Neapolitan, Chicago, and American. These are the three styles of pizza featured in the first three weeks of this month’s “Pizza Parlor Friday Holler.” For the final installment, this New Yorker headed back down the hill to Lower Queen Anne to visit New York Pizza & Bar (NYP).
NYP is located in the Lumen Building at 500 Mercer. You might recall that the glassy condos there took forever to fill, ultimately going to auction. Retail space has posed a similar challenge, with New York Pizza the second restaurant (after Genki Sushi) to open there. The space is large, divided into a bar area with sports on the screens and a dining room (“family” side) that’s clean and contemporary, smacking slightly of an art gallery. (Kudos to NYP for featuring a contemporary artist’s work on the walls, though the dedicated lighting could be better.)
As much as I enjoyed the month’s previous pizzas, I’d been salivating at the thought of New York-style pies so close to home since this restaurant opened. I waded through the large pizza menu (there are also appetizers, salads, burgers, pastas, sandwiches, and more), frustrated that I couldn’t find a basic New York pizza. (You won’t find the oven in sight, either, but know that it’s a brick one.) The restaurant advertises the pizzas as “New York-style” (in a “Northwest atmosphere,” though I’m not sure what that means), but what this seems to amount to is a list of New York-named pizzas like “The Bronx Bomber” (BBQ sauce, seasoned chicken, red onion, and cilantro), “The ‘Mickey Mantle’” (pepperoni, Italian sausage, black olives, and red onions), and “The Empire State” (chicken, avocado, tomato, parmesan cheese, and alfredo sauce)—some of which don’t sound very New York-style at all.
Lacking a true New York pizza, I chose two 10-inchers that came closest to what I wanted:
The Manhattan ($9.99), advertised as “simply the best pepperoni pizza you’ll ever have.” (Um…no.)
The Margherita ($11.99), with red sauce and sliced mozzarella, topped with basil and tomatoes after baking.
My preference for a Margherita pizza is simply high quality tomato sauce and Buffalo mozzarella, topped with hand-torn basil. I’m not sure why NYP puts tomato slices on this simple pie, especially when the tomatoes were as anemic as these.
I suppose one could request the Margherita without tomatoes (at savings for de-topping?) or a simple cheese pizza (apparently a customized order) to get closest to a real New York pizza, but the cross-sectioned photo above shows the pizza problem. This is far from New York-style pizza. Oh, there’s a little melted cheese and drippy oil on action on the surface, but the dough is too thick, making this more of a generic American-style pizza.
Luckily, the week before, I was in Boca Raton and had pizza to serve as a point of comparison. As much as I generally dislike the restaurant scene in Boca, the one redeeming factor is that the large number of predominantly Jewish retirees makes the area “New York South,” and therefore an area to get decent bagels, deli, and pizza. Here’s a peek in the pizza I got at a place called Dominic’s:
This pizza was waiting for pick-up at the restaurant and took a ten-minute ride back to my father’s home before I shot the photo and took a slice. Still, it tasted terrific. Not as good as Di Fara in Brooklyn, my favorite pizza in the world, but good enough to transport me back to New York.
Is there anywhere I can find a true New York-style slice in Seattle? I have a couple more pizza places on my to-try list. Sadly, I didn’t like what I had at New York Pizza & Bar. Like the Lumen Building, I fear NYP might have trouble filling all of its space unless it finds a way to auction (or alter) its pizzas.