By Gary Nager
Anyone who has been reading this publication for any length of time knows how much I love pizza, especially the true New York-style pizza which cooks in real pizza ovens on a true pizza “stone.” The good news, for those of us who live and/or work in Wesley Chapel, is that our area already has had some pretty good NY-style ‘za.
The better news is that the new New York New York (NY NY) Pizza, which has been open a couple of months on Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd., in the same plaza as Dunkin’ Donuts and Edible Arrangements, is among the best in our area…the real thing.
Native New Yorker Freddie Mamudi, 35, who currently owns or co-owns four NY NY Pizzerias with a fifth getting ready to open in the Westchase area, has been making true NY pizza since age 12, when he started helping out in a family-owned pizza place in The Bronx, NYC. He moved to Florida after owning his first pizzeria in Connecticut, and opened his first NY NY Pizza on 7th Ave. in Ybor City in 2007, which became an instant favorite with the late night bar crowd. Since then, he has opened an equally successful location on Howard Ave. in the Hyde Park area in 2010, and another on Big Bend Rd. in Riverview the same year.
Although he still owns the Ybor location by himself, Freddie hasn’t forgotten his family roots, as he co-owns each of the other locations with one of his cousins. His cousin Leon co-owns Hyde Park, cousin Landi is his partner in Riverview, cousin Tony will help him open a Westchase location by a little after this issue reaches you and cousin Clarence Novaku is the manager/co-owner of the Wesley Chapel location.
“This is more like the Riverview location than Hyde Park or Ybor,” says Clarence. “But we want to assure everyone that if you’ve tried any of the other locations, we do everything the same here. We make the dough and sauce daily with only the best ingredients and also shred the cheese ourselves fresh every day. We think you can taste the difference.”
Clarence, who has been in the pizza biz more than 15 years himself, started at a family-owned restaurant called Il Picera in Garfield, NJ, when he was just 16. Although it became more of a fine-dining establishment during his nine years there, Il Picera started as a true NY-style pizza place, too.
As for the pizza itself, if you crave a thin, NY-style crust that crunches, as I do, and the true taste of New York in every bite of sauce, cheese and whatever toppings you prefer (I’m partial to the plain cheese and sausage and pepperoni pies), NY NY Pizza won’t let you down — and Freddie and Clarence promise that the pizza will always be available both by the slice and the whole pie, with a variety of by-the-slice favorites always on hand.
Clarence says his favorite pizza at NY NY is the “Grandma’s pizza,” which has three homemade sauces blended together with roasted garlic, fresh basil and olive oil and the sauce on it is unique…and totally delicious. But, you really can’t go wrong with any of the pizza options, from the traditional Margherita to the Bada Bing sausage (with tomatoes and broccoli), or the NY NY Supreme with pepperoni, sausage, meatballs, olives, bacon, mushrooms, onions, peppers and ham.
But, NY NY also features a full menu, with not just eggplant or chicken parmigiana, but also eggplant rollatini (rolled and stuffed with ham and ricotta), chicken or eggplant Florentine (with spinach, fresh mozzarella and a lemon sauce, penné a la vodka and of course, baked pastas like lasagna, baked ziti and stuffed shells.
The garlic knots also are perfect and there also is a variety of great wings, appetizers like fried calamari, jalapeno poppers and fried mushrooms, and tasty pasta dishes from traditional spaghetti and meatballs to a lemon-and-garlic broccoli sauce served on your choice of al denté ziti, spaghetti or fettuccine. The meatball parmigiana hero also is outstanding and there also are calzones, strombolis and a variety of hot and cold subs, burgers, wraps and even authentic gyro and Philly chicken sandwiches.
In other words, you really can’t go wrong at NY NY Pizza, especially if you check out the amazing specials available in the ad on page 31. And, please tell Freddie, Clarence and their crew you read about ‘em in the Wesley Chapel Neighborhood News!
NY NY Pizza (3757 BBD Blvd. in Wesley Chapel) is open Sunday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m., and until 11 p.m. on Sat. & Sun. For orders and more info about the other locations, call 528-8771 or visit NYNYPizzeria.com.
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