New York City is legendary for its thin-crust Neapolitan pizza.
But what about Rye?
This small city (with a population just over 15,000) has four thriving pizzerias. I taste-tested slices from these eateries to find out which has the best traditional pizza.
First stop: Piazza Pizzeria located in Milton Plaza.
With an extensive pie list, offering everything from Chicago Style pan pizza to Hawaiian, I settled on Piazza's specialty: the Grandma ($3.25). Topped with a fresh plum tomato sauce, Grana Padano cheese, basil, and parsley–this is what I'd imagine an Italian grandmother's pizza would taste like. The slice–a large square–was sprinkled with pepper flakes and flavored with fruity olive oil. The crust was somewhere between the thickness of a Sicilian and a hand-tossed thin-crust. The bottom of the slice was a dark bronze–a surefire sign that the dough had been cooked to perfection. Only minutes from Playland, take a slice of the Grandma over for a seaside lunch on the boardwalk.
Greek's Pizza Kitchen on Midland Avenue, cattycorner to Kelly's Sea Level, was my next stop. Lacking a large variety of pies, I chose a slice of the traditional Margherita pizza ($2.25). The cheese had the freshness of buffalo mozzarella and was sprinkled with dried herbs. However, the tomato sauce was skimpy and the dough tasted slightly stale. Adjacent to two Rye schools, Greek's most faithful customers are its after-school crowd when this place is packed.
Leaving the outskirts of Rye, my next destination was in the heart of town: Sunrise Pizza on Purdy Avenue. To compare with Piazza's Grandma, I tried a slice of the Tomato and Garlic pizza ($3.75) topped with Grana Padano cheese. The tomato sauce was not as flavorful as Piazza's, although there were whole chunks of tomatoes, garlic, and basil–undoubtedly freshly made. The square slice had an airy and crispy crust. By far the largest pizzeria in town, Sunrise was packed at midday with a diverse lunch crowd–businessmen, gabbing ladies, construction workers and teenagers all chowed down.
In the center of town is Al Dente on Elm Place and directly across the street from Longford's Ice Cream parlor. While its location is ideal, the slice of the Margherita ($2.25) was less than stellar. The bubbly crust wasn't enough to make up for its greasy cheese and bland tomato sauce. Even though this margherita was not up to par with the rest of Rye's pizza selection, I did hear a customer compliment the owner, "This is the best pizza. The kids love it!" I won't deny that Al Dente's pizza is the best–but only for kids who are picky eaters.
The Verdict: The Grandma at Piazza Pizzeria is well-worth the (short!) trip out of town.