When you think "New York pizza," there's a particular expectation: a wood-fired oven, sweaty men toting pizza peels, crude language and fast service. Slice of New York on Dr. Phillips Boulevard meets some, if not all, of these expectations. The room looks like one of those bare-bones places in midtown that New Yorkers dive into on their walk to the subway. Except Slice of New York is too clean and traffic outside is not bustling with pedestrians, but just another parking lot.
On my first trip to Slice, there were almost as many people hanging out behind the counter as in the dining room, all of them with thick Long Island brogues. As I walked up to the counter, I noticed a man who looked like my Uncle Jimmy gesticulating as he explained the specials. A pretty blonde sat placidly behind the register and took my order as Uncle Jimmy expounded on the virtues of marinara. It turns out the blonde, the only non-New Yorker in this enclave of Long Islanders, was our waitress, and she was not only syrupy-sweet but Ÿber-attentive.
Pizza was the only thing on my agenda. Rumor had told me they make their dough from scratch and hand-toss it into a hot brick-stone oven: all true. The dough was deliciously crisp with a chewy mouth feel, but it needed more salt and longer fermentation to bring out the depths of flavor. The sauce was scant, but spurred an hour-long chat about the virtues of a perfect slice a conversational habit my husband and I picked up while living in New York. We both agreed the sauce needed more body but the oregano made it decent. An abundance of quality mozzarella graced the top. A plethora of standard toppings are available, but we're purists and almost always order pepperoni ($10.75 small); not to be missed, however, is the Margarita ($10.95 small) with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and basil.
We couldn't help but order what were called "cowardly limbs from Buffalo" ($6.25 small), otherwise known as hot wings. Apparently, Uncle Jimmy explained, A Slice of New York needed a catchy way of selling their wings. It worked. Had I not spotted the wacky name, I would have skipped this fine specimen of poultry appendages covered in pungent, tangy heat.
The salads, at first, looked like throw-togethers, but the dressings are homemade. We tried the house ($2.50), a toss of lettuce, black olives, pepperoncini, red onion, tomato and cucumbers. The veggies were fresh, but what really made the difference was the Italian dressing, full of dried herbs. Caesar salad ($5.50) had a creamy dressing, with a balance of garlic, a hint of anchovy and lemon.
One dish that disappointed me was chicken piccata ($10.95). The chicken was nicely pounded into scaloppini and cooked well, while the sauce was loaded with fresh lemon, butter and capers with a touch of wine that the chef dramatically flambéed. My problem was that it came on a tangle of pasta with flaccid red onions and canned artichokes. I would have preferred this dish if they let the chicken stand alone, leaving all else for the side.
A meatball sub ($6), however, was satisfying. They make their meatballs fresh daily according to a family recipe. Well-seasoned ground beef (and perhaps a bit of pork), these meatballs are the size of fists and only three fit on each sandwich. A bit of marinara and cheese is sprinkled over the top, and the whole thing is toasted. Good pizzeria fare.
A Slice of New York is owned and operated by mother and son Jane Calfayan and Graig Cleary. This is Calfayan's third venture in the area; the first opened in 1998 in the UCF area. On a Disney vacation, she noticed a dearth of the Italian pizzerias so prevalent in her Long Island home, so she decided to fill the gap. I wouldn't say she quite accomplished that goal, but she did create an adequate neighborhood pizzeria.
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