I Heart I Heart NY Pizza
Big-city pizza with Chapman Highway charm
There for a while, it looked like a bad night for pizza.
Having made plans with my husband to dine at a new pizza place in the Old City, I prepped for the occasion by dining minimally during the day. When we walked into the pizzeria around 7:30 last Wednesday night, I was ready for pizza—and lots of it.
We seated ourselves in the completely empty dining room, just a few feet from the counter where the lone employee stood. It seemed odd that he didn’t greet us, but, being the plucky sort, we found menus and began spiritedly debating the merits of creating our own pizza versus ordering a house specialty. Alas, we’ll never know which would have been the wiser choice. It may be true that there’s no such thing as bad pizza, but there is definitely bad service. After 10 minutes without any acknowledgement—or even eye contact—from the guy behind the counter, we left. And if our departure bothered the guy, you sure couldn’t tell it.
Were we not hip enough? Were we supposed to order at the counter? There were no signs. Would it have been too much trouble to say “Hey, when you’re ready to order, come on over”? Apparently so.
So, what’s a poor pizza-craving girl on deadline to do?
Taking what seemed the only reasonable course of action, we headed out to I Heart NY Pizza. By this time, I was determined to eat some pizza before the night was over. I was just hoping it wasn’t going to be one of the California Pizza Kitchen pizzas from the freezer at home.
I Heart NY Pizza had one thing in common with the first pizzeria: It wasn’t crowded. But that’s all they had in common. From the moment we walked in, we were welcomed warmly and treated well. We discovered much later that we had arrived shortly before their weeknight closing time (which may explain the lack of a crowd), but from the enthusiasm with which our server greeted us, you’d never have guessed.
Within seconds, we were seated. Within minutes, we had our beverages. And our server helpfully answered our questions and advised us on our choices. At his suggestion, we ordered a large pizza consisting of two of the restaurant’s specialty pizzas: the Manhattan Special and the Brooklyn Supreme. We also decided to split the Metro Art Salad.
The fact that the place serves New York pizza is reinforced by both the décor and the menu, which boasts a statue of liberty on the cover. One wall has brightly colored “graffiti”; another is covered with artifacts such as New York license plates and black and white photos of swank-looking people at parties and banquets in the early 1960s, judging by the hair and attire. The specialty pizzas include pies called Queens and Road to Da Bronx. There’s an Empire Salad, a Central Park Sandwich and a NYFD Sub. In addition to pizza, salads and subs, the menu lists calzones, stromboli and several pasta dishes including ravioli, eggplant parmesan, chicken parmesan and gnocchi, which is not something you find much around here.
Our salad arrived already split, which was helpful. There were lots of tomato wedges, kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes, sliced mushrooms and banana peppers piled on top of fresh greens topped with blue cheese crumbles. The blue cheese dressing was creamy and chunky; the balsamic vinaigrette seemed milder than most.
Our pizza arrived with perfect timing, just after we finished scraping our salad plates clean. We briefly admired its perfectly puffed, seasoned edges before cutting into the hot gooey cheese and thick layer of fresh ingredients to the thin, crispy crust below. The artichoke hearts and green peppers on the Manhattan Special, which also included black olives, onions and mushrooms, gave that side of the pizza a distinctly green look in contrast to the redder appearance of the Brooklyn Supreme on the other side. The thin green pepper rings retained just enough crunch with none of the wateriness you sometimes find with that topping. The Brooklyn Supreme included a little diced green pepper, but the dominant flavors on that side of the pizza came from the pepperoni and sausage enhanced with bits of ricotta cheese, mushrooms, black olives and onions. The same robustly seasoned tomato sauce provided a bed for both pizzas.
There are two desserts: cannoli and tiramisu. Our server said, “You could sleep on a bed of this tiramisu,” which is certainly an interesting image, but having stuffed ourselves with salad and pizza, we passed on dessert this time.
Prices are reasonable. Nothing costs more than $10 except the large and super-sized pizzas. The large pizza gave us plenty to eat and half a pizza to take home. The pizza also passed the “day after” test, good either cold or reheated the next day.
I Heart NY Pizza passes another test. If you don’t live near Chapman Highway, it’s worth the drive. And having discovered the place after being treated so poorly elsewhere, I really Heart NY Pizza.