Monday, October 25, 2010
Carmine's Express Nikki's New York Style
Having just returned from New York City, where I sampled as many local pizza parlors' wares as I could, I thought it might be a good time to look at some local versions of New York style pizza.
We'll start wtih Carmine's Express on Elmgrove Road, which offers "Nikki's New York Style," which is described in the menu as "thin crust - red sauce with a hint of garlic flavor and mozzarella cheese." For some reason, it only comes in one size, 14 inches in diameter.
The crust on this pie was very thin indeed; the crust and cheese together measured about a quarter inch thick. The interior showed little evidence of the dough having risen, though the light brown underside was marked here and there by some concave pockets suggesting that some bubbles had formed on the bottom. The crust was a bit oily to the touch, with an overall oily sheen on top and bottom. As is true of genuine New York pizza, these slices folded easily. They lacked crispness, though, and were floppy and soft. After the pie had cooled a bit, the thin lip along the edge turned rather hard, which is a sure sign of oil.
The pizza was topped by a uniform layer of orangey, well-browned cheese. There was very little sauce in between the crust and cheese. Some dried herbs were visible atop the cheese, and the aroma was a blend of french-fry-like cooking oil, garlic (powder, perhaps) and herbs.
In its own, slightly weird way, this pizza was sort of good. Sort of. Well, almost. It was kind of tasty, at least, between the cheese, herbs, and flavor-conveying oil. But New York style? I think not. A good New York pizza achieves an almost magical balance between crispness and pliability, with crust, sauce and cheese likewise staying in Zen-like balance with each other. This pizza was more like a soft, thin layer of dough topped with cheese, a smidgen of sauce and some dried herbs. Again, not the worst combination, but not great either, and certainly not New York style pizza. I won't deduct points for failing to be true to style, but on its own merits, I have to give it negatives for the soft, slightly greasy crust as well as the relative lack of sauce. I think a C- feels about right on this one. Carmine's Express, 3872 Lyell Rd. at Elmgrove, Gates, 14606, 247-7575 Also at 400 Ridge Road W. at North Ave., Greece, 14626, 225-5111 Gates hours: Sun. - Thu. 11 a.m. - 10 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 11 a.m. - 11 p.m. Greece hours: Sun. - Thu. 11 a.m. - 10 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 11 a.m. - midnight