Miami Restaurants Find Secret to New York Pizza

Miami pizza and bagel shops say shipping in water is worth it

By Adam Kuperstein
|  Tuesday, Sep 7, 2010  |  Updated 10:48 AM EDT
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How do you get that authentic New York pizza and bagel taste in South Florida? Bring in water from Brooklyn.

How do you get that authentic New York pizza and bagel taste in South Florida? Bring in water from Brooklyn.

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If you've ever hosted someone from New York, you've probably heard this before. "You can't find good pizza or bagels in South Florida."

But why is that? How do you explain the difference?

"It's all about the water," said Ash Shaltout, owner of Brooklyn Bagel in Midtown Miami.

And that's why Shaltout and Anthony Barbera, the owner of Primo Pizza next door, have devised a plan to water-up the competition.

One faucet at Brooklyn Bagel and another one Primo are connected to a tank filled with real Brooklyn tap-water. They ship it in by the truckload every month.

"It made a world of a difference," said Barbera. "People just automatically realized and said, 'Wow, what are you doing different?'"

Shaltout added, "I've had people try it and they say, 'wow, it feels like I'm in New York."

The Brooklyn water tastes different than the Miami water, but why it's supposedly better for baking bagels and pizza, nobody seems to know for sure.

"New York water is very pure," said Barbera. " It's one of the cleanest tap-waters around."

So of course NBC Miami had to put the "New York" pizza and bagels to the test, a very unscientific test.

First, we got bagels and pizza from two unnamed Miami locations and mixed them up with the "New York" bagels/pizza. Then, we placed one slice of each and one bagel from each on separate paper plates with the water source written on the back.

Our two former New Yorkers with discriminating taste buds both easily guessed which one used "New York" water.

But comparing the pizza to a true New York slice wasn't as simple.

They both agreed that Primo's pizza was better than a typical Miami slice, but did not match what they were used to having in New York.

They said the Brooklyn Bagel bagel was close to the real thing, but wouldn't go as far as to call it a true representation of a Big Apple bagel (maybe out of fear of disappointing their friends and family in New York).

The verdict? You really have to try it for yourself. There's little doubt that "New York' water does make a difference, but it's only part of the equation.

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