It’s 2017; it’s the future. Robot butlers? We’ve got those. Flying cars? Yawn. Editing the human genome? More like ‘editing the human gee-that’s boring.’ What’s really got us excited are all the cutting edge advances in food science. Every day we’re flavorblasting the previously un-flavorblastable, deep frying new states of matter and using lightweight carbon nanotube to construct taller sandwich toothpicks. It’s a brave new world of crave-able eats out there, and it makes us want to munch!
That’s where we come in. Welcome to the Munch Squad, the newest publication from the fine folks of Max Fun NYC. Inspired by the My Brother, My Brother and Me segment of the same name, we’re meeting up to chow down on the delectable, the ridiculous, the bizarre, and the artery-cementing. And for an inaugural Munch in this, the city of Giant Apples, what could be more classic—more iconic—than sharing a slice of pizza? Deep fried pizza, of course.
Our intrepid Munch Squad came out in force, a dozen or so good good boys and girls gathered in the dark and bustling back room of a candlelit Bocce bar in Brooklyn. Next door, our prey: The Atlantic Chip Shop, itself as bulging with lumpy meat and thick with grease as its UK chippy fare. It’s the sort of place that’s best to take out from so you don’t have to fight for a seat and so no one has to look at your shame. The place does deep fried Twinkies and candy bars. If we ever go back and eat those you might never read about it (but we’ll try to be brave).
Feelings about the pizza were mixed going into the review—some people (your humble reviewer included) were delighted by it from the concept in of itself, but others were more skeptical. In fact, some were downright afraid. Would the deep frying process ruin its pizza qualities, or vice versa? Would they die immediately after consuming it?
Ryan, of our Weekly Wing Wreview, had his finger on the button when said “My only concern was what would it look like?” Our collective inexperience with extreme foods, coupled with the previously-unmentioned and absolutely insane fact that this dish is offered as a side dish that showed us three to a box for $5 threw us for a bit of a loop. Squaddies had a pretty wide range of pictures in their heads.
“I was hoping it would be like a fried mozzarella stick that would be less of a choking hazard. I feared it would kill me via choking immediately. “
“I assumed I’d be looking at a slice, turned a slightly different color and just greasier. I suppose I lack imagination but when I hear fried pizza I just think of a plain slice with hardened, congealed grease on it.”
How’d we do? Well…let’s take a look.
Some people were transcended the minute pizza hit tongue. A monk may sit in meditation at the base of a Bodhi tree for a thousand lifetimes and not reach the level of enlightenment that flashed across Joe S.’s face with his first, satisfied chomp. Other squaddies were led astray by condiments and fell off his path of deep fried oneness with the universe.
“Crunchy! I had kind of smothered it in marinara which was good but made me realize I couldn’t really taste the actual pizza.”
That problem was quickly rectified. Interestingly, the lack of internal marinara would be something reviewers would later bemoan, but more on that later. Most of the initial impressions shared common touchstones. It was almost volcanically hot to the touch, but through some dark magic (as a UK chip shop we assume they’re in league with dragons and wizards and whatnot) the insides were pleasantly warm. It also held a very satisfying crispness on the outside that good fried foods retain whereas lazily fried treats impotently sag, roll over and start snoring.
“As I held the slightly squishy and rather hot golden triangle (I’m convinced that the triforce is basically three slices of fried pizza) I was a bit concerned. It was softer than I’d really considered for a “deep fried” thing, and so maybe the crunch wasn’t going to get all up in my business, which would be sorely missed. Also, the sheer amount of BTUs coming off of this thing almost surely would mean that the temperature inside would be roughly similar to the arc in a plasma converter. I was delightfully proven wrong on both counts.”
“The outer crust has a bit of satisfying crispness which gives way to an incredible softness when you hit the actual slice. You also get an interplay of the sweetness of the batter with the inherent (though muted) saltiness of the mozzarella.”
That last quote was immediately followed by a sustained jerk-off motion by all red-blooded event participants.
But not everyone was onboard: Tamar E., channeling her inner Twitter President, described her first impression of the pizza as “Greasy. Bland. Sad.” Thankfully, in the Munch Squad we don’t believe dissenting opinions are Fake News.
Wine, coffee and dark chocolate are gustatory arias composed of countless subtle notes. Deep fried foods are that rap airhorn—you’re going to hear it, it’s going to be loud, and it means the party just started. As we sat around the several tables we occupied, the buckets of Rolling Rock and Genessee Cream Ale beginning to accumulate, discussion of the dish broke down into three separate areas. Some people were obsessed with the outer crust:
“The battering was very light and very crunchy.”
“The slice is still doughy throughout, but the crunch for the outside helps with that.”
“The crunch, when it exists, is nonpareil. When it doesn’t, it won’t stop you from loving it. This fatty, slightly salty monstrosity is a decadent pleasure, in the least fancy sense of the term. The flavor of the pizza inside is essentially meaningless. I still do not know what it was, because the whole thing tasted like a fried thing. Dipping it in the marinara that accompanied it felt like gilding a particularly shameful lily, but it’s worth doing. I am midwestern enough to imagine that dipping it in ranch dressing would be a spectacular form of self-indulgence. This is the most delicious rock bottom that one can hit.”
Others were more impressed by the pizza itself, which had softened and added something very novel to our collective perception of what it means to be pizza. Of course, there are those in New York who don’t think you should mess with a classic. Understandably, we were conflicted:
“There was a layer of fried wonder, but beneath it lied a world all its own. Pizza no fancier than a slice of Elios hid within ready to assault me with the kind of flavor that only pairs well with fried food and drunkenness.”
“You would think deep fried pizza would be cheesy or saucy, but surprisingly this one isn’t. The main notes are sweetness, an almost soft creaminess of the pizza’s original crust, and just the faintest hint of sauce. It tastes much more like a savory desert than a side dish.”
“I mean, it was fried pizza, but they deep fried the worst of NYC pizza. This is the stuff that has been languishing under a heat lamp at your local deli all day. And night. It was crispy, and hot, but ultimately kind of flavorless and disappointing. Like a Tinder date.”
Straight Tummy Talk
So how’d we do? Well, for our first outing we can be forgiven for our missing the mark with our Hunches. When we first conceived this event there was a lot of mental math along the lines of “pizza + frying = (pizza + frying)” without ever considering that frying pizza would fundamentally alter it as a product. But for better or worse, that’s what happened. Fried pizza is a completely different species than the pizza we’ve come to know and love.
“I had a hard time tasting the actual flavor of the sauce and cheese though. The whole thing was totally different from what I thought it would be like.”
I liked it, within reason. It’s novel, and it’s a great take on a New York classic, but the pizza is the picture of practicality. You’re gilding the lily here. I also think the kind of pizza they chose lacked enough pizza quality: cheese and sauce.
While overall I would say it’s a disappointing snack, I can’t deny that the more I ate, the more I liked it. It doesn’t pack a lot of flavor but what it had I really enjoyed. For 5 bucks it’s an easy fried snack that I would get again.
Ryan’s sentiments struck a chord in all of us. Even as people reached for seconds, their fingers figuratively and literally dripping with disgust, the night became one of those precious few moments in a lifetime of true introspection and growth. Munch Squad isn’t about sticking your nose up in the air; we’re eat-ists, not elitist.
“Eating an entire slice of this deep fried pizza was not dissimilar to binging the first season of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic as a 30 year-old man. You feel terrible, and the moments of greatness seem to give way to something a little softer and weaker than you’d hoped. You feel like a monster. And yet. You cannot stop. You will devour the whole thing, and you will desire more. You can’t help but see yourself with disgust. ‘This is clearly for children,’ you will think. ‘I cannot believe how hooked I am on it.’ You glance around furtively, and avoid bringing it up in conversation, but are ecstatic to talk about it in safe company.”
“I shouldn’t love this. I do love this. It is exactly what I hoped and feared.”
Damn straight, Joe. Deep fried pizza may have slowed our reaction times and labored our breathing, but it opened our eyes and steeled our resolve. And so the Munch Squad will return—must return—armed with pot sticker and pickle spear, to drive back the shadows of self-denial and ignorance that have ruled our stomachs for too long. Because this city’s full of tasty treats, and we wanna munch!