The Pizza World's Upper Crust
By Pat Baird
It looks like the pizza revolution is going into full tilt. Crusts are thinner, toppings are lighter and there are plenty of new ingredients to sample. Thin is in at Rizzo's!
THE LIVING SECTION:Treasures From The Hunt
By Florence Fabricant
Hemingway may have called Paris a movable feast, but as far as Ed Levine is concerned, New York will do just fine. He has a roving palate and is ready at the drop of a hat to follow up reports of the perfect bagel on the Upper East Side, the ultimate fried chicken in west Harlem or superb Italian sausage in Corona , Queens.
The other day he was waiting for a slice at Rizzo's in Astoria . He was not alone in appreciating the shop's unusual thin-crust Sicilian pie covered with vibrant homemade tomato sauce, creamy top-quality mozzarella and a touch of Romano cheese. James Marciano, an ice cream distributor from Canarsie, Brooklyn , was buying four slices.
"The greatest," Mr. Marciano said.
These are some of the food shops and restaurants in New York City that Ed Levine cites as having particularly interesting or unusual food:
For pizza, its Rizzo's at 30-13 Steinway Street , Astoria , Queens .
Best of New York
Mecca for serious students of the thin-crust Sicilian style, Rizzo's makes a square slice that can honestly be called a local treasure: zingy tomato sauce, a mix of mozzarella, Parmigiano & Romano cheeses & a quarter – inch crust with golden raised edges.
ITINERARY: THE QUEENS 50
Enjoy it while it lasts. A pre-gentrification to-do list.
Could Queens be the next hot borough? Had this question been posed even five years ago,
it would have seemed laughable. In the hipster imagination, Queens is a historic dead zone: a quasi-suburbia to be escaped, the quintessence of uncool. But in 2005, as Brooklyn 's gentrification spreads into such unlikely neighborhoods as Bushwick, Queens represents opportunity. After all, the ever-expanding armies of upwardly mobile have to go somewhere. Already, beachheads have been established in the lofts of Long Island City (touted on the cover of this very magazine in 2002) and the studios of Astoria -and the idyllic English garden homes and stellar ethnic restaurants of Jackson Heights may be the next stop. So hurry: Before Queens is sacked and made safe for Starbucks and sushi, there's still time to experience some diverse, honest-to-goodness, old-style urban culture. Beyond P.S 1 and the Unisphere, we've found 50 things that define the essence of borough, from Norman Rockwell throwbacks and Balkan cevapi sandwiches to Art Deco porn theaters and Egyptian hookahs.
#37 EAT REAL PIZZA! While the thick-and-doughy school of Sicilian pizza reigns supreme in Manhattan , the opposing thin-and-crisp camp still has a foothold in the outer boroughs. Brooklyn is the thin-Sicilian country, to be sure, but the holy grail of the rarefied style is at Rizzo's ( 30-13 Steinway St. , Astoria ; 718 721-9862). Sophisticated restraint shows in a minimal toss of mozzarella and a flick of parmigiana and Romano, which allows the zingy tomato sauce to shine through. And the crust is perfect: exceptionally light and tender, about a quarter- inch thick, with a crunchy, golden raised edge.
IN NOBODY'S SHADOW
A village neighborhood pizza joint with a handful of typical tables and a takeout counter proffering good inexpensive pizza fare and friendly service, Rizzo's services a somewhat sophisticated assortment of classic thing crusted Sicilian pies as well as traditional Neapolitan versions, along with daily specials. They are special, always hearty and filling, and topped with real zesty homemade sauces. There is no best of Rizzo's , because Rizzo's uses only quality ingredients, so whatever you choose you'll probably leave content.
"Where Thin Crust Pizza Lovers Can Find A Good Slice"
By Josh Ozersky
The great NY pizza slice is an elusive dream, but many Astoria locals feel they've found it in Rizzo's on Steinway Street, and with good reason: Rizzo's thin crust pizza, with amazingly light and airy dough, are models of skill and subtlety. Even the sicilian slices practically blow off the plate.
By Daniel Young
Sicilian pizza's are usually bad examples of pizza architecture. Whereas rounded triangular Neapolitan slices taper to a focal point in the manner of the Egyptian Pyramids, and New York's skyscrapers, square slices are characterless slabs with little regard or preference for the first bite. The exception to the theory Rizzo's , where each Sicilian pizza is a work of art. The sturdy foundation, a shallow extra-extra crisp crust is topped with a thick layer of rich tomato sauce. The cheese is an unblended combination of grated parmesan and whole milk mozzarella. Ideally, it is then topped with anchovies, mushrooms or pepperoni. Steaming hot pies are removed from the oven and sliced into individual canvasses with due bravura. Once the slice is on your plate you can start on either corner and still show respect for the democratic principle that all bites are created equal.
By Daniel Young
Rizzo's Pizza : Sicilian pizza's are usually bad examples of pizza architecture. Whereas rounded triangular Neapolitan slices taper to a focal point in the manner of the Egyptian Pyramids, and New York's skyscrapers, square slices are characterless slabs with little regard or preference for the first bite. The exception to the theory Rizzo's , where each Sicilian pizza is a work of art. The sturdy foundation, a shallow extra-extra crisp crust is topped with a thick layer of rich tomato sauce. The cheese is an unblended combination of grated parmesan and whole milk mozzarella. Ideally, it is then topped with anchovies, mushrooms or pepperoni. Steaming hot pies are removed from the oven and sliced into individual canvasses with due bravura. Once the slice is on your plate you can start on either corner and still show respect for the democratic principle that all bites are created equal.
By Daniel Young
Half of the New York population is obsessed with money; the other half with food. So as not to leave anyone out, my year-end Top 40 list of the best restaurants in town once again links the two. Food –for –the-money or; in a word, value, is the most important consideration behind this compilation.
Nevertheless, my mind is very much split on the topic. Half of me is peeved that money has to get in the way of food in the first place. In a better world, it wouldn't be an issue. But my other half is relieved that pizza, pastrami, Shanghai soup dumplings, the wild mushroom napoleon at Azure, the snail snaps at Aquagrill and the burger at the Union Square Café are not as expensive as black caviar, black truffles and black BMW's. There's a certain justice to an economy in which so many singular food pleasures are relatively affordable.
Outsiders think of New York as an expensive place to live. It is. Yet I regard residing outside the city, and thus away from its best-valued dining experiences, as the highest price you could ask anyone to pay. These top New York eateries vary in price but have one thing in common: great food for the money.
As long as the name Rizzo's burns in yellow neon with the green-lit words "Fine Pizza" close behind, there is hope for New York pizza lovers who demand good quality tomato sauce, mozzarella, grated Romano cheese and a thin, resilient crust. I can't understand why my fellow Queens natives are not lined up on Steinway Street for a hot $1.35 square-or two or three or four –of the city's best Sicilian pan pizza. Joe Rizzo, Sal Rizzo and Hugo Lupi opened the shop over 30 years ago; Joe Rizzo and son David Rizzo run the store. They have my gratitude.
In The Spotlight
* * * * ½ Specialty: Pizza
Review Highlights- "Best thin crust pizza ever." "A balance of tasty sauce and good cheese." " As far as thin crust pizzas go, Rizzo's is the best. I make it a point to pass by every time in Astoria ."
Slice of the City: New York
By Liz Barett, Editor In-Chief, and Tracy Morin, Managing Editor
Join two PMQ editors on a pizza eating marathon through the birthplace of American Pizza.
With Pizza Magazine Quarterly's New York Pizza show right around the corner, New York was the obvious choice for your first Slice of the City, a new department that explores pizzerias across the country. Our goal was to bit all five New York 's boroughs in one days visiting one pizzeria in each near major tourist attractions and in notable neighborhoods. Mission accomplished! Read on for all the slice-by-slice-details.
Rizzo's Fine Pizza on Steinway St. in the famed Astoria section of Queens is known for its thin-crust Sicilian, but we couldn't resist also trying the barbeque chicken pizza, garlic knots and a classic cheese slice. In business since 1959, the location displays vintage photos taken during the pizzeria's early days and offers several booths for dine-in-customers. Our schedule was tight, but we refused to leave any food behind; Tracy stashed leftover garlic knots in her purse for the subway ride to our next stop.
The Rought Guide
The Rought Guide to New York City Restaurants
By Daniel Young
Sicilian pizza partisans generally prefer square slices to Neapolitan triangles because they're thicker and breadier. Some no doubt crave the hardened corners of the pan baked pies. Still, the local version of sfincione, as the thick pizza of Palermo is known, is best appreciated as a platform doe zesty tomato sauce. Even the cheese cognoscenti agree. Sicilian pizza, says Luigi Di Palo's cheese store in Little Italy, is " a thick piece of bread topped with sauce and maybe some cheese." And nowhere are those squares better than at this tomato-lover's paradise. As long as the name " Rizzo's " burns in yellow neon with the green-lit "fine pizza" close behind there is hope for New York pizza-lovers who demand a good-quality tomato sauce to go with molten mozzarella, grated Romano, and resilient crust.Thinner and lighter than a typical Sicilian, Rizzo's amazing crust is the compact format for a thicker layer of chunky sauce made from whole tomatoes.
Rizzo's faux marble booths, fluorescent-blue wall menu, and $1.60 price for a pizza slice are obviously not as old as the small shop, which opened in 1959. But the family pride, personable service, and old-world quality are treasured relics from another time.
The most dramatic change in the pizzeria's history occurred during the mid-1990's when Dave Rizzo finally convinced his old man to let him develop a Neapolitan alternative. "When my father opened, pizza was still a relatively new ethic food," explains Rizzo. "Everybody was willing to try whatever you had. Now young people know pizza and they expect it to be round." Dave's triangular slices accomplish for Neapolitan pizza what hid father square's did for Sicilian: the easy-chewing crust is thinner, lighter, and more of one delicate piece than its counterparts and, yep, there's more tomato sauce. The triangle has developed a loyal following, not all of them all that young. The cognoscenti, Dave Rizzo among them, request a quick reheat when ordering the Neapolitan slices to make their triangles crispier.
A Slice Of Heaven
A Slice Of Heaven: The Ultimate Guide And Companion
By Ed Levine
Most Sicilian pizza is just too thick for me. The two –inch thick crust should be used for insulation, and the mass of cheese on top could serve as a blanket space. But Rizzo's in Astoria is the home of the wondrous thin- crusted Sicilian slice. For forty years Joe Rizzo has been making thin-crust Sicilian pizza the way his father learned in Sicily . That means he used homemade sauce, full-cream mozzarella, and just enough Romano cheese to give his pizza a little zing. When you walk into Rizzo's all you'll see on the counter are rectangular trays of fresh out of the oven Sicilian pizza. If you want a slice of conventional round Neapolitan pizza, you'll have to go elsewhere, because they don't make it at Rizzo's.