Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Ferry Good Pizza

There are so many pizzerias in this city and there's just no way I can get to them all. Unless I plan on eating nothing but pizza for the next few years. And as tempting as that sounds, I've got other plans.

But I can hit up all five boroughs and seek out the most popular options in each. So my last untouched borough was Staten Island. It's certainly the most difficult one to get to and really seems like its own little world. People don't go to Staten Island and the ones that are there don't leave it. That's not exactly true, of course, since there is quite a commuter crowd every day on the Staten Island ferry. But it does seem self-contained and a bit idyllic in parts.

I hadn't been on the Staten Island ferry (or in the borough itself) in quite a few years so this was a true adventure. The ride itself is a free twenty-five minute tourist-laden boat ride with beautiful views of both the Statue of Liberty and the New York skyline. There's also a concession stand where you can order dirt cheap beer. Oh, if only they opened one of those on my daily commute, the R train.

We docked and took the ghost train of a subway to Grant City. There were nice houses, busy suburban streets and parking lots. I guess people don't walk too far in this borough. This didn't seem like New York at all. I felt like a stranger in a strange land. But the one reassurance I had that I hadn't strayed too far from home was the overabundance of pizzerias

The first one I discovered was Nunzio's, which is both a sit-down restaurant and a slice joint. The exterior seemed like it could be in one of those shopping centers surrounding a mall. It really felt like I had stumbled upon suburbia.

Adam, the guy who helped us, was sarcastic, friendly, and snarky all at the same time. He had a lot to say about pizza and living in Brooklyn and commuting to Staten Island (why the hell he does that, I have no idea!!) He was amusing and fun (he must have come up with all those jokes over beers on his ferry commute) and kept us entertained.

But he couldn't distract me too much from the pizza. The slice has to stand on its own without all this witty banter. I admit, I was a bit turned off at first by the regular slice because part of the cornicione (end crust) had been torn up a little. It looked like somebody left a big thumbprint. Not sure what happened there, but Nunzio's wins no points on presentation.

The dough was very tender, but didn't have much of a char. The tomato sauce was flavorful and well-proportioned. The cheese tasted a bit sharp (I learned that it was thanks to seemingly invisible pecorino romano) and was overly melty (reminded me of a grilled cheese).

It wasn't the best I've tasted, but it had some great qualities (the dough in particular). We were ready to head on our way since we had another pizza stop today, but Adam refused to let us leave without tasting the Sicilian slice. He swore to me it would be better than whatever pizza I would be tasting at my next destination. Well, the kid sure knows how to make a sale. He earned the company another 2 bucks.

And he also earned my gratitude. I'm not sure it was better than our next stop, but it was damn good. Probably the best Sicilian slice I've had on my entire journey so far. The dough was heavenly - both buttery and fluffy with a bit of a crunch. The tomato sauce and cheese were great and I was frustrated with myself for not having ordered this slice first. I couldn't have two slices since there was more pizza to be had today. I have to maintain my girlish figure somehow, you know. Wait a minute. I mean, my manly figure. My manly figure.

So I finally crossed the bay and ended up on another island full of delicious pizza. They seem to be everywhere in this part of the world. And I'll tell you what, they taste better than any pizzeria surrounding your local shopping mall (unless you happen to be a resident of that suburban heaven known as Staten Island).

Is Nunzio's the best pizza in NY? The Sicilian slice was truly outstanding with lots of flavors and along with their hospitable employee wins this place a few extra points giving it a 7 out of 10.

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