When you get right down to it, New York is really so weird about pizza. There’s a certain pride about it; “the pie” is one of those iconic food symbols of the city. There’s also the egalitarian bent: The slice as common ground. We all stop in for a slice, at some point or another; in a city this diverse, that is something to take pride in.
All this pride and emotion leads to a certain protectiveness of pizza’s merits, as if the acknowledgment of the existence of bad pizza, or un-pizza would somehow make these principles less glorious. (Entirely untrue!) So what to make of this?
… I was confronted with all these thoughts and more today when, in one of the most humble of all restaurant establishments, the stripmall pizza joint, I found one of the strangest pizzas I’ve ever seen in my life. I discovered the “Fresca Pie” ($30) , “fresh mozzarella, fresh diced tomatoes and fresh basil,” ready and waiting in all its diced tomato glory at Paradiso Restaurant & Pizzeria in Rockville Centre, a small town on Long Island that’s just a short, 40-minute LIRR ride from Penn Station.
How would this bruschetta-pizza love-child hold up against the sanctity of the slice? I like to consider myself fairly judicious, but even I don’t think I’d call it pizza.
More like: fresh mozzarella and tomato salad, that happens to be on top of a doughy, breadstick-like square. But what does this mean? I’m still not sure, but today turned out to be a much bigger day than I’d imagined.