In planning Pizza: A Slice of Heaven
, I originally envisioned a chapter on "beach pizza," for pizzerias found along the boardwalk in places such as Ocean City and Atlantic City in New Jersey, and Rehobeth, Delaware. I eventually nixed the idea because my research revealed that most beach pizza is pretty awful (there are exceptions along the Jersey Shore that are written about elsewhere in the book). Another exception that I had to include is New Park Pizzeria,
located in Howard Beach, Queens, right next to Kennedy Airport.
New Park Pizzeria is the paradigm of a beach pizza joint. You order at the counter and take your slices to the outdoor eating patio in front of the restaurant. There's a small heated room in the back where people eat their pizza in cold weather. The guys behind the counter are invariably teenagers from the 'hood, and they wear their baseball caps backward, but don't be alarmed; they're reasonably friendly. The pizza comes out of a super-hot gas oven that produces charred-on-the-bottom, crisp-crusted slices topped with just a little too much good commercial mozzarella.
New Park Pizzeria
Address: 156-71 Cross Bay Boulevard, Howard Beach NY (at the corner of 157th Street; map)
Note: Many people know New Park Pizzeria as the scene of a really ugly racial incident in December 1986, when four black men came to the pizzeria looking for a phone to call a service station because their car had broken down. They were chased out of the pizzeria by a group of white teenagers and beaten with baseball bats and a tree limb. They ran onto the nearby Shore Parkway, where one of them was killed by a passing car. That was years ago, and though I don't think the NAACP is holding any meetings in Howard Beach, nobody working in the pizzeria was ever accused of any wrongdoing.
This entry is an excerpt from my book Pizza: A Slice of Heaven. To read more, visit the Slice of Heaven archives here on Slice or buy the book from Amazon.