Lean into New York style at Pisa Pizza in Orlando

“I loved the pizza. Especially when I had the hot slice. Must be one of Orlando’s best NY style options.

It was a text from the co-worker I shared lunch with at Pisa Pizza, a family business that’s been making pies for over 30 years — but not by the same family all the time.

Interestingly, my lunch buddy grew up here and happened to have eaten many slices of Pisa in high school, though it was probably two owners ago. The nice woman at the counter informed us that the current owners are from New Jersey and purchased the place just before COVID-19 hit.

“There were pictures of Shaq on the walls,” he told me, glancing around the humble room, eyes misty with nostalgia. The place is familiar, however, even to first-timers, as it evokes just about every unassuming local pizzeria I’ve been to back home, albeit much more spacious than some.

The only exceptions: drone shots of the New York skyline with the Freedom Tower sentry downtown, which I suspect will forever be foreign, and the use of “under -sailors” on the menu. Toto, we’re not in Canarsie anymore.

You’d never know from the mozz-laden eggplant parm ($14 with pasta/garlic bread/small salad), a platter so impressive the guy at the next table asked what it was, then texted his wife about it. I could have split the thinly sliced ​​fried cutlets with the two and still had a portion left to take home.

Pisa, by the way, was recommended by another (unfortunately old) colleague. She is from Syracuse so felt compelled to sell it to me via the approval of her Long Islander parents.

It’s charming in his case, this acknowledgment of caricature: the perpetually suspicious attitudes of subway New Yorkers toward hometown staples in other cities, but I found that – sit down for this my countrymen and compatriots – good pizza, even New York style, is done in the whole world. Good bagels too.

(In addition, the absolute worst restaurant recommendation I ever received was from two born and raised New Yorkers who were then New Yorkers, they went home. Presumably to keep Long Island’s mediocre restaurants going. But I digress…)

The meatballs ($5 for two) are also reminiscent of home — or at least your nonna’s. Outstanding. Offer. There was a big stray piece of garlic in one of them. They are round. And rough in the way that says “someone did this”. And they were tasty.

So, I put them on a little pie, too, because the meatball/onion ball is one of my favorites. The other is eggplant/ricotta. It was a 10 inch take-out pie ($8 plus toppings, which vary in price). It was a delight to reheat later, as was the lasagna ($16), which is packed with Bolognese-ricotta richness.

We did a two-slice deal with soda on the go (a la carte slices are $2.25, by the way) and while good, the pizza wasn’t heated to the maximum of pleasure. As such, I was happy when my friend ordered a couple to take home, this time with pepperoni.

He ate one while we were sitting there because hey, local pizzerias with fountain soda refills are cozy places to camp. As such, our lunch lasted a little long and I was aware of the enticing pooling of that orange fat, but too full to enjoy. So, I made sure to have half a pepperoni for an upcoming dinner.

Large pies (Hooray for 18-inch pies; every pizzeria should offer these!) are $17, plus toppings. There was folding, flop, crust-flicking. My mate and I, New York born pizza lovers, pored over the base, noting that although the dough was tossed by hand, it was cooked on a skillet. It was still a nice pie. And yes, we reveled in the fat.

The only disappointment in Pisa was the garlic knots ($6 for five) which deliver the garlic but aren’t really knots, more like a ring of melted buns with a ramekin of marinara in the center. I would pass on this filler in favor of another slice or meatball. Or a new adventure. Got a vodka sauce recommendation from the girl behind the counter at lunch; this could be my next foray.

Thinking about my friend’s observation – that Pisa “has got to be one of Orlando’s best NY style options”, I also reflected on my perceived status as one of the stereotypes. And my natural inclinations for journalism asserted themselves.

A 2016 article in the Orlando Sentinel indicated that there were 7,705 restaurants in the Orlando-Daytona-Melbourne area. How many pizzerias are there, I wondered? And, [shudder] How many fast food outlets are there?

I just did the math. He’s probably right.

So if you live near Pisa Pizza, consider yourself lucky. And put them in your rotation.

Pisa Pizza: 7058 W. Colonial Drive in Orlando; 407-578-2759; flpisapizza.com

Want to reach out? Find me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram @amydroo or on the OSFoodie Instagram account @orlando.foodie. E-mail: [email protected]. For more fun, join the Let’s Eat, Orlando Facebook Group or follow @fun.things.orlando on instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

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