What is it that makes bagels and pizza crust from New York City taste so different from those made elsewhere? Some say it's the fresh, clear tap water that flows into the city from reservoirs upstate, and two restaurants in South Florida that have attempted to re-create that tap water with special filters are suing each other over the rights to the technology, according to the Palm Beach Post.
The Original Brooklyn Water Bagel Co. says that Mamma Mia's Trattoria & Brick Oven is unlawfully using its exclusive water filtering system. Steve Fassburg developed the system with help from his father-in-law, Donald Kurtzer, who then started his own company with his own version of the filtering system.
That company, Famous New York Baking Water, was shut down after Fassburg sued Kurtzer — but not before Kurtzer sold one of his own filtering systems to Mamma Mia's.
Brooklyn Water Bagel alleges in a lawsuit that Mamma Mia's is profiting from stolen property, but the pizzeria countersued, arguing that Brooklyn Water Bagel has been illegally using the term “patented” in its advertising, since some of the patents on the system have expired and others aren't relevant to the filtering process.
How could tap water be so special that it merits a $20,000 machine and dueling lawsuits? The story goes that New York's water is much softer than that found around most of the nation, and that it contains a certain ingredient that affects baking — an unnamed secret ingredient that Brooklyn Water Bagel adds during its proprietary filtering process.
Mamma Mia's owner Joe Logrosso told The New York Times that he performed an experiment, creating a batch of pizzas with local Florida tap water and another with the filtered, "Brooklynized" water and that the difference was “mind boggling.”
“It was half of the weight, it was much lighter, crispier, and there was much more flavor to the pizza,” he said.
That might be enough to win over South Florida's large population of displaced New Yorkers, who are always in search of a taste of home. Original Brooklyn Water Bagel Co. already has one famous believer — it hired retiring CNN newsman Larry King to be its new spokesman.