From all accounts I’ve heard/read, Jeff Varasano has been hosting underground pizza parties for years, and he’s the ranking on-line king of pizza.
Those are both teasers and I had no clue what either of them meant before I went to one of his aforementioned tastings at the invitation of Patricia Tinsley.
His home, where the parties are held, is a stones throw from Phipps Plaza is not entirely modest. It’s a beautiful home with a layout perfect for entertaining from the kitchen, though tall arched doorways and into wide spacious rooms. A dozen or so of us bellied up to the wrap around bar and spilled into the breakfast area and sitting room to watch Jeff and his assistant Heather Stokely work their doughy magic.
Fresh ingredients lined up on the counter, and a half a glass of wine down, I asked Jeff about the urban myth that what makes New York pizza so good is the water while the others made introductions and mingled over wine. Conveniently, they couldn’t hear my naïveté.
Jeff educated me as he worked the pale mound into something flat I recognized, and as he placed slivers of goodies on outstretched doughy goodness: that the myth has been around for generations and it started with this: well water v. public (contaminated) water. Huh. Who knew?
The secret, he says, is in the dough and the rest you give it and the fresh ingredients. The recipe? On line for anyone to make, which they do, and which is why he’s the online king of pizza. Hits, baby! Hits!
Varasano’s legit restaurant is slated to open late February near Piedmont Hospital, and when he does, I’ll be there. I’ll be easy to spot because I’ll be ogling, fondling and devouring the number he makes with rosemary, garlic and dates. Frack.