Thursday, June 08, 2006

Pizza Quest: Westchester

Johnny's Pizzeria in Mount Vernon –

I'm pretty sure that one of those universally acceptable principles is the idea that parents should want the best for their children. Of course, what "the best" means is largely up for grabs. Some choose such nebulous and unsatisfying concepts as instilling "values" or a "work ethic" as the best. From an early age, my notion has always been more concrete, say, things like candy or money. So, when we went to Johnny's Pizzeria in Mt. Vernon, a scant seven or eight minutes from the house in which I grew up, I was shocked both at how good it was (oh, is it good: Tara rates it the best she's had, I put it very near the top) and by the fact that I'd spent the first eighteen years of my life thinking that Crestwood Pizza by the train station was the way pizza should taste when an astonishing, far-superior alternative was located only ten minutes away. How could this abuse occur?

I decided to confront my mother with this charge, assuming that she'd plead ignorance. The truth was far more disturbing.

"I went to a great pizza place last night."
"Johnny's in Mt. Vernon."
"Oh, Johnny's! I've eaten there a thousand times!"

It wasn't ignorance; they simply didn't care. Sigh.

Anyway, now that I've outted my parents as the selfish ogres they are, I can talk about Johnny's. Eight of us (mostly newcomers), had four pizzas: Plain, half-pepperoni/half sausage and mushrooms, fresh garlic, half pepperoni/half plain. Incredibly thin, crisp crust with light charring. A thin layer of plain mozzarella (no fresh on the menu, so far as I could tell), topped with a thin layer of simple tomato sauce. The toppings were excellent (I didn't manage to grab a slice of sausage and mushroom). The garlic was strong and tasty, with large chucks sprinkled evenly over the pizza, and the pepperoni was a little on the thick side, and was spicy and not oily. Minor complaints: I'd love to try fresh mozzarella on it, our fourth pie was not quite as crisp as the others. Bonus: The cheapest place so far, easier to get to than you'd imagine (30 minutes on the Metro-North, a ten-minute walk from the station), and has a review from 1975 hanging up. Extra Bonus: I saw an albino squirrel on the walk from the train.

Update: returned a couple weeks later with a different group of people. Result was the same. Damn fine pizza.

Update Update: I've been back several times, and it's been consistently great.

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