Slice

The Bronx: Patricia's of Morris Park

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[Photographs: Adam Kuban]

Patricia's of Morris Park

1080 Morris Park Avenue, Bronx NY 10461 (Williamsbridge/Lurting aves; map); 718-409-9069 or 718-792-1704; patriciasmorrispark.com
Getting there: Nearest train is the 5 at Morris Park Station; get out and walk south-southeast down Paulding to Morris Park Ave.; bang a right and walk a couple blocks more to Lurting Ave.
Pizza style: Neapolitan-inspired
Oven type: For now, wood-fired or gas-fired
The skinny: Very good Neapolitan/New York–Neapolitan hybrid that leans closer to Neapolitan. It's like a supersized Naples-style pie. Changing locations soon
Price: Absolute steal at $13 for "regular" size plain pie; the "regular" is any other place's "large"

It's been a shamefully long time since Slice has gotten its crust on in the Bronx. And an even longer time since this site hit up Patricia's of Morris Park, one of our favorite pizzerias in the northernmost borough of this great city.

I had originally planned to do a Morris Park mini pizza crawl*, that would have included Patricia's and some other places in the neighborhood. But then I saw something intriguing going on at Patricia's — it's building out the space next door and will move there within a month. Once I saw the new awning and signage next door, I put my plans for a crawl on hold. But more on the new space later.

Patricia's of Morris Park serves some fine Neapolitan-inspired pizza. The crust is flavorful, tender and crisp (made with Caputo "00" flour). One of the more tender-crisp crusts I've had in this city. The sauce is a simple, fresh mixture of canned San Marzanos from Italy, and the cheese is fresh mozzarella from Aiello Brothers in Brooklyn.

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One thing to know about Patricia's before you go — at least until they move next door — is that they offer pizza cooked either in a gas oven or from their wood-burning oven. Why you would go for the gas-oven pizza is beyond me.

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But, as Patricia's owner Alex Borgognone says, almost no one orders from the gas oven. (As an aside, one thing that Scott Wiener of Scott's Pizza Tours does when he leads people through Patricia's is order a pie from the gas oven and one from the wood-fired brick oven so that tour patrons can see and taste the difference.)

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This pizza is the one you see coming out of the oven above. This was owner Alex Borgognone's lunch. It's interesting to note that he likes it with a little less cheese than what customers get.

Another thing to note is that the pizza here is sort of a hybrid between Neapolitan style and New York–style. I suppose you could classify it as Neapolitan American–style — sort of like the coal-oven guys, Totonno's, Grimaldi's, Patsy's, etc., but closer to the Neapolitan end of things.

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That is, the pizzas are very minimalist and strike a good balance of crust, sauce, and cheese (as Neapolitan pizzas are and do) but the pies are much bigger and thinner than any Neapolitan-style pizza I've had. And, bowing more to American tastes, the crust is crisper than many Neapolitan pies. Yet, as I say above, exceedingly tender.

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About sizing at Patricia's: You'll find "personal," "regular," and "large" on the menu. Above is the "regular," which would probably be a "large" anywhere else. The "large," the waitress there on Wednesday said, "overhangs this pan by an inch or so." Still, a big eater could make a dent in a "regular," since it's so thin.

(And a final thing to note about Patricia's of Morris Park — it is now the only Patricia's going. At one point, there were two affiliated pizzerias, Patricia's II and Patricia's III. The original Patricia's broke off affiliation with them about two years ago and those locations must now change their names.)

Patricia's New Space

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In about a month, Borgognone says, Patricia's will be operating out of its new space, which is night and day from its current digs. The Patricia's of today is humble and very much says "Hey, I'm just a nice, friendly neighborhood pizzeria." You can tell it's more than just a corner to-go slice joint — it's got white tablecloths and sit-down service, but the space looks like it was last updated in the early '90s. That's not meant to be disrespectful, it's just an observation. And, chances are, Borgognone and the crew at Patricia's knows it's a bit dated. Which is why they've gone all out on the new space.

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Which is pretty slick. Marble floors and a granite bar top. Rustic, exposed-brick walls and a sort of solid Tuscan villa vibe. The place looks solid, airy, and inviting. There's a large wine cellar going into the basement level (bottles will be from $20 to $45, Borgognone says). You can imagine what it might look like from the construction shots above.

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But perhaps the thing that pizza nerds will appreciate is the new, larger wood-fired pizza oven, which had just been finished days before I visited. It takes pride of place behind the glass wall of the kitchen, on view for all in the rear dining room to see.

Unfortunately for Wiener and his pizza tour, the new Patricia's will be doing away with the gas oven, so the tour won't have an opportunity to test both side by side. (Note to Alex: It's not too late to consider making room for the gas oven!)

Slice will check back in after the opening. And perhaps then we'll explore the other places in the neighborhood that need exploring. Until then, we're happy with the fare at Patricia's.

* See, not too long ago on Midtown Lunch, a commenter there, Spydr331, ripped Slice a new one regarding our nonexistent Bronx coverage:

and i dont respect slice as a representation of pizza in ny... they only rated one other area near me, patricias, which is a brick oven place, but they didnt even bother venturing further into the italian neighborhood just blocks away from both places where there are 5 pizza places within 7 blocks of eachother at the time... now its up to like 9 with 2 brick over pizza places... if they ignore my pizza places, i ignore them

Fair enough. Though I'm afraid I failed Spydr331 once again, in that I visited Morris Park with every intention of venturing farther into the neighborhood for the places he talks about but then got hung up at Patricia's. If anyone from Morris Park is reading, I would certainly welcome Morris Park pizza recs for next time I'm out there. Pizza Captain? (LOVE that name, btw.) Emilio's? Gimme the skinny, Bronxers! [back to top]

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