Saturday, December 19, 2015

Review: NY Pizza Suprema, Manhattan

In my experience, Manhattan is a place of dining extremes. I've had some of my best meals there, and some of the most dreary. Some astounding bargains, and some terrible ripoffs (especially in the theatre district). 
"Upside down" Sicilian at NY Pizza Supremo

On a recent trip to the city, my Amtrak train took me to Penn Station. One again, the food writers at SeriousEats were my guide to the region, and they recommended NY Pizza Suprema, adjacent to Penn Station on 8th Avenue at 31st Street.

More than 50 years ago, NY Pizza Suprema was established by Italian immigrant Salvatore Riggio in 1964, and he sold only plain slices until 1988. Even today, his son Joe says "If you are from out of town, please try the real New York slice ... plain cheese. Good pizza doesn't need to be disguised."
Fast moving counter men, bank of ovens behind them

I arrived at lunchtime, and a line was formed at the doorway where customers could get a look at the several round and square pie options (about $3.50 per slice) before ordering. 
NY style, with sausage

I chose a triangular sausage slice from the NY style pie, and a square "upside down" slice (sauce on top of the cheese) from the thick-crusted pan baked Sicilian style pie. With a medium fountain drink, my tab came to $8.50.

Both slices went into one of their conventional gas deck ovens for a quick reheat, and then were served on paper plates. Despite the crowds, the line moved fast and I also found a table inside.
From the back seating area, looking toward the front counter

The conventional NY slice had a very thin crust, which was crisp yet floppy at the narrow end, due to a heavy load of cheese, sauce, and sausage. This very good slice had well-balanced flavors, but no "wow" elements. 
Nice char underneath on the NY slice

The sausage was tasty, crisped, and generously applied, but it had been pre-cooked and then sliced thinly. Too much to ask, I suppose, for chunks of raw sausage to be applied pre-bake. The crust was better than average, but still a tad generic without a distinct flavor of its own. Could use a bit of salt and olive oil. The cheese was standard grade, too. The slightly sweet chunky sauce was the best feature of this B+ slice. 
The upside-down slice delivered on its beautiful promise 

The "upside-down" Sicilian slice featured conventional mozzarella under the thick layer of sauce, and grated Parmesan on top. The fresh basil was a nice touch, but it would have been better applied post-bake.

The crust was thick and puffy, yet light and delicate with a beautiful bottom crunch. Wonderful stuff. But the sauce was even better! It seemed less chunky and less sweet than the sauce on the NY slice, but it was bursting with terrific tomato flavor. The ingredients were all in good balance, and this made for a top-notch Sicilian square experience. 

This slice was better than the widely celebrated square slice at L&B Spumoni Gardens in Brooklyn. This has been a great year for thick square pizza baked in a pan, with NY Pizza Suprema joining Binge House, Via 313, and still-champion Norma's Pizza as pie destinations worth the trip. The ethereal crust and vibrant sauce were so good that this pie would shine even if you left off the cheese.
Perfect browning underneath

I finished my slices around 12:45pm on a warm Tuesday, and by that time the line stretched out the door onto the street. Notably, these were not tourists or Penn Station travelers - these folks looked and acted like they worked nearby. The square pie is a 9.5 slice, and the triangle slice a solid 8. Don't miss it if you're in the area.



NY Pizza Suprema Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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