nom-enclature

Finally, We Know What to Call Mike White’s Pizza: Wiscopolitan

How the heck to describe it?

How the heck to describe it?Photo: Melissa Hom

Mike White opened his pizzeria Nicoletta a couple of weeks ago and, to no one’s surprise, it’s a hit. Martha Stewart loved it. Gordon Ramsay stopped by and did not berate the busboy or poke anyone in the chest with two fingers. Even Monsieur Alain Ducasse came in to inspect the pepperoni. Not bad for a slice joint! (Clarification: Nicoletta doesn’t sell slices.) And yet, no one — least of all White — has really figured out what to call the damn pizza.

When we asked the super-chef about it in March, he said, “You could call it Midwest pizza.” And after a thoughtful pause, he added: “When I say ‘Midwest,’ I mean pizza that’s made on a sheeter; most pizza in America is made on a sheeter, but not in New York.” Well, that was then, and this is now. After only two nights of service, the sheeter has been sidelined, and White, when last seen, was personally rolling out the dough by hand. All of which raises the question: If it’s not made on a sheeter, can it still be Midwest? And is it even American?

To shed some light on the situation, we telephoned Peter Gabriel — no, not the British musician; what would he know about pizza? — the owner of Domenico’s restaurant in Beloit, Wisconsin. That’s where a teenage Michael White first caught the pizza bug. The Gabriel and White families, you see, were and are friends, and Michael would often toddle back into the kitchen and make his own pie. “He was a natural,” said Gabriel. And what kind of pizza is made at Domenico’s? “Well, we don’t really have a specific name for it,” Gabriel explained. “It’s not your traditional thick, thick Chicago style, but it’s definitely not your New York thin-crust … it’s medium.”

Still, “medium-style pizza” does not have much of a ring to it, so we suggested “Wiscopolitan” (Wisconsin + cosmopolitan), a more refined, handmade, New York–influenced version of the pies young White first shoved through the sheeter. “Yeah, I like it,” said Gabriel. “It’s kind of catchy.” So there you have it. Nicoletta is New York’s first Wiscopolitan-style pizzeria.

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