A Detail About Mob-Pizzeria Connections That New York Magazine Missed

IMG_2615x.jpg
Why is the cheese on my neighborhood slice so awful?


In connection with the slashing of Lucali's Mark Iacono, a piece in this week's New York magazine Intelligencer details the connections between mobsters and pizza parlors -- cutely configured as a slice of pizza. In a sidebar, the article mentions how shakedowns from the suppliers of one ingredient or another -- it mentions olive oil -- were common. But the article missed the most coerced ingredient of all -- the cheese used on the pies.

In his 1981 book on the mob called Vicious Circles: The Mafia in the Marketplace, the late Jonathan Kwitny detailed how Al Capone -- who owned a string of dairy farms near Fond du Lac, Wisconsin -- forced New York pizzerias to use his rubbery mob cheese, so different from the real mozzarella produced here in New York City since the first immigrants from Naples arrived in Brooklyn around 1900.

As the story goes, the only places permitted to use good mozzarella made locally were the old-fashioned pizza parlors like Lombardi's, Patsy's, and John's, which could continue doing so only if they promised to never serve slices. According to Kwitny, this is why John's Pizzeria on Bleecker Street still has the warning "No Slices" on its awning today. Apparently, neighborhood pizzerias that served slices and refused to use Capone's cheese would be firebombed. Even today, the cheese used in neighborhood pizza parlors remains distinctly inferior. Does the mob still control the distribution of cheese to neighborhood pizzerias?


IMG_3355x.jpg
According to Jonathan Kwitny, "No Slices" means "Don't Firebomb This Pizza Parlor."

My Voice Nation Help
7 comments
Benyamin Tover
Benyamin Tover

There's nothing quite like taking dirty money and laundering it through "legit" businesses, cooking the books is easy with many businesses, like bakeries, food preparations & ingredients.   As well as that, whenever the ports are controlled via Longshoremen and Teamsters, you can get all kinds of contraband inside a country, and charge outrageous prices for any kind of product, legit or not.  The skimming practice is easy money.

Lauuie
Lauuie

It's absolutely certain that Patsy's and Lombardi's mozzarella is extremely high end.. I've never had a pie like either of those places any place else...

SuperWittySmitty
SuperWittySmitty

I've often wondered about how there is so much sub-standard pizza around. We should patronize the ones that do good job- don't eat factory foods sold by corporations whenever you can help it.

Halloween_Jack
Halloween_Jack

That story makes absolutely no sense. Even if Capone--whose base of power was in Chicago--had enough cheese coming out of his dairy farms to supply NYC, what would be his reason for letting a few pizzerias use the local stuff as long as they didn't sell slices? What's the logic there? And who would be enforcing this alleged deal eight decades after he was sent up the river? I think it's just much more likely that these places were good enough to insist on selling pizza by the entire pie than by the slice.

Sa
Sa

Ma vaffanculo a tutti

BustaTruth
BustaTruth

"Does the mob still control distribution of cheese to neighborhood pizzerias?"- Yes it does. As well as all of the soap and rinsing/wax products to all of the area car washes. Been going on for decades.

Collin Norris
Collin Norris

Capone's base of power may have been Chicago, but he was born and raised where? Brooklyn, NYC. He lived there up until his early 20's. So it's not THAT illogical to think that he owned dairy farms in NY, and had deep connections to the NY organized crime syndicate.

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Loading...