Saturday, April 30, 2011

World's Best Pizza! Sao Paulo :) !!!!

Come to Sao Paulo if you want to try the BEST Pizza in the world!

I have no doubt in my mind that Sao Paulo's Pizza is the absolute best in the whole wide world.
Now bare with me and I will explain why.
I always thought that but never had a real way to compare and have other references until I left Brazil and started trying Pizza in the US and Europe.
I grew up in Sao Paulo among Italian/Brazilians, some of my classmates in kindergarten spoke Italian at home as a first language, many of them actually.
Sao Paulo has always had a very strong influence from Italians, in culture, food, habits, even so present in our accent, which has a strong Italian draw by the way.
Just to give you an idea, in 1920 there were more people speaking Italian in Sao Paulo than Portuguese.
I always heard Italians from Italy raving about the Pizza in Sao Paulo and always heard their reviews with suspicion, how could that be? They INVENTED Pizza for Christ sakes!!!!
I came to the interesting conclusion that indeed, Pizza in Sao Paulo is the BEST, forget New York, Chicago ( Can you really call that Pizza, deep dish is in a whole different category of Pizza if you ask me), Naples, Rome, forget it, Sao Paulo is the BEST! Hands down!!!!
I eat Pizza in New York very often, and I will tell you they make an awesome Pizza, among the best I have tried in the US, but you can't even begin to compare New York's Pizza with Sao Paulo Pizza, sorry New York, but Sao Paulo really leaves you eating dust when it comes to Pizza. Not to mention that the best Pizza I have ever had in the US was in a tiny whole in the wall in New Jersey by the way, not New York.
Still, nothing to do with the GREAT Pizza I always eat when I go to Sao Paulo. Have I mentioned it's THE BEST! ;)
There is a Pizza place in Tampa, Florida, (Westchase to be more precise) that makes an AWESOME freaking Pizza, "Marina's Pizza", the owner is an Italian woman who immigrated from Naples and the manager who basically runs the place is a young man from Sao Paulo, I guess both influenced to such great resulting Marguerita! ;)
If you live in Sao Paulo, you know what I am talking about, if you don't, you will understand it the minute you try the Pizzas I will suggest you try on my next post, "The Best Pizzas in Sao Paulo".
There is a very logical reason for Sao Paulo's Pizza being the absolute BEST, first and foremost, Sao Paulo has something New York, Naples, Osaka, Chicago or any other city on this list doesn't have, Sao Paulo city is surrounded by a GREEN RING  ( called "Cinturao Verde") of small farms that supply a GREAT QUALITY of an abundant variety of FRESH PRODUCE, year round. Frosts are rare and there are no harsh winters, the weather is nice and cool at nights when these types of delicate crops need the most, and this peculiar favorable weather keeps those farms thriving like you wouldn't believe it.
They are beautiful by the way, mostly ran by Japanese immigrants who came to Sao Paulo state in the turn of the 20th century.
You can't reproduce that if you have to ship your produce from thousands of miles away across deserts and frozen mountains inside refrigerated trucks for the most part of the year due to harsh winter weather, such is the case in New York and other parts of the world mentioned on this report.
If your produce is harvested before it's prime ripe stage and stuffed in boxes inside refrigerated trucks, it just won't taste as good.
You will never find a Pizza place in Sao Paulo using CANNED TOMATOES or CANNED TOMATO SAUCE. Most New York and most American Pizza places use exclusively canned tomatoes and canned tomato sauce. That is considered a major sin when it comes to Pizza making and it does make all the difference in the world. Have you ever tasted home made tomato sauce made from real tomatoes? You should try! ;)
Any decent Pizza in Sao Paulo is made in a wood burning brick oven, which are becoming harder to find but still prevalent in Pizzarias Paulistanas. The logistics nightmare of a "wood burning brick oven" is the space for "wood storage". Space is at a premium in Sao Paulo, but the good Pizza places still find a way to keep the traditional wood burning stoves working to assure you will eat the best Pizza every time.
I never saw a "wood burning brick oven" in New York, it's mostly electric ovens. I am sure there might be some, but they are too rare, most likely due to the difficulties to use New York's premium space for wood storage to feed such ovens.
The quality of the water in the city of Sao Paulo is very high and also contributes to the awesomeness of it's Pizza.
The Mozzarella used in Sao Paulo's pizza is of extremely high quality, it is produced mostly in the Minas Gerais mountains, only a few hours driving from Sao Paulo city. The dairy farm in the hills of Minas Gerais has cattle grazing exclusively on natural green pastures, free of pesticides or herbicides. It rains often, the pastures are naturally green. Minas Gerais and Sao Paulo have high standards of quality control which assures a great final product readily available and abundant for Pizza places in Sao Paulo.
Such high quality cheese in the US is very expensive and rarely ever used by American Pizza places.
Sao Paulo's Pizza is thin crust, crunchy on the outside and soft in the inside, it is has been traditionally made with great quality wheat imported from the best producing areas of Argentina. The Argentinian prairies are known for producing one of the best wheat in the world.
You put all that together and you have THE BEST PIZZA IN THE WORLD!!! :)


Besides the weather and geographic positioning there are a few other factors to be considered.
I am sure the main reason for such differences between New York Pizza and Sao Paulo Pizza are due to the fact that most Italians who immigrated to Sao Paulo were Northern Italians and the New York area received mostly Italians from Sicily and other parts of Southern Italy.
Actually most Italian food in the US is very different from Italian food in Sao Paulo for the same reason, American lasagna, some other pasta sauces, prepared very different in both countries, the American versions offer a lot of spicy foods, which are NEVER found in Sao Paulo's Italian cuisines.
It also worth the mention that the Brazilian soil is extremely acid, which results in a very different tomato than American tomatoes and Italian tomatoes that are produced in a very alkaline soil and the results are some very mild and sweet tomatoes that make sauces very different.
Brazilians usually complain that Italian food in the US is either very sweet or too spicy.

Typical Sao Paulo Pizza, thin crunchy crust!

A Paulistana pizza you will never find at a Pizza Rodizio ;)


The main reason I don't like Italian Pizza as much ( notice that I still like it :) ), is because they make Pizza as if we are still rationing food during WWII, if you have eaten Pizza in Italy you know what I am talking about, they put a little tiny bit of this and a little tiny bit of that if they put any topping at all. Many Italians only eat the freaking crust with tomato sauce, What the hell is up that? Don't get me started with the Italians...
By the way, every bakery in Rhode Island or Massachusetts sells what they call "Italian" style Pizza which is just a thick baked crust with tomato sauce on top of it, no cheese what so ever, not to mention that they eat it cold and with their the way, I need to write an entire post about American eating with their bare hands versus Brazilians using fork and knife on meals.


New York Pizza is very good, excellent if you ask me, but if you even dare to put anything OUT OF A FREAKING CAN on top of a PIZZA, you lost me, sorry. Need I say more! Canned Mushrooms anyone! Tomato sauce from a can! It should be against the law if you ask me.
Oh, and I have more for you, you think I would stop at freaking canned mushrooms and tomato sauce, what about "PEPPE FREAKING RONI" on a pizza! PLEASE! N A S T Y! It has stomach ulcers written all over it!


Regardless of the brainwash you might have suffered since you were a child if you grew up in the US, "PEPPE NASTY RONIS"  DON'T BELONG ON A PIZZA, period!
What the hell!!!! A super spicy cured bologna sliced up and placed on top of pizzas, and that nasty yellow oil that keeps oozing out of it...gag, gag...Tum's please!
I swear, the invention of pepperoni must have been a very well orchestrated conspiracy started by the makers of "Alka Seltzer", "Tum's" or "Ranitidine"( Zantac ).
And what's up with all that nasty ground spicy tasteless greasy pork sausage meat on a freaking Pizza...!!! That is just wrong!!! Don't even think Calabresa is similar, because Calabresa is in a whole different category.
I will tell you, things like these shoots my blood pressure all out of whack!
All right, Rant over, I need a freaking Alka Seltzer now, just talking about pepperoni makes me burn alive from the inside out!  :)


First of all, I think this is the first and maybe last time you will ever see the words Japan and Pizza in the same sentence!! Second, is too far away, I won't even dare to go there, they make the best SUSHI in the whole wide world, let's leave it at that, I will comment on Osaka's Pizza when I go visit my great friend Takeshi and he shows me around Osaka's Pizza places.

Alright, alright, I will come down, it's just that we take Pizza very seriously in Sao Paulo if you can tell by my pepperoni rant ;)

By the way, according to me, these are things that should NEVER, EVER, EVER be used as Pizza topping:

1-Canned Mushrooms ( Actually anything out of a freaking CAN, including Tomatoes and Tomato sauce )

2-Cheddar Cheese that goes for American Cheese as well ( Please save your Cheddar for your Burgers or Chili Dogs! Thank you! )

3-Chicken in any shape of form, yes, that includes Chicken Wings! ( I know, you will tell me you have eaten some kind of Chicken Pizza in Brazil, it's still WRONG and NASTY! You will never find it in a decent Pizza place! If you like chicken on your Pizza find a good Rodizio style Pizza place and knock yourself out silly! ).By the way, my grandma tells me Chicken on Pizzas started in the 1970, the decade of bad taste if you ask me, yes, my parents had an Avocado Green Station wagon to prove it.

4-PINEAPPLE ( Ok, you don't need to make me gag! To add insult to injury I am sure these bastards must use CANNED PINEAPPLES! UGH, NO PINEAPPLES) Pineapples on Pizza were introduced by Fast Food restaurants, need I say more? Thank you! I thought so!

5-Nothing spicy or too greasy belongs on top of a Pizza PERIOD! ( Yes, I hate Calabresa Pizza too! )

Even disagreeing with US News, I will share with you "their" opinion and will write a post following this one on Sao Paulo's best Pizza according the Ray and Gil. Use it as reference when you visit Sao Paulo and you will agree with everything written on the post.
Below is US New's opinion on the World's Best Pizza.

Wait, but first, this is how the list would go according to me:  :)

#1 Sao Paulo ( BY FREAKING FAR )
#2 New Jersey ( Really, really good )
#3 Naples ( Extra cheese please! More tomatoes!!!)
#4 Tampa ( Yes, Tampa, Florida! AWESOME! We miss Marina so much! )
#5 Rhode Island ( Very Underrated, great authentic Pizza! )
#6 All right, all right New York!

PS :  I never EVER heard of a decent Pizza served RODIZIO style, you only do that if you are in high school, starving and on a budget! Been there, done that, not the best Pizza, I will tell you!

Ok, ok, please find below US NEWS list.


World's Best Pizza

Here's our listing of some of the most delicious pizzas the world over.

By Jada A. Graves

#6: Rome, Italy

While other cities try to entice you with the whole pie, Rome's claim to fame is offering pizza al taglio, or "by the cut." This variety has a thin crust and is normally baked on rectangular trays in a wood-burning oven. Tasty toppers include prosciutto, asparagus, zucchini, eggplant and potato, but when in doubt, you can also order a traditional margherita with just tomato sauce, mozzarella and basil. Vendors will allow you to determine just how big a slice you want (you'll be charged based on its weight), after which they'll cut your slice, fold it and wrap it in paper to go.

Where to Taste: Pizza al taglio is a convenient snack to have while sightseeing. You could order from Da Michele by the Trevi Fountain (opt for the kosher aliciotti e indivia with anchovies and endives), or at Da Remo by the Pantheon (try the zucca pizza with pumpkin).

#5: Chicago, USA

The foundation of any Chicagoan's pizza is a thick, crunchy layer of crust that's been stretched up the sides of a deep-dish steel pan. That dough is then layered, starting with mozzarella cheese, followed by any preferred toppings (such as pepperoni, mushrooms or sausage) before it's coated in a layer of chunky tomato sauce. The first Chicago-style pie was served at Pizzeria Uno in 1943, and present-day diners can still frequent this Ohio Street and Wabash Avenue fountainhead to eat one of the city's most identifiable dishes. Bonus: you don't need to be in Chi-town to taste the magic; Pizzeria Uno is now a popular chain restaurant (known as Uno Chicago Grill) throughout the country.

Where to Taste: An employee at the original Pizzeria Uno, Rudy Malnati is the disputed creator of the traditional deep-dish pizza recipe. And according to many, his son Lou serves up one of the best incarnations of Chicago's "casseroles" in the entire city. You can eat at his establishment, Lou Malnati's Pizzeria, in the River North area.

#4: Osaka and Hiroshima, Japan

Sometimes called the "Japanese pancake" and at other times called the "Japanese omelette," okonomiyaki's flat shape and assorted ingredients have also earned it the nickname, "Japanese pizza." Even the phrase okonomiyaki loosely translates to "cooked as you want it," which sounds a little like what makes pizza so special in the first place. But what exactly is okonomiyaki? At its base is batter (made from flour, eggs, water, cabbage and cooking stock) paired with your desired combination of cheese, vegetables, fish and meat. In the city of Osaka, where the most popular version of the dish originated, all the ingredients are cooked together (by grilling on both sides) before the pizza is topped with a sweet brown sauce, mayonnaise, katsuobushi (bonito flakes) and aonori (seaweed flakes). If you're dining in Hiroshima, the cook will fix your okonomiyaki batter first before layering on the other fixings.

Where to Taste: Several Japanese eateries earn a shout-out for their "Japanese pizza." Osaka's Mangetsu restaurant serves an okonomiyaki original sauce that "tingles and tantalizes your taste buds to the point you can't stop eating the food that's covered in it," according to a satiated Virtual Tourist. And foodies across the web recommend Hassho, a Japanese chain scattered through Hiroshima Prefecture, for the best sampling of that city's style of the dish.

#3: São Paulo, Brazil

Many Paulistanos in this self-proclaimed "Pizza Capital of the World" have a ritual of eating pizza every Sunday. And it's not hard to find a place to indulge, as Reuters reports that there are more than 6,000 parlors in this city. São Paulo's obsession with pizza dates back to the early 20th century, when Italian immigrants moved to the Braz district and their culinary tastes began to infiltrate Brazilian culture. Now, city residents even celebrate "Pizza Day" on July 10. People in São Paulo barely use tomato sauce, but they practically smother their pies in mozzarella cheese; popular pizza varieties include Portuguesa (also sprinkled with ham, onion, hard-boiled eggs and black olives) and Casteloes (which adds spicy Calabrese sausage). Whatever you do, be sure to abstain from adding ketchup to your slice -- though this is a popular topping in the rest of Brazil, no self-respecting Paulistano would dare besmirch their pizza with the condiment.

Where to Taste: Casual and hard-core foodies agree that the best place to try a little São Paulo pizza is Braz, one of the city's most popular parlor chains. Pizza is served rodízio style, where you pay a fixed price for all-you-can-eat and servers mill the premises offering various types of pie.

#2: New York City, USA

One of the more recognizable pies of the United States, New York-style pizza is characterized by a puffy outer crust that gets thinner and crispier toward the middle. Tricks of the trade include hand-tossed dough and cooking the pizza on a stone rather than in a pan. And as any New Yorker will tell you, there's another key element to the Big Apple's slices -- the city's delectable tap water. Who is to say whether the water's importance is myth or actual method (The editors of the foodie blog Serious Eats even conducted a considerably comprehensive but ultimately unsatisfactory study)? Eddie & Sam's pizzeria in Tampa, Fla. seems to think so: The owners proudly boast to importing New York tap water for the making of their dough.

Where to Taste: The hands-down favorite for New York parlors is Lombardi's Pizzeria, located in NoHo. Considered the first pizza parlor in the United States, Lombardi's also gets a shout-out from travelers for using fresh ingredients. Just come ready to chow down -- this pizzeria doesn't sell by the slice.

#1: Naples, Italy

There's a reason the city of Naples earns the first slot on our list. It's because the Neapolitan pizza is the most enduring recipe the world over, and recipes originated in other cities are often just variations on Napoli's theme. And considering there's even an organization devoted to the upholding the authenticity of the dish -- the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana -- it's evident that this city takes dough-making and cheese-melting seriously. The wheat flour dough of a true pizza napoletana is kneaded into a pancake shape that shouldn't exceed 11 inches across, before it's smothered in fresh buffalo mozzarella, basil and San Marzano tomatoes. It's then cooked in a wood-fired dome oven at approximately 900 degrees Fahrenheit for no more than a minute and a half.

Where to Taste: Serious foodies disagree on where you'll find Naples' best pizzas, but there are a few favorites: Located on the city's Via Sersale, Antica Pizzeria da Michele is one of the more popular spots -- as evidenced by the long lines (and its cameo appearance in the movie Eat, Pray, Love). There's also Pizzeria Brandi, oftentimes credited as the place that first served pizza margherita.


A. said...

I agree. No one expects Brazil to be the best country for pizza, but it is.
To me the 2 biggest reasons for that are, as you mentioned: fresh toppings and real mozzarella. North-americans have no idea what real mozzarella tastes like. And, besides that, they insist in using their Cheddar! Sacrilege!

Danielle said...

Aw! So hostile! Both countries have pizza that's good in its own right. Who makes the pizza rules, anyway? I (along with millions of other people in the world) happen to think that pepperoni is delicious on a pizza, but I also love Brazilian pizza rodizios (so much creativity!) as well as nicer Paulista pizza places.

They're all different! It just depends what you're in the mood for.

American Heart Brazilian Soul said...

Dear Danielle,

I have to agree with you. Didn't mean to come out hostile. Just stating my opinions on Pizza ;)
Gil for example loves everything spicy. I can't stand it.
Pizza to me is just so different in the US versus Sao Paulo, they are almost two distinct food categories.
American Pizza is much more on the greasier side and inspires me to drink beer along with it, I do enjoy it very much, but no pepperoni please, just a personal preference.
Sao Paulo Pizza in my opinion is much more delicate, less greasy, and it inspires me to drink wine with it, drizzled with a little bit of olive oil.
Have you ever seen Olive Oil on Pizza in the US? I haven't, it's already to greasy to begin with...
Americans like ground red pepper or Parmesan Cheese on Pizza, I have never seen that in Brazil.
Just stating the differences here, and my personal preference.
I have never been to a good Pizza Rodizio, perhaps there are some now, I have been away for so long, who knows? You will have to introduce me to this new way of eating Pizza when we get there ;)


Corinne said...

I prefer lots of tomato sauce on my pizza and all pizza I have had in Brazil (SP and elsewhere) is stingy on sauce. If I look past that and don't try to compare, I can enjoy Brazilian pizza for what it is, and yes, Ray, I completely agree with you, SP has awesome pizza.

American Heart Brazilian Soul said...

Dear Corinne,

Some Brazilians found a creative solution to fix that "lack of tomato sauce" on a Pizza by adding catch up! lol... ;)
You would seriously be dragged away in a straight jacket if you so much ask for catch up at a Pizza place in Sao Paulo. They certainly don't even have catch up at Pizzarias anyway, not in Sao Paulo.
You made a very good observation, you are totally correct, Pizza in Brazil uses very little tomato sauce, perhaps that is another North Italy/South Italy thing, who knows, you got me thinking now, I am curious to find out! I will ask my Italian friends in Sao Paulo if they know anything about that...
Good point ;)


Danielle said...

Yeah, don't worry, Ray. I'm not offended or anything. I'm just a glutton and I love food! So I don't care about tradition very much if the changes taste good.

American Heart Brazilian Soul said...


We sure have a lot in common, no wonder we get along so well ;)


The Reader said...

I just have to thank you for the photo of the best pizza in the world, the rucula & tomate seco. Y-U-M.

Personally I'm a true convert to the pizza we have here, I presume Paulista style. Love love love it and fear I'll never be happy eating pizza in the US again.

But the BEST place I've ever had pizza is a small place, Lucca's, in Macae, RJ. Oh my goodness, pizza heaven. Truly. Way exceeds even the best I've had in SP. (sorry, but it does). I think because it is the same authentic Italian influence, wood burning brick oven, top notch freshest of fresh ingredients, etc. So so so so good. I wish we got over there more often. Alas, I can't convince The Chemist to make the drive just for pizza (it is, after all, a good 8 to 10 hrs from us....).

And you are right - rodizio pizza is for when you want a quick meal, not when you want the best pizza.

American Heart Brazilian Soul said...

Dear Reader,

That is great news! Macae!!!
GREAT! Macae was a sleepy fishing village when we left Brazil.
We have some great friends who live in Macae. Good to know.
I hope to God they don't allow Ketchup over in Macae! ;)
Thanks for sharing!


The Reader said...

Ray, no ketchup in Macae, at least, not for the pizza. :) It's growing like crazy over there - new, top quality playgrounds all over, a big mall, KFC!! (Kentucky Fried Chicken...), and so on. Has grown a LOT just in the 4 yrs we've been going there.

Tell your friends to get to Lucca's, on Praia Carvalho, asap. The Italian food/pasta is divine, the pizza is heavenly.

American Heart Brazilian Soul said...

Dear Reader,

Thank you for the tip, I will tell my friends.
It sounds exciting for the folks who live in Macae to see all that progress!
KFC! I wonder if they are doing well, KFC never did so well in Sao Paulo, for some reason, I always liked it, in moderation of course, but for some reason it never took off in the city of Sao Paulo, maybe too much competition.


Jana said...

YUUMMMM Tomato Seco!!!

We took the MIL to Braz the other day, even though she lives in chicago i insisted she try SP pizza. Her brother even owns a pizza shop in MN and is always hunting down better pizzas than his and she said besides the price he would find this pizza simply fabulous! I hope he comes to visit and weighs in! The price just kills me though, for 3 of us to eat 2 pizzas with Chopp and 2 waters it was R130!!!! I would go more often if they could just bring down the price a bit. When i eat cheaper pizza here it just isnt the same....

American Heart Brazilian Soul said...

Dear Jana,

Braz is a trendy Pizza place in Sao Paulo. I have never been there but have friends who told me great things about them.
I am not sure if they are new or traditional, but I really don't remember Braz from when we lived in Sao Paulo.
High prices in Sao Paulo restaurants don't surprise me anymore, it seems to be the new norm :(
I am writting a post on Pizzarias and will post some great Pizza places, hopefully my recommendations will have better prices ;)
Thanks for sharing your Braz review. I can't wait to try it now.


Nina said...

Man, its so time to get my ass to Sao Paulo..... there is not thin crust here and I love thin crust pizza.

But I have to say that Chicago makes a pretty mean pizza. The deep pan is out of this world and I dont even like deep pan.

American Heart Brazilian Soul said...

Dear Nina,

I have to agree with you, Chicago makes a mean and delicious Pan Pizza, but in my opinion it is so different than Sao Paulo's Pizza it's a whole new food category. ;)
I asure you if you put a Chicago Pizza in front of a Paulista they will think it's a fogazza or an open calzone or something else, but they wouldn't agree with you that it's a Pizza :)


Renato said...

You're absolutely right! Sao Paulo has the best pizza in the world. I tried pizza in several countries including Italy and I hated.
My favorites in Sao Paulo are "Margherita" pizzaria ( and the recent renovated Speranza which is in Moema where I grew up. When me and Bobby went there in 2009 he just loved, he said it was the best pizza he ever had...
Off course, my friend from Italy didn't like (hehehe)
Don't even make me start with the Italians (too!)
Ps. I can't believe you're going to live in Boston! My favorite city in US... wish I could live there...I will convince Bobby to visit the city one day :) He is from New Jersey

Renato said...

Veja o vídeo Homenagem a Antonio Tarallo sobre a história da Speranza
Muito bonito...infelizmente ele faleceu cedo em 2006...

Anonymous said...

This is one of my favorite haunts when I want a good pizza. Love the food.

Pizza Near Zion

David said...

Not a fan of pizza in NY!? I think you may have tried the wrong places. There are two categories of pizza parlors in NY based on how they stay open:
1) Serving mediocre pizza to drunk people at any hour of the day or night (quantity)
2) Serving awesome and authentic pizza to sober people during regular restaurant hours (quality)
There is one amazing place in the Lower East Side of Manhattan called Nonna's (on Clinton St.) that is absolutely amazing - they put arugula, fresh grated parmesan, and a drizzle of olive oil on most variations of their pizza, and they have some more interesting varieties too (though I doubt they'd be to your liking). Really great place though... next time you're in NY, try it!

And while I'm at it, can I just say that pizza in Rio is almost universally terrible, except for that one place in Leblon (Vespa or something like that)??

Oh and a shout-out to pizza in Montreal... pepperoni is more like salami and goes under the cheese, and it's definitely not authentic, but it's the best after a long night of drinking.

Anonymous said...

I have tried to taste many different pizzas in America since I moved to here. But so far, any of them are good as Brazilian made Pizza. by the way, I went to Chicago to try their Pizza Style, and I couldnt eat my second slice (too heavy).

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