Walking into the cozy darkness of New York Pizza (4418 Magazine St., 504-891-2376; www.newyorkpizzanola.com), you'd swear you were stepping into a pizza parlor in an Italian neighborhood in mid-1980s New York. Brown vinyl tablecloths, the requisite video game machine in the corner and big cans of tomato paste acting as sturdy table centerpieces all give the restaurant a pleasantly old-fashioned feel.
According to assistant manager Tierney Brinkman, this comfortable, nostalgic atmosphere draws all kinds of customers to the restaurant, many of whom have frequented it since its beginnings.
"We get everything from parents bringing their kids in after school or on weekends, to the college crowd, to an older generation looking to sit back and relax and have a nice meal and a bottle of wine," she says.
For the past two years, Brinkman has worked at New York Pizza alongside owners Wayne and Susan del Corral, who opened the restaurant in 1980 in its original location on Magazine and Dufossat Streets. Brinkman calls the company a true family business: Wayne, who holds a doctorate in finance, helps manage the fiscal operations, Susan handles day-to-day business, and their son, Wayne Jr., manages the kitchen.
Because the del Corrals are New Orleans natives, New York Pizza's menu is a mash-up of classic Italian dishes and New Orleans specialties. Muffulettas, meatball po-boys and pasta entrees share menu space with the company's traditional New York-style thin-crust pizza. Brinkman says the pizzas stand out for their secret spice blend (known only to Wayne and Wayne Jr.) and for the indivi- dually prepared fresh crusts.
"We make all of our dough in-house," she says. "It's all homemade and fresh, and then we take that dough and, per order, roll it out, toss it and flour it. It's time-consuming, but it's totally worth it. In the end, it makes for a better product."
The made-to-order crust is a must for pies like the Big Apple, a best-selling pizza packed with pepperoni, Canadian bacon, Italian sausage, onions, mushrooms, green peppers, olives and garlic. There's a wine list and local beers like those by NOLA Brewing and Baton Rouge's Tin Roof, and on Mondays and Wednesdays patrons can snag $1 pitchers of Abita Amber, Budweiser or Pabst Blue Ribbon with a $10 entree or pizza.
Despite the restaurant's timeless quality, big changes have taken place within the past few years. The recent move from the Dufossat location to the new dining room near Magazine Street and Napoleon Avenue allows for table service and a brisk business during Mardi Gras, when customers grab pizza by the slice or a quarter muffuletta as they watch Uptown parades. But Brinkman says any time is a good time to come in and enjoy a pie with the close-knit staff and the del Corrals.
"The owners are wonderful people," Brinkman says. "[They're] sort of like parents and friends to everybody. ... Everybody here is treated like family."