Memories by the Slice (Best Video Piece 2018)

Adam Ragusea

Adam Ragusea does not make fancy pizza — he’s not interested in fancy pizza. He makes “utility pizza.”

Photo by Jacob Mack

When he was a child, every trip to grandma’s house in Hicksville, New York meant a five-hour drive from State College, Pennsylvania. The trip always included a visit to Raimo’s Pizzeria, his favorite part.

“I loved that stuff so much as a child. I thought it was so damn good,” Ragusea said.

Even as his grandma grew sicker, the family continued its tradition.

“After grandma died and there was no longer any cause to go out there, it just became very, very difficult for me to kind of find that taste. And that taste is just so important to me,” Ragusea said.

Ragusea cutting his pizza. Photo by Madison Williams

When he got older, he searched for a perfect recipe that reminded him of the pleasant memories and his Italian heritage.

His grandfather fought in World War II, then received the G.I. Bill, which enabled his family to buy a house and start a life in Long Island.

“I feel incredibly fortunate to be where I am right now. And it sounds dumb but… making New York-style pizza, I feel, connects me with all of that, reminds me of all of that, (and) makes me mindful of it,” Ragusea said.

And after a decade of trial and error, he has arrived at an almost-perfect utility pizza, meaning the New York-style. He makes the pizza about once a week and continues to shift variables to get closer to the taste he desires.

Ragusea’s Pizza. Photo by Madison Williams

“When I am baking pizza and messing with my recipe… I’m asking myself does this taste right. It’s not about quality as much as rectitude, and I think a lot of people who have foods from their childhood… (are) not looking for good — they’re looking for authentic,” Ragusea said.

And he’s going to keep at it.