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[Photograph: Carey Jones]

Dee's Brick Oven Pizza is the sort of cheerily neutral restaurant that wouldn't look out of place in any U.S. suburb; its endless list of pizza toppings (pulled chicken, sun-dried tomatoes) and long laminated menu might have you expect pleasantly nondescript pies. What a nice surprise, then, that the pizza is so good—and so interesting. It's fired in a wood-burning brick oven that, the pieman claims, gets up to 900°F, cooking the pizzas in three to five minutes.

The simple crushed-tomato sauce and melted, milky mozzarella were good enough that I'd imagine a $9 Margherita pizza here would be tasty, but we opted for the Via Armenia ($15), with two kinds of meat: basterma (an Armenian cured beef of spiced filet mignon) and Suejuk (similarly spiced beef pepperoni). "We're the only ones I know of that use these meats on pizza," said owner Dee Arabian. "Our background is Armenian; it's unique for a pizza shop."

While the basterma looked as if it could've grown tough, it was just barely chewy—prosciutto chewy, not beef-jerky chewy; even better was the suejuk, whose spice really emerges in the heat. The meat's cumin- and paprika-laced oils crept into the crevasses between the cheese. Though our crust was slightly underbaked—doughy in just a few spots—it was still so light, crisp-edged, and full-flavored that it's easy to imagine it would've been excellent after another minute in the oven.

Dee's Brick Oven Pizza

107-23 Metropolitan Avenue, Forest Hills NY 11375 (map)
718-793-7553; deesnyc.com

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