Having consumed 1,000 slices of pizza in one year, across 20 states, Canada and Italy, Levine certainly possesses a firsthand, encyclopedic knowledge of the dish. But in his attempt to create "the ultimate guide and companion," he has constructed an unwieldy book with too many toppings. It is at once an anthology of reprinted essays and articles, a collection of celebrity mini-memoirs, a history of pizza both ancient and modern, and a collection of capsule reviews of dozens of pizza purveyors (including classic pizzerias, larger chains and staples of the frozen-food aisle). For the essays, Levine ( New York Eats ) raids the stables of the New York Times and Condé Nast on the East Coast, and culls from various Pacific coast journalists in the West. Highlights include an amusing piece by Jeffrey Steingarten on how to create a 700-degree heat source at home, and Levine's own seminal 2002 Times piece, "The State of the Slice." But Nora Ephron's memory of her "first time" eating pizza is disappointingly brief and hurried, and actor Ed Norton's 79-word cameo appearance in a paragraph about stromboli feels out of place. New York gets the most attention with reviews from all five boroughs, Westchester and Long Island (an eating trip to Italy merits just 10 pages). Levine at least ends on a high note, profiling the top six pie makers he encountered. B&w photos. (Mar.) Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Author, radio and television personality Ed Levine is a regular contributor to the New York Times.