Recently while doing some background research for my blog post about “Paulie Gee’s” (https://bit.ly/2UVMA9K) pizza, I stumbled upon a name of a pizzeria I had never heard before: “New Park Pizza”.
Usually when you are as well versed as I am in the names of the pizzerias that frequently appear on the lists of the best places to eat pizza in either Brooklyn or NYC, you are accustomed to seeing the same names. But on one of these lists there was this place, New Park Pizza, with an address all too familiar for me not to recognize.
But it was true.
I had driven past this pizza place maybe hundreds of times, stopping into many of nearby stores and restaurants, without ever really noticing it. That all stopped today. Or since I am posting this after midnight, yesterday to be exact.
Now of course it wasn’t just the address that drew my interest in New Park Pizza. It was the author of the list it was included on, as they named their favorite ten pizzas in all of New York City. The author, you see, is the current food critic for The New York Times, Pete Wells. I am a long time fan of his reviews and his word is as good as gold to me. Of the pizzerias he listed, New Park Pizza was the only that popped because I knew exactly where it was. These factors combined resulted in my visit.
New Park Pizza is a long standing institution in its Howard Beach neighborhood in Queens. It has been run by the same family since its opening in 1956. In these crazy times that alone says something. People want quality. And quality is what you get here.
To avoid the confusion I encountered, there are two entrances to this place. The first entrance can be accessed on either side of the glass enclosure you notice when you are looking at the front of the building. Inside there are a few wooden picnic tables where you can chow down if you are so inclined. When ordering at the drive-thru looking window, you can order a couple of slices (plain or with usual toppings) and a calzone. They also sell drinks like iced tea, fountain sodas, and bottled water. That is it!
It is reasonably priced and even when they are crazy busy, like on a Friday night during Lent in an Italian neighborhood, the food is ready fast. There are many hands on deck and you will never, ever have to wait to be served.
The second entrance is on the side where the parking lot is and there are a bunch of more formal looking tables as well as the restroom. There is also access to the counter where you can place your order or pick-up an order you called in. You can also get any of a large variety of water or creme based Italian ices that I really look forward to trying in the summer.
As for the pizza, I was surprised. I had heard you need to order it well done, but I didn’t the first time. And if ever looks were deceiving this was it. The pizza looked ok but when I picked it up it felt like the sauce and cheese were too heavy for the dough. When I folded it in half I thought it would crumble all over me. I didn’t have high expectations.
But then I took a bite.
And then another.
That’s when I realized, WOW, I am loving what I am tasting! I can best describe it as an old school pie. It has such rich flavors and brings back memories of some of my favorite pizzerias I grew up eating at that no longer exist.
After a slice and a half, I knew I was ordering a pie to go (well done of course). For good measure, and a thorough review, I got a calzone too. But here is where I made a mistake. I forgot to get a side of sauce to dip it in. I believe that would have helped. Here while the cheese mixture was good, the dough was lackluster.
These are the words Pete Wells shared in November 2018 review (that I referenced above) about New Park Pizza:
“For 62 years, New Park has been a trusted pit stop on the road to Rockaway Beach. That’s not sand on the bottom of the crust, it’s salt, tossed into the brick oven to keep pies from sticking. Even if you don’t taste salt, you’ll notice the reliable crackle.”
Now that I have experienced this pizza for myself I have to say I think he undersold it.
The salt, the crackle, the amazing flavor will floor you.
Just get up and go.
And bring cash. That is the only payment this pizza and calzone making joint will take.
If you are looking for entrees or salads just keep driving.
However, if you are looking for deliciously simple pizza, Mr. Wells and I can guarantee you will be satisfied.
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