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San Francisco Bay Area Pizzeria Santa Rosa

New York Pizzeria, Santa Rosa (RJ & pies photo)

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New York Pizzeria, Santa Rosa (RJ & pies photo)

Melanie Wong | Jan 12, 2003 11:22 PM

NY-style pizza has indeed landed in Santa Rosa and I’ve got the thermal-induced gingivitis (aka “pizza mouth”) to prove it! Many thanks to local chow correspondents Susan and Ellen for the quick heads up. I stopped by Saturday afternoon, day 6 of operation for this new business, to check it out for myself.

There’s no sign up yet, but the staff say the response and word of mouth have been better than imagined. They’ve already had to hire new help to keep up with demand. Quickly glancing around the room, I notice many black and white photos of NY landmarks, a small TV tuned to the play-offs, and customers with happy faces saying they’ll be back.

RJ provides the New York “how ya doin’?” wise guy part of the business equation. After I was done eating, I asked if I could put his picture on the internet and he posed with the two pies. An ex-Marine and police department chaplain, here he is with slicked-back hair in the “I love NYPie” t-shirt they sell. The pizza he’s holding is the Primavera (described on the menu as “Eat your Veggies: Fresh Mushrooms, Green Peppers, Tomatoes, Onions and Olives. 12” - $13.95 and 18” $17.95) with extra artichoke hearts. The cheese pizza in front was ordered “extra crispy” and has the blackened blisters I like. He mentioned that the fire department and police station nearby have provided a stream of customers - “isn’t it great - just like New York”.

Jeff (photo included in reply to this post) adds the Pizza of the operation. He has 13 years of experience at local chain, Mary’s Pizza Shack and is excited to be working with this style of pie. He’s testing a Sicilian style pizza that they’ll be offering soon. Really nice guy and genuinely looking for feedback as they refine their recipes.

As colorful and friendly as these guys are, the real proof is in the pie. According to the menu, “We make our pizzas with Hand-Spun Dough, our Special Homemade Tomato Sauce, Fresh Ingredients and Whole Milk Mozzarella Cheese.” I went with a small pepperoni ($9.95), and was so excited when it was brought to my table, I couldn’t wait long enough to let it cool down enough. But it was worth it for that first bite of blistering (literally!) hot pie and the feel of that unique crackly resistance of thin crust that yields to the special chewy tenderness of NY pizza. Sure, I have quibbles with some other details, but this crust delivers and has great potential. The last NY pizzas I’ve had were from John’s (whole pie) and Two Boots (slice) in the Village in June 2001 and this beats both of them. This is good pie.

The crust has a nice blister and isn’t too bready or tough around the rim. I would have liked it a bit thinner overall and more blackened. Jeff told me to ask for it “extra crispy” next time for the genuine NY style.

The pepperoni is generously applied with three or four pieces on each slice of a small size pie. But it didn’t taste like the pepperoni in NY – not as spicy and not as intense. I also missed the singed crispy edges.

The tomato sauce tastes fresh and clean with bright acidity and some chunks of tomato – no evidence of thickeners, sweeteners, musty dried herbs, or oversalting. It was a little watery and made the pie wetter than it should be. I think ordering my pie “extra crispy” next time will help dry this up and carmelize the pepperoni.

Grated cheese and chili flakes are in shakers on each table. I had to ask for oregano (they only had one shaker on Saturday), and I forgot to check to see if garlic powder was available.

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