For far too long, I've had New Park Pizza on my list of slice joints to hit up. Queens residents won't shut up about it, Paulie Gee swears by it, but I'll tell ya- unless you have a car (and who does in this city?), the place ain't easy to get to.
Check that neon steam! Located in Howard Beach, Queens, NPP isn't too far from JFK airport- which is exactly how I ended up there. We all know food at the airport is more often than not pretty horrendous; truer words couldn't be spoken about Fort Lauderdale's Jet Blue terminal. With my stomach grumbling and hot 'za on my mind (and more importantly, a car waiting in NYC), I decided the time had come for my belly to get to know New Park Pizza.
NPP proudly displays the '94 NY Post article declaring it the best slice in Queens (alongside Di Fara in Brooklyn and Sal & Carmine's in Manhattan). So what makes New Park 'fuhgedaboudit' great? For starters, they cook their pies in a gas-fed brick-lined oven cranked to the max.
Additionally, they have a standard gas deck oven used explicitly for reheats, yielding one mean slice:
...Okay, well two mean slices. New Park has come under a bit of fire lately from some of its long-term patrons who claim the quality of the pies are becoming increasingly inconsistent, often times under and over-cooking the pizza. I understood the controversy when the undercrust on my slices came out much darker than I had anticipated.
Woah, you don't see char like this on your average slice. Upon scoping this out, I gulped hard. Was it nicely charred, or brutally burnt? I really wanted this pizza to be all that it was cracked up to be.
I took one bite and it was all over. I was pie-eyed and in love. No, the dark undercrust wasn't burnt and had just the perfect amount of flavor and rigidity to support the magic happening on top.
The dough has just the right amount of balance to offer staccato salt notes coinciding with chewy sourdough tones. The cheese, while nothing special (low moisture full fat aged Mozzarella) is perfectly cooked and the staple of such a NY slice. And the sauce? Naturally sweet and tangy with what tastes like a hint of black pepper and oregano.
This is what NY pizza is all about, folks, plain and simple. New Park, let's hang out more often. It's a shame you're such a pain in the ass to get to. Is investing in a Zipcar membership just for pizza a sign that I have a problem?
If scarfing this pie is wrong, then I sure as hell don't want to be right.