Since I’ve dubbed myself The Hungry Cabbie, I thought my first post as Gothamist’s outer borough food correspondent should be about a classic eating institution that absolutely every cabbie should know: New Park Pizzeria.
It lies directly beneath the flight path into JFK Airport in the proud, old Italian neighborhood of Howard Beach, Queens. Unfortunately, the neighborhood is not known for being a particularly inviting place to outsiders thanks to a white mob that lynched a black man 2 decades ago. And knuckleheads like Fat Nick Minucci, who went to trial this week for racially slurring a black man before he allegedly cracked his skull with a baseball bat (he also beat a turbaned Sikh man as the towers burned on September 11), don’t help much either. Howard Beach is referred to more often as an “enclave” than a neighborhood as though it is a UN Compound amidst a raging third world genocide. It might be the only section of the city in which it makes sense that the locals buy their tacos and shish kabobs from a place called Vito’s.
But don’t let wretched things like race riots and hate crimes deter you. New Park Pizza is fifty years old this year, and it is well worth an intrepid journey into the enclave. A slice from New Park is full of old-fashioned New York flavor. The light and chewy crust is charred just enough, and the cheese is plentiful but not overwhelming. The star of a New Park experience, however, is clearly the tomato sauce. It is tangy like a good sauce should be, yet it retains a slight hint of sweetness which gives the slice an addictive quality that has me driving miles out of my way at least once a week for a fix.
The grumpy pizza guys at New Park offer a Sicilian slice too, but mostly they stick to what they know best, and that is the classic New York thin crust cheese slice. If you ask them nicely, they’ll throw some pepperoni on there. And if you ask your cabbie nicely, maybe he’ll pull off the Belt Parkway or the Conduit on the way out to JFK and grab a slice with you. If I were your cabbie, I know I would.
New Park Pizzeria, 15671 Crossbay Blvd., Howard Beach, Queens