Sunday, April 21, 2013

Pizza from Neapolitan Express and Lunch at an Art Deco Landmark

The digital thermometer on the TV screen in the elevator reads 57 degrees.   Nothing is ever what it seems.  The number suggests balmy weather, perfect for a street food lunch, but this elevator thermometer has read 57 degrees for the past 14 and a half days.   It’s actually quite chilly outside, and I turn up my collar as I head toward Park Avenue to meet up with my college roommate “Ford McKenzie.”  
Our lunchtime mission, which we’ve accepted, is to track down the Neapolitan Express Pizza Truck and sample a few pies.   Neapolitan Express appeared on the street some weeks ago to great fanfare.   It is said to be the first “green” food truck in the city, running on environmentally friendly compressed gas.  I’m not sure how it will affect the taste of the pizza, but we can all use a few less fumes in our lives.  
Ford has been having some dental issues and is a little under the weather, but as always he’s dressed to the nines.   He’s wearing a skinny Thom Browne grey flannel suit, a white Turnbull & Asser shirt, a Ralph Lauren striped blue tie and a 1940s gold Tiffany watch with alligator band.   
Adorning his feet are black Jim Weston cap toe lace ups.   
I take note of the snappy attire and mention that Mad Me-Shell recently remarked that "Culinary Types" was turning into "Project Runway."   

"This is New York," Ford snorts.   "Every day is "Project Runway."

Truth be told, I appreciate the sartorial splendor, but I do wonder about the wisdom of wearing skinny clothes on food truck day.  It seems more like the time for one's "fat pants."  

The Neapolitan Express Truck looks equally spiffy.  A long, sleek vehicle with aerodynamic styling, it literally gleams from the curb at Park Avenue and 53rd Street.   There's a well-dressed crowd milling around.  In general, I've observed that the East side crowd is a bit more glam.
"It's all the hedge fund employees on Park Avenue," Ford explains.   
Yet pizza is the great equalizer, so we all queue up and place an order for a Pizza Margherita, a Pizza Bufala and a fetching dessert Pizza Cioccolato. 
Inside, there's a team of chefs working furiously and we are treated to the heady aroma of piquant tomato sauce.  The truck is outfitted with high-end pizza ovens, sleek countertops and refrigerators.  Reports say the pizza is cooked for about 90 seconds at temperatures of 900 degrees.   

I'm not sure if it's quite that lightning fast, but literally within minutes, we are handed three cardboard boxes containing the goods.  
“Where are we eating?” I ask as I struggle to balance the pizza boxes in my arms.

Ford glances across Park Avenue.  “The W-A of course.”
That would be the “Waldorf Astoria.”  Yes, you heard that correctly.  We are planning to take our street food pizza to the lobby of the iconic New York hotel that has welcomed dignitaries from Douglas McArthur to Marilyn Monroe. 
They ain’t seen nothing yet. 

Park Avenue is an obstacle course. I get jostled by a couple of pedestrians and I’m almost run down by a biker, but we still manage to pass through the revolving doors and parade into the hotel carrying a stack of pizza boxes.   Wikipedia tells us that the Waldorf Astoria was the very first hotel to offer room service.  I’m guessing a pizza picnic in the lobby is perhaps a whole new concept. 

"Do you think anyone noticed?" I ask.

“If we were really doing things right, we would have had the doorman carry the pizza boxes in," says Ford.  
Ford scopes out the glorious, newly refurbished Art Deco lobby. We stroll across the exquisite, mosaic floor and choose a seating area positioned between a ballroom and a more intimate piano alcove.     
Ford places the pizza boxes on a chair, spreads out on the luxurious chocolate brown leather couch and tosses back his Ralph Lauren tie to avoid food stains.  He surveys the lobby.  “Kings have dined here,” he proclaims and selects a slice. 

The pizza is fit for a king and quite tasty.   Each pie is about 14 inches in diameter.  The crust is soft, thin and chewy and the sauce is bright and bracing.  The Pizza Margherita is sprinkled with fresh basil leaves and the Pizza Bufala is layered with cheesy fresh mozzarella. 
We really should have grabbed more napkins from the truck.   Ford gets a spot of pizza sauce on his Thom Browne suit and someone – who shall remain nameless – gets just a little sloppy.  
You can’t take us anywhere.  It’s doubtful we’ll be invited back.  

The dessert Pizza Cioccolato resembles two crepes, filled with Nutella and sprinkled with powdered sugar.  If you tend to get that salty-sweet thing after eating pizza, it's really the perfect sweet finish.  
I notice that a corporate event is now exiting from the nearby ballroom and I suspect it's time to make our exit.  I look around, but I don't see a trash can where we can dispose of the empty pizza boxes.  I suppose a trash can in the Waldorf would be kind of declasse.  

“What do we do with the pizza boxes?” I ask.    It is then that I notice that the boxes are actually multi-use and come with instructions for turning the cardboard into paper plates.   I'm sure the eco-friendly place settings will be a nice touch the next time the Waldorf entertains royalty.   

©2013 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved


Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

What a delightfully written story. Ford is definitely a spiffy dresser. And what is a more perfect place to dine than the Waldorf. But I have to admit I would have been a nervous wreck going in their lobby with the pizza boxes.

Glad to see the green food truck and hopefully more vendors will jump on the band wagon. Have a great weekend. I'm looking forward to more of the adventures of Ford & T.W.

Barbara said...

Good grief. You spilled in the Waldorf lobby? And nobody said anything? I can't get over it.
Your food truck forays are becoming quite classy. I noted the framed menu. Impressive.

Laura Luciano said...

This was a great post; I chuckled and enjoyed You and Ford's imbibing of Food Truck Pizza and upscale lunch spot antics. :)

Catherine said...

Dear T.W., You guys were like Fred and Ricky!
I am glad you enjoyed your pizza in style!
I just made pizza last night. It is amazing how a simple creation of, dough sauce and cheese can bring people together.

Blessings on this beautiful Sunday. Catherine

Gloria Baker said...

Look amazing T.W. love this pizza, and your in the Wardolf Astoria , LOL
This was a lovely and fun post!!

Neapolitan Express said...

We strive for excellence and are glad to see we have met your standards.
This is a wonderfully written review and we appreciate every word of it.

Come back anytime.

-Neapolitan Express

Kat said...

It amazes me how no one throws you guys out of these places, but then again, with the way Ford dresses, I guess they think he belongs in those fancy dining places! Great looking pizza!

tasteofbeirut said...

wow you guys have balls of steel. cant imagine walking into the waldorf and having a picnic in their lobby. wish you had included a clic of your buddy's profile (to see if it goes with the outfit); well all in all a fun outing, and looking forward to reading more of the same. when are you going to plan a trip to the most exciting place on earth? (lebanon, of course!)

Velva said...

You do lunch in high fashion and style. Love it!


Axelle the french cook said...

I can't believe it !! :D
This is something accepted in USA to buy something to eat in a place and to go to eat it INTO another place ?? Most of all as smart as this one ??
I can't even imagine this in France !! :D
I just love the idea !
Ford was wearing the perfect costume to eat Italian ! :) And the picture with the tie in his back was really funny. I like the way you tell stories.

Karen (Back Road Journal) said...

Very classy all the way...except the sauce on the carpet. :)

Deana Sidney said...

I do wonder if they would have been so pleasant at the WA if you had been a couple of scruffy 20-somethings... doubt it.

WOnderful place to plop down and nosh. I bet anything tastes better with that deco style... love the design.

Anonymous said...

You really do tell stories very perefectly!

I loved those pics too & that tie that was pulled back in the back during eating those tasty looking pizzas is a good pic!

thanks for sharing it all! x