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In Search Of… The Queen City’s Best New York Style Pizza

February 17, 2009

Neil’s Blog Entry

Where I grew up there was pretty much one kind of pizza. Sure, we had Pizza Hut and Domino’s, but that wasn’t really pizza… that was something else entirely. The pizza I grew up eating was New York style – also known as Neapolitan.

New York-style pizza
is a style originally developed in New York City by immigrants from Naples, where pizza was created. It is often sold in generously sized, thin and flexible slices. It is traditionally hand-tossed, moderate on sauce, and moderately covered with cheese essentially amounting to a much larger version of the Neapolitan style. The slices are sometimes eaten folded in half, or even stacked, as its size and flexibility may otherwise make it unwieldy to eat by hand. (From Wikipedia)

Now, I’ve been living in Cincinnati for almost 25 years. Cincinnati is a very pizza-friendly town. There’s a pizza place on almost every corner. They’re almost as popular as chili parlors… but that’s a whole other blog topic. But 90% of the pizza places here are Chicago style. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but sometimes I long for that thin, crispy and chewy crust of my youth.

So I decided that I’d take another crack at finding good New York style pizza here in the Queen City. (For you out-of-towners, Cincinnati was christened “The Queen City of the West” back in the 1800’s.) To my surprise, all it took was a few hours online one morning and I had a list of pizza places all claiming to be the genuine article. They are listed here in no particular order:

The Flying Pizza – Mason
Fratelli’s – Mason
Roc-A-Fella’s – Sharonville
Balboa’s – Downtown
Aponte’s – Mason
Lucy Blue Pizza – Downtown

So with high hopes and a grumbly tummy, Laura and I set out on Monday to begin our adventure. NOTE: We will be hitting the other places in the near future and will be blogging as we do so.

Stop #1: The Flying Pizza

The Flying Pizza is on the corner of Montgomery Road and Fields Ertel Road, located in a strip mall in the Mason/Montgomery area of Cincinnati. The first thing we noticed walking in was the aroma. The second thing we noticed was that the pizza was available by the slice – a good sign that we were about to eat some truly authentic New York style pizza.

Fans of gourmet pizzas with fresh pesto, black olives, feta cheese, baby spinach, and sun dried tomatoes eaten by candlelight with a nice Cabernet Sauvignon, please take note: this is not gourmet (although there was beer and wine on the menu), and there was not much in the way of ambience. The décor was what I had expected – very utilitarian. A simple dining room full of hard laminate booths, vinyl walls sparsely covered with framed images of New York City. Think of a Subway restaurant or a Penn Station or a Taco Bell. But all that being said, we commented more than once that The Flying Pizza was impeccably clean.

There were two men behind the counter – one a bit older than the other. Now, I have no idea if this is true or not – in fact I’m actually making this part up – but in my mind, I imagined the older guy being the father of the younger guy and teaching him the old family recipe and then moving from Brooklyn to Cincinnati to set up shop. Maybe they had to move out here because they got into trouble with the mob or something. They still have the mob in New York don’t they? I dunno.

Anyway, we ordered a medium cheese pizza – yes, I said “cheese.” You don’t ruin a New York style pizza by covering it with any toppings. It’s cheese all the way, baby. Anyway, we ordered a medium cheese, some breadsticks and two drinks. The whole thing cost about $18.

The breadsticks arrived first, with two dipping sauces – tomato sauce and nacho cheese sauce. Both of which were delightful. The sauce was very tomato-y and slightly sweet – which made Laura’s day because she prefers her tomato sauce on the sweet side. Me? I’m a tangy kinda guy. Laura was a bit hesitant on the nacho sauce at first, but quickly decided, like I did, that it was indeed awesome.

The pizza arrived at the table and it had all the visible traits of a New York style pie. There were a few dough-bubbles, the cheese and sauce was sparse and the crust seemed thin enough and looked as if it might actually be crispy. Let’s eat!

The crust was indeed perfect! It was crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Not doughy at all, but just right. The taste of the crust itself was excellent – which is a big part of the New York style pizza experience. Slightly yeasty, but not to the extent of being too yeasty. Slightly salty as well, but again, without being too salty.

The sauce was the only thing that was a bit different from what I remember. Like I said before, it was a bit on the sweet side, but it was absolutely delicious.

We finished about half of the 13” pizza and took the rest home in a box. As any fan of New York style pizza knows, one of the true tests of good pizza is how it holds up either reheated… or better yet, eaten cold, right out of the fridge. Although Laura has yet to embrace that particular part of the process.

All in all, we give very high marks to The Flying Pizza. An honest to goodness New York style pizza right here in Cincinnati. And one that we think we’ll be enjoying again very soon.

And so, until we visit another place on our list, if any of you have any recommendations for New York style pizza in Cincinnati, please put them in the comments section below.

Still with no pithy catchphrase,
Neil

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 17, 2009 9:02 pm

    When it comes to pizza, I’m pretty accepting. Dough with sauce and “stuff” on top is about all it takes for me. So I’m probably not the type to recommend one style of pizza over another but both Flying Pizza and Roc-A-Fella’s are pretty good.

    If possible try for Roc-A-Fella’s on a weekday afternoon. I think that’s when the owners are there. Sometimes the less integral employees don’t put as much effort into the pizza.

    The rest I haven’t had but I’m looking forward to your report!

  2. Shaina permalink
    May 12, 2009 2:01 pm

    Trust me – Noce’s Pizzeria in Cheviot is the best NY-style pizza in Cincinnati, without a doubt. From the cheese to the dough and sauce, it’s perfect! You’ll see….

  3. Dan permalink
    January 31, 2010 12:08 pm

    I have to agree with Shaina, I had the good fortune of having a Noce’s the other night for the first time. I will make a repeat visit. Another location to check out is The Works in Loveland, just behind Paxon’s. It’s a nice brick-oven pizza too

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