Lo Tov Pizza

by Ben Miller

The Baltimore Sun reported yesterday that Jack Abramoff, the lobbyist convicted of fraud in 2006 for defrauding Native Americans and various other shenanigans, is now out of prison and working at Tov Pizza–a kosher shop in Baltimore County.

Back in my synagogue youth days we used to have the misfortune of getting Tov Pizza for the occasional weekend events. It’s defining characteristics were cheese so rubbery I’m pretty sure it would bounce if you molded it into a ball and a crust with the same consistency as the box it came in. It’s not even the city’s best kosher pizza, as the Sun article notes. That title should rightfully belong to Mama Leah’s, which is a totally serviceable option.

But here’s what always surprised me the most about Tov Pizza–there’s no inherent reason for kosher pizza to be so bad. Sure, you can’t offer any meat toppings, but the sausage/pepperoni options at most similarly priced places are so overly salty that it completely overwhelms the rest of the pizza. And there’s nothing inherently un-kosher about the ingredients for the sauce, dough, and cheese. Maybe the problem is finding kosher cheese, but even then it’s not that hard to make your own mozzarella (or ricotta if you want something different). And keep in mind that Baltimore County has a very large number of orthodox Jews so it’s not like you are in the middle of nowhere with no access to kosher goods.

To be fair, it’s been probably 10 years since I got stuck eating Tov Pizza, and maybe since then the offering has improved significantly. But personally, I always preferred the meatless synagogue baked ziti.

One response to “Lo Tov Pizza

  1. Is the issue animal rennet? I think there’s a halachic debate about whether it is permissible to use animal rennet in making soft cheeses. This article suggests that it is okay, but I believe some versions of kosher mozzarella are made with vegetable rennet instead (because some people adopt a stricter stance toward animal rennet). And animal rennet is what makes mozzarella melt in the wonderful way it does.

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