Updated: Feb 28
“One Bite, Everyone Knows the Rules”
David Portnoy (media by Barstool Sports)
I know this article is a bit untimely due to the latest happenings in the news but I wanted to share my latest video obsession. If the title did not give it away, I was directly quoting from a Youtube video feed distributed by Barstool Sports. David Portnoy is a flavorful, and currently contested, commentator and critic on a city’s pizzas. I recall spending a few hours the other day watching these videos and thinking, this gentleman should weigh a thousand pounds eating all of this pizza. I also swear he is the long-lost brother to my friend Fran. The mannerisms, the way of speaking, the general look. The two of them could pass as one another.
media by Barstool Sports
For anyone not familiar with David Portnoy, he is the founder and President of Barstool Sports, a popular sports and pop culture blog. I became acquainted with him only when seeing a few of his pizza review vlogs on Facebook and Youtube. I researched the gentleman and found some interesting tidbits but was very surprised he was also a University of Michigan graduate and a significant supporter of the Michigan Wolverines. His “One Bite” moniker quickly got into my head as it always precludes him ripping into a pizza, although it is generally several bites. After a few bites, he delivers his “expert” review. His general process included his description of the flop. Some pizzas are cooked well and have a very little “flop.” Some are overly greasy, bathed in cheese, and extremely hot to the touch. The “flop” is never more apparent when the pizza hits these extremes. After watching a few of these videos, you begin to realize he has filmed hundreds of them. If ever I was sucked down a wormhole, it was this such instance.
He has filmed with some of Hollywood’s hottest celebrities, and it was interesting to see the establishments he had visited. A fair number of the pizza restaurants are small Ma and Pop businesses with a fair amount of devoted patronage. As David comes out of the restaurant, he calls out the shop’s name and general location with pizza in hand. I say, generally because he is all over the place with his street names. His pronunciations on the streets and the restaurants are all over the place. Again, this is all highly entertaining and makes for good television. Occasionally some passersby will add some flavor to the video with random comments or shout-outs. It is not uncommon for someone to offer alternate pizza choices from a place nearby.
You will quickly learn David likes a typical cheese, sauce, and dough pizza, or New York Style. He wants his pizza well-done, not burnt, with very little floppiness. To receive a high review, the restaurant in question has to hit all of the right notes. If the pizza is Detroit or Chicago Style, it can never exceed his 9 point scale reserved for his beloved NY Style. A nice round number like an eight or a nine is considered a “rookie” score. Many of his guest reviewers are razzed when they rate with a round number. David is famous for giving 7.2’s and 6.8’s and calling them good scores.
I like it when David finds the occasional “unicorn.” The type of establishment sort of gliding by but makes what he feels is spectacular. In some cases, he falls in love with the family-run establishments and gives them a slightly higher score. Specific reviews have helped certain businesses during this Pandemic. A down on its luck business can thrive if David visits and gives them a good review. It is like watching a daytime talk show with a little bit of drama mixed in. I dare you to watch a few of these and not become lost in the vacuum of these reviews. They are nothing less than entertaining!