It has been the mantra of New York City pizzerias and bagel bakeries for decades. It is why my overhead compartment smells strongly of garlic and onion on flights south from LaGuardia or JFK; it is why Totonno’s in Coney Island, Patsy’s Pizzeria in East Harlem and John’s in the West Village are always overrun with supplicants. It is one of the many reasons New Yorkers can be annoyingly smug.
I suppose I’ve drunk the Kool-Aid (a beverage that is, after all, 90 percent water with a soupcon of dextrose, citric acid and food coloring). But on Friday, a St. Petersburg pizzeria put it to the test: One pizza made with St. Petersburg water, one with water that had been engineered to closely approximate that of the Bronx, each pizza identical in shape and size and ingredients. Top Slice, a mostly takeout pizzeria that opened downtown at 21 Third St. N in June, would prove it, once and for all and unequivocally: New York water is elemental when it comes to good pizza.