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Atlanta: Like Dough? You'll Be Bullish on New York Pizza Exchange
New York Pizza Exchange
2810 Paces Ferry Road, Atlanta, GA 30339 (Map); 770-434-9000; nypizzaexchange.com
Pizza type: NY-style
Oven type: Gas
The Skinny: Longtime Atlanta favorite may hit NYC notes with some, but can be weighed down by dense, chewy dough
Price: Famous White Pizza, $17.99; PMS, $21.99
To be clear right from the get-go, there are really no similarities between New York City and the part of Atlanta known as Vinings. Directions within this tiny, well-to-do enclave known for big homes, Southern-cuisine eateries, and The Home Depot's corporate HQ are all based on relative relationship to "the railroad tracks."
New York Pizza Exchange is practically on top of the tracks. Like, from the right table on the outdoor patio, you're less than 40 feet away. So there's every likelihood that your greasy, foldable slice will be interrupted by the soul-shaking rumbling of a train as it barrels past, close enough to blow your napkins around and drown out your conversation. Hey, wait a minute. It's exactly like New York City.
New York Pizza Exchange has been around since 1983, and—according to their website—has enjoyed a storied history that once included a listing among Pizza Today magazine's Top 100 independent pizza restaurants in the US. Of course, times have changed, and now you can't swing a long-handled peel without hitting a half-dozen independent pizza restaurants, each one purporting to be more authentic than the next. But NYPE still lays claim to a white pizza considered by many to be the best in the city.
It certainly looks the part. Big, floppy, thin slices out of an 18-inch pie definitely had me in a New York state of mind. No overcheffification with this one: simple mozzarella on a garlic-and-cheese sauce. It absolutely reminded me of slices I've gotten from nondescript corner pizzerias in the Big Apple.
A peek at the underside showed a whole spectrum of color, from just-toasted golden at the rim to almost-burnt black at the point. I may not know much, but I'm guessing it may be time for a little recalibration, 'cos those decks in the Bakers Pride gas ovens appear to have some hot spot issues.
This is the photo that perhaps gives you the best indication of how NYPE's Famous White Pizza tastes. That cornicione cross-section seems rather doughy, no? That was the first word that sprang to mind as I ate. Spongy was another. Chewy jumped in there, too. Were it not for the telltale triangular shape of what I was eating, I could have closed my eyes and asked for more cheesy bread.
Now, my pant size makes it clear that I'm okay with cheesy bread as a concept. But it's a different animal than pizza. And between the doughy/spongy/chewy base, the sparsely-applied sauce, and the gobs of melted mozz... cheesy bread is exactly what this ate like.
That dense, chewy dough was also the foundation of the other pie I sampled, the PMS. (Don't groan too loudly; their carnivore special is called Can't Beat the Meat.) Here, the classic pepperoni-mushroom-sausage combo at least reinforced the "pizza" thing... although this pie was still a little light on the sauce, it seemed, and heavy on the crust.
NYPE's pizzas did remind me of the street slices I've had in Manhattan... although I don't recall those as having been quite so doughy and dense. It's not bad, per se, just different. Be warned.
What's that? You want to go light? Maybe just a salad? Well, guess what, it comes in its own thick crust, too. Invented in honor of a longtime NYPE customer who could never decide between pizza and a salad, all of the salads are now served nestled inside a baby Sicilian crust with sauce on the side. Clever and original, it puts the pre-meal salad and breadsticks together in a single dish for $7.49, but if you're not ready for it (I wasn't), it can be a what-the-hell-do-we-do-with-THIS kind of surprise.
Had I known how much bread would already be coming to the table between the pizzas and the salad, I might not have also ordered the P'roni Rolls ($7.49). I didn't even know pepperoni rolls were a thing until Slice'rs who grew up with them weighed in after our review of Cinnabon's food court version. NYPE's aren't as doughy (odd, considering...) as the Pizzabon, probably because they're not as tall. They come four to an order and include a pesto-based dipping sauce that I found to be a bit of a mismatch. A tasty little app, if perhaps a tad unnecessary, given the extreme carb-loading that comes standard with apparently everything at New York Pizza Exchange. I'll know for next time... and make plans to catch that last train to Napville.
About the Author: Todd Brock lives the glamorous life of a stay-at-home freelance writer in the suburbs of Atlanta. Besides being paid to eat cheeseburgers for AHT and pizzas for Slice, he's written and produced over 1,000 hours of television and penned Building Chicken Coops for Dummies. When he grows up, he wants to be either the starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys or the drummer for Hootie & the Blowfish. Or both.