355 Graham Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11211; map); 718-384-8669; tonyspizzaonline.rapidorders.com
Pizza Style: New York–style
Oven Type: Gas
The Skinny: The supposed deep dish is not really a Chicago-style pie at all. But the round New York–style pizza is very good, and the Sicilian even better
Price: Slices, $2.50
Continuing my search for a decent Chicago-style deep dish pizza in New York (a search that is proving rather quixotic), I found myself in Brooklyn this week. Once again, I was sorely disappointed by the deep dish pie, but in the process, I discovered a neighborhood gem.
I can guess what you're thinking: "Deep dish pizza outside of Chicago? That can't be any good." But I love a good deep dish pie and am determined to find one in NYC.
What Tony's Pizza calls deep dish is not a Chicago-style pie. It's essentially a Sicilian-style dough baked in a round rather than the more traditional square pan. While Chicago pizzas have deep walls that rise up forming a well for the toppings (or more correctly filling), the pizza at Tony's is flat with the topping sitting on top rather than inside of the crust.
When you take one look at Tony's, it's not surprising that they haven't quite mastered what a Chicago pie is all about. Tony's is an old-school New York slice joint, the type that every neighborhood once had, but these days are becoming more and more scarce.
This is a lasagna deep dish slice. As you can see, it has toppings rather than the filling of a true deep dish pie. It was by far the least interesting thing I ate at Tony's.
The regular slice, on the other hand, was delicious. It was a tad more blistered on top than I prefer, but since it was reheated rather than coming off a fresh pie, I don't think it will always be that way. There was a wonderful synergy between the mild, sweet sauce, gooey cheese and mostly crunchy but still supple crust. The ingredients were all of good quality, the dough fresh and pleasingly yeasty in flavor. No, there was no snipping of fresh basil or anointing of olive oil, but that's not what this place is about.
There are other pleasures among the multitude of pies that line the display case at Tony's. There is the Grandpa slice (essentially a Grandma slice topped with fresh mozzarella), and a Grandma slice (with the more common low moisture variety.) My Grandma always told me not to be fresh, so I went with the latter. The crust had a beautiful bronzing on the bottom and a supremely crispy crust with charred (but not bitter tasting) edges.
A sprinkle of Parmesan added a touch of salt, and the sauce was darker, more concentrated, and more acidic than the sauce on the regular slice. I didn't like the flavor profile quite as much, but it was still quite enjoyable.
The best came last. The Sicilian was stellar: a thin plank of pie brimming with molten cheese that spilled over the edges of the slice. As the cheese elongated, little holes appeared on the surface and geysers of the sweet, tangy sauce squirted through them. The dough was light and impossibly airy, spongy and soft, yet with a good crunch on the bottom. The sauce was the same as on the regular pie but because of its greater volume it took on a sweeter, more herbaceous character.
You may not find the deep dish pie of your dreams at Tony's, but with a bite of their Sicilian and their regular New York slice, you may forget for a moment that the Windy City even exists.
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