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Thick crust: NYC's first local deep-dish pizza at Emmett's

the menu at Emmett's
the menu at Emmett's
Katie Ett,

The wait for NYC's first real deep-dish pizza at Emmett's in SoHo is as long as the crust is tall. If you arrive right at 5:30 p.m. when it opens, the friendly bartender will casually mention you to a server, who will casually push together some of the eight or ten tables for two to accommodate your group. But if you arrive any time after that, the bar is buzzing, there's nowhere to wait, your name goes on a list that grows by the minute, and there's not a chance you're sitting down any time within the hour. It's partly because this place is tiny (you'd never find a restaurant this small in the part of the country where its pizza comes from), partly because the bready pies take 45 minutes to bake, and partly because the early word on Emmett's is that NYC has never seen anything like it.

Growing up in the Midwest, my favourite pizza was my mom's, which was so thick-crusted that the center dough wouldn't be cooked all of the way through and my little sister and I would worry that it'd continue to expand in our stomachs. When I got to college in Ohio, the best pizza was a spicy-sauced square pie that billed itself as "New York style", and I didn't know any better to know that it was a lie. When I moved to NYC nearly a decade ago, I searched high and low for the deep-dish pizza I loved, and all I found was Pizzeria Uno, the national chain I didn't even visit when I lived in Midwest. I don't know if no one thought there was a market for deep-dish pies in NYC, where people are so serious about their foldable, brick oven crusts and barely-there sauces, but if the wait at Emmett's is any indication, ex-Midwesterners have been craving a taste of home, and everyone else is curious about the novelty.

When it's delivered to your table, your server will tell you to let it rest for a couple of minutes (we didn't get the egg timer I'd read about in other reviews), and then he'll come back to dish out a slice to everyone. The thick, thick layer of cheese on my slice pulled away from the rest of the pie in gooey strings like every pizza ad you've ever seen. The pepperoni was fat and irregularly-shaped, as if someone was slicing it fresh in the back, and the balls of sausage were heavy with fennel. The outer crust was so crusty we needed steak knives to saw through it, while the bottom crust was still buttery. And the sauce–so spicy, and so much of it there was still plenty on the plate to scoop up with the outer crust, which made me forget my urge to eat pizza backward so the best part's left at the end.

My friends, who went into Emmett's talking about how deep-dish pizza is "wrong", came out saying this was the best deep-dish they'd had. When I asked our server how he felt serving this "blasphemous" pizza, he said he secretly misses it when he's away from the restaurant for a few days. But based on the reactions New Yorkers are having, I don't think he'll have to stay quiet much longer.

– Katie Ett,