When you go into a pizza joint, any pizza joint, and you see a shaker of parmasan cheese on the table, you know that the owners have at least thought about what they’re doing. This is absolutely the case of New York Pizza & Salátabár, the first authentic New York style pizzeria in Budapest.
We went on Saturday afternoon around 2:30, not knowing what to expect but for the little buzz that had passed through the ex-pat community and blogs the last few weeks. The first thing that we noticed on the wall was a newspaper clipping from the Budapest Sun, which exalted the importance of customer service. Not a bad start, especially because the concept of [good customer service = successful business] is not well practiced in the city.
The menu is actually pretty extensive and it’s clear that the owners wanted to try to duplicate a New York style pizza place. And I really, seriously appreciated it. I don’t think any other restaurant in the city is making garlic knots dusted with parmasan.
We ordered two different pizzas, the New York Margharita (with fresh basil) and the Brooklyn (with pepperoni).
They were both really good. It’s so hard to make claims to New York style pizza because even New Yorkers have heated debates about the best place, best crust, best sauce, etc., but from all of the pizzas I’ve tried in Budapest so far (and Budapesters lover their pizzas) this is definitely the best, and the closest to the New York style. The crust was thin but just chewy enough, and there was a good balance of sauce to mozz. The use of fresh basil instead of it’s cremated cousin really won me over.
We took home an order of Chicken Parmasan, which was also very similar to the American-style chicken parm. It came with a fresh salad (with mozzarella cheese! bonus points!) and a side order of garlic twists.
What impressed me the most was not necessarily the food. The food was great, that’s for sure. And there were countless other pasta dishes I wanted to try. But the most impressive thing to me was that it really seemed like someone cared about this place. It wasn’t just a Hungarian version of a New York pizzeria. It really tried to use imitation as flattery, and it worked.
The only criticism I had (as did the other fellas that sat down upstairs) was that there wasn’t any beer. It’s kind of a necessary element, in my opinion, but I’m not sure how easy it is to secure a liquor license here, so since I’m still rosey from the experience on Saturday, I’ll forgive them this one thing. Especially because when we asked if they would deliver to the 13th district they said that they normally didn’t, but if we wanted them to, then they would. With that give-the-customer-what-they-want-answer, I almost forgot I was in Hungary
By three p.m, when the rest of Szondi utca was completely quiet, the small little place started to fill up. There were eight Americans/Australians/Hungarians sitting in the back corner, and as we were about the finish, what seemed to be an entire Irish football team came in.
Downstairs there was a small bar where a few people were waiting for to-go orders and eating pizza by the slice.
I would really recommend going to New York Pizza & Salátabár, especially if you’re a local or recent ex-pat traumatized from high amounts of canned corn found on other city pizzas. Go for the pizzas, the American-style breakfasts (yes, there is an Ohio breakfast), the twists, the pastas. It’s cheap, easy to get to, and a much needed change in the worlds of good food with pleasant service.
New York Pizza & Salátabár (link to menu)
1064 Bp., Szondi u 37