#78 Amore Pizza

May 13th, 2016

Queens, NY

We all know that every good strip mall has a good pizza joint in it. Good, but not 101 Best Pizza Places-good (usually). Our favorite growing up was Nick’s Pizza and we’d always stop there for a quick slice on a lunch break at work or for a quick Friday night dinner date. Until we went to Amore Pizza in Queens, we didn’t know that there were any “strip mall pizzerias” on the list.

We went to Amore Pizza on a Friday evening. I was coming back from a conference out in Cold Spring Harbor, and Eric took the subway all the way out to Queens to meet me. I ended up getting there early (or actually, I think Eric’s subway was delayed) and I had serious doubts that I was in the right place. The pizzeria is located in a strip mall next to a Stop & Shop, near a McDonalds, a Carvel, and a couple of Chinese restaurants.

Once we walked in, though, we knew we had it right. These slices just looked too good. We both ended up ordered a couple of plain slices. These had a thinner crust than other NY slices, and were loaded with piping hot cheese and sauce. Oozing would be a good word.

These were good slices, especially if you are a fan of a cheesy, oily, drippy slice. There are no frills here, and we didn’t even think about getting anything but the cheese slice. We’d certainly come back if we were driving through and needed a bite to eat because it is right off the exit from the highway.

Would we sit on the subway for 1.5 hours to get out to Flushing from Manhattan for these, though? Probably not. I’m pretty sure that Eric was glad that I had my car and we could avoid a subway ride back into Manhattan. I did make him drive us home because the traffic was pretty bad by the time we were ready to leave, and Eric is a much more patient traffic-driver than I am.  But at least our stomachs were happy.

To visit:

Amore Pizza
3027 Stratton Street
Flushing, NY 11354

 

 

#53 Gino’s of Long Beach

May 7th, 2016

Long Beach, NY

One rainy day last May, we took another drive for pizza. This time, we went out to Long Beach, which is just south of Long Island, for a stop at Gino’s of Long Beach. We had been putting this one off because even though it was rated decently high on the list, it is not easy to get to Long Beach from NYC, and it is almost a 2 hour drive from home in New Jersey.

While we usually don’t mind driving for pizza, we do try to make a day out of our longer drives. We didn’t really find anything else to do besides eat pizza down in Long Beach, since actually going to the beach was out of the question in the rain. So we drove there, ate some pizza, and drove home. We apparently had nothing better to do on our Saturday.

We got there for a late lunch, and decided to just order a variety of slices. We tried a mozzarella and tomato slice, a buffalo chicken slice, a regular Grandma slice and an eggplant Sicilian slice. As usual, we were split on our favorites here between the Grandma and the eggplant.

Some people are really against eggplant on pizza, but we love it. We definitely prefer when the eggplant isn’t breaded and fried on pizza, though, which is traditionally done at places like Modern. We prefer it sliced thin and fresh, like it was on this Sicilian slice.  The cheese on these slices was a little bland, but the crust was nice and crispy and the sauce was fresh, so we’d say the slices were solid.

Gino’s was ranked as high as #32 in 2014, but has dropped a bit to #53 in 2015, and is #82 now in 2016. We don’t doubt that these are likely the best slices in Long Beach (although we’ve also heard good things about West End Pizza), and we all know that pizza tastes the best after a few hours sitting by the ocean. We don’t think that they are as good as some of the slices we’ve had in the boroughs of New York, though.

To visit:

Gino’s of Long Beach
16 W Park Ave
Long Beach, NY 11561

#89 Tarry Lodge

March 12th, 2016

Port Chester, NY

The first time that I heard of Tarry Lodge was when they were thinking of opening a new location in New Haven, just a month or so after I left. I didn’t even know that there were other locations, although I did know that it was one of Mario Batali’s restaurants.

I *think* that everyone knows who Mario Batali is, but in case you either 1) don’t have a TV or 2) never eat out at restaurants, he is one of the most famous television chefs and restaurant owners in the world. He runs many of his restaurants, including Tarry Lodge, with Joe Bastianich, who we know primarily from the older seasons of MasterChef Junior.

Side note: If you aren’t watching the current season of MasterChef Junior, you really should.

So, we drove out to Port Chester to have our first meal at a Mario Batali restaurant. The restaurant itself is really cute, and would make a great date location (especially because they also have a nice looking wine list). We ordered two pizzas here: a Margherita, and one with goat cheese, pistachios, red onion, and truffle honey.

While the flavor combo on the goat cheese pizza was really amazing and unexpected, the Margherita pie was just average. We’ve had much better.

The crust on both pies was light and fluffy, but we didn’t love it. The sauce was decent, but it was sort of bland and lacking that flavor punch that you get from a good tomato sauce (like, from here). So while we aren’t going to say that this pizza was bad, it was mostly forgettable.  And when we are visiting and eating over 100 pizzas, that isn’t really a good thing.

I don’t want to sound completely negative here – the goat cheese was awesome. The combination of creamy goat cheese with the salty pistachio and the sweet honey reminded us of a perfectly arranged cheese platter, and that pizza alone probably saved Tarry Lodge from being all the way near the bottom of our lists.

Honestly, we think that this restaurant only made it on the list because it is from Mario Batali. We noticed that it didn’t make the 2016 list. I really wonder how the location in New Haven is doing, considering that New Haven is such a pizza town. I think it’s probably good that they serve regular Italian fare also – I’m sure those dishes are excellent. I would guess that people aren’t going there for the pizza.

To visit:

Tarry Lodge
18 Mill Street
Port Chester, NY 10573

#87 Pizzetteria Brunetti

December 22, 2016

New York City, NY

When we were at our family holiday party last week, our family members who live out on Long Island asked if we had been to their favorite pizza place, Pizzetteria Brunetti. We hadn’t, since it wasn’t on the 2015 list, but we did recognize the name from the 2016 list. We originally thought that the only location was out in Westhampton Beach, but we were excited when we found out that there is also a location in the West Village!

We walked up to Brunetti after work for a quick dinner before a show last Thursday evening. We actually walked right by it, probably because we were too distracted by the holiday decorations up around Chelsea Market, but we found it quickly after turning around and consulting Google maps. The restaurant was festively decorated for the holidays, and we were grateful for the warmth inside. Even though it was a bit on the early side for dinner, there were a few other people eating or at the bar, which has a nice view of the pizza oven.

We had a hard time picking out what pies to try here. I really wanted to try the Margherita, but the specialty pies sounded too good. We ended up going with the Funghi e cippole (mushrooms, caramelized onions, cheese, and finished with honey truffle oil) and the Spezie (broccoli rabe, spicy Italian sausage, burrata cheese, hot peppers, and a pepper puree drizzled over top). The two were nice paired together because the mushroom pie had a sweet aftertaste due to the honey oil, and the Spezie had a really great spicy kick to it. While I’m not a huge fan of really spicy pizza (Eric is, though), the burrata is what really got us. We also really liked how the crust on these held up a little better than a traditional Neapolitan pie.

Brunetti has a lot of great looking pizzas on the menu, including a clam pie that they say is their “specialty”. However, we have yet to have a clam pie that lives up to New Haven clam pie, so we tend to stay away from those when they are on the menu. Also on our list for next time: one of the salads. The farro one looks awesome. And we’d come back for thanksgiving next year if they end up doing this again.

To visit:

Pizzetteria Brunetti
626 Hudson Street
New York, NY 10014

#23 Grimaldi’s

November 13th, 2015

Brooklyn, NYC

The weekend before we started this quest, we happened to go to Grimaldi’s for dinner. But we decided that we couldn’t count this as part of our challenge (because we didn’t photograph it). We were happy to go back, though, since the first time we only tried the traditional cheese pie. And we got some friends to join us!

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We ordered 3 large pies to split between the 5 of us, which ended up being almost a perfect amount. The ricotta was our favorite and we would definitely get that again. The crust was perfectly charred on the bottom due to the coal-fired brick oven, and the ratio of sauce to cheese on all three pies was excellent.

Interesting fact: Grimaldi opened his restaurant in Brooklyn because  coal ovens are apparently illegal in Manhattan, unless they’re pre-existing or unless building owners get a special exception. If you want to learn more about Manhattan coal ovens, this and this were interesting reads! Who ever knew that pizza ovens could cause so much controversy.

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At this point, we could see why Brooklyn pizza has such a following. It was worth the hour-long trek from Manhattan over the Brooklyn Bridge. Yes, Barb made Eric walk all the way there, in preparation for all of the pizza we were about to eat.

On the way home, we took a wrong turn and got lost trying to get back over the bridge. Eric clearly has a great sense of direction!

To visit:

Grimaldi’s
1 Front Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201