After hours: American pizza, just like home
Stars and Stripes March 6, 2008
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — The distance from Tokyo to New York City is 6, 760 miles — and you can tell by the slice.
Pizza is beloved in both cities but is worlds apart in the interpretation.
Ask someone in New York to make a squid-ring and soft-boiled egg pizza covered with curry powder, corn kernels and generous squirts of mayonnaise, and you’ll be eating a knuckle sandwich. Yokosuka’s I Love NY Pizza occupies prime Honch real estate on the other end of the spectrum.
“Cheese pizza with nothing on it — that’s how you can tell a true New Yorker,” said Alex Knight, the restaurant’s owner and pizza chef. “They don’t want anything on their slice.”
Although Knight’s customers persuaded him to add traditional toppings like pepperoni, sausage, fresh mushrooms and olives — “You have to give them what they want,” he says with a shrug and a sigh — his pizza is pure America.
Here, huge gooey slices fold into pizza canoes, steer their way into greedy mouths and send rivulets of runoff dripping down the chin. The sauce is light and packs a great garlic wallop. The hand-tossed crust has that fresh-out-of-the-oven-baked taste and the cheese is individually grated and weighed for each pie to ensure perfect proportioning. Both whole pizzas and slices are enormous, but it tasted so good we almost polished off an entire pie between two people.
Knight opened the restaurant in December and has already carved out a devoted following from Yokosuka Naval Base.
USS Kitty Hawk sailor Joseph Nielson gets pizza twice a week ever since Knight opened, he said. He tried Japanese squid pizza, but likes Knight’s a lot better, he said.
“It tastes more like home,” Nielson said.
The restaurant is pretty stark inside but people come for the pizza, not the decor. Customers can play chess or throw darts while they wait for their pies or slices, and with 120 seats and two levels, there’s plenty of lounging room.
Knight has also started delivering pizzas to the base gate in his artfully decorated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle truck.
See previous After Hours reviews here.
I Love NY Pizza
Hours: Open 11 a.m. until 2 a.m. daily
Prices: From 250 yen ($2.35) for a baby slice to 4,500 yen ($42) for a whole pie with topping. Slices are 500 yen ($4.70), slices with toppings are 600 yen ($5.60). Beers and soft drinks are 500 yen ($4.70)
Specialties: New York-style pizza
English menu: Yes
Dress: Totally casual
Clientele: About 80 percent American, 20 percent Japanese
Location: 1-9 Honcho: Walk out of Yokosuka Naval Base main gate, cross Route 16, turn left at 7-Eleven, walk 1.5 blocks toward “Blue Street.” I Love NY Pizza is the two-story white building on the left.
Phone: 046-826-1995 (for advance orders and delivery)
Web site: Some information at http://enoshimapizza.jp/