There are a ton of podcasts out there, but finding the right one can be difficult. In our column Pod Hunters, we cover what we’ve been listening to that we can’t stop thinking about.
There are a lot of podcasts out there, and when “National Pizza Day” came through a couple of weeks ago, I discovered that there was indeed a podcast all about pizza: Pizza City, hosted by Steve Dolinsky, a food reporter for ABC 7 in Chicago, the author of Pizza City, USA: 101 Reasons Why Chicago Is America’s Greatest Pizza Town, and founder of Pizza City USA Tours, which is... exactly as it sounds: a pizza tour of Chicago.
The show is an ongoing project for Dolinsky, and each episode chronicles a stop to explore a different type of pizza from around the country. The first handful of episodes sees stops in LA to interview Daniele Uditi of Pizzana, Rich Labriola of Labriola in Chicago, Justin Bazdarich of Speedy Romeo in New York City, and Wes Pikula of Buddy’s in Detroit. There is some serious pizza nerdery going here: Dolinsky and his interviewees go into quite a bit of depth into all aspects of the pizza business, laying out how each respective chef goes about making their restaurant’s pie, the ingredients, and the incredible variety that exists across the country.
Dolinsky told The Verge that he’s been covering food in Chicago for more than two decades, and a couple of years ago, read a listicle about some of the best places to eat pizza in Chicago. “I’d been to a couple of them the week previous, because they were new. And I knew that the list was BS. I don’t think the writer went to any of the places.”
The piece inspired him to do a deep dive into Chicago’s pizza scene. “I just decided then there that I’m going to start tackling the subject. That first round of eating took me about three and a half months of doing three-a-days and developing massive acid reflux from all the tomatoes.” He ultimately went to 76 places, and had gathered plenty of information for his reporting, and noticed that the topic was generating plenty of traffic for his website. That prompted him to write his book — and visit another 100 pizza places — and start off a tour business to take tourists around the city to experience the scene.
Dolinsky says that he thinks that pizza is the “universal food,” noting that it appeals to a wide range of people with different dietary preferences, and that “everybody in America has a memory of pizza.”
A podcast was the next logical step for Dolinsky. He already had experience working on a weekly food-oriented podcast, The Feed. “When I was on the road for various assignments over the last year and a half as I was writing the book, I would just pull out my recorder and talk to some of these pizza makers.” Those recordings became the basis for this new series.
Dolinsky notes that he “really wants to get way from the thought that the pizza universe is New York and New York only. There are great pizzas being made all over the country,” and he’s planning trips out to other places around the country, like Minneapolis, Portland, and Seattle, to go beyond the usual “New York style vs. Chicago style” argument that pops up all the time. He pointed to the fact that people are often surprised at the variety of places, innovations, presentation and styles that exist in pizza parlors across the country. “I want people to have an appreciation for the crust, what goes into creating great dough, and just the artisan nature of pizza making. It’s not just slopping sauce and cheese onto dough and calling it a day.”