According to some, it is perhaps the best pizza in New York City and definitely the hardest to come by. But it can’t be ordered or taken away from a restaurant – it can’t even be bought with money.
But the chef behind the raised panes accepts something as payment instead of cash: a foretaste of what his “customers” can do.
Making pizza was a pandemic survival tool for Gabrielle Lamonica. He wanted to open his own shop, but then COVID struck and put all his plans on hold.
“The only thing I could do was make pizza at home, which was the only thing that made me happy and got me going in the morning,” said Lamonica from his Harlem apartment.
He started to publish his heavenly homemade creations on Instagram – and then things really started to explode (watch the delicious video and you will understand why).
Soon people were asking about his cakes. But Lamonica wasn’t comfortable with it.
“I thought you know I feel really bad if I bill you for this. I’m not going to make any real money on it. So I still want you to try it. I really want to give you the pizza, it is my.” Pleasure, but give me something else back – any homemade meal, anything you can do well, “he said.
And so a system was born. Lamonica now makes a handful of Pizza Barters a week and like 60-70 in total, with each piece being unique.
But what is always the same is the light and fluffy dough. It becomes so by letting it sit for 96 hours, “in different forms, in different stages”.
The swap idea was inspired by his late grandmother in Italy, he said.
“She actually baked Brad every morning and traded it with the neighbor who had chickens so she could have eggs,” Lamonica said.
But not everyone they barter with is well versed in the kitchen, so they’ll take some other things with them as well.
“Sometimes people don’t know how to cook so they say to me, ‘Oh, can I give you a bottle of wine?’ I’m like yeah, sure, “he said with a laugh.
The exchange on Thursday evening took place in Columbus Circle. Lamonica made an eggplant parmigiana pizza, which he and David Weissman swapped for a homemade spicy rigatoni with Italian sausage.
“I’m excited. Ninety-six hours is a long time, it looks fantastic,” Weissman said. “I think it’s a great way to try new things and still be accountable.”
Lamonica spends about $ 20 per cake, and the cost adds up. But sharing your passion for pizza is priceless.
“I’m doing this so that more people, as many people as possible, will try my pizza,” he said.