No one makes pizza and bagels like they do in New York.
I have heard it has to do with the water, but who knows? Can water really make that much of a difference? All I know is that, as a former New Yorker, the two things I always find myself longing for are New York bagels: slightly chewy with a slight (very slight) crisp outside and New York pizza: tender crisp crust with the perfect ratio of cheese to sauce.
When it comes to pizza, most people I ask around here in Connecticut seem to prefer thick crust pizza with lots of sauce and cheese-it's fork and knife pizza and frankly I don't want any part of that. If you can't fold it and eat it on the run, what's the point? So for decent pizza, a trip to New York is pretty much required. (Although a recently opened Pepe's Pizza in Manchester, CT -originating on Wooster St. in New Haven- has shown great promise.)
On the bagel front, It's possible to get a fairly decent substitute for New York style bagels in our local supermarket or Whole Foods Market. Not the same mind you, but a fairly good stand in. Just be sure to give the bagels a little squeeze (please use the tissue paper or tongs for goodness sake though) just to make sure they are fresh. I often dream that one day some "city tired" bagel maker or pizza man will wander up Interstate 91 and make a new home for himself in Connecticut. (While they're coming if they could bring along an authentic Greek Queens diner owner that would be great too).
Our book group recently had a movie night to which I brought a pizza dip (technically a New England style pizza without the crust-lots of sauce and cheese). I love this recipe because it covers my two most frequent cravings with one appetizer. The dip is pretty common and there are countless variations-I can't say for sure where it originated I have just always made it.
When I first started making the dip I would use French bread as the dipper; but I have since found that bagels, because they are a bit sturdier, hold up best with the thick cheese and pepperoni in the dip. Try to find Italian seasoned, Asiago cheese or Parmesan cheese bagels for best results. Better yet, if you can journey to New York-since their bagels are perfect-then any flavor bagel will do.
Pizza Dip with Bagels
12 ounces (1 1/2 packages) cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 cup pizza sauce or favorite tomato sauce
1 cup small diced pepperoni
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2-3 large bagels, cut into 1/4 inch thick circles or slices
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a medium sized bowl combine the cream cheese, sour cream and Italian seasoning. Spread into the bottom of a small pie plate or shallow baking dish.
Spread the sauce in an even layer over the cheese. Top the sauce with the pepperoni, basil and the mozzarella cheese. Bake in the center of the oven for 15-20 minutes or until brown and bubbly. Allow dip to cool slightly before serving; serve with the bagel slices.
Note: there are countless pizza toppings you can substitute or add to the pepperoni-that's just our favorite-experiment and enjoy!