209 Stevens Avenue, Mount Vernon NY 10550 (map); 914-664-9747
Pizza style: Great versions of bar pizza and grandma-style pizza
The skinny: Fantastic crispy bar pizza and delicious, if soupy, square pies.
One of my favorite things about old pizzerias in and around New York City is that they're often relics of Italian neighborhoods that no longer exist. I love finding an old-school pizza place tucked in among cuchifrito joints and college bars; you can see a little bit of the history of the neighborhood peeking through.
Mt. Vernon's Lincoln Lounge is one of those places. Opened in 1950, the Lincoln Lounge is still owned and operated by the same family—my 20-year-old waiter was the great-grandson of the restaurant's founder.
Though it sits on a pretty desolate corner in a not-particularly-inviting neighborhood, the Lounge feels like a place that generation after generation has enjoyed. There are Christmas lights hanging from the ceiling and pictures and reviews crowding the walls. The tablecloths are vinyl and the wood paneling is abundant.
The pizza comes in two varieties, square and round. We ordered one of each: a round plain pie and a square pie (pictured above) with a mix of hot and sweet sausage.
The round pies are extremely thin. They reminded me a bit of the excellent bar pizza at Colony Grill in Stamford, which Adam reviewed on Slice awhile back.
Lincoln Lounge's thin crust is crispy with no developed hole structure. While it's not charred—for me, charred calls to mind Neapolitan-style bubbles blackened under intense heat—the crust is, let's say, scorched in places and for a ridiculously thin pizza, it keeps its crunch for a long time.
The cheese is tasty and applied with a slightly heavy hand given how little foundation there is. The sauce has always been a wee bit too sweet for my taste, but it works with everything else. I'd say this pizza is right up there with Colony's plain pie.
And then there's the square pie. Oh, the square pie! It's a particularly tasty member of the pizza genus known as the grandma pie. This one's crust is a little thinner than most grandma pies, but thicker than the Lounge's round pie. And like the round, it's scorched rather than charred.
There's no sauce on the square pie. Instead it's topped with sliced tomatoes, along with cheese, a boatload of garlic, and, in our case, both sweet and hot sausage. The sausage is excellent and presented in big, moist crumbles the way nature intended.
The edges of the square pie have a nice contrast of textures. The bottom is very crisp, the middle layer has a slight soupiness because of the tomato, and the cheese on top is chewy. But as you cram small square slice after small square slice into your maw, the texture changes.
By the time you reach the center of the pie, it's a delicious, sopping mess. The crust has given up, and you have support your entire slice to keep it from disintegrating, but it's worth it. The flavors mingle and turn into something different, like the best bruschetta in the known universe.
The biggest problem with the Lounge is the location. I think one could accurately describe the corner as "windswept." But it's located only about a five minute drive from another excellent, and very different, pizzeria in Mt. Vernon—Johnny's—making it well worth the trip out of New York City to engage in a mini-pizza crawl.
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