To be a truly adventurous Pizza Snob, you need to take advantage of every opportunity to discover new pizza. Landing at New York La Guardia Airport for my current trip back home to Jersey, I looked to see what might be close by and chose the highly Yelp-rated Lucia Pizza just 3.2 miles away.
Lucia is open to 11pm, so my flight’s scheduled 7:45pm arrival seemed cozy enough to allow for my first-ever slice in the New York City borough of Queens. However, the combination of a 30-minute air traffic control delay, the slowest Hertz car rental experience in history, brutal traffic and tough parking, it wasn’t until 10pm when the Snob reached the counter at Lucia.
Flushing to me has always been the home of the Mets, the 1964 World’s Fair and where my Uncle George lived. Since his neighborhood was more akin to suburbia, I was unprepared for the frantic mass of evening commerce that I found in the heart of the downtown urban Flushing shopping district. This area has a strong Asian presence, but there in the middle of a busy city street was the tiny narrow Lucia Pizza storefront, in place since the Mets first year of 1962.
There wasn’t much to Lucia’s room other than the character that only a true classic pizza joint can have. On the left side was a counter with a few stools on which to sit and on the opposite side was a counter where to stand. From there I ordered my two cheese slices at $2.50 each, tax included. There were no slices sitting out, so I joined the small collective who were waiting for the next fresh pie to pop out of the oven. I immediately went into the joyous anticipatory state of receiving a hot fresh slice. However, with that also came the anxiety that I might get one that’s hard to enjoy because it’s too either too scalding hot to eat, unsettled and likely to fall apart, or worst case both!
The pie cooked quickly, and my slices were delivered and looked spectacular. They had a speckled appearance from their beautiful blend of cheese, tomato sauce and oil. As for my two concerns, while their temperature was non-scalding, the cheese was a bit unstable. So, while my mouth could handle the heat, the cheese couldn’t hang on, sadly requiring that I add a plastic fork to the process to scoop up the slippage.
Ingredients were all in perfect proportion, however, the bottom crust was lightly colored with little evidence of a char. I can be somewhat forgiving about sliding cheese on something right from the oven, but undercooking the crust like this is a strike against an otherwise perfect slice of pizza. I spotted the same soft-looking crust on the slice of the dude sitting next to me who was served from a previous pie. So, this latest pie did not appear to be an isolated incident.
Then, why do I rate this slice so high? Chalk it up to some special flavor that just kicked me in the butt. The cheese, sauce and oil on Lucia’s slice was a magical mix that had me swooning. There is nothing specific I can pinpoint other than fresh high-quality ingredients. “Absolutely delicious” is all that I need to say.
When you’ve been in business this long and are packed at 10pm on a Thursday night, you know that you are doing something right. But, it’s hard for me to recommend that a pizza lover go through all the hassle involved in getting to this place. However, here’s a plan. If you are taking in a Mets game, just go one stop past Citifield on the #7 train, and from there, Lucia is just a short walk from the Main Street station. You’ll be glad you did.
PIZZA SNOB RATING **** Near Perfection
13655 Roosevelt Avenue Flushing, NY 11354
When you mention “oil”, is it added oil, or oil exuding from the cheese?
Good point – I often am not careful with that. In their case it’s probably all from the cheese and not added.