Meet Dan Rubenstein - @valleycirclepizza

Dan Holds a Pizza

Meet Dan Rubenstein. He lives in the Chicago suburbs, where he hosts and produces podcasts about football. Dan believes that pizza making is a natural extension of the social nature of eating and watching football with friends and family. Find out more about Dan and give him a follow @valleycirclepizza and @danrubenstein. You can also check out his college football podcast @solidverbal and his college football gambling show

Round pie

How often do you make pizza?
I make pies probably 2-3 times per week, both because family, friends, and neighbors seem to enjoy them, and because I love experimenting, tweaking recipes/processes, and just because I know to get really good at something, one must do it a ton. My fake pizzeria is called Valley Circle Pizza, named after a street I grew up near in the San Fernando Valley, and also because some of my pizzas are circles. 

How long have you been into pizza making?
I’ve been seriously making pizza since last October-ish, so only about eight months now. 

Counter Top

How do you describe the style of pizza you make at home?
I make both thinner New York-ish pies and thicker Detroit-ish pan pies. I say “ish” because what defines each of those things can change pretty quickly or have different meanings to different people and because I’m not a great rule follower. I’m inspired by pizza spots in both of those places, but also sort of do my own thing. 

Detroit Pie

What’s the one piece of gear you can’t live without?
Either my scale or my steel. I quickly learned that good pizza making involves some experimenting with dough ratios and processes and couldn’t do any of it without my scale. 

What inspires your pizza making?
I’m inspired by both people and places. I love the idea of perfecting the kind of pizza you’d eat with friends at a pizzeria that has arcade machines and sodas in those tall red cups, like an updated version of the pizza I ate in 1995 with better ingredients and my own technique. As for people, I just left Brooklyn after eight years, so some of the pies around NYC I loved are still in my dreams, like Lucali, Paulie Gee’s, Ops, Motorino, PDA, My Little Pizzeria, Luigi’s, L’Industrie, F&F, Joe’s, Norm’s, John’s of Bleecker, Fornino, Prince St, Fiore’s. Ok, I’ll stop, you get the idea. 

Baking Steel

What’s your advice for others who are getting into making their own pizza at home?
My advice is to go at your own pace, spend money commiserate with how seriously and how often you want to make pizza, find ingredients that you like and help you to achieve your own goals, and learn from your inevitable mistakes instead of becoming discouraged by them. It’s easy to throw in the towel after you have a launch issue that ends up looking like a soupy car accident atop your steel or in your Ooni or whatever. The key is to just bounce back and figure out what went wrong. Also, read the hell out of the forums. They’re invaluable. 

Crumb Shot

Anything else you’d like to get off your chest?
My only other thought is that making pizza is fun and incredibly rewarding. If you put in a little effort to learn the craft and the process, you can make legitimately very good pizza at home for yourself, your family, neighbors, friends, whoever. And they’ll be impressed because they likely can’t do anywhere near what you can do themselves.