BY CAROLYN ONOFREY
Featured in New York City magazine staples such as Time Out New York and New York Magazine as one of the top places in the City for pizza, I took my parents and some friends from out of town for a St. Patty’s day lunch at Lazzara’s. Walking into Lazzara’s, you can see that not much has changed since it was first opened in 1985 with its tin ceiling, brick walls, and outdated but fitting tables and chairs.
Our waiter came quickly to get our drink orders and was more than willing to answer any questions we had about the menu (including the very interesting special of the day, corned beef pizza). I ended up skipping the corned beef pizza and decided to share a pie with my mom: half Pizza Primavera with pepper, onion, mushroom and spinach and half Chicken Florentine (grilled chicken and sauteed spinach) ($18.00).
The wait was a little longer than I would have liked, but the pie was obviously fresh and made to order as made clear by the stream that was rolling up off the surface. The rectangular pizza had surprisingly thin crust that was nicely crisped on the edges but was slightly soggy on the bottom. Overall the pizza was good, different than your average pie, or at least different than your average New York City slice.
It reminded me of the pies I would eat growing up in Connecticut. Toppings galore, with a sauce that was subtle but at the same time had a strong concentrated tomato taste. The cheese, lightly browned added to the rustic look of the pizza and added a toasted cheese flavor to the already flavorful pie. Really, the difference was in the heartiness of the pizza, the fact that I could sit down and share a pie and feel like I just had a meal.
When I think New York pizza I think of grabbing a slice of cheese on the go or one of the many gourmet super thin varieties that you find all over the city in professionally designed swank Italian bistros. Even the prices were reminiscent of a suburban Italian joint, with large pizzas averaging $18 and pasta dishes averaging about $13; refreshing in a city where overpriced food is the norm.
Will I return to the worn yet comfortable space that houses Lazzara’s pizza? Honestly, I kind of doubt it. The pizza was good and different, but not so magnificent that I will need to return in any hurry. It is a good spot to take the family (especially if picky eaters are in the house), or to meet at for a Garment District vicinity business luncheon, but otherwise why go for a taste of the ‘burbs when you’re in the big city?