Sicilian and Grecian Pizza in the Hudson Valley

When in Sicily (or Greece): Local pizzerias toss up their best Sicilian and Greek pies



Greek pizza from Four Brothers Pizza in Mahopac

Photograph by Jennifer May

Is there anything Sicilian about Sicilian-style pizza? Well, it doesn’t look the way you think it should. Sicilian pizza is the perfect example of our tendency to Americanize foreign foods. We know this style by its shape — in most U.S. pizzerias, it’s a rectangular pad of thick crust with sauce, cheese, and the usual toppings. But in Sicily, the sfincione (which translates to “thick sponge”) is often a slice of focaccia, lightly topped with tomatoes, cheese, sautéed onions, anchovies, and a few herbs. Still, American-style Sicilian is one of the top choices at any pizza parlor, with each place adding its own touch. The stuffed Sicilian slices at Posa Posa in Nanuet, for instance, are similar to a calzone. “We start with square-shaped dough, add toppings when the yeast rises, then put more dough on top,” explains Marc Mandara, whose father owns Posa Posa. The stuffed Sicilian comes in three varieties: vegetable (with broccoli, spinach, peppers, and cheese); American (stuffed with ham, pepperoni, sausage, and cheese); and Roman (with pepperoni, sausage, cheese, and potatoes). “Potatoes aren’t a traditional topping, but my cousin — who’s from Positano, Italy — was trying new recipes in the kitchen and thought it would add a nice flavor. It’s really good,” Mandara says. But the most popular square pie they offer is the Fresca Sicilian — which isn’t stuffed. “It’s got fresh tomatoes, zucchini, mushrooms, onions, and a little bit of cheese,” he explains. “It’s much healthier than regular slices, and the flavors are much more traditional.”

All Greek to Me

While pizza is typically known as an Italian delicacy, Greek flavors and toppings provide a distinctly Mediterranean twist: feta, olives, spinach, and sometimes even lamb. The Grecian pizza at Four Brothers Pizzeria and Restaurant in Mahopac brings a taste of Athens to the Hudson Valley. The dough is made fresh in-house, and is topped with sauce, mozzarella, sautéed fresh spinach, feta, and fresh herbs and spices. “It’s a bit healthier than the average slice,” says manager John Velezis. “Plus the feta adds a different taste. People like it because it’s out of the ordinary, but not too unusual.”

Fit for a Queen

It’s true — the tomato did not originate in Italy. It was brought over from the Americas just a few centuries ago. (The Italians just figured out how to perfect it, and turn it into incredible sauce.) So while the concept of a sauceless pizza might sound almost blasphemous, it’s closer to the original way of preparing a pie. At a basic level, a good white pizza just needs a blend of cheeses (usually mozzarella and ricotta are staples) and spices. But nothing has a more patriotic history than Margherita style. When Italy’s Queen Margherita took a trip to Naples in the late 1800s, she was honored with a pizza topped with tomato, mozzarella, and fresh basil — not only did these flavors complement each other, they also represented the colors of the Italian flag.

» Get Sicilian-style pizza at Posa Posa in Nanuet, NY
» Get Greek-style pizza at Four Brothers Pizzeria and Restaurant in Mahopac, NY
» Return to Pizza and Pizzerias in the Hudson Valley feature story
» Find a Hudson Valley pizzeria

 

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