Staten Island’s Goodfella’s Pizzeria is just as much of an institution as the 1990 Martin Scorsese film by a similar name. Now, they’re in Manhattan!
Founded in 1992, Goodfella’s burst onto the Staten Island pizza scene as a relative newcomer, taking on the herculean task of distinguishing itself amongst such classics as Denino’s, Nunzio’s, Joe & Pat’s and Lee’s Tavern, to name four. Innovation became the key to their success. In addition to offering the more traditional pies, Goodfella’s invented the Pizza alla Vodka which won national recognition. The victory also set in motion a trend of developing creative gourmet pizzas which have since won international awards and accommodations. Fortunately for denizens of Gramercy and the Lower East Side, the menu includes all of the past winners including the 2007 International Pizza Expo 1st place winner, the Smokin’ Goodfella. That’s the one I ordered.
After just one bite, I could see the praise is warranted. Not your typical pizza, the Smokin’ Goodfella is a brilliantly constructed Italian dish disguised as pizza. The smoked fresh mozzarella cheese melts into the signature cream sauce providing a flavorful canvas for the roasted peppers, sausage, and onions to embellish. Once garnished with the shredded pecorino romano cheese and basil, the wood-fired crust incorporates a crisp-yet-chewy consistency to complete the masterpiece. I wished I had had more people with me so I could try more of their award winning topping concoctions.
I wasn’t the only one to visit a Goodfella’s recently. Mayor Bill de Blasio famously (or, to some, infamously) made news by electing to eat his pie with a fork, instead of using his hands. According to a NY Times article, he did so to be “true to his Italian roots.” And, to be fair, that is consistent with my experience in Rome, Naples, and Sicily when I took my Quest for the 31 Days of Pizza to Italy back in 2011. As a matter of fact, they serve the pizza completely uncut requiring the patron to consume it however he or she sees fit.
Whether you eat your Goodfella’s pie with a knife and fork, pick it up with your hands, eat in a box with a fox – it doesn’t matter. The only way wrong way to eat it is not to eat it at all. Stop by the cozy restaurant or order it for delivery – I won’t judge!
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