Forest Hills: Gloria Pizza's Triumphant Return
Gloria, hallelujah! Among Queensers who've been around long enough to remember it, the second coming of Gloria Pizza is kind of a big deal. The stuff of Chowhounder legend, the original Gloria, in Flushing, closed in the mid '90s but has lived on in the memories of fans and on the message boards of the foodiesphere. The reincarnated version opened in Forest Hills last week Tuesday.
The new Gloria fronts Queens Boulevard, just outside the Forest Hills–71st Avenue stop. You can't miss it. It's next to the Midway Cinemas movie theater. If you're still having a hard time, look for people carrying away Gloria-branded pizza boxes. I spotted three of them on my short walk from the train.
I moved to NYC a few years after Gloria closed, so I can't compare now to then, but what I had earlier this week was solid. Queens is not known for its classic New York slice culture, but Gloria's return will help rectify that.
Gloria's plain slice ($2.50)—a beautiful-looking yellow-orange triangle of molten cheese—is remarkably thin and crisp. Given how svelte a slice of this stuff is, I'm surprised it's not more floppy, but the crust holds up well to the generous amount of sauce and cheese sitting atop it. And that's not to mention the copious oil. This is one greasy slice. I happen to like it, but take note if that's not your thing. The sauce is slightly sweet, but there's a lot of salt in play, which evens things out a bit.
The pies are cooked in a brick-lined deck oven until the crust is uniformly dark brown. Just out of the oven, they're great. Be sure to get a fresh slice. The first slice I sampled there had been sitting and had suffered for it, even with a nice reheat.
This crust doesn't show it all that much, but the first plain slice I ordered had some beautiful "microblisters" along the rim and on the bottom, and the crust, where there was enough of it to tell, was flexible and audibly crisp even after sitting while I took my time photographing it.
Of the slices I tried, I thought the simple plain slice was the thing to get.
The grandma slice ($3.50) was good, but I've had better. It was garlicky and had a rich, concentrated sauce, but the crust was too thin and too crunchy.
The Sicilian ($2.75), though, was good, with an aggressive dusting of dried herbs and the same sweet-sauce flavor as the regular slice. It was light enough that I didn't get that gut-bombed feeling you often get from bad Sicilians. I'd get this before I'd go for the grandma here, but I'd still do the plain slice first.
I've been fascinated with balls this week, and I couldn't resist trying one of Gloria's gigantic rice balls ($3.95). It is gargantuan. Two people could probably split one.
As an example of the classic NYC corner slice, Gloria is pretty dang fine. After reading about it all these years, though, and anticipating its rise from the ashes of time, I didn't find it as transcendant as I hoped. I wouldn't travel far and wide for Gloria Pizza, but it is a solid neighborhood joint and a good New York–style complement to the neighborhood's fancy-pants Nick's Pizza over on Ascan.