Omnivore - Frank Bruni's all over pizza

The New York Times critic takes a pizza tour

Frank Bruni took a tour of New York pizza in yesterday's New York Times. His summary is elegant if not surprising. (What isn't about balance?):

A great pizza and great pasta are kinfolk. What’s a margherita, after all, but a canvas for tomato, cheese and herb with less slickness, more crunch and more portability than noodles? Many of the flavors are the same.

And be it salad, pasta or pizza, the surest element of success is balance. For pizza that means crispness shouldn’t come at the expense of tenderness, the crust can’t steal the thunder from the toppings, and toppings can’t run roughshod over the crust.

As for toppings, they should add a whisper of sweetness or murmur of heat to the milky, tangy, wonderful white noise of cheese. All of the pizza places in my list of new-generation favorites understand this. And almost all of my favorite pies exemplify it.

Bruni's general experience seemed to be that nothing is very predictable. The same restaurant may produce pizzas of significantly varying quality. He uses Atlanta pizza-eaters favorite word, "char" (or a derivative thereof), four times in his article but also notes that a beautiful char can grace an insipid pizza.