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

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How the heck to describe it? Photo: Melissa Hom

Mike White opened his pizzeria Nicoletta a couple of weeks ago and, to no ones surprise, its 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 doesnt 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 thats 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 its 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 Domenicos restaurant in Beloit, Wisconsin. Thats 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 Domenicos? Well, we dont really have a specific name for it, Gabriel explained. Its not your traditional thick, thick Chicago style, but its definitely not your New York thin-crust its 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 Yorkinfluenced version of the pies young White first shoved through the sheeter. Yeah, I like it, said Gabriel. Its kind of catchy. So there you have it. Nicoletta is New Yorks first Wiscopolitan-style pizzeria.