Remember the time that uberchef Michael White started a pizzeria called Nicoletta that was universally panned by New York City food critics? Remember how he was so surprised by it, that he immediately halted his juice diet and started stress-eating? Seems that after a few weeks of reflection and tinkering, he’s decided to recontextualize his chain-esque, Midwestern pizza, in a “you reviewers just don’t get my concept” way.
“I don’t want to compete with Motorino, Kesté, any of those guys,” he told J. Kenji Lopez-Alt of Serious Eats, when the writer asked just what the what White was trying to accomplish. “Are you kidding me? I’d have to be back in that kitchen every single night making the dough and baking the pies myself if I wanted to be in the same league as them. That’s not for me, and that’s not what we’re trying to do here.”
Instead, he views Nicoletta as the first in a chain of pizza delivery restaurants across the Northeast, replicating the crunchy-bottomed, dry-herb sauced, chain-restaurant pizza of his youth. “I’m not reinventing the wheel here,” he explained. “Yeah, we’re doing things like using a biga and a three day ferment on our dough, we’re using the best ingredients you can buy, but the pizza itself is straight up midwestern pizza.”
We dunno, man. Can you really use the best ingredients to make a pizza that we texturally associate with Chuck-E-Cheese? According to Serious Eats, if you measure Nicoletta’s pizza against chains like Dominos or Little Caesars, it beats them handily. And if that’s the way that we’re supposed to judge Nicoletta, then either it’s a cop-out strategy on White’s part, or (more likely) we’ve begun to expect CONSISTENT ARTISANAL EXCELLENCE from acclaimed celebrity chefs. (Why can’t a man with 9 Michelin stars make a pizza franchise?)
Either way, we for one welcome our new late-night pizza delivery overlords, and kindly request that the next Nicoletta include animatronic animals and a ball pit. Boom. Ten Michelin stars.
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