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71. Angelo's Pizza

Classification: Traditional

Location: Queens, New York

I was in New York City for a work conference a few years ago, and I intentionally built some free time in to my schedule that would allow me to explore the culture, the ballparks, the landmarks, and of course, the pizza. I spent the first couple of nights at an AirBnB in a residential neighborhood of Queens before heading into Manhattan for the conference. it's a place I had only passed through fairly quickly in my previous travels, so it was pretty cool to live as a faux-New Yorker for a short spell. Among my first tasks was to find a place within walking distance of my house where I could sample real honest-to-goodness New York pizza, and as it turned out, the options were plentiful.

Ultimately, I wound up at a prototypical corner pizzeria in the Jackson Heights area, just a few miles from LaGuardia airport. I chose it not only for its nearby location, but also that it looked pretty much like everything you'd imagine a local pizza joint should look like. I entered Angelo's* on a warm Spring evening, and there were perhaps 10 other patrons in the dining room, which might have had a capacity of 30, if you practice poor social distancing. So plenty of room to spread out, but enough of a crowd to suggest the locals frequented it.

*Side note: Google Angelo's Pizza, and I bet you'll find one in your hometown. It's probably the most common name imaginable for a pizza place. There's two within a half-hour of my home, and I live well off the beaten pizza path.

I was welcomed by the Sal the Proprietor in a greeting that was mostly friendly, but also lightly seasoned with some unwarranted aggression, which was pretty much how I imagined our encounter should begin. Since there was nobody waiting in line behind me, I briefly scoured the chalk-written daily specials on the overhead board before deciding on the two-slice special. Upon voicing my order, two slices were rapidly fed into the oven for a quick warming before I could even declare my desired toppings. I was rung up efficiently and sent on my way with a classic "Thanks pal." So on this night, I would eat what Sal decided.

Two slices of traditional pepperoni is what was on the tonight's menu. It wasn't awe-inspiring, but I still found it fairly enjoyable and very voluminous--almost too much to finish. But I fought through it, and in the end, my first slice of New York pizza gave me a decent measuring stick for the pizzerias coming up on rest of my trip, which you'll be hearing much more about soon. (5 of 10 stars)

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