New York Times Square Pizza a Great Eating Experience
This pizza parlor is under new ownership.
New York Times Square Pizza, 927 E. Bloomingdale Ave., Brandon, is under new ownership, and that term headlines its to-go menus and is pasted across its storefront windows.
The inside of the shop shows the standard signs of a restaurant being turned over — half-painted tiles, mismatched ceiling tiles and very little artwork — but at least it was clean. Signs of remodeling are everywhere, but you can see that it is a work in progress.
Shane Obedzinski is the new owner, and I was quite surprised when I walked in on him during my visit. I actually met Shane at the Villarina Pizza in Brandon where he was an employee, and he had told me he was moving up real soon; good to see he's a man of his word.
We talked a little about his plans, and he showed me a couple good upwardly mobile ideas. He even had a working pizza oven out in the front room, but when asked about it, he shrugged his shoulders and said, "It's electric, but the two in the back are gas." Now that's a proper attitude for cooking pizza — cook with gas at 500 degrees if you want any control over the quality of your product.
The menu features the standard Italian fare with a few twists. He has a pannini press and offers eight types on the menu, along with an extensive Philly cheesesteak selection. Calzones, stromboli, gourmet and stuffed pizza all sold here, with pizza sold by the pie or by the slice. Seven types of fries are on the menu along with nine salads, and they feature "'grinders" (AKA a hoagie in the Northeast). They feature a fruit called a peppadew, which is a South African pepper that is hot and sweet at the same time. I could write a column on this fruit alone.
Shane spoke as he and his employee were hustling and bustling about, but he still found time to get me a soda and apologize for the wait — it seems a server called off work, and that's never a fun time in a restaurant. There were only three tables out of eight with patrons eating and I thought it should be busier, but then suddenly there was this rush of people coming in to get their take-out items, and it all made sense.
I ordered the large two-topping pizza with 12 wings special and a stromboli on the side. I asked what came on the stromboli, and the young man working the counter told me anything I wanted from the pizza toppings would be OK. This meant it would be freshly made, and I like that. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Shane walk over and nudge a slice of pizza in the display window, then throw them all out — quality control.
The wings were cooked just right, and I was offered bleu cheese or ranch to go with my wings and was even asked if I wanted them barbecued. They were mild enough so that my daughter could eat them, and she loved them, as did my wife and I.
The stromboli was better than great with marinara on the side. Plenty of meat and cheese on the inside just waiting to ooze from its doughy home — good stuff! It was almost too gooey for me, if you can imagine that.
The pizza was a different story. I ordered a large thin crust with pepperoni over all and sausage over half. I got a nice-sized, 16-inch pie with a perfectly cooked crust and cheese right up to the edges. Nice spacing of the pepperoni to cover the whole pizza with not too much sauce — the way I like it. But then I looked at the sausage. It wasn't Italian sausage at all, but a smoked beef sausage cut into coin slices and spread over half of my pizza. At first I was irked, but then realized that I didn't order Italian sausage, so that puts the blame on me.
I threw my expectations out the window and decided to judge the sausage part of the pizza on merit alone. It was excellent and not a burnt corner to be found; it's pretty hard to saute sausage without at least one crispy critter to find its way in, but they managed this feat well. Overall, I liked the pizza and will probably order it this way the next time I get sausage on my pizza.
I'm giving these guys 3 1/2 stars if for nothing else but the new eating experience I enjoyed.
1 Star — Wouldn't go back on a bet
2 Star — Would have to go back, but only on a bet
3 Star — If I was in the neighborhood and hungry
4 Star — Would go out of my way even if I wasn't hungry
5 Star — Would make reservations and wait in a line