Queens Pizza Crawl Findings
Intrigued by recent posts here regarding queens pizza preferences, i've been doing slow and steady research on the borough's pizza. After trying a regular slice from over 30 different queens pizzerias, i've come to my conclusions. In general, I was sorely disappointed in the quality of the averge pizza place slice. More often than not, the ingredients seemed low quality. Cheese too often was tasteless and sauce was too sweet, not to mention crust underdone. So, I agree with the many posters who lament the decline of your average nyc slice. Still, I found my favorites.
My findings were based on walking in and ordering a single regular slice. Sometimes they heated it up, sometimes they didn't. Sometimes they overheated it. Sometimes they didn't. But what I was looking for was a walk in slice, not a sicilian, not a pie. Just a slice.
To my surprise, my top three were (in order):
1) Peppino's in Woodside, 39-63 61st St. The pizza makers are Italian and do a great job. A perfect crust, sauce a bit tomatoey and cheese pretty tasty. And they even have a two slice/drink special for $3.75. Great old school pizza, like NY in the 70's and 80's. They also make a killer grandma slice, the best i've ever had anywhere. This is still pizza that tastes like pizza and not plastic mozzarella on sugary sauce.
2) Amore's in Flushing, Pathmark Shopping Center. A great old school slice, sauce a bit sweet, crust very thin, but really tasty. And the slices are always fresh, never reheated.
3) Gino's, Howard Beach, 15846 Crossbay. A good solid slice, although I would have liked a bit more flavor from the cheese and a bit less char on the crust.
Those were my favorites. I also found neighborhood fav's. The best slice I found in Jackson Heights was Catinella Pizza at 9502 37th Ave, although it lacked any real punch. I liked John's in Astoria on Astoria Blvd and Crescent but I don't think I'd go back just for the food.
And I had a lot of disappointments: I found Maspeth's offering (Rosa's and Joey's/Caruana's) bland. Astoria has a lot of well regarded slices (Sac's, Rizzo's, Polito's, Rosario's to mention a few), but none of them impressed me. Jackson Heights has loads of forgettable slices (Taste of Italy, La Cancha, Gianni's, Gustosa, Pizza Sam, Thomas's), and a few good pies (Pizza Sam and Cabana), but nothing really memorable. Gino's on Bway in Elmhurst was also unremarkable. I was not inspired to return to D'Aleo's in Elmont, either. Despite rave reviews, D'Aleo's tasted like cheap, average, boring pizza to me. And VIPizza in Bayside wasn't any more memorable. Nor was Dedona's in Woodside. New Park in Howard Beach was a contender, but the slice I tasted had a slightly underdone, doughy crust and the sauce lacked punch. Still, I'd rank New Park number four after my top three. I'm aware that some of these places have been lauded for their sicilian and grandma slices, but those were outside of my testing parameters. (Although I did try Rosa's grandma slice in Maspeth and thought that it paled in comparison to Peppino's in Woodside.)
I only sampled pies at a few places, and of those, Nick's in Forest Hills was the clear winner. In fact, I still think Nick's is the best overall pizza in Queens, but damnit, they don't sell slices. So, they're off my top three list.
When I eat my way through the next 30 Queens pizza places, I'll post an update.
Nice post, Joe. You are a die hard with an iron will.
The whole Queens pizza question reminds me of something that a long-ago co-worker, a guy named Tommy from Bay Ridge, once said to me: "You can't find a decent slice of pizza in Queens". I have to admit, it stuck in my craw. So it's good to see someone like yourself fighting the good fight, perhaps a losing battle, yes, but a worthy one nonetheless.
I'm wondering if you have ever tried the sicilian slice at Rose and Joe's Bakery in Astoria? Perhaps, because this place is not an actual pizzeria - their sicilian being the only type of pizza they serve, this place has gotten scant mention on this board. For my money, though, they serve up a slice that is worthy of your short list.
I realize, too, that my love for the thin, crispy sweet oregano laced slice at Dani's House of Pizza in Kew Gardens, puts me in a decided minority (this tends to be a pretty polarizing joint - people either love it or hate it), but, next to Rose and Joe's, and, maybe New Park, it ranks right up there for me.
Now, if Mr. Demarco were to set up shop somewhere near, say, Rego Park or Corona, we'd be right back in the game, and my old Bay Ridge co-worker would have to eat his words, sprinkled with parmegan cheese. Like if the Knicks had ever traded for Michael Jordan back in the day. Same thing.
I had a slice and a coke at Amore a few hours ago and as always it was satisfying. They seem to avoid the reheating of slices by making pies, putting them on a rack next to the oven and then cooking them as people come in the door. I am usually there at busy times and always get a fresh slice. One thing that they do thatI have never seen before is that they place the pies on top of a metal screen and then put both in the oven. I happen to ask Andy why they do that and he said it keeps the pies from burning.Very odd, but they certainly produce a terrific slice.
Good to see that Peppino's get's high marks. It's my local pizzeria, and I get slices and delivery from there often. The only thing I want to mention is that I've had slices there range from exceptional to pretty mediocre (though it's mostly above average), depending on any number of factors. I guess the lesson is that I find it difficult to make a final determination, especially on a single visit to any place. I hope you revisit some of the places you've already visited and continue to report the results.
Thanks for your very message. I've been to Peppino's many times (usually around 2PM) for a slice and it never had to be reheated (still warm and fresh). Always so good and yes it reminds me of pizza from years back. Will try the Grandma's next visit. I've been to Nick's once and it was beyond awesome. Plan to return soon. Like you said, sure wish they had slices. Imagine if Nick's opened a branch here in Jackson Heights that sold slices. It would wipe out all the others and who would care. In the meantime, I'll walk the 16 blocks to Peppino's and afterwards shop in the neighborhood.
There's a place that looks new-ish on 23rd ave under the train called Michael & Angelo's that says they have a thin slice. Did you try that one in your hunt? It's in the greek area, so it may not amount to much, but at least there's another Astoria possibility for a good slice! Thanks for your perseverence, joe!
great post, joe. you're absolutely right that some places are known for their sicilian/grandma slices rather than their regular ones (e.g. rosa's, sac's, rizzo's) and so i think those places ought to be considered in a separate category. agreed with the overall assessment, though, that the state of the "standard" slice in queens is not that great these days.
sorry to be off topic, but i have a question for surly...ive read your other postings and love the thoroughness : ) have you ever posted a definitive list of your favorite korean spots in flushing and/or NJ? I have Manhattan figured out but I'm tired of trial and error in Qns and NJ, lol.....nuff respect
missinfo, hopefully you get this msg since the moderators quickly delete anything that's off-topic. but no, i haven't posted a complete rundown of korean joints for queens or northern nj, mainly because i've been so disappointed for the most part. in other words, it's not worth it for me to comment on a place was "good for the area but not destination-worthy", so to speak.
i always eat out in both korean enclaves, though and have taken note of all the new places that have opened up (and there are a LOT of them in both flushing and nj) - now it's just a matter to getting to as many of these as possible, which shouldn't be hard, since i can eat korean food much more often than other cuisines.
thanks for the props. i'll post something more thorough after eating at some of the newish places.
Give New Park Pizza another chance . That place churns out pizza like crazy .I rarely see them heat up a slice. You must get the slice well done .
Having lived in Howard Beach, I agree with you about New Park. I have never liked their crust. But OH did we LOVE Gino's. That pie was a miracle. My elementary school used to order pies for pizza parties from there. The mini pie at Gino's are great, especially prosciutto, baby arugula and shaved parmagianno. Along with their special salad, mini pie is a great lunch or light dinner for two.
Your too funny MM .I think Gino's is a good slice also, but a little too pricy for certain dishes.