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New York Pizza Department says fuggedabout Chicago-style pies
One of the best things about visiting New York City is stopping by Joe’s Pizza in the West Village, grabbing a plain slice on a plate and stepping out onto Carmine Street to savor what many have called the best pizza on the planet. One of the worst things about visiting New York City is realizing that you may never find anything close to Joe’s Pizza outside of The City, especially if you are living in such far-flung places as Chattanooga, TN. That is, until the pizza gods decided to shine down upon the citizens of Gig City and bless us with the New York Pizza Department.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I must admit that I am completely in the NY style camp when it comes to the great NY-style vs. Chicago-style pizza wars. If you are unfamiliar with the difference, New York pizza is traditionally hand-tossed, lightly sauced, with a thin crust that is at once crispy and chewy. New York pizza is to be folded in half and eaten with your hands; it is never, ever to be eaten with a fork or terrible things will befall you and your family. Chicago-style pizza, on the other hand, is essentially a casserole atop a doughy crust where the main ingredients act as fillings rather than toppings. It looks like an above-ground pool filled with tomato sauce.
You won’t find any deep-dish or Chicago-style pizza coming out of the NY Pizza Department kitchen. Instead, you will find some of the freshest and tastiest pizza you’ve ever had, which just so happens to be the closest thing to actual New York pizza you can get anywhere close to Chattanooga.
NYPD’s owner operator and Long Island native Erik Cilen says their pizza is, “Not New York-style pizza, it’s not like New York pizza, it is New York pizza.” Cilen and his staff go to great lengths to match the flavor and texture of authentic NY pizza, from creating their own exclusive, proprietary cheese blend to making their own sauce from fresh tomatoes and seasonings. They even apply reverse osmosis and other techniques to the water used to make their pizza dough in an effort to match the profile of NYC water that has long been held as the “secret” to New York pizza. Whatever it is they are doing to get their pizza’s superb taste and texture, it’s working beautifully. New York Pizza Department’s pizza is so reminiscent of true New York pizza that former NYC residents, as well as local pizza fans, have been flocking to the restaurant since its opening in early 2012.
Most recently, I visited NYPD for lunch so I could take advantage of the daily lunch special that pairs two slices of cheese pizza with a drink for $6.50. The cheese slices are cut from an enormous 24-inch pie, so each slice is a footlong triangle of savory, cheesy deliciousness, just as pizza was meant to be. The slices are perfectly crisp on the bottom and evenly cooked so the crust has that slight crunch on the outside while remaining tender and slightly chewy on the inside. The contrast between the crunch of the crust and the gooiness of the cheese will bring tears to your eyes. And their proprietary cheese blend is a real treat for cheese lovers tired of the thick layers of rubbery “cheese product” that top most pizza.
If you are feeding the Duggar family or any other large, hungry group, you can buy their giant 24-inch pies whole (yes, I said 24-inch pie and yes, that is the size of a small car tire). NY Pizza Department’s menu offers an enticing selection of specialty pies, such as the Jamaican-inspired “Rasta Pie” and the addictive “Da Gotti Blanca” white pizza, as well as the standard cheese or pepperoni.
Aside from pizza, NYPD serves up massive strombolis, calzones, pastas, sandwiches and even salads, but the stars of the non-pizza portion of the menu are definitely the Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches. Once again, Cilen and his crew have gone over and above to bring the real deal to Chattanooga. These Philly cheesesteaks start with real Amoroso’s sandwich rolls shipped in from Amoroso’s Baking Company in Pennsylvania and are filled with real Philly steak, also shipped in from the City Of Brotherly Love. They are then finished off with your choice of toppings, including the must-have item on any true Philly cheesesteak: Cheez Whiz. Be assured, Cheez Whiz is a national treasure, so no one will judge you…that’s the way a real Philly cheesesteak is supposed to be made.
So whether you are looking for a hot slice to feed your New York pizza craving, a beautifully sloppy Cheez Whiz-filled Philly cheesesteak, or are simply searching for some of the best pizza in the Chattanooga area, the New York Pizza Department can fit any bill. You can trust me, I’m a professional.
New York Pizza Department
5731 Hwy 153, Hixson