We all know that New York City is the epicenter of pizza culture, evidenced by the fact you can get “New York-style” pizza everywhere, from Idaho to Iceland.
But there are some that would argue that these offerings are “New York” in name only. Conventional wisdom suggests that local NYC water is the key ingredient for true New York-style pizza dough.
Indeed, New Yorkers take their water seriously. They claim it’s the best in the nation, dubbing it the “Champagne of Drinking Water”.
So it’s not surprising that some pizza joints with the geographical disadvantage of NOT being in New York have found some creative solutions to this problem.
While some pizzerias actually ship water directly from The Big Apple to use in their dough, one local shop has taken a more scientific approach.
Top Slice Pizzeria in downtown St. Pete employs what they call the “The New York Water Maker”:
It’s a unique, water replication system that allows any type of tap water, from any location in the world to be transformed into New York water.Top Slice Website
So I headed downtown to test this contraption myself. You know, in the name of science.
Top Slice definitely has the NYC pizzeria vibe down solid. A long, narrow layout and a wide variety of pies in a glass viewing case greet you upon entering. Once your order is taken at the counter and the slices are warmed in the oven, they are presented on the standard double paper plate “tray”. If I was carrying out, this would then be stuffed into a brown paper bag and folded at the end. Classic New York.
But I was eating in, so I settled into a booth and began my experiment.
The crust was just the right thickness with a bit of chewiness (this is the desired consistency and might offer some evidence that their NYC water replication efforts are not in vain). The slice folded perfectly and the end crust was nice and thin so you could finish it off easily.
The sauce was tangy, with a strong showing of oregano. Always a good thing in my book. Also noticeable: a welcome hint of garlic.
The double paper plates definitely came in handy given their cheese selection. These two slices produced some serious drip action. The mozzarella was thinly applied to form a solid, uniform layer. It was a bit on the greasy side, but this didn’t disrupt the delicate balance of the slice.
Overall, Top Slice is a solid entry among the local pizza offerings.
As I sat in the booth, watching the downtown bustle through the front window, I could almost imagine I was on a lunch break in The City.
If you’re selling “New York-style” over a thousand miles from where it all began and can inspire that kind of mental teleportation, I think you’ve earned a right to the moniker, regardless of where your water comes from.
Top Slice Pizzeria
21 3rd St N, St. Petersburg, FL
Hours: Sunday-Wednesday 11am-3am | Thursday-Saturday 11am-4am