Man on the Street: Deep-dish pizzeria opens under the radar

We Cook Pizza diners_0305How I slept through NYC’s first deep-dish pizzeria opening

You’d think it would have caused massive riots throughout the city, but when a deep-dish pizzeria called Emmett’s opened in New York at the end of 2013 nobody seemed to notice. It was an especially tender time for the Chicago versus New York debate thanks in no small part to a fresh rant from Jon Stewart likening the Willis Towers / One World Trade Center controversy to their respective cities’ indigenous pizza styles. But not a single blogger or food critic so much as mentioned the new restaurant. Did the pizzeria intentionally open quietly to avoid backlash from the thin-crusters? Were we all just not paying attention? The whole scenario forced me to assess how I hear about new pizzeria openings so I don’t let something this big slip by me again.

My favorite restaurant supply store on the Bowery usually tips me off about restaurant openings and closings, but this one eluded even them. The only peep I heard happened a few months before Emmett’s opened and it came from another pizzeria in the same neighborhood. I filed the tidbit in the back of my mind but quickly disregarded it as faulty intelligence. When word reached me that there was in fact a new deep-dish pizzeria on the SoHo/Greenwich Village border, I was both excited and confused.

My next step was to contact all the pizza bloggers in town, all of whom were just as excited and confused as I. If none of these people knew about Emmett’s, who did? I ran a search online and found my answer. The only mention of this pizzeria was a site called Urban Daddy, which sends daily e-mail blasts to their users announcing cool things to do around town. Had I been on their list I would have had an alert about Emmett’s fall gently into my inbox instead of being forced to run an active search like a barbarian!

When a new pizzeria opens, I usually catch wind of it via social media. I used to read food Web sites every day like they were the morning paper, but now I just scan Facebook and Twitter. It’s much easier to browse a list of links and photos rather than combing through dense articles and ads. Social media formats lend themselves well to small bits of information, so I can read about a new pizzeria even if there is no review. It’s also nice on the business’s side because sites like Twitter are extremely sharable and provide a direct line of communication to media outlets and potential customers.

One blogger pointed out that Emmett’s opened in the thick of holiday season when the food press was busy writing about Thanksgiving turkey tips, Christmas cookie recipes and end of the year roundups. Fortunately, tweets from the aforementioned excited /confused pizza bloggers eventually triggered the usual flow of media coverage for the unique restaurant. You could hear the clatter of all the food site editors tripping over their own feet in a rush to get the scoop as soon as word of the opening hit.

It’s nice to know you don’t need a publicist to get your restaurant some exposure, but it’s also pretty scary to think about how easy it is to get lost in the shuffle. If a pizzeria opens and nobody’s there to write about it, did it really open?

Scott Wiener owns and operates Scott’s Pizza Tours in New York City.