Thursday, May 23, 2013
What do I know from New York pizza?
A pie browns in the wood-fired oven at Joe's.
Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer
JOE'S NEW YORK PIZZA
WHERE: 420 Fore St., Portland; 699-5559
HOURS: 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday to Thursday; 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday
CHEAPEST GRUB: A slice of pizza, about $3.50, depending on number of toppings
WAIT: About a minute, for two slices
PARKING: On street
HANDICAPPED ACCESSIBLE: Yes
-- Based on a five-star scale
Living my whole life in New England, I've heard the phrase but had no idea what it meant. Is it thicker, thinner or different in any way?
Well, after visiting Joe's New York Pizza in Portland's Old Port several times, I've decided the phrase basically means good, dependable pizza.
By the slice.
What I like the best about Joe's is that at lunch time, it has about eight different pizzas on display on the counter. You can pick a slice of any one of those for about $3.50 or $3.75 (sometimes less), depending on the number of toppings.
On the day I went, some of the pizzas being offered by the slice were specialty pies from the menu; others were just combinations that the chef put together that day. They included the restaurant's Hawaiian (ham and pineapple), Buffalo Chicken, BBQ Chicken, a veggie and various other combinations.
I chose a slice of Buffalo Chicken for $3.51 and a four-topping creation for $3.74.
The counter person slid the slices into the hot oven (I could see the flames) for a very short time, which was great. The slices were just warm enough, and the heat didn't re-melt the cheese or harm the freshness of the slices in any way.
The Buffalo Chicken had big chunks of white chicken meat, fresh-tasting mozzarella and a spicy sauce. The heat of the slice wasn't overbearing, but was fairly intense and long-lasting. It had a fairly thin crust that was firm enough to hold the sauce, with a giant roll of crust at the end that was like having a side order of Tuscan bread.
The four-topping slice had pepperoni, meatballs cut in half, black olives and small pieces of broccoli on a bright-red sauce and melted cheese. The crust was even thinner than on the Buffalo Chicken, but again, it firm enough to hold the sauce, and was even a little crunchy. I found the sauce to be especially good, compared to a lot of red sauces on pizzas.
Both slices were very big, and together, they were actually a little more than I might normally have for lunch.
I really liked the fact that some of the by-the-slice pizzas were just whipped up on the spot without following any regular menu combination. That said, though, the place does offer a lot of creative pizza combinations, including White Pizza with mozzarella, ricotta, garlic and no sauce; the Frat Boy, a Greek pizza with spinach, tomatoes, black olives and feta cheese; the Chicken Bacon Bravo, with chicken and bacon tossed in barbecue ranch sauce; the Steak N Bake, with a homemade blue cheese base topped with shaved steak and bacon; and Joe's Favorite, with pepperoni, bacon and mozzarella.
The 20 or so full pizza combinations on the menu range from about $10.97 for a small Joe's Favorite to $24.95 for a 19-inch "party" size Chicken Bacon Bravo. You can also choose your own toppings. Then there's the Meat Pie -- pepperoni, sausage, ham and meatballs in a double crust topped with mozzarella and bacon -- which costs $26.95 for the 19-inch.
Joe's extensive menu also includes appetizers, buffalo wings, salads, calzones, wraps and subs.
There are a few tables and two TVs if you want to dine in. But being that it's right in the middle of the Old Port, it's convenient for folks who want to grab a slice and go.
The staff of GO anonymously samples meals for about $7.