New York Pizzeria

The original New York Pizzeria on Leetsdale Boulevard -- huddled among the liquor stores, taquerías and liquor stores -- was a classic hole-in-the-wall. Seating was scant and the tile floors powdered with flour; orders were taken, processed and served at the wall-to-wall counter; and always hanging in the air was a powerful smell of yeast, char and deliquescent tomatoes. I liked the old place precisely for all these characteristics -- plus the sublime copies of New York-style, thin-crust pizzas that the kitchen turned out with remarkable consistency. But a few months ago, New York Pizzeria moved down the block to a newer, fancier strip mall, where it has plenty of tables (more than I've ever seen in use at one time), a bigger kitchen and more room for everything (including parking). While I'm no reflex fan of pointless modernization, even I have to admit that the owners and crew at New York Pizzeria have managed to bring the locals-only charm of the original dive to this bigger, shinier, fancier location. The walls are covered with sketches of the New York skyline rendered with architectural pen-and-ink precision (although I don't remember the Statue of Liberty, the Chrysler Building and 42nd Street being such shoulder-to-shoulder neighbors) and photos of the same, shot to show New York at its romantic finest. The pizzas haven't changed, though: They're still some of the best thin-crust pies in the city -- the crust just barely stiffened in the stone ovens, pliable enough to fold, but with the slightest crack when you bite. And the rest of the menu (sandwiches wrapped in pizza crusts, calzones and strombolis baked quickly in the punishing heat of the deck ovens, and a few salads for the health-conscious coming from the athletic club a few doors down) is fine, too, even if it doesn't reach the sublime heights of those perfect slices.


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