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America's 25 Best Pizzas


hungry prof
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I love Alan Richman, although I know he rubs a number of people the wrongest possible way.

There is a dark side to the triumph of the American pie.Pizza has become the gourmet food of the recession, and the men who create these pies consider themselves artists—narcissistic, reclusive artists, at that...

They often refuse to take reservations, thus guaranteeing themselves long lines of worshippers. Their primary weirdness, however, is preparing not quite enough dough for the day ahead so they might turn away the last few desperate customers...[shades of Apizza Scholls in Portland, Oregon]...

These guys find multiple ways of being annoying. At Pizzeria Bianco, a friend and I ordered four pies that we shared with the people who had stood in line with us for more than an hour. Still hungry, I tried to order a fifth, but I was cut off like a roaring drunk in an American Legion hall, told that I had reached my limit. At a pizzeria (I do not recommend) in Chicago, I was informed when I called that I had to order ahead of time, although there is no menu on the restaurant Web site and the lady on the telephone refused to tell me what pies were available. Pizzerias now inhabit a space once occupied by snooty French restaurants, and they are smug, too. One pizzeria in Brooklyn (I do not recommend) lets you know that its pork is sustainable, its beef grass-fed, its eggs organic, and its grease converted into biofuel. (If only as much attention had been given to crusts.)

I have been to three -- Pepe's, Sally's and Totonnos -- and would not have included Sally's on the list, though I would eat at Pepe's or Totonno's for a last meal and die happy.

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I'm kinda sick of Richman's whining. But the last target of Whiny Alan was New Orleans, so I am hardly unbiased.
He's mostly un-whiny in this piece which is more or less a celebration of American pizza with a bit of a gleeful nose-thumbing at the Neapolitans thrown in. I find his style refreshingly blunt in an age when too much food writing takes itself way too seriously.

I do want his job. I remember a few years back when he at lunch and dinner at either Louis XV or the Plaza Athenee every day for a week. Nice work if you can get it.

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Wow!

"In my opinion, buffalo mozzarella is pizza’s second-worst topping, exceeded only by whole anchovies—no hot, smelly fish on my pies, thank you. After that, those pizzaioli guys add oil, lots of it, and more liquid is precisely what tomato pies do not need."

In my opinion, these 2 sentences take all credibility from this article. I'll have my pizza with anchovies, buffalo mozzarella and extra olive oil please.

*edit* Oh, and Pizzeria Delfina in San Francisco, (#3 on this list) is TERRIBLE.

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In my opinion, these 2 sentences take all credibility from this article.
The preface does it for me. Anyone who gets off on being a contrarian is posturing. Doesn't necessarily mean he should be dismissed for doing so, especially when he starts out with solid, persuasive points about pizza's role in American culture. Authoritative voice. Lots of research. Okay.

But I am growing weary of the literary topos of dismissing what is highly esteemed for the sake of lionizing something obscured by its shadow. (In this case, upholding American pizza as a perfection vs. bastardization of its Neapolitan model.)

Granted, I was too ignorant the one time I visited Naples to know I was supposed to eat pizza there, but I've had plenty of wonderful pizze in Italy. Not soggy. (Comet's softshell-crab pizza? Soggy and wonderful!) They just weren't in any Big Name places and were consumed before the advent of online navel-g( r )azing.

P.S. I'll take Alan Rickman over Richman any day. Except for the bit about ranking Sally's over Pepe's. (Hypocrite that I am.)

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As a long term subscriber and reader of GQ, I find Alan Richman humorous and I think his points are as valid as anyone else's. Rather than debating something that is essentially subjective, what do you think of his assertion that there are 7 styles of pizza?

we have, remarkably, seven distinct kinds of pizza in this country, starting with those Neapolitan imitations that represent style over sustenance. Our most famous (and nonconformist) is probably the Chicago deep-dish pie, essentially a casserole...There’s a minor variation on deep-dish that remains fundamental to Chicago: the stuffed pie, number three among the seven distinct species...More widespread than any of those styles is the pan pizza, sometimes known as Sicilian and sometimes as square...Most people, when they think of crunchy pizza, have an unrelated pie in mind, the thin-crusted ones known as Roman-style, tavern-style, or bar pizza...The most curious of all pies is grilled pizza, invented at the restaurant Al Forno in Providence...And then, finally and most wonderfully, comes the American pie...

What is NY pizza considered? What about the best of each style that can be found in the DC area? I don't think there are any stuffed pies in DC? I don't even know of any good pan pizza.

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The preface does it for me. Anyone who gets off on being a contrarian is posturing. Doesn't necessarily mean he should be dismissed for doing so, especially when he starts out with solid, persuasive points about pizza's role in American culture. Authoritative voice. Lots of research. Okay.

But I am growing weary of the literary topos of dismissing what is highly esteemed for the sake of lionizing something obscured by its shadow. (In this case, upholding American pizza as a perfection vs. bastardization of its Neapolitan model.)

Granted, I was too ignorant the one time I visited Naples to know I was supposed to eat pizza there, but I've had plenty of wonderful pizze in Italy. Not soggy. (Comet's softshell-crab pizza? Soggy and wonderful!) They just weren't in any Big Name places and were consumed before the advent of online navel-g( r )azing.

P.S. I'll take Alan Rickman over Richman any day. Except for the bit about ranking Sally's over Pepe's. (Hypocrite that I am.)

While he does take a swipe at the Italians I think of it less as "Dismissing what is highly esteemed for the sake of lionizing something obscured by its shadow," than as taking aim at the many Americans who reflexively worship old country cooking while -- for reasons of snobbery or ignorance -- dismissing American contributions. Of course, I come to this conclusion as one who far prefers what I've eaten of "American" pies to obsessively authentic efforts of local pizza makers to duplicate the Neapolitan experience.

Plus, there's a certain "all in good fun" aspect. "Pizza justly belongs to us. We care more about it. We eat more of it, and unlike the Italians, we appreciate it at dinner, at lunch, and at breakfast, when we have it cold, standing up, to make hangovers go away."

And Rickman is hardly more pleasant than Richman, if I recall my Die Hard movies.

As a long term subscriber and reader of GQ, I find Alan Richman humorous and I think his points are as valid as anyone else's. Rather than debating something that is essentially subjective, what do you think of his assertion that there are 7 styles of pizza?

What is NY pizza considered? What about the best of each style that can be found in the DC area? I don't think there are any stuffed pies in DC? I don't even know of any good pan pizza.

The only deep dish pie I ever liked was made by Gepetto's in Georgetown years ago, and it wasn't as "deep" as Uno's. What was that place up in Tenlytown that used to serve it, Babe's?

Pete's Apizza and their hispter rivals, Comet Ping Pong both do an exellent Bar Style. Though they both bill themselves as New Haven-ish, but I'd suggest (having worked my way through fine pies in three boroughs) that they are pretty close to "New York Style."

Despite the fact that I am an American, and have both bought the record and seen the movie, I remain unclear as to the distinguishing characteristics of the "American Pie."

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What is NY pizza considered?
Ah ha, that is a good question. Over the years many people have told me they prefer "NY pizza", (especially the senior citizens in Aventura, Fla.) When asked to describe a NY pie, the best answers anyone has been able to give are: 1. "it's really big", (true, but hardly definitive) 2. "it's the water", (i'm pretty sure this one has been proven to be bs)
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Ah ha, that is a good question. Over the years many people have told me they prefer "NY pizza", (especially the senior citizens in Aventura, Fla.) When asked to describe a NY pie, the best answers anyone has been able to give are: 1. "it's really big", (true, but hardly definitive) 2. "it's the water", (i'm pretty sure this one has been proven to be bs)

Of course, there are probably 10,000 pizza places in New York. But if you hit a few of the "best" of the old school spots -- Patsy's in East Harlem, Totonno's, Lombardi's, that place under the Brookly Bridge (Grimaldi's, now that I Google it) a pattern emerges: crisp, thin crust; basic sauce with bold spice; and mozzarella (I think some are buffalo and some are not) the sauce and the cheese spread in moderation, so as not to overwhelm the crust. It tends to be large, and baked in a coal oven. It goes well with pepperoni or anchovies, less well with arugula or duck, or anything that some guy named Vinnie wouldn't put on his pie.

In short, it's a pizza.

(This is definitely a discussion that needs Joe H.) (How's business, Joe? Oh it has it's ups and downs).

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I've eaten at more than half of the places on his list and the most notable one missing is Pizzaria Mozza in L. A. which he seems to imply was a disappointment for them. I'm also really surprised that he had Una Pizza Napoletana at #25 and not much higher. At least he included Santarpio's. But he had a lot of places that are not well known and, my problem, mentioned a number of places I've been to but the pies he ordered were-for me-unusual, or at least not what I would typically ask for. I give him credit for Tacconelli's but not so high. I also prefer Pepe's over Totonno's-but that's me. I also wonder who suggested a number of these and, if he's going to get into relatively unusual pies, did even bother to visit, say, Arcaro and Gemelli's in Old Forge, PA, Wells Bros. in Racine (did he even go to Milwaukee which has great tavern pizza) or the original American Flatbread? Years ago there was a place in Orange, NJ that had really good and greasy thin crust, Star Tavern. AND WHERE IS DELORENZO'S ON HUDSON STREET IN TRENTON????

Did anyone notice A 16 at number 17? Did this ring a bell? A 16 in San Francisco. Whose chef beat out Johnny Monis for Beard's Rising Star Award this year. Why would he order that particular pizza there? Why did he order pizza there? Komi was beaten by a place that sells pizza? (Of course Fabio was beaten by Jack's Luxury Oyster Bar in NYC...)

Regardless, my wife has had a lot of these same pizzas now and we can sit across the table from each other and still disagree. As for Komi my love of it is no secret. I'm just going to have to try A 16 sometime this summer. I just can't imagine ordering pizza there.

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A16 makes a pretty solid pizza, think 2amys with a slightly more tender crust, (it's the flour, believe me). The other dishes are much more interesting, from the house cured salumi, to the sardines with fava bean puree. The wine list is also quite nice.

As for beating Chef Monis for the rising star award, I cannot comment.

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AND WHERE IS DELORENZO'S ON HUDSON STREET IN TRENTON????
YES! The biggest snub on this list. I couldn't believe it. Especially since it seemed like the famous Naples style pizzas (UPN for example) were handicapped. Should have been top 5 at the very least. I also prefer Bleecker Street to Joe's if I am in the West Village
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I've seen detractors of 2 Amys say their pizzas are gloppy. Is Alan Richman saying that's the nature of Neopolitan pizzas? So someone who complains about 2 Amys being gloppy should just avoid Neopolitan pizzas? I've never been to 2 Amys. Do they generally used diced tomatos instead of tomato sauce? Is that what separates Neoplitan from NY pizza?

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AND WHERE IS DELORENZO'S ON HUDSON STREET IN TRENTON????

Worth noting this paragraph from the article (which I didn't catch until I just read the actual article instead of just skimming through the list):

"In searching for the twenty-five best pizzas in America, I traveled to ten American cities, the ones I knew had a lot of pizzerias or a lot of Italians. They seem to go together, although less so anymore. I visited 109 pizzerias and ate 386 pies, although almost never the whole thing. (Remember, I couldn’t finish a single slice of the stuffed.) I know what you’re thinking: You didn’t visit my favorite pizzeria. You missed the best."

In other words, he (or, more likely, GQ) can't quite claim to have ranked the twenty-five best pizzas in America since Trenton, for example, was not among the ten cities he visited. He's ranked the twenty-five best of the 109 pizzerias in the ten cities that he visited. I quickly looked through the list and the ten cities (and metropolitan areas) are: Chicago, NY, San Francisco, Phoenix, Providence, New Haven, LA, Philadelphia, Detroit, and Boston. Yes, I am procrastinating. :D

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Worth noting this paragraph from the article (which I didn't catch until I just read the actual article instead of just skimming through the list):

"In searching for the twenty-five best pizzas in America, I traveled to ten American cities, the ones I knew had a lot of pizzerias or a lot of Italians. They seem to go together, although less so anymore. I visited 109 pizzerias and ate 386 pies, although almost never the whole thing. (Remember, I couldn’t finish a single slice of the stuffed.) I know what you’re thinking: You didn’t visit my favorite pizzeria. You missed the best."

In other words, he (or, more likely, GQ) can't quite claim to have ranked the twenty-five best pizzas in America since Trenton, for example, was not among the ten cities he visited. He's ranked the twenty-five best of the 109 pizzerias in the ten cities that he visited. I quickly looked through the list and the ten cities (and metropolitan areas) are: Chicago, NY, San Francisco, Phoenix, Providence, New Haven, LA, Philadelphia, Detroit, and Boston. Yes, I am procrastinating. :D

From NIAF (National Italian American Federation) based on 1990 Census

Cities with the most Italian Americans

RANK CITY ITALIAN POPULATION

1 New York, NY 1,882,396

2 Philadelphia, PA 497,721

3 Chicago, IL 492,158

4 Boston, MA 485,761

5 Pittsburgh, PA 316,351

6 Los Angeles/Long Beach, CA 308,409

7 Detroit, MI 280,051

8 Cleveland, OH 179,733

9 Rochester,NY 170,910

10 Washington, D.C. 163,440

NIAF

6 of 10 including the top 4. Not bad, even if he did diss my hometown. Mineo's anyone?

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all this over an article written in the male equivalent of Cosmo... :D

I've always called it "Cosmo for Boys".

On the other hand, their article on Rumsfeld in this month's issue broke serious journalistic ground, so they do offer nutritional value in addition to good clean boy fun.

Kind of like a pizza.

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While on the subject of his total of "seven" styles that cover America, even I, a non-pizza expert, can think of two he missed off the top of my head--the "pitza" made in Hazelton Pa. by Senape's and possibly others, and St. Louis style with its yeastless crust and Provel cheese. I believe both are recognized as legitimate sub-types by those who care. Maybe Joe H could expand on this.

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Even as Metatron, Rickman is way cuter. But it also looks like Waitman could have his job within a decade, easy.

AGREED.

(And Rickman is much more than Die Hard! Robin Hood! Dogma! Sense and Sensibility! And the very good--but by the way little-discussed--Bottle Shock!)

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While on the subject of his total of "seven" styles that cover America, even I, a non-pizza expert, can think of two he missed off the top of my head--the "pitza" made in Hazelton Pa. by Senape's and possibly others, and St. Louis style with its yeastless crust and Provel cheese. I believe both are recognized as legitimate sub-types by those who care. Maybe Joe H could expand on this.

John, I'm certain that we agree on this especially considering that you, as I, have done our best to eat our way around the country over the past several decades! But it's not only Imo's and Senape's, it's also Dayton, OH, the Victory Pig in Forty Fort, PA, there's a place in Pittsburgh that is legendary called Frank's where the cheese is underneath the sauce and the toppings are handed to you to put on (there are others from Pittsburgh who will scream Vincent's instead) ; should I mention Geno's East or Uno's or Due's, perhaps Carmen's or Nancy's or a dozen other Chicago pizzarias? It is a joke for him to say that there are X number of styles. The irony of this is that I've liked Alan Richman's writing and give him credit for pieces about places like the AutoGrill on the Italian Autostradas as well as championing Le Bernardin. This, however, erodes his credibility.

Regardless, for someone who included Santarpio's in the East End of Boston how could he have not included DeLorenzo's on Hudson in Trenton? Tacconelli's coal oven in Philly is really good but DeLorenzo's in Trenton is an American classic.

I think we're just going to have drive up there this weekend and stand in line for a pie or two.

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Regardless, for someone who included Santarpio's in the East End of Boston how could he have not included DeLorenzo's on Hudson in Trenton? Tacconelli's coal oven in Philly is really good but DeLorenzo's in Trenton is an American classic.

See this post above. He did not claim it to be an exhaustive search of every possible town and city in the US.

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there's a place in Pittsburgh that is legendary called Frank's where the cheese is underneath the crust and the toppings are handed to you to put on (there are others from Pittsburgh who will scream Vincent's instead) ;
Frank's I'll give you, but Vincent's? Ugh.

Mineo's has long been acknowledged as one of the (if not the) best in the 'burgh.

eta - go to Mineo's and you can go three doors up to Aiello's for a comparison. Get the Italian sub at Aiello's to cap off your meal. I have to have at least one every time that I'm back in town.

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See this post above. He did not claim it to be an exhaustive search of every possible town and city in the US.

That's true, but he did claim there are seven styles of pizza in the US:

"we have, remarkably, seven distinct kinds of pizza in this country"

and didn't limit the remark to seven styles in the 10 cities he visited. I think there are considerably more than seven non-trivial variations on ways to make pizza that can be found in this country, so I think his statement is wrong.

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That's true, but he did claim there are seven styles of pizza in the US:

"we have, remarkably, seven distinct kinds of pizza in this country"

and didn't limit the remark to seven styles in the 10 cities he visited. I think there are considerably more than seven non-trivial variations on ways to make pizza that can be found in this country, so I think his statement is wrong.

OK, name 'em.

I'll judge whether they are "non-trivial" (been in Washington too long, have we?) or not. :D

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OK, name 'em.

I'll judge whether they are "non-trivial" (been in Washington too long, have we?) or not. :D

Upthread quotes, first from me, then from Joe H:

While on the subject of his total of "seven" styles that cover America, even I, a non-pizza expert, can think of two he missed off the top of my head--the "pitza" made in Hazelton Pa. by Senape's and possibly others, and St. Louis style with its yeastless crust and Provel cheese. I believe both are recognized as legitimate sub-types by those who care. Maybe Joe H could expand on this.
But it's not only Imo's and Senape's, it's also Dayton, OH, the Victory Pig in Forty Fort, PA, there's a place in Pittsburgh that is legendary called Frank's where the cheese is underneath the sauce and the toppings are handed to you to put on (there are others from Pittsburgh who will scream Vincent's instead) ; should I mention Geno's East or Uno's or Due's, perhaps Carmen's or Nancy's or a dozen other Chicago pizzarias? It is a joke for him to say that there are X number of styles.

BTW, I'm out of Washington.

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I posted a link to the GQ column on another forum I frequent, and asked for peoples thoughts. One gentleman that I have a lot of respect for, (and fellow pizzaiolo), was kind enough to post a link to a previous GQ article where Alan claims to have found Neapolitan pizza paradise in Japan.

http://men.style.com/gq/blogs/alanrichman/...e-in-japan.html

Thoughts?

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While on the subject of his total of "seven" styles that cover America, even I, a non-pizza expert, can think of two he missed off the top of my head--the "pitza" made in Hazelton Pa. by Senape's and possibly others, and St. Louis style with its yeastless crust and Provel cheese. I believe both are recognized as legitimate sub-types by those who care. Maybe Joe H could expand on this.

I was hoping someone would mention St. Louis style! Granted, I'm biased as I grew up there, but i think it's delicious and as proof of the non-trivial nature of the variation i'll offer the fact that sadly, no pizza in the DC area is able to satisfy my occasional st. louis style cravings, nothing's even close really.

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Happened to be in Providence over the weekend, so tried Bob and Timmy's (number 5 on the GQ list). Decent thin crust; quality vegetables (especially the fresh mushrooms) but totally ruined by the covering of grated cheese that had the mouthfeel of sand. If only one experience is a measure, #5 was no better than the pizzas served in thousands of shops across the country.

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Frank's I'll give you, but Vincent's? Ugh.

Mineo's has long been acknowledged as one of the (if not the) best in the 'burgh.

eta - go to Mineo's and you can go three doors up to Aiello's for a comparison. Get the Italian sub at Aiello's to cap off your meal. I have to have at least one every time that I'm back in town.

Because it was closer to where I grew up I've had Vincent's far more often than Mineo's and I've never had Frank's, but I have to say that I have a soft spot in my stomach for the salad bowl full of grease that no amount of paper towels could soak up from a Vincent's pizza! The original Vincent's pizza and Smartie Artie's wings were our only reasons to cruise the Golden Mile in despised Plum. Oh, and avoid Plum's version of the O. It misses the few (but powerful) things that make Oakland's O a charming dump.

Pax,

Brian

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they don't distinguish South and Southwest.

;)

Every organizational nerve in my body is screaming at this. Not sure why I expect more from the Rachael Ray world, though...

Then again, I was convinced I grew up in the Midwest until all the New Englanders I met at college assured me Missouri was the South, too. :P

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Is MD the South? Anyway, is Mia's the finest in the region?

Maryland was a slave state and Sharpsburg, MD where Antietam Battlfield is located saw the single bloodiest day of the Civil War. Yes, MD is in the South. Can't respond to whether Mia's is the finest in the region. All these pizza ratings are, to say the least, highly subjective.

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But also notice: the item is credited in part to Ed Levine, who isn't exactly an anonymous pizza slouch. Even if his tastes have historically been NYC-centric.

I believe he called Pizzaria Mozza's crust the best in the world. After three trips there I agree with him. A year or so ago I ate at Mozza (which is in L. A.) and Two Amy's about 18 hours apart. I thought Mozza was far superior for pizza.

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Maryland was a slave state and Sharpsburg, MD where Antietam Battlfield is located saw the single bloodiest day of the Civil War. Yes, MD is in the South. Can't respond to whether Mia's is the finest in the region. All these pizza ratings are, to say the least, highly subjective.

Saying Maryland was or is a "Southern" state is a bit of a stretch. It was a slave state in 1861 but abolished slavery during the civil war, and in any case was never a "plantation" state in the mold of those south of the Blue Ridge. Most importantly by far, it stayed in the union, and most folks equate "south" with "confederate," rightly in my mind. There are some cultural similarities in places, but you can say that about parts of Indiana and Ohio, or even parts of upstate New York I suppose.

Personally I wouldn't think of Maryland, or any part of the South, as a pizza hotbed, but in this day of easy migration and blending, anything can happen.

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Saying Maryland was or is a "Southern" state is a bit of a stretch. It was a slave state in 1861 but abolished slavery during the civil war, and in any case was never a "plantation" state in the mold of those south of the Blue Ridge. Most importantly by far, it stayed in the union, and most folks equate "south" with "confederate," rightly in my mind. There are some cultural similarities in places, but you can say that about parts of Indiana and Ohio, or even parts of upstate New York I suppose.

Personally I wouldn't think of Maryland, or any part of the South, as a pizza hotbed, but in this day of easy migration and blending, anything can happen.

Thanks. I generally think of this region as being Mid-Atlantic. Although, when I lived in Richmond, just 2 hours south, I truly felt like I was in The South ;)

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