Sunday, January 17, 2010

Take A Number

When I walk into a restaurant and it smells like Subway (the sandwich shop - not the transit system), the only menu appears in a big bright marquee above, and the cashier gives me a number when I order, I expect the food to be fast food. And I think we can all agree that the word fast is integral to this agreement. Otherwise, it's just food.

And I generally think pizza should be one of the great fast foods. I mean, Neapolitan style pizzas are supposed to only cook for two minutes in a wood oven. And coal ovens burn incredibly hot, so it doesn't take too long to get that perfect char. Now, granted certain places are so popular they have garnered a long wait and others are more of a family sit-down stop. Those are fine, but when I have all the smells, signs, and sights screaming fast food, like I did at Singas, I want my food and I want it fast.

And on one hand, I had that experience at the original Elmhurst location. But the problem was the food took too damn long.

Singas is a Queens chain that has expanded very quietly in the last few years but you can find locations in Manhattan, the Bronx, upstate, and soon to be Pennsylvania. This leads me to believe that the quality isn't as good as it should be and the experience won't be all that special.

The place was empty when I arrived around 2:30, well after the lunch crowd. There were a few customers lingering, but I'd say it was pretty slow. I ordered my personal 10' pizza (that's the only option), watched the prepared pie slip into a pan and inserted into the oven. I was then handed a number and quoted a five minute wait.

After browsing the calorie listing on the menu (a very bad idea, believe me) and making a rather lengthy phone call, I realized the wait was much closer to 15 minutes. I know for sure because I checked the call length on my trusty I-phone. Ah, modern technology!

But seriously, when this place is this dead and resembles a fast food chain, 15 minutes is too long to wait for my personal pizza.

The fact that the pizza was extremely hot was both good and bad. Good because I knew it was fresh, bad because I had to wait even longer!!! Well, I do have to say the first bite exceeded my incredibly low expectations. The pizza looked like a dirty fast food roller skating rink pizza, but tasted a bit more refined.

Just a bit. This was still cheap, buttery, and crispy. I definitely could taste all those calories. But I was impressed that the tomato sauce had flavor and the cheese wasn't too greasy. The crust was very crunchy (there was no discernible char) without being dried out. I did worry that the ingredients are full of artificial flavors and crap that tastes great but will kill you if you indulge too much. But that's fast food and I certainly had all the warning signs. And I certainly had plenty of time to turn around and back out before it was too late.

Is Singas the best pizza in NY? The flavors are good and the crunchy, cheesy personal pie was tasty. But I give it a 6 out of 10 because it still had that cheap fast food feel to it. And because it took way too long.

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