A New York Pizza Place (long) - Seattle
After having read through prior pizza related threads on this board, my husband and I decided to give A New York Pizza Place a try in the hopes of finding something reminiscent of the NE (Philly) pizza I grew up with. Unfortunately, I have to say I was underwhelmed.
The waitress who took our order was friendly and quick. So far, so good.
I got the house salad which was a mixture of romaine, nicely ripened tomatoes, rings of red onion, minced kalamata olives, and "roasted" garlic. Normally, all of those ingredients would be fine, but the garlic was bordering on burnt and gave the salad a funky acrid flavor. In addition to the garlic, there was a HUGE amount (probably 1/2 c.) of Italian dressing left in the bottom of the bowl when I was finished - the flavor was nicely tangy with red wine vinegar - there was just way too much of it. It wasn't immediately apparent because of the depth of the bowl, but towards the middle of the salad, I had to fish greens out of the dressing. And before anyone jumps on me about sending it back let me make it clear that as soon I noticed I tried to flag down our waitress, all to no avail - at that point, she was working in the counter and kitchen area (open kitchen layout) and couldn't come to our table. My husband's small Caesar salad was no better. It looked and tasted as if it had been dressed with straight mayo - was absolutely void of any parmesan, olive oil, lemon, anchovy, or garlic flavor (which may have been a blessing in disguise given the garlic used in my salad), and there was nary a crouton in sight. The prices on the salads, $4.50 each, would've been fine if they had been properly dressed.
Water and a can of Coke. Get it yourself - as in there's a counter with a water cooler, stacks of cups, an ice bucket, a cup with straws, and a self-serve soda cooler. Not a big deal for two people, but if you've got a larger party I could see trying to juggle 3 or 4 cups of ice, a cup or two of water and a soda can, while navigating through closely spaced tables, as a bit of a hassle. Can of Coke $1.00
The main event - the thing we had come for - the PIZZA! We ordered The Cyclone (large - 18" IIRC), their version of everything but the kitchen sink. The waitress told us that meant that most of the ingredients from their list would be used as toppings. To be fair, I'm generally a pepperoni, onion, mushroom kinda gal - but my husband prefers sausage and other vegies on his pizzas, so we chose to take the "combo" route.
When the pie arrived, we were extremely surprised to see vibrantly colored vegies topping the pizza. At first we thought we had been brought the wrong order - there were hardly any meats visible. Truly, it looked like more of a crudites tray than a pizza. For me, the texture was way off. The vegies were crispy/crunchy! Fine for a stir fry but not for a pizza. And as for the pepperoni and sausage, we had to hunt around, and pick under the vegies (read: BRIGHT green peppers, BRIGHT red tomato slices, WHITE uncooked mushrooms, and onion rings) to find approximately one slice of either per slice. At this point, my husband was starting to question the taste of the hounds who had recommended this place.
Fine - pleasantly stretchy, chewy, and slightly salty.
More like tomato paste than sauce. Too thick and not well-rounded in flavor. Basically pretty bland.
MUCH better than others like Pagliacci, Pizza Brava, Piecora's, and the ever-ghastly MAD, but that was the only thing this pizza had going for it. It had a slightly crisp yet foldable crust that was chewy and had good flavor. Still somehow it ended up being impossible to eat out of hand. I can only surmise that the preponderance of crisp cooked vegies somehow created extra moisture that seeped between the sauce/cheese mixture and the dough. In removing the first slice, it kinda flopped over my hand, and all of the cheese and toppings came sliding off with a resounding glop. From then on, we were really careful in removing slices from the pie plate in order to avoid more slides. The situation didn't improve as the pie cooled. Tell me, what good does foldability serve if you have to use a knife and fork to get cheese and toppings along with your crust?! I hate eating pizza with a knife and fork! Especially off of a paper plate!
The overall quality of toppings was fine, the crust was very good, and the atmoshpere was pleasant. I would give them another try, but would definitely specify that I wanted a lightly dressed salad (or ask for dressing on the side), and would order a pie with far fewer vegies, and I don't think my husband would return on a bet. Any other pizzerias that are supposed to have authentic NY crust out there? I still have to try Michael's near Swedish Hospital, Madame K's, and Post Alley Pizza, but what else is there that you've tried? Inquiring palates want to know.
I haven't found any pizza like that in Seattle, but if you're ever out by North Bend (outlet shopping let's say) there's a place in the main section of town (whose name escapes right now) that does a pretty decent rendition of deep dish pie with really good sauce - definitely better than Delfino's.
RE: Northlake Tavern (from other posters) - I too tried it ages ago (16 years) and remember it having a crust that was like water crackers (crunchy with not much flavor, and no stretchiness to it)- plan on checking out other recs first and then maybe giving Northlake another try.
re: Buen Provecho
I grew up on the East coast-style pizza, too, and I still think Piecora's is the best, although I liked NY Pizza place the one time I was there. As someone else said, we just go for the cheese, usually extra cheese. To me, that is classic east coast pizza and these places are both pretty good (although I live for my trips back to Penna. for pizza and steaks)!
You can also try making it yourself, Jane and Michael Stern's cookbook has a great recipe for it; make sure you invest in a pizza stone to bake it on, though. And don't forget the olive oil, it has to be greasy! I love to take newcomers out for NY pizza, especially here in Eastside Seattle fat-phobe land and watch them pathetically try to sop up the grease floating on their piping hot melty cheesy slices with napkins!!! (evil grin.....)
As for Chicago, I have also heard the N. Bend place is great, but have not tried it yet. Will have to.
Actually, we found semi-decent deep dish the day after I posted my request a LOT closer than North Bend...Wallingford Pizza, the pizza place between the two movie theaters on 45th, offers decent deep-dish. I would suggest avoiding their specialty, the Dome, which is a solo pizza made in a bowl, then turned upside down on to a plate. Goopy, and the crust on the other pizzas looked a lot deeper.
From everything I've heard from former East Coast residents and from every pizza review I've read in Seattle over the years, it's my impression that the search for NY style pizza in Seattle will only end in disappointment. Supposedly Piecora's fits the bill, but my husband (former New Yorker) completely disagreed. I love Madam K's, but I don't think they've ever claimed that their pizza was NY style. Indeed, their whole reason for being is based in Seattle lore.
That said, I don't think the lack of NY style pizza in Seattle is anything to be ashamed of. It's an affliction shared by cities all up and down the Left Coast.
Or maybe the Left coast is where it's at.
It seems to me that we all long for the foods of our childhood, when we really learned what "good" means. Since a lot of Westerners hail from the East, a fondness for easterly pizza makes sense, but "de gustibus non disputandum." and maybe another look is in order.
I will say this for Seattle: There is an astounding mutiplicity of pizzas here.
Each place has its own character, and the sum of these is awesome:
NY Pizza place
and the list goes on.
All this is very new. I mean, the great fire was only a hundred years ago, and the dust hasn't even settled yet. It is our great good fortune that we have this crew of chowhounds on the case and the "best pizza" issue is sure to benefit.
The pizza place I've always heard about as being one of Seattle's greats is Northlake Pizza which is under the I-5 / Ship Canal bridge on the north side. I ate there about 20 years ago and wasn't amazed, then again a few years ago and it seemed like good pizza but again not amazing. Might be worth a try to find out for yourself. Nice location, and you can walk to the lakefront Ivars (across the street) which has incredible scenery.
Northlake Tavern has ok pizza, certainly filling, but definitely does not fit the bill of New York style pizza. I'm not sure exactly what type of pizza you would call it, but if you are not looking for something you remember from childhood, it's pretty good (just stay away from the awful chicken one).
Bummer... sorry to hear of your less-than-stellar experience.
I've been to this place twice, and was thrilled both times. But I must add that as a long-time New Yorker, I'm accustomed to eating a simple cheese slice. That, to me, is the epitome of a New York pizza. Adding toppings adds all kinds of variables. And I go and evaluate based just on the pizza, not salads, sandwiches, sodas, etc.
I agree with others that Piecora's is generally good, as is Post Alley - though I went there last week and thought my slices were mediocre. Pizza Brava in the U. District is usually decent, depending on who's preparing the pizza when you go.
It's certainly a subjective process, and surely places aren't always going to be consistent. My vote remains with A New York Pizza Place. But definitely let us know if you find other great options!
As someone who spent a lot of time in New Haven (the real home of east coast pizza) and NYC, you have to order SIMPLE toppings!
A New York Pizza Place is great... if you order a simple pizza (such as garlic and mushrooms or 1-2 meats). If you pile on the toppings, it frankly isn't east coast pizza!
No one walks up to Joe's or John's or Pepe's or Sally's and gets the works. Get three toppings max and you will have a fantastic pie. If you want to do deep dish, then bring on lots of toppings as they don't screw up the pizza.
We haven't found anything closer to Joe's in the Village or Pepe's in New Haven than A New York Pizza Place, but we will keep trying from the good advice here.
After happily growing up with Pagliacci's, Piecoras, MAD Pizza, Coyote Creek etc., and then spending years on the east coast and being converted to accept the superiority of the true NY style, I agree with all of jbaum's observations. You will see breaded chicken slices there, and even an occaisional (and ill-advised) "BBQ chicken" pizza, but never such overwrought monstrosities as the "MAD Life Crisis"
(Pesto base, Roma's Roasted garlic, Jamaican Jerk chicken, Feta & Mozarella), or Zeek's water-logged "puget pounder" (tomato sauce, mozzarella. canadian bacon, pepperoni, mushrooms, black olives & italian sausage).
I tried A New York Pizza Place for the first time last night, and along with Zagi's, it is the only place narrowing in on proper NY slices. Thin, crispy but foldable crust, not too much cheese, no toppings carelessly sprinkled so they are encroaching on the rim. It seems to me that proper NY style requires alot of oven management, turning, poking, etc.
I can't believe that in all the years (20) I've been gone, Piecora's is still near the top of the pizza joints. There were 3 NY style joints when I lived there, Piecora, Pagliacci on U, and a place off 1st Ave towards the waterfront whose name I can't remember. Nothing else came close. Piecora's was the latest one to open, and I went by it a few months ago and was surprised it was still there. I always considered them to be the best of the three. It was 2 or 3 brothers from Queens that opened it I think, are they still there?
If you want the real thing ya gotta come to Brooklyn and try DiFara before Dominic retires.
Not to rant on the initial review but... ordering a combo pizza with 'everything except the kitchen sink' isn't a good way to review a pizza. Start with a Pizza Margarita. Dough. Sauce. Cheese. Basil. A good base to review the primary ingredients that will go into 90% of all pies. It is very difficult to bake a pie with more than four ingredients and have all come out perfectly cooked.
I have enjoyed decent Sicilian style pizza at Tutta Bella in Wallingford (or Columbia City).
Not in the pizza section, but a good fun salad is
INSALATA DI SALERNO (SALERNO SALAD)
Small fresh mozzarella, shaved fennel, cherry tomato halves, cucumbers, basil, chopped romaine, dijon-balsamic vinaigrette.
Stellar Pizza and Ale, Georgetown, 5513 Airport Way S., (206) 763-1660, has thoughtfull and satisfying "piled-high" combinations, like the Corson Classic (Yukon Gold potatoes, sweet white onions, and piles of Gorgonzola cheese). Oh yes, somebody here cares about this food, Northwest style
I enjoy Delfino's stuffed spinach pizza, as well as Wallingford Pizza House's deep-dish.