Posted by: Jeffsayyes | March 30, 2010

Astoria/LIC Exploratory Pizza Tour

Astoria is known for their cultural diversity and excellence in food from all over the world. Since it’s groundbreaking, they’ve seen swells of immigrants from Germany, Italy, Brazil, Greece and other Eastern European countries, along with a myriad of Arab countries currently popping up along Steinway. While ElmJack (Elmhurst/Jackson Heights) can compete broadly, the quality is half that of Astoria. On top of that, Astoria has the right to be proud of bringing up their most famous resident, Christopher Walken.

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Manetta’s Ristorante
1076 Jackson Ave
Long Island City, NY 11101
(718) 786-6171

I had big hopes for Manetta’s. A historical place with a classic green awning that usually spells a pleasant Italian meal. The inside was large and remodeled, with the brick, wood-burning pizza oven tucked next to the doors of the kitchen.

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But when I told the pizza turner that I heard they have the best pizza in Queens, he basically replied, “Meh.” And he was right. It was good, the wood-burning usually does you so, but it was nothing mind blowing for a NYer. The pictures might fool you, it does look like one of the best, but it was missing that spark.
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The tomato sauce, though watery, was the most outstanding part of the pie. It had a great way of being absorbed by the ho-hum crust, allowing it to flow nicely on top of your tongue. It didn’t get soggy, something many people find as a flaw (I am not one of them), but the wetness managed to stay to the upper layer of the pie. This was the only characteristic to mention here. All else was satisfactory, and as far as pizza is concerned, Manetta’s would not warrant a trip back.

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That’s fine because my associate and I would encounter a mind blower a just few blocks west. Bella Via. Now we’re talking. Coal, baby. Every time. These pies are dirty and full of character. And when I say dirty, I’m not talking Curtis Armstrong, I’m talking Salt n’ Peppa. It’s got mouth-watering character.

Bella Via
4746 Vernon Blvd
Long Island City, NY 11101
(718) 361-7510

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Rosario’s Deli
2255 31st St
Astoria, NY 11105
(718) 728-2920

Rosario’s is definitely a remarkable slice and deserves to be mentioned in the same class as Rizzo’s and Rose & Joes. In fact, it’s definitely my favorite of those three. Like R&J, it’s not even a pizza shop, it’s an Italian food store. Fresh mozzarella on a non-artisinal pie is somehow disconcerting, but very much so appreciated. We never see that color cheese in a NY slice. And the sauce is different too. It looks orange, giving it a sweet, smooth feeling in your mouth. I didn’t have my camera when I got a slice and that kills me, but I will get one soon because I can’t find one pic of this pizza on the net.

UPDATE: I went and got one.

Rizzo’s Pizza
3013 Steinway St
Astoria, NY 11103
(718) 721-9862

Although it was not on my explorations this year, Rizzo’s should be noted. This is a favorite among many Queensites, but for me it’s too dainty and appeals to the female of the species more than the male. The flavors do pop a bit, but their uniformly rectangle slices are thin and unsubstantial. There is no way one slice would be able to hold you over, popping in for one is like having half a donut. But the size is not what disavows me, it’s the insignificance of one slice: the regular slice just does not pop.

I have to give them props though for their RC cola and Stewarts root beer from the fountain, along with $5 Rizzo’s T-Shirts, a shirt which I can be seen wearing even on non-laundry days. They’ve also been in business over 50 years, are currently owned by Rizzo’s son, are a staple of the community, and have integrity with how they do business. So even though I’m not satiated with a slice (other than the massively flavorful Sotto Sopra), they definitely have my respect.

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I also did a run in and out of Romano Famous, which though slightly unique, did not have the character for a tour. Also, eaten in, but not pictured was Forno Italia. The brick oven, wood fired oven did a standard rendition of a artist’s pie. There’s zero competition for miles, so they’ve got the market cornered until Sac’s, but outside of that area, it’s wasn’t worth traveling for unless you are OCD like I am.

Romano’s Famous
3221 Broadway
Astoria, NY 11106
(718) 626-5292

Forno Italia
4319 Ditmars Blvd
Astoria, NY 11105
(718) 267-1068
Website w/ pizza pictures

Need to try: Da Franco’s.

Rosario’s Pizza on chowhound
2009 Queens Pizza Tour (includes Rose & Joes)
Slice’s Coal-Oven Pizza map
Astoria Exploratory Pizza Tour photo set
“Female of the Species” by Space video


  1. you really really really need to drive over to Marchini’s on 48th st just south of the LIE. It’s really a lunch spot as there’s almost no residential south of the LIE, but it’s one of the best grandma slices on earth. Just ask for it a little well done, and get a corner slice. The white slice is in the top 5 too. This is NY pizza, no coal oven, but do yourself a favor and check it out.

  2. Hey, I went there this week. yes, marchini’s. Sure is a lunch spot. The specialty slices looked pretty good, but the regular slice looked regular. I’m specifically looking for regular pies. I will have to check out the grandma slice though.

    Riding around there was fun. Lots of truck depots. I eventually ate at Super Bowl chinese.

  3. […] Links: Last year’s Queens Pizza Tour World’s Fare wrap-up of the 2010 Queens Pizza Tour Liberty Ave Exploratory Tour (includes Margherita) Astoria Pizza Exploratory Tour (includes Bella Via) […]

  4. 3 from astoria-
    Sac’s on Broadway is an extraordinary experience, ca. 28-29th street- an artisinal coal oven sort of thing, its good even when cold and old. Polito’s is an old fashioned slice (the crusty kind that breaks in the middle when folded), but is more of a Brooklyn style thing with nice cheese and a drip of orange oil. Gino’s was once good, may be again, isn’t now.
    My thoughts on the matter-

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