2728 Broadway, New York NY 10025 (104th/105th streets; map); 212-932-1000; angelinapizzabar.com
Pizza Style: Neapolitan and thin-crust square
Oven Type: Revolving-floor brick oven
The Skinny: A pizza "concept" rather than a pizzeria with heart and soul
Price: Pies range from $14 to $22
With all the press attention on new-fashioned pizza, it's not surprising that fresh pizza "concepts" are opening all over the U.S. There's gold in them thar pizza, these folks are saying to themselves.
That's probably what the owners of Upper West Side Japanese restaurant Tokyo Pop were thinking when they swapped their Japanese concept for pizza and renamed it Angelina Pizzabar. Build a fancy brick oven with a rotating floor and they will come is the reasoning.
Well, I came and brought my pizza-loving son, Will, and two of his friends. We ate pizza, and we left sorely disappointed. So disappointed I insisted on taking them afterward to nearby Sal and Carmine's for a slice of pizza with soul.
I'm not kidding.
We ordered one each of the three styles of pizza they serve at Angelina:
A personal verde pizza ($14), with baby spinach, garlic, arugula, and mozzarella drizzled with balsamic vinegar and oil, had a dull, dull crust and virtually no flavor. For that matter, every crust we sampled was in desperate need of salt and character.
An "Old Fashioned" pancetta e cipolline ($22), with pancetta, scallion, fresh tomato, and mozzarella, was a rectangular pan pizza with areas of underbaked dough but well thought-out toppings.
A Super Thin Crust Margherita ($18; shown at top), with tomatoes, buffala mozzarella, and fresh basil, had a dry, stiff crust; sauce that had no fresh tomato flavor; and perfectly acceptable if generic buffalo mozzarella.
Angelina Pizzabar reeked of concept instead of passion. That's why when we left I took Will and his friends Max and Seth two blocks south to Sal and Carmine's for a slice with heart and soul. No rotating oven or faux brick or burning wood, just a solid, seriously delicious slice of pizza with a bready tender crust with a crunchy exterior.
We need more good owner-occupied pizzerias in the world, and fewer pizza "concepts," which I am sad to report is exactly what Angelina is.