Friends' 'Pizza Project' a True Labor of Love

Five New York natives who spent years visiting pizza parlors in the five boroughs have compiled their journey in a new book documenting the culture of the city pizzeria. NY1's Roger Clark filed the following report.

Gio Lanzo has been a fixture at Luigi's Pizza in Park Slope for 42 years. His parents opened it on Fifth Avenue near 21st Street in 1973.

"I love what I do," he said. "There isn't a day I don't want to eat a slice of pizza."

"Everybody that comes in here gets treated like family," said Marisa Lanzo of Luigi's Pizza.

Luigi's is one of more than 100 pizzerias that native New Yorkers Corey Mintz, Tim Reitzes and three other pals visited in putting together a novel book, "The New York Pizza Project." It's a celebration of the city's quintessential cuisine, from the people who make and eat pizza to the places serving it and the neighborhoods around them.

"People who are not just New Yorkers but around the world can kind of see what kind of the heartbeat of this city is, and it's basically the pizza culture," Mintz said.

I met up with Corey and Tim at Luigi's. The big question: did they ever get sick of eating pizza while putting the book together?

"I think we joked about it. But honestly, I can always have another slice," Reitzes said.

Naturally, Gio had to teach me how to make their magical pizza, working the dough, a little sauce, some cheese, and into the oven. The result: a masterpiece.

The gang at Luigi's say the secret to longevity in the pizza biz is in the sauce, a family recipe, plus keeping things affordable and consistent.

"Just try and keep it old school," said Antonietta Fanelli of Luigi's Pizza. "I mean, everything should be simple."  

Throw in a little bit of attitude, taking pride in the product.

"When it comes to quality, Gio uses the best. And the pizza here is the best," said Leopoldo Moraca of Luigi's Pizza.

But come on, everyone has their favorite pizza place. It's the great New York debate. The New York Pizza Project doesn't play favorites. It's all about the love of the cheese, the sauce, and the crust.

"The book really isn't about, 'This is the best slice here,'" Mintz said. "I think it's more about the stories that are behind the pizza."

For more information on the book, head to nypizzaproject.com.

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