Yeah I remember the way Pat used to cook them topped only with sauce and a very light drizzle of cheese until they were just shy of done. Then he’d sit the pies on disply under heat lamps at the prep counter. His business was pretty brisk so they never sat around long enough to get old. When a customer would order, either by the slice or by the whole pie, they’d toss on the toppings of the customer’s choice, add a little more cheese on top and then about five minutes back in the oven to finish everything off perfectly.
One thing I think was key to his taste was that he didn’t over do it with the sauce or cheese. So many pizza places today (a couple of national delivery chains come to mind) heap on way too much sauce and cheese, and then skimp on the toppings. Pat was the other way around. He was always light on cheese unless you ordered extra, and always had just the right amount of sauce.
By the way, my cousin-in-law was actually one of the pizza chefs and used to put on a spectacular show of hand-tossing the dough. He could twirl it over his head, catch it behind his back and all that fancy stuff. He got almost as good as old Pat himself. You gotta remember too that this was in the South about 25 years ago. Not many people down here had ever seen anything like that. Most pizzarias around back then used pre made frozen crusts that were thin as cardboard and only slightly more tasty.
I plan to sit down with said cousin-in-law in a few weeks and pick his brain for everything he can remember. I think it might even be worth offering him a piece of the pie (so to speak) to come on board as an adviser to the business. My only concern is that he has not worked in the restaurant business for 20+ years now so I just hope he really remembers as much as he thinks he does after so long.
It’d be a real shame if all that knowledge was lost forever.