There is much controversy over the existence and location of the best NY (Neapolitan) pizza in Northern Virginia, especially on sites like fairfaxunderground.com. After carefully considering most of the reviews of most the pizza places within a reasonable distance - and there were many of them, I chose Tony's NY Pizza in Manassas to satisfy my hankering for a crispy NY pizza.
My credentials: born near New York City with innumerable forays into the city for cultural and culinary experiences, lived in Manhattan for four years, lived in the Bronx for four years.
Context: there are heated debates as to whether a 'true' NY pizza can be found in the borough of Manhattan versus the Bronx, so how can anyone agree that such a thing exists in Virginia?
Next, define the essence of 'NY pizza': with regard to structure, it must have a thin and crispy crust, crust rim must be nicely browned and almost burnt in one or two places. The sauce and cheese basic topping must be skimpy but just thick enough to burn the roof of your mouth, if eaten too fast, too soon (additional toppings allowed). There must be slightly too much corn meal release on the underside of the crust and there must be one or more large bubbles that bulge the bottom crust up through the topping or that distort the rim crust. With regard to taste, the crust must be toasty, the sauce savory, richly tomato-y with just the right touch of oregano, the cheese both oily and milky.
Finally, onto the review of Tony's NY pizza. I tried the plain cheese Neapolitan small pizza in order to evaluate the above-mentioned points. I asked for extra crispy crust in order to encourage the best approximation of a NY pizza. The large number of behind-the counter- workers stands in stark contrast to the one or two guys behind the counter of the NY pizza joints with the best reputations. I watched as my request for crispiness fell onto deaf ears, did not get transmitted, and the bottom crust was pale and soft. I also saw no pizza dough being tossed and spun. The crust was adequately toasty but the flour was not the flour used in the Bronx. The topping was thicker and likely more acceptable to the local pizza eaters than my memories of NY toppings. The sauce was delicious; it was a nice balance between savory and slightly sweet, and the cheese was very good. The note of herb, or oregano was missing but, fortunately, there were jars of oregano and pepper flakes on the table.
I also had the delicious-looking tiramisu for dessert. It was richly chocolatey with good coffee taste suffusing the ladyfingers, good creme anglaise and good whipped cream. I give it an A-. Better tiramisu can only be found at Cin cin in Vancouver, BC, City Cafe on Greenwood in Dallas, TX, or my tiramisu, since I use the recipe developed for the available US market by the inventor of tiramisu.
Back to Tony's: pies are available as Neapolitan, thick Sicilian, or focaccia crust. Many other seafood and pasta casseroles are available, calzones are offered and several other desserts are available. They all look good but went unsampled.
Bottom line: I would take a pizza-lover here, but not if they were pointedly looking for a NY pizza. My suspicion is that no one who has eaten a Neapolitan pizza in the Bronx (Ok, ok, perhaps in Manhattan, too) will be satisfied by any pizza baked in Northern Virginia.
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