bar Grub?

Try: Nick's Tomato Pie

You might not remember eating it, but when it's open until 3am does it really matter?

Dig Delivery?

Try: Pavone's Pizza

Ross says he doesn't like delivery like Dominos or Papa Johns (well...he likes when he's hungry for about the first three bites, but not so much after that). But he admits to craving the pies at Pavone's once in awhile when he's not snacking on the slices at Twin Trees Too.

Go ahead. We dare you to try something off the hill-dar. And if you're still stuck getting your fix at the Sbarro in Schine, well, we feel bad for you.

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