#parent | #kids | First Bite: New York Water (and Pizza) at ElMar’s in Plymouth

You’ve heard the theory, that the reason bread, pizza, bagels, and just about everything else in New York is superior in taste, is because of the water. A culinary capitol of the world boiled down to H2O. I exaggerate, but still.

If you’ve ever had a New Yorker friend scoff at your bagel or patronize your pizza (it’s good, it’s just not AS good), this is your chance for proof of argument. ElMar’s New York Pizza is now open in Plymouth and they’ve got the goods. And by goods, I mean pizza and New York water.

The slice shop is tucked away off of Plymouth’s main hub, that chunk with the movie theater and retail on Hwy 55 and Vicksburg, in a new building. Michael ElMaraghy, who used to rep Brooklyn Brewery, is a native Staten Island New Yorker who decided that this was a nice place to settle down. So he did.

He knew he wanted to open a pizza place, but he wanted to bring the flavors of home. How to do that? Well, he started with smuggling giant jugs of NY water in his suitcases on the plane. “Different water has different properties, different minerals that make it taste different,” ElMaraghy told me. “So I wanted to start with an understanding of what the water from home was like in relation to the water here.” So he began developing recipes and doughs that tested the quality of both. Shockingly: NY water won. 

But currently there is no pipeline from Midtown to Minneapolis, so he found something better. “We tried reverse osmosis, but that just strips the water clean, and leaves nothing to build on. It’s a very pristine water, but it’s not the best for baking. We found a machine that takes it a step further. The New York Watermaker takes the water from your local area, strips it down and then, through a specially formulated resin bag, adds the compounds and minerals that make New York water taste and act the way it does. The company is remotely wired into the machine to monitor levels, and can adjust when needed.”

I have seen this machine, I have tasted this cold water, and I can honestly say: it was cold and delicious. I’m sorry I don’t have the proper Staten Island tongue to be able to judge it, I will leave that up to the East Coast transplants. What I can judge? Pizza.

Beyond the water alchemy, ElMar’s has a massive four-stacked deck oven that cooks those pizza crusts just like he wants them. Not floppy, but not super crisp. Slices hold up to whatever gets piled on top, but retain a nice chewy quality. There are a lot of slice choices when you walk in, from the Garbage pie, “with everything but the kitchen sink”, to a classic Margherita, a zippy Buffalo chicken pie, and white pie with ricotta, garlic oil, fresh herbs and no sauce. One slice is a pretty good meal, but you can get the whole pie as a 12″ or 18″. And of course you can build your own whole pie how you like. 

And there’s more! Hero sandwiches are also pretty big city, with the cold Italian a monster piled with cuts, roasted red peppers, veg and dressing. As with the parm heroes (meatball, chicken, eggplant), the sandwich roll is straight from NY as well. You’ll also find salads, apps like garlic knots and antipasto, plus baked rigatoni, calzones, and other pastas. There’s a pan-baked Sicilian pie in the works, I’ll be back for that for sure. 

Is this the beginning of an East Coast takeover? Will there be New York water flowing in Woodbury soon? ElMaraghy and his wife think, nah. “You know, we live down the road and we like to see our kids. We just wanted to open a place that we could give to our neighborhood, like a piece of our own home.”

Oh, and also: it’s el-MARS not Elmers. Open now for counter-service lunch and dinner daily! Online ordering and takeout available, as well as dine-in and patio. 

Stephanie March

Food and Dining editor Stephanie March writes and edits Mpls.St.Paul Magazine’s Eat + Drink section. She can also be heard Saturdays on her myTalk107.1 radio show, Weekly Dish, where she talks about the Twin Cities food scene.
Read more by Stephanie March

June 25, 2020

9:51 AM

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