Cheese, sauce, dough — it seems simple enough, right? Think again. There’s a lot of mediocre pizza out there, and nothing disappoints me more than a subpar slice. What’re all the calories for!? As a Ridgewood, Queens local for more years than I’d like to admit, I’m sharing my favorite sources for a classic, plain cheese slice.
I used to live off of the M train at Fresh Pond Road, and my apartment was situated around the corner from Minitalia. Good ol’ Minitalia…I miss it. It’s owned and operated by Rocky, as he’s known by locals. (No relation, or resemblance, to Balboa.) This place is run chiefly by the mustached man himself, and his wife and two sons can frequently be found behind the counter. The key attribute that makes this slice my top pick is that it’s always fresh. I place a lot of importance on crust — I have no patience for a floppy slice. Rocky’s slices have the right amount of rigidity and crunch, proper cheese-to-sauce ratio, and the crust is crunchy on the outside but soft and fluffy on the inside. It doesn’t disappoint. And if his chicken rolls catch your eye and you’re in the mood for something different, that’s another item I highly recommend — simple but palatable.
I recently moved closer to Bushwick, which meant I had to change my go-to pizza dealer to Madison Pizzeria. It’s right under the Forest Ave M train, which might sound off-putting, but don’t let that deter you. Madison also has the right ratio of dough, cheese, and sauce, and again, fresh ingredients. The guy behind the counter is mustached, as well — I think this is a key to being a good pizza maker. My order at Madison consists of a room temperature slice and Diet Coke. That’s right, I get it unheated so I can toss it in the oven at home and crank the temperature up high. (I like it when the cheese burns the roof of my mouth!)
The Original Martiniello’s Pizzeria & Restaurant
The Original Martiniello’s Pizzeria & Restaurant on Forest Ave, right before Metropolitan Ave (the non-original is for the birds — stay away) used to be Il Gusto but is under new ownership and serves up a proper slice. I’m glad they took it over — the space got renovated and so did the pizza. I never actually tried the previous pizzeria, but sometimes you can just tell. If I walk into a pizzeria and see a sad slice that looks like it’s been in the freezer, I’m walkin’ right on out. Luckily, Martiniello’s is perfect.
Rosa’s Pizza on Fresh Pond Road is worth a mention for its variety of options. This place has a ziti, taco, and ravioli slice, amongst several other quirky choices, and a pretty good classic Grandma. They also have a grilled chicken and mozzarella sandwich that I recommend.
There you have it — my favorite slices in the Ridgewood neighborhood. Stay away from mediocre pizza, folks. Remember, if you walk in and see a guy with a mustache, chances are you’ll be well taken care of.