“All I want is for when you walk in the door, you’re greeted by a smiling face, you’re treated to a lovely cocktail, some delicious food, the music is good, the lighting is nice, people are kind and you leave with a smile on your face,” says Homer Murray, chef and owner of 21 Greenpoint in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighborhood. “It’s that simple.”
Indeed, walk in through the front door on Greenpoint Avenue and you’ll find all those things, including a bright red pizza oven donning the name “Gina.” “We found these two crazy Italian guys to build it,” Murray says, who spent many hours in front of that oven, almost forming a bond.
“But my love was not always returned—play with fire and what-not,” he adds. “That oven was named after a special person who shares some of its finest quality’s and some of its more dangerous ones as well. The joke is that she’s little, she’s fiery and she left me with some permanent scaring—emotional and otherwise.”
Gina doles out all the pizzas on the 21 Greenpoint menu: Margherita, pepperoni and “Meg Ryan,” affectionately named after Murray’s dog.
“Standing 18 inches high, weighing in at 22 pounds and from the island nation of Puerto Rico, the harvester of sorrow, the destroyer of worlds, Meg Ryan, is a beast who’s grace and wisdom bring inspiration and joy to me every day,” he continues. “Just as a fine pizza should.”
And though 99 percent of the ingredients are carefully sourced from the tri-state area, the star of the pepperoni pizza is a one that you're likely already familiar with.
“We tried a bunch of artisan cured meats—many of which were very fine, mind you. Some even made it on our charcuterie board,” Murray states. “But they weren’t the pepperoni that I remember as a kid. They didn’t have the color, the flavor and didn’t curl up into little cups, the sign of a perfect pepperoni.”
Murray sources Hormel pepperoni from the local deli down the block: “Sometimes the answer is right in front of your face. How New York is that? You don’t have to look further than your bodega.”
Though you may not have a wood-fired pizza oven in the comfort of your home—especially in a New York City apartment—you can still make Murray’s pizza dough.
And one final pro tip from the man himself: “Order the Meg Ryan WITH pepperoni. That’s how she would want it.”
Pizza DoughCourtesy of Chef/Owner Homer Murray, 21 Greenpoint, Brooklyn, New York
250 grams (2 cups) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
110 grams (1/2 cup) warm water
1.25 grams (1/2 teaspoon) dry yeast
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon oil
1. Add the flour, warm water and dry yeast into bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment; mix on medium speed for 5 minutes; add the salt; finish with the oil.
2. Place the dough in bowl and top with a damp kitchen towel; let rise for for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
3. Preheat the oven to 450˚F.
4. Turn the dough out onto floured surface, and roll out to 1-inch thick; top with ingredients like tomato sauce, pepperoni slices, cooked sausage, fresh tomatoes, mozzarella or basil. Bake in oven until crust turns golden in color, 10 to 12 minutes.
*Ingredient measurements have been scaled from the original recipe to be suitable for the home cook.