I've been fighting off the flu for the past two weeks. Here's a little quick bite to ease me back into the swing of things.
The first introductory paragraph is the same in all articles in this series. Please feel free to skip it if you've already read it.
Read the rest of my Soul Pizza Series.)
My wife, Cat, is a staunch proponent of what she calls "soul pizza". It's her name for the type of unabashedly Italian-American pizza found in little neighborhood joints across the States. American GIs who returned from World War II had acquired a taste for Italian pizza during their tours on the European front, and made Italian-America pizza popular in the 50's as they sought out at home a dish they'd so enjoyed in Italy. Every city has one of these culinary time capsules, usually family-run and dishing up this simple, all-American favorite at very affordable prices. Timeless and comforting, these are local, mom & pop institutions with deep ties to the surrounding community. As Cat says:
Soul pizza is by definition not corporate pizza. Someone IN THE SHOP decided what the food was going to be like, and probably had to eat a lot of it if it wasn't very good at first. Having strict rules other than the one above regarding what can and can't be considered soul pizza seems inappropriately dictatorial, but the following are at least general tendencies of the species.
- The owner is around pretty often, and is likely to be doing some cooking/cash registering/schmoozing.
- The menu is straightforward and doesn't change much. No fad toppings and no side dishes with cutesy names. You can't get Cin-a-Min Curls or Fiesta Veggies at a soul pizza joint. You can have Sausage and Mushroom Pizza with Salad.
- The decor is somewhere between minimal and haphazard. If everything matches, it's because the owner just hasn't collected enough stuff yet.
- Somewhere in the place is a picture of the owner's kid, a picture by his kid, or his kid.
Located behind a church at the corner of Walnut and Yale, New York Pizzeria fits her definition of soul pizza to a T. It's a family-run neighborhood joint in the truest sense. Service is polite and friendly, but minimal. The decor is utilitarian at best. Yet, the restaurant gets regular business from a stream of local children on bikes, parents picking up a dinner for the family, and my wife and I.
What keeps us all coming back is the quality of the pizza. This place has the most ethereal pies in all of Irvine, with delicate, blistered crusts surrounding chewy, cloud-like interiors. The ratio between bread, cheese, sauce, and toppings is harmoniously balanced, each bite Zen-like in its simple perfection. However, the true mark of pizza mastery is the utter lack of grease. Unlike certain mass-market chains, New York Pizzeria's pizzas don't turn their cardboard boxes translucent and you won't need to blot up pools of lurid orange oil before venturing a bite. It's comforting, healthy food made fresh with care, and it shows.
New York Pizzeria - A delicious alternative for families on the go. Cat and I like going for lunch on the weekends. We order up one of the hefty medium pizzas and spend a relaxing afternoon reading the paper at one of the tables outside.
As a side note, the restaurant was recently robbed. Although the robber was caught, it's unlikely that they'll recover any of the money he took. Times are tough enough as it is for family-run small businesses. I urge all of my Irvine readers to stop by sometime this month and give New York Pizzeria a try. Support our local restaurants and help keep this great community establishment alive.
Medium Pizza - $12.00
New York Pizzeria
13925 Yale Ave., #135
Irvine, CA 92620