October 18, 2011

Scott's Pizza Tours: SCOTT WIENER

NYC Pizza Expert Scott Wiener embraced his obsession with the popular Italian dish on tour with his rock band, where he kept track of every slice he ate on the road. When his journal of notable slices evolved into several volumes, Scott embarked on a separate quest to track patterns in pizzeria offerings by researching pizza history to better understand the "pizza universe." By "research," we mean filling his car with friends and a goal to visit as many pizzerias as possible. These day trips became so popular that his friends and colleagues wanted pizzeria-hopping to become a regular activity—in an organized fashion, by foot and by bus. With a NYC sightseeing license in tow, Scott's Pizza Tours has been running tours of pizzerias for the last three and a half years, and he has been recognized by NBC, the Daily News, AM New York, Fox News, and the Discovery Channel. 

Call us “cheesy” all you want, but we think that Scott’s Pizza Tours was fated to roam NYC, paying homage to one of the city’s greatest offerings: its pizza. Treat yourself to one of his fun and filling tours—we recommend the Greenwich Village Pizza Walk.

Your day-to-day responsibilities:
I run tours just about every day of the week, but that only takes up a handful of daylight hours. Beyond that, there's the usual set of tasks required of any small business owner. I have to plan tours, market my company, do bookkeeping, etc. Then there's the fun stuff like trying new pizzerias, researching old photos and documents, talking to pizzeria owners...anything that helps grow the info base required for running these tours.

Where you see yourself in 5 years:
If I answered this question 5 years ago, there's no way I would have even been close to reality. I imagine I'll be even deeper into the pizza world than I am now, not that I know what that really  means. Whatever ends up happening, I have a feeling there will be a slice in my hand. 

Do you remember your first slice of pizza?
I definitely do not remember my first slice, but I'm sure it was a pretty basic Jersey slice.

Do you make your own pizza 
Absolutely! I used to think that I was going to stay out of the pizza making world but once I started experimenting with dough and baking methods I started sliding the slippery slope and now it's a fully developed obsession. I am by no means a professional baker or pizza maker, but I have definitely been improving with every pie.

Your preferred toppings:
I stick to pretty basic cheese pizzas when trying out a new place, but sausage is my go-to topping because it has so many variations. I'm totally open to just about any topping and I really want to take a trip to Japan to try some of their crazy seafood pizzas with squid ink black crust. Yum! 

Estimated number of slices you eat per week:
Two years ago I was hitting the 25-30 slice mark but now I have it down to a maximum of 15 slices per week. Last week I hit 15 by Wednesday and overshot the limit by 5 so this week I've been trying really hard to keep it to 10.

What makes you laugh?
It doesn't take much, but I'm a sucker for a good pun.

Your motto: 
Beauty is in the pie of the beholder. 

Your theme song?
It's either "Another Once Bites the Crust" or "Slice Slice Baby." 

Your guilty pleasure:
I think I have a lot of examples that would fall into this category, but I don't really feel guilty about any of them. I'm an equal-opportunity pizza eater, so I'm not ashamed of any topping. There's a great BBQ chicken pizza I love at Rizzo's in Queens and I'm not against pineapple on pizza at all. Pizza is meant to be enjoyed, regardless of what somebody else feels about your odd topping selection. 

Any notable encounters on a pizza tour?
I once had a couple get engaged on a tour. The guy hired a musician to serenade his girlfriend (they have since gotten married!) and it turned out to be the main guy from Rockapella (you know, the a cappella group from the Foldgers commercial and Where in the World is Carmen San Diego). That was pretty cool. Sometimes we bump into pizzeria owners if we visit the restaurant supply stores on the Bowery and that's always fun! 

All-time favorite slice in NYC:
Wow, that's tough. I'll answer this as asked: just slice shops. Joe's on Carmine is excellent, Ben's has a great square, Louie & Ernie's in the Bronx is fantastic, New Park Pizza in Queens is great and Difara is just a special place with an undeniable slice.

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