My favorite pizza place on this green Earth
I am a native New Yorker and have a huge sweet spot (mostly isolated to my mid section) for New York Pizza. In my lifetime I must have eaten thousands, tens of thousands, of slices of pizza from hundreds of different restaurants in over a dozen US states and a handful of other countries. My favorite style is hands down New York style pizza which is also commonly in NY, NJ, PA and CT and usually is pretty reliable in all of those states obviously with some standard deviation depending on establishment. I've had great pizza experiences in all of those states, and some acceptable imitations in other nearby states such as Massachusetts and Ohio, though nothing really compares to what I grew up on in the epi-center surrounding NYC. In recent years/decades as gentrification has forced smaller restaurants out of Manhattan and NYC and into the suburbs, along with the inevitable generational loss as older cooks pass the reigns to younger ones, it has become a bit harder to find that perfect New York style slice in New York City itself.
This brings me to Fort Lee Pizza, which I first sampled in around 1992 or 1993 and instantly fell in love with! Fort Lee is in New Jersey, the town the George Washington Bridge enters when crossing it from New York City. The restaurant itself is a few miles from the bridge, situated next to one of Fort Lee's fire departments in an unassuming building with a couple of booths and bar stools for dining.
There's more to the menu than pizza including pasta and hero (grinder) options, but I've never made it past cheese or pepperoni, the only two real options for New York pizza. Sure, sausage might sneak onto that short list along with white cheese and Sicilian style (square), but for the purist it comes down to just two choices: cheese or pepperoni. There are some key aspects to the perfect slice of New York pizza.
1) It has to be hot! Piping hot! Burn the roof of your mouth hot!
2) When you pick up the slice, you need to bend the slice so it doesn't flop down in the front. If it does, that's ok, but your cheese is all going to slide off the slice and onto the plate. That's ok too! Just pick it up and put it back on.
3) It's got to be oily! Seriously, there should be a puddle of oil on your plate when you are done. You can let it drip down the slice onto the plate…a good way to cut down on calories!
4) The crust should firm and crunchy, but not burnt.
5) That crust can't be too thick! It's got to be thin, almost delicate. When you fold the slice the crust should crack a bit, but still be flexible.
6) If having pepperoni, make sure the pie was cooked with the pepperoni already on it. Don't let them put pepperoni on an already cooked slick and reheat it! That's just not right.
Fort Lee pizza, to me represents the epitome of pizza. Literally my mouth starts watering just from thinking about the perfection of their product. If you are in the area it is worth making a pilgrimage!