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Meet the Pizza Cuz

On Cooking Channel’s Pizza Cuz (Mondays at 9pm ET), Sal Basile and Francis Garcia, owners of NYC’s Artichoke Basille’s Pizza, embark on a  mouthwatering exploration of pizza across the country. Devour sat with the two pizza aficionados to find out more about running a pizza empire and the best slices in the world.

What brought you both to the pizza business? Had you worked in restaurants before?

Francis: “We grew up in the restaurant business with a fourth generation restaurant family — our great grandparents’ grandparents’ restaurants. Our mothers, sisters and brothers and all our cousins work in pizza places. But it’s the same thing on my father’s side and his father’s side — they all work in restaurants. It’s in our blood. We tell people pizza sauce pumps through our veins.”

Sal:  “Yeah, my dad had me taking out slices when I was ten years old, probably breaking child labor laws!”

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How to Make New York-Style Pizza at Home

Pizza Cuz

The whole world likes pizza. But in New York City, we have a love affair with it. Italian-American pizza as we know it was born here. New York City is the “slice joint” capital of the world, but if you can’t make it out to the Big Apple, I’m going to show you how to make it right in your own kitchen at home.

First, let’s talk about your oven. What gives New York-style pizza its signature crispy crust is the deck ovens that we use. Deck ovens have thick stones that we cook the pies directly on. These stones retain a lot of heat and give our crusts that unbeatable bottom. To convert your home oven, you’re gonna need a pizza stone. Don’t have one? You can use quarry tiles.

Go to Home Depot, buy a box of quarry tiles, put your oven rack all the way to the bottom and lay your stone or quarry tile over the rack. The stone needs to be heated all the way through before putting your pizza on it; otherwise you’ll end up with a cooked top and a soggy bottom. Turn your oven up as high as it goes; we want to get to about 550-600 degrees F. Let it preheat for at least an hour.

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