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Returning home to West Chester PA, I stopped by the Throgs Neck section of The Bronx to meet my friend Ken for lunch. For those not familiar with the outer boros, Throgs Neck is a waterfront section on the southeastern corner of the Bronx, overlooking Long Island Sound. Entering this quiet and tidy neighborhood via the Throgs Neck Bridge offers some picturesque views; with all the sailboats, it looks like New England.
Ken noted that there were several good restaurants within walking distance of his office; after a quick discussion, we settled on Tosca Cafe for its Italian heritage, its coal oven, and its pizza.
"Don't judge a book by its cover" but as we walked the quiet boulevard, Tosca's exterior seemed to give great promise of the food and ambiance inside. And right away, the vibe was warm and cozy.
We opted to eat at the handsome bar, but after we ordered, I wandered over by the open kitchen to see the coal oven that dates to 1922. A friendly staffer offered to take my phone closer to the oven for a better close-up, and the pizzaiolo obliged by opening the oven door.
|PQ and Ken at the bar|
We ordered the small (six slices) "Soppressata Picante" pizza and a platter of grilled vegetables. The vegetables, grilled and then served on a bed of frisee, were superb. The mix usually includes eggplant, but we opted for roasted peppers, portobellos cut on an angle, and lots of zucchini. Zucchini can be be mushy or bland, but this was al dente and bursting with flavor. A wonderful dish.
The coal-oven pizza was the star, of course. The thin crust was rigid; crispy outside, chewy inside. The Italian bread and slivers of foccacia we had as appetizers promised of a tasty crust; this base was pleasant but mildly flavored. It served very well as a palette for the colors and flavors on top - an extremely well balanced mix of sauce with the perfect tang, wonderful cheese, and the smoky soppressata. There was no detectable "picante" until I added some dried red pepper.
All told, a delightful pie if not quite a destination pie. The crust earns an 8; it could be a 10 with perhaps a bit more salt and olive oil. Cheese and sauce, 9.5, the soppressata an 8.5. Let's call this pie a 9. Service and ambiance, easy 10s. I'd visit a LOT if I lived nearby.