When the pizza arrives, I start to wish I'd saved more room. It looks downright painterly: deep-red sauce interspersed with swatches of bright-white fresh mozzarella. Caramelized bubbles dot its surface, and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese clings to the top. I take a bite. The crust crackles under my teeth with a snappish crunch, and the sauce — the smooth, sweet style Lapp likes — is garlicky and rich. Even better is the capricious nature of the cheese, which randomly finds its way into every other bite without ever getting rubbery. Thanks to the high heat of the oven (Tuccis uses both coal and wood), there's a fair amount of char but not enough to make it taste burnt. And with the marriage of New York-style sauce, crisp crust, and coal-oven char, it makes a decisive intersection between old and new. Unfortunately, Lapp and I can eat only one piece each.
As I drive home, I decide on my own list of pizza preferences: (1) Crisp crust is key. (2) Fresh crushed tomatoes make the best sauce. (3) It doesn't matter where a pie hails from if it's made with passion. The next day, I send Lapp a tweet: "More pizza tomorrow?" That should be plenty of time for my mouth to recover.