Rye, New York: Sunrise Pizza

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Sunrise Pizza

7 Purdy Avenue, Rye NY 10580 (map); 914-967-8696
Pizza Style: New York–style
Oven Type: Gas
The Skinny? The town of Rye has radically changed around it, but Sunrise endures, serving up slices that are classic New York–style
Price: Regular slice, $2.50; Sicilian slice, $2.75

Rye, New York, has changed a lot since I first visited Sunrise Pizza back in the mid 1980s. The Stop 'n Shop is now a Walgreen's, the Woolworth's, where you could sit at a lunch counter and snack on grilled cheese sandwiches, is long gone, as is the Cosmo Diner, which served New England Greek–style pizza. The sleepy town was always well-to-do but it has become more glitzy and more suburban. The small family owned Mom and Pop stores are mostly gone, replaced by banks and boutiques. Sunset has not gone entirely unscathed - it has doubled in size after annexing the space that once housed a barber shop , the once minimal menu (pizza and calzone) has grown into a full blown Italian American affair and the Pac Man machines are gone. But the ovens are the same, the slices are almost as good as I remember them and the feeling of a neighborhood pizzeria remain.

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The decor might have been updated since I last visited.....

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...but the oven remains the same.

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The pies that emerge from the oven are classic New York style. Thin, crisp crust slathered in a sparing amount of a sweet sauce and strewn with a low-moisture mozzarella that melts and blisters perfectly.

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The crust is crisper and more brittle than I remember it—it does not have much chewiness and crumbles where other dough would stretch. But it had a pleasing flavor. There is no problem with the cheese stretching—it forms long, molten strings, pulling the mild sauce with it. It is a more-than-decent slice.

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The Sicilian slices at Sunrise share much in common with the slices served at Sal's Pizza in Mamaroneck, a few towns to the south. Indeed, I believe there was a family connection between the two pizzerias back in antiquity. The architecture of the slices is the same—a thick, yet airy crust, deeply bronzed on the bottom, topped with a generous amount of sauce and an even more generous amount of cheese that melts in a uniform blanket over the pie.

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Nicely balanced between crunch and softness the crust is a perfect vessel for the toppings. The sauce - sweet and tangy - is more apparent than on the regular slice and the cheese is creamier. Over all I prefer it to the regular slice.

That Sunrise has lost some of the purity that it had with its minimalist menu is not as important as the fact that it still serves a slice that has remained untouched by all the changes around it. While many of the small family run business that once lined Central Avenue have succumbed to modernity Sunrise endures, still family run and still serving a slice that is a fine example of a New York–style pizza.

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