Take a deep breath ladies and gents, because this post isn't for the feeble-minded or faint of heart. Herein, along with my review of Nick's, I will attempt to explain how New York's largest pizza dynasty came to be. If you thought the history behind Ray's was confusing, just sit tight.
I'm never this deep into Queens. In fact, it took a trip out to JFK on my way out to San Fran to finally pay Nick's of Forest Hills a visit- something I've been meaning to do for the better part of a year now. Brothers Nick and John Angelis opened Nick's in 1994, where they crank out charred pies you would never guess were baked in a gas oven.
I like to think I know my ovens, but I have no idea what the hell this thing is. Anyone care to comment? My bet is that it's a custom job made especially for Nick, allowing it to reach brick-oven temperatures of 8-900 degrees. Before I go too deep, I have more to explain. Nick has a sister named Mirene Angelis who married Nick Tsoulos, co-owner of the six franchised Patsy's pizzerias across Manhattan with Nick Pashalis (the franchise, not the original pizzeria). Take a breath and let that sink in while you check out this killer pie-
That's Nick's signature half-red/half-white pie, isn't it goddamn gorgeous? I've never seen thin basil like that before, anyone care to chime in? This is your chance to make up for not knowing what's up with Nick's oven.
Doesn't Nick's pie look strikingly similar to Angelo's? Of course it does, here's why: Nick Pashalis has a brother named John Pashalis, and John wanted to open his own brick oven pizzeria. With the help of his now extended pizza family, John opened Angelo's in 1998, named after Nick, John and Mirene's late father, Angelo Angelis, who used to own a pizzeria in Brooklyn. John uses Nick's recipe for the pies at Angelo's, and who wouldn't when his pizzas look like they came out of a coal-fired brick oven when they're really gas-fed:
I ordered Ricotta on the white half of my pie and sun dried tomatoes on the red half. Sure it sounds a little redundant, but I wanted to keep my colors separate, okay? Got a problem with that?
Hang with me, I'm almost done. Mirene Angelis, with her husband Nick Tsoulos, opened Dean's Pizzeria in the Upper West Side, while Nick Angelis opened another pizzeria Adrienne's Pizza Bar making square pies in the Financial District, all in 2006. Meanwhile in Philadelphia, Nick Pashalis and his other brother Peter open several Pietro's Coal-Oven Pizzerias with pizzas similar to that of Nick's and Angelo's.
That's it. Did I make your head explode?