Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Certifiably good! Check out Chipp on Ocean Avenue

By Alex Rush

Talk about tradition.

The pizzaiolo at the recently opened Chipp Neapolitan Pizza on Ocean Avenue is so committed to authenticity, he makes his pies according to the guidelines set by Neapolitan pizza masters.

“Neapolitan pizza is the best in the world,” said Lenny Veltman (pictured at left). “That style is very trendy right now.”

Veltman learned to make traditional Neapolitan pies with Verace Pizza Napoletana, an Italian organization with strict rules for admittance into its culinary la costra nostra that also certifies pizzerias as authentically Neapolitan-style. There are only two such certified pizzerias in the city, and Veltman looks to have Chipp added to that list.

Like traditional Neapolitan pizza, Chipp’s margherita pizza sports fresh mozzarella, sauce made from uncooked San Marzano tomatoes (imported from Italy, of course) and fresh basil. The pies cook for about a minute-and-a-half in an oak-burning oven that reaches up to 1000 degrees.

“I’ve always loved pizza, but I didn’t know about this special kind until about a year ago,” said Veltman, who first found out about Verace Pizza Napoletana-certified pizzerias after eating at one in, of all places, Minnesota.

After his transcendent pizza-eating experience, Veltman, whose past life includes running a Russian restaurant in New Jersey and appearing on season five of “The Apprentice” (he was fired after week seven), was inspired to learn the Neapolitan pizza craft. So he enrolled in Verace Pizza Napoletana’s week-long pizzaiolo rigorous training course in California.

Upon completion, Veltman teamed up with friend and Sheepshead Bay resident Ruslan Goryachkovskiy to open Chipp.

The restaurant’s name is a riff on Cipollini onion, the little golden brown onions that Veltman and Goryachkovskiy use on three of their specialty pies.

You can choose from among 20 varieties of 14-inch diameter pizzas, all priced under $15. 

Many actually deviate from the typical Neapolitan pie with experimental toppings like eggplant, sun-dried tomatoes and goat cheese.

“They’re all so good, the pizza here is the best in the neighborhood,” said Irina G., a local resident who declined to give her full last name. “I really like the white pie.”

But our favorite is still the basic margherita. The crust could use some salt, but it is nicely charred while still being foldable. The cheese-to-sauce ratio is pretty even, which we love because both ingredients taste super fresh. And the best part is, the pie big enough to feed two people is only $9.50.

You could order a margherita topped with imported buffalo milk mozzarella for $5 more, but unless you’re a seasoned cheese connoisseur, the less expensive pie with regular cow’s milk mozzarella tastes just as good.

Chipp Neapolitan Pizza [2971 Ocean Ave. between Avenue Y and Avenue Z in Sheepshead Bay, (718) 934-4100)]. Open Sunday-Thursday, 11 am–10 pm., Friday-Saturday, 11 am-11 pm.

Photo by Steve Solomonson


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