It Is Totally Acceptable to Eat an Entire Bar Pizza After You Make One
Chef David Ladner of New England-style lobster shack Jibs in NYC shares his take on the Massachusetts staple
As of this writing, there are nearly 45,000 members of South Shore Bar Pizza Social Club group on Facebook. Per the group’s page, members are “devoted to our love of South Shore-style bar pizza, a working-class tradition in the pubs, taverns and dive bars south of Boston, Massachusetts. We’re all members of the Pizza Party.”
So what the heck is South Shore-style bar pizza? Wicked glad you asked, guy.
While perhaps not as well known as the types of pies that hail from places like Detroit, Chicago and of course New York City, bar pizza reigns supreme on the South Shore of the Bay State and is believed to have been invented in the hometown of boxing great Rocky Marciano, Brockton, following World War II. Cooked in a 10-inch pan and made to be eaten individually alongside a pitcher of beer that’s (ideally?) being shared, bar pizzas are thin and crispy to the point that they are cracker-like and typically have their sauce and cheese spread thinly all the way to the edge. Simple enough to be cooked in a bar’s limited kitchen and inexpensive to make, bar pizzas are meant to keep slightly full customers filling up on brews at the bar.
David Ladner, the chef at newly reopened New England-style lobster shack Jibs at Hudson Yards in New York City, lived in the Boston area for six years and developed a fondness for bar pizza while eating and drinking on the outskirts of the city. That’s why Jibs has three different varieties of bar pizza (cheese, corn with hot peppers and pepperoni with hot honey) on the menu alongside other Masshole faves like lobster rolls, crab cakes and Narragansett Light.
“We use a chunky tomato sauce that’s sweet and tangy and our pies have a crispy, crunchy crust that’s super-thin. It snaps in your hand if you go for that New York fold,” Ladner tells InsideHook. “There’s provolone and mozzarella on top, that’s my favorite blend, so it’s really salty and creamy. You also you get little caramelized bits at the very edge from where the pan meets the crust. For the pepperoni, the thing is covered side to side with overlapping slices. We’re trying to replicate bar pizza, but I think we take it to a higher level. We just try and take good stuff and put it on a pie and take care of it. It’s definitely its own thing.”
The pies at Jibs may be a little fancier than some of the ones on the South Shore, but they still follow the first rule of bar pizza: one person, one pizza.
“If you want to step up and have a pie, you’re certainly not going to be overwhelmed. It’s a 10-inch pie and it’s not like it’s a Chicago-style pizza,” Ladner says. “It’s not overly cheesy or topped with a million different things so I don’t think it fills you up as much. I would never even dream of talking negatively about a New York slice, but bar pizza is good. There are six pieces to a pie and it’s maybe three bites and a slice is gone. You could eat a whole pie and still have room. Eat a pie, drink a beer, watch a baseball game. It’s just enough.”
See for yourself.
Chef David Ladner’s Bar Pizza
Ingredients for dough and pizza
- 1000 grams of flour
- 600 grams of water
- 200 grams of poolish (100 grams of flour, 100 grams of water, 5 grams of yeast, ferment overnight)
- 18 grams of salt
- 4 oz tomato sauce (Use your favorite pizza sauce)
- 2 handfuls of shredded cheese (Mozzarella-provolone blend)
- Pepperoni cups (Cut thick, enough to cover the whole pizza)
Instructions for dough and pizza
- Mix all dough ingredients for 10 minutes on speed 3 with a dough hook. Then mix an additional 3 minutes on speed 5 with your home mixer.
- Proof in fridge for 24 hours.
- Ball at 120 grams.
- Leave in the fridge for 4 hours.
- When ready to bake, stretch into a 10-inch bar pie pan.
- Top with sauce, cheese, and pepperoni cups.
- Bake at 550 for 8 mins or until crispy and slightly charred around the edges.
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