I had the opportunity to meet with Noble Pie Parlor owner Ryan Goldhammer at his location in Midtown. We talked about his signature pizza making process, their special Oktoberfest pizza that will run through October 2023, and even about how the mafia influenced the true New York slices we know today.
The Oktoberfest pizza from Noble Pie Parlor.
About Noble Pie
For the last 13 years, Noble Pie Parlor has been specializing in East Coast-style artisan oven-fired pizzas, but with a Reno flare. Noble Pie's pizzas can be recognized at a glance by the short, braided crust, deep crimson-colored house-made sauce, and creative topping combinations like the "Pep in Yo Step," which, aside from two types of pepperoni (Boar's Head and also imported Italian Cup N Char), includes house-made pepperoni'd bacon. It's clear that Goldhammer's creativity, knowledge, and commitment to the integrity of NY-style pizza is the heart of Noble Pie Parlor.
Owner Ryan Goldhammer shaping dough at Noble Pie Parlor midtown.
On Making Pies
During my time with Goldhammer, he made three pizzas and a calzone, while telling me about his process and occasionally pausing to coach his up-and-coming pizzaiolos. Pizza making is a fast art, and I tried to keep up, bobbing and weaving behind him as he buzzed around the kitchen.
While pressing out a fresh piece of dough, Goldhammer shared his process on par-baked pizzas, designed for pizza by the slice. "In New York, you're gonna have partially-baked pizza when it's by the slice. The reason you do that is so you can re-fire them for slices by the order. We cook ours to a blonde, which is pretty traditional."
As he fed the dough into a rolling machine, Goldhammer explained they use the machine because of the volume of pizzas Noble Pie Parlor produces, especially on Fridays and Saturdays, where dine-in orders can hit around 200-250 pies and slices, not including takeout and delivery orders. Par-baking allows for faster ticket times, and ultimately, happier customers.
When it comes to sauce, Noble Pie's nearly 5th generation tomato sauce is dialed to a science. Originated in Sicily, the sauce uses whole plum tomatoes, strips (aka tomato fillets, strips of tomatoes canned in sauce), onions, garlic, olive oil, Italian seasonings, madeira wine, and fresh basil, all pureed together. "We're doing New York-style, we're doing our own style—Reno-style, if you wanna call it that."
On the crust, Goldhammer noted that Noble Pie's pizzas have a, "smaller to medium-size crown." He explained further, "it was just the traditional way that I learned when I was coming up in my pizza world, so it's just something I continued to do, as an ode to my roots of where I learned to make pizza back in the day at Blue Moon." What followed was my own nostalgic interjection about the Blue Moon salad, which, as long-time Reno residents might recall, was mostly cooked and cooled instant ramen noodles.
On cheese and toppings, commitment to high-quality ingredients is paramount for Goldhammer. From using Boar's Head meats and cheeses, to the house-made sausages, everything is sourced and made with intentionality. This became increasingly evident as I watched him make the special for October, which is the Oktoberfest pizza.
Beer-boiled bratwurst, sautéed fennel and apples, aged provolone... in the words of the great Ina Garten, "how bad could that be?" It's delicious, in fact. The real star of the show, the bratwurst, is boiled in local Revision Brewery's El Repaso Lager along with spices and caramelized onions. The sweet, savory, unctuous nature of the pie is satiating and absolutely calls for a cold beer to complement the experience. I highly recommend stopping in some time in October to give it a try.
On the Mafia
As a parting gift, Goldhammer told me about why Noble Pie Parlor, and most traditional New York pie shops, use low-moisture mozzarella from Wisconsin as their cheese of choice. He came across the tidbit when he was researching how to make the most authentic New York pizza possible outside of New York—which includes the cheese that most shops in New York use.
"The reason we use whole-milk mozzarella from Wisconsin to make true New York-style pizza is because Al Capone bought a bunch of dairy farms in Wisconsin that weren't doing well, and he needed to start moving cheese in a major way. So, he went around to all the pizza joints in New York and New Jersey and threatened them if they didn't start using the Wisconsin cheese. However, there were Italian immigrants saying how pizza is a part of their culture which included making their own mozzarella di bufala in-house, so Capone allowed places that were making whole pies to use their own house-made mozzarella, however, pizzas by the slice had to be made with the whole milk low-moisture mozzarella from Wisconsin. He inadvertently changed the face of New York street-style pizza forever."