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Luigi’s Prima Pasta & Pizza

12 Mar

(A menu inspired by the music of Louis Prima)

Chef Luigi

Chef Luigi

Welcome to Luigi’s Prima Pizza & Pasta where we serve the best in Italian-American cuisine. Come to our lively, festive restaurant where our beautiful hostess Felicia will show you to your table. Felicia, from Calabria, speaks no English, so Felicia…no capicia. But if you have any questions on the menu, Angelina, the waitress (at the pitzzeria) will be glad to answer them.

All dishes are prepared home-style and created from recipes evolved from Chef Luigi’s grandparents from the “old country.”

Here is a sample of Luigi’s award-winning menu.



Pasta fazool

Zooma Zooma Baccala (served  room temperature in a salad with hot cherry peppers)

Ol’ Fashion Salami

Brooklyn Pastrami


*”Cucuzza grows in Italy, they love it on the farm. Something like zucchini flavored with Italian charm”



Tomatoes and fresh Mozzarella*



Fresh Garlic



*Extra mozzarella, the way my cucuzza likes it, add $1.




Ravioli (Luigi’s specialty)*

*Comes with one meatball. Extras are $2 each.



Cutlets Parmigiana  (chicken, veal or pork)

Steak Pizzaiola

Chicken Cacciatore

Virginia Ham (on the bone)



Bananas (unless we run out and then, yes, we have no bananas)

Banana splits*


*A glass of ice water free with every banana split order.


Enjoy Yourself at Luigi’s!


Louis Prima’s Food  Discography


Banana Split for my Baby

Closest to the Bone

Enjoy Yourself

I’ll Be Glad When You’re Dead (You Rascal, You)

My Cucuzza

Pennies From Heaven

Please Don’t Squeeza the Bananas

Yes, We Have No Bananas

Zooma Zooma

Pizza Interloper on Arthur Avenue

27 Sep

Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, once a prominently exclusive Italian/American neighborhood, has over the past couple of decades, opened its welcoming arms to immigrants from other countries, in particular Albanians.

Arthur Avenue: where pizza and bureks live in harmony.

Arthur Avenue: where pizza and bureks live in harmony.

You will also now find Mexican and Japanese restaurants nestled side by side and close to both an Italian cheese store and a dried sausage place where they co-exist peacefully.


But Arthur Avenue can be fickle about newcomers. Several years ago, McDonald’s made an attempt to infiltrate the block. Thankfully they were soundly rejected.

No love for McDonald's on Arthur Avenue.

No love for McDonald’s on Arthur Avenue.

And then a legendary downtown seafood joint, Umberto’s Clam House;  it’s legend born from the graphic and gruesome blood and tomato sauce murder of a famous mobster, tried to make it in the Bronx on Arthur Avenue on the site of what once was a live poultry store.

Tourists came, but no mobsters.

Tourists came, but no mobsters.

Umberto’s tenure on Arthur Avenue was longer than McDonald’s, but whether it was just because most people can’t name the mobster who was gunned down at the original Umberto’s it was so long ago, or that the ghosts of thousands of butchered chickens have cursed the location, it is now gone, replaced by a “Mediterranean” restaurant.

So today, with so many very good, established pizza options on the block…








Cafe al Mercato

Cafe al Mercato

…should Arthur Avenue accept this new interloper from downtown?


Can another pizzeria survive on this glutenous stretch of landscape?  Will the display of co-allegiance to the Garden State forever diminish the reputation of this fabled establishment? And finally, will the restrictive and somewhat haughty “no slices” policy be amended to reflect the open door sensibilities of the neighborhood?

Only time will tell.





Today’s Slice: The Broccoli Rabe

10 May





In the previous  installment of “Today’s Slice,” here on Fried Neck Bones…and Some Home Fries, I visited Full Moon Pizza on Arthur Avenue for the Spinach and Artichoke Slice ( see Artichoke and Spinach Pizza). In that post I mentioned Cafe al Mercato and the mini pies and square slices they sell from their booth  inside the Arthur Avenue retail market.

Cafe al Mercato

The preferred slice at Cafe al Mercato is, undoubtedly, the broccoli rabe slice. And I’m not alone. When I last visited, the broccoli rabe was piled high on top of the booth counter in anticipation of being applied to many thin, square slices.


What makes Cafe al Mercato’s broccoli rabe slice so good starts with the broccoli rabe, cooked tender, but not overdone, topped with slivers of fresh mozzarella. All of this is applied to a thin, yet durable, crunchy crust cooked in a traditional “slice” pizza oven as opposed to a fancy, imported wood Neapolitan stove.

Cafe al Mercato

If you have an aversion to broccoli rabe or anything green, the simple, “regular” slice with tomato sauce and mozzarella will bring back memories of “homemade” pizza. And when I say homemade, I mean what my grandmother used to make in an old cookie pan, rolling out the dough, topping with her sauce and adding a few slices of  Polly O Mozzarella. All of it cooked in her basement oven. It wasn’t pizza as we were used to from the pizzeria, but we never complained.

The Cafe al Mercato unbeatable combination.

The unbeatable combination at Cafe al Mercato.

Cafe al Mercato
2344 Arthur Avenue



Today’s Slice: Artichoke (and Spinach) Pizza

12 Apr

artichoke slice


The array of pizza slices available at so many pizzerias here in New York is staggering. I usually just glance at them and wonder at the sometimes bizarre combinations. I judge a good slice on the basics; crust, sauce, and cheese. My pizza education was very specific. I was weaned on either “regular” or “Sicilian”  slices.

Sicilian slices

Sicilian slices

Despite my pizza purist upbringing, I’ve now learned to not totally disqualify a slice that is excessively decorated. I am a big fan of the “salad” pizza if done right. Louie & Ernie’s “white” slice is a Hall of Famer, as is the broccoli rabe pizza from Fratelli’s on Hunt’s Point (see A Slice of Ernie Ottuso Square and Bronx Broccoli Rabe From a Brother From Corona respectively).

I strayed again recently and again in the Bronx, this time when admiring the pies inside the Full Moon Pizza on Arthur Avenue.

I first experienced Full Moon Pizza probably the first time I experienced Arthur Avenue. But recently I’ve stayed away;  not because there was anything wrong with Full Moon Pizza, but preferring instead the mini-pies at Cafe al Mercato inside the Arthur Avenue Retail Market. The last time I was on Arthur Avenue, Cafe al Mercato was closed so I returned to the Full Moon. When I did, I noticed the artichoke and spinach pie under glass.

I wasn’t sure how long the pie had been sitting under the glass, but the slice did have to be reheated, something I am very wary of.  In this case, however, reheating did not diminish the taste. The spinach was tender, the cheese fresh, the crust baked perfectly, and the artichokes also tender and briny. But there was something else I tasted I could not identify. Something creamy, almost like another soft melted cheese addition to the mozzarella. I wanted to know what it was.

The artichoke and spinach pie minus one slice: mine.

The artichoke and spinach pie minus one slice: mine.

Behind the counter there was a man in chef whites. I can’t recall ever seeing a pizza chef wearing whites…not even the legend, Dominic DeMarco from Di Fara wears them while preparing his pies.

To the man in chef whites, who said his name was Sal (of course it had to be, see The Many Pizzas of Sal’s), I asked what went into the artichoke and spinach pie.

“We use spinach, fresh mozzarella, imported artichokes, roasted garlic, and an artichoke spread,” he told me.

So that what I was tasting that melded with the cheese: artichoke spread.

Despite my traditional pizza sensibilities, I am against any rules on what can or cannot be put on a pizza.  Some of those rigid Neapolitan pizza societies with the strict regulations on how big to make a pie; what type of sauce and cheese to use and how hot it should be cooked take it much too seriously. Not that I ever complain about the results. The addition of the artichoke spread was a welcome innovation. And I credit Chef Sal, if he was the innovator, with another revelation in my slowly expanding pizza slice world.

Full Moon Pizza

Full Moon Pizza
600 E 187th St






The Fusion Files: French Pizza in Harlem by way of Africa.

1 Mar

French Pizza

I’ve noticed a few pizzerias in Harlem that have a French accent.

oui (7)At first glance, crepes and pizza might seem like a natural mix.

oui (5)And at Oui Oui there was a French/English menu where one of the crepes  was named for the largest city in Mali. Was I on to something here?

oui (6)Why order a pedestrian “Italiano” pizza when a merguez was available?

oui (9)And so I did. Not expecting much, I was pleasantly surprised that the piquant sausage made of lamb and beef gave the pizza a very welcome kick to it and was, in my estimation, a worthy substitute to traditional Italian sweet sausage.

crepeThe “Harlem” crepe, however, was another story and one not worth dwelling on.

oui (3)Still, everything was made in Harlem. And what could be better than that?


Eat Your Luck

31 Dec

Every New Year’s there’s another food I’m supposed to eat that will bring me good luck. I think I’ve tried them all.

New Year 1

I’ve done the Southern thing with the black eyed peas.

Southern luck thing.

Southern luck thing.

I’ve even tossed in a ham hock to make sure the Hoppin’ John concoction would be more effective.

The ham hock luck guarantee

Ham hock luck assurance

Based on something I read,  I once tried collard greens on New Year’s.

Collard greens

I can’t say that eating greens brought me any luck. And I know if I ever hit the numbers, I would have remembered. Whatever, the greens were delicious…and healthy too.

Collard greens

As long as you have your health….

The Italians have their superstitions too, that’s for sure. I bought into the lentils and sausage scam a few times thinking that maybe by eating them on New Year’s,  the following year would be truly remarkable.

A lucky legume?

A lucky legume?

If the year after the lentils and sausage was particularly amazing, I can’t remember.  Not that it mattered. They were so good I would eat them again even if they meant a mess of bad luck.

Eating fish on New Year’s is another superstition. I tried that one too.

Eat a fish head, get good luck.

And you would think that eating a fish’s head would give me some serious good luck mojo.  Sadly, though the fish head was memorable, any luck derived from eating it was not.

Since I’ve tried them all, this year I’m going with something not even on the New Year’s luck radar.

fried dough1

And I promise, if I have a particularly bad year, I’m not pinning it on fried dough.


When it comes to luck,  in reality that old sports cliche, “you make your own luck” is probably most  true. Just make sure that whatever luck you make tastes good.

Happy New Year!

On Pizza, Pomodoros, Putin, and Putinka

27 Nov

I’m a purist in many ways. With few exceptions, I don’t like fusion—unless I’m creating the fusion. When given the choice, as I always am, tap water works for me at a restaurant. I scoff at all the sauces presented to compliment a broiled or grilled piece of prime meat that should need no compliment.  I don’t buy flavored seltzers. If I want lemon or lime, I can easily add my own to plain seltzer.

And the same can be said for vodka. Who needs cranberry flavored seltzer when a splash of cranberry juice will suffice? That is, unless I’m in the outstanding Russian Samovar, sitting at the bar and trying to decide which of their house made infused vodkas I should order. Maybe start with a shot of ginger followed by the coriander? See, there are exceptions. I’m not totally unmovable on this.

The Russian Samovar Collection

The state of today’s pizza, I’m afraid, has been a serious blow to my purist sensibilities. You enter a pizzeria now and the cold, congealed varieties presented under Plexiglas counters are staggering. The pies are covered with everything from broccoli to kale, from barbecued shrimp to Buffalo chicken strips.

I like my pizza with tomato sauce and mozzarella; preferably more of the former and lighter on the latter. I have been known to throw on some anchovies to improve a mediocre pie. Beyond that, I have no interest in sausage, pepperoni, meatball, mushrooms or any of the usual toppings.

Adding to the ever-growing assortment of pizzas is pizza with “vodka” sauce—the spin on penne a la vodka. I know pizza with vodka sauce is not a new phenomenon. I guess I just put it out of my mind,  desperately trying to deny its existence despite it’s increasing popularity.

I’ve made penne a la vodka myself. It’s not something I’m particularly proud of. I use cheap, local canned tomatoes. Who cares about the quality of the tomatoes if I’m adding cream to it—and vodka? And when I go into my vodka stash just to have it fuse with the sorry canned tomatoes and cream I cringe. It’s one thing to waste a few splashes of red wine in a sauce, it’s quite another to use some of the precious Russian clear stuff.

Well, not always Russian. Sometimes it might be Swedish, Danish, or even from some place in Texas.

Penne a la vodka is an amiable and infrequent diversion. It’s like the undercard of a heavyweight bout; the opening act for standouts like Neck Bones Tomato Sauce  or  Neck Bones Anchovy Sauce, pesto, or the perennial champ: marinara sauce.

So why would I ever be interested in the undercard of a topping for pizza? I wouldn’t. Or I thought I wouldn’t until recently. The lure was drawing me in. Was I missing something here? And how could I comment on something I’d never experienced?

The sign said it all: “Home of the famous vodka sauce.” There was even a banner flapping in the wind above Spring Street advertising “vodka pizza.” The place was called Pomodoro and apparently vodka sauce was their trademark. If I were ever going to experience a slice of pizza with vodka sauce, I would guess this would be the place.

I surveyed the countless array of already made pies under the Plexiglas counter for the vodka pie, but my eyes, inexperienced at least regarding vodka pizza, could not identify one.

I asked the man behind the counter for a slice of vodka. He took out a pie that looked like any other “regular” pie and cut out a slice which he threw into the oven to heat. A few moments later it was presented to me.

Vodka slice from Pomodoro

My normal reflex whenever eating a slice of pizza is to grab for the red pepper flakes and sprinkle generously over the slice. I did the same here not knowing that the vodka pizza was already spicy.

The slice was coated with chunks of very good, albeit spicy, tomatoes and fresh mozzarella while the only negative was that the crust was a little on the thick side for my taste. It was a more than commendable slice. Still, I was puzzled. I admit to being a vodka pizza virgin, but was this what a slice of vodka pizza tasted like? It didn’t taste anything like my penne a la vodka. Where was the vodka in the vodka slice?

So they called it something other than what it really was. It didn’t matter. I liked the pizza and brought a few slices home to give it another shot. This time I thought maybe, instead of beer, my usual accompaniment to pizza, I would accompany the vodka slice with vodka.

For the occasion I had a Russian named Putinka in my refrigerator. An apparent tribute to Russian president, Vladimir Putin, the Putinka also billed itself as “soft,” vodka, whatever that meant. Was soft vodka the equivalent to light beer? I hoped not. And really, would the former Lieutenant Colonel of the KGB want a vodka named after him that was billed as “soft?”

Soft vodka

Either way, I reheated the vodka slice and poured a shot of Putinka over ice. I sipped and then took a bite. The vodka, soft or not, gave me the familiar and comforting burn that, I discovered, paired brilliantly with the so-called vodka pizza.

I finished the vodka and the pizza a bit too quickly and then realized something that should have been obvious to me—something that conformed to my purist sensibilities. There was no need to search out a pre-made vodka sauce pizza where, most likely, the vodka sauce wouldn’t be up to your own standards. Just like adding your own flavor to your pure vodka, you could do the same with this pizza. All you needed was a warm slice of pizza and a cold Russian in the refrigerator.

51 Spring Street

Neckbones Presents: The Bizarre Eats of Chow City

16 May

We each have our own definition of what might be bizarre when it comes to what we eat. To some, llama hoof in black bean sauce might seem bizarre, but to others, that is sustenance

Here in the city where I dwell, there is ample evidence of peculiar, even exotic, eats. In this new segment of Fried Neck Bones…and Some Home Fries, I intend to wander the city streets, mostly aimlessly, searching for the unusual, the weird and wacky.

Weird—wacky—odd; these are all subjective terms when referring to food. What I think is bizarre, or downright disgusting, others might thoroughly enjoy, and even indulge in regularly. So I promise not to judge. I pledge to do my best to respect my fellow man’s questionable taste in food stuffs. If I slip and begin to preach or moralize on the food choices of others, please don’t hesitate to call me on it. Sometimes I just need to be reminded.

The Hawaiian

In my decades of devouring pizza, I have heard tell of an unusual slice called “The Hawaiian.” I have even seen it on display at various pizzerias; the pineapple being the prominent ingredient sitting, unappealingly, on top of the crust surrounding by cheese and ham, the combination repellent to my pizza snob sensibilities.

I knew that in pursuing the bizarre foods of New York there would be challenges. I now needed to search out a slice of Hawaiian and summon the courage to actually sample it.

My first stop was 2 Bros’ Pizza, a chain of 99 cent-slice pizzerias, They advertised the “Hawaiian,” on a display menu. I perused the pre-made cold pies on display but saw none with the customary pineapple.

“Do you have the Hawaiian?” I asked the African man behind the counter.

“The what?”

“The Hawaiian,” I said again, this time pointing to the reference on the list of pies.

He went to the same display of pies I had inspected and returned shaking his head. “No, we don’t have the Hawaiian today.”

“Will you be making any?”

“Not today,” he said.

“Ever?” I inquired hopefully.

“Yes, maybe tomorrow we make it.”

I thanked him for his help and exited.

My next stop was a Chilean-run pizzeria I knew of on the Upper West Side called Freddie & Peppers. I have had their pizza in the past and knew they usually offered very unusual combinations of slices. They just might have the Hawaiian.

I checked out the pre-made pies behind their counter but again, didn’t see any with pineapple. On their menu, there was a mention of a “Hawaiian.”

I asked the South American man behind the counter if he had the Hawaiian.

He looked perplexed. “No, we don’t have that,” he said.

I could tell from his look and the way he responded, that the Hawaiian was not something they made very often or at all anymore. I didn’t press it further or suggest that maybe it would be a good idea to remove it from their menu so as not to disappoint a driven man on a ridiculous quest.

Finally, I stopped at Maria’s Pizzeria further uptown. I double-parked and peered in. On the window was a menu. I saw it there listed as The Hawaiiana.

I ran inside. There it was: a slice adorned with pieces of ham, mozzarella, and, of course, pineapple.

I quickly ordered it and took it home for a family sampling.

The Hawaiian

After reheating it, I cut the slice into pieces, one each for the 8 and 12-year old, another for my discerning wife, and a piece for myself.

The 8-year old looked at it, made a face and shook his head.

“Try it,” I said.

“I don’t want to,” he said. This is from a boy who will eat eel and now calls Part One of the Fazool Trilogy Pasta e Ceci one of his favorite pasta dishes.

“It’s just pineapple.”

He shook his head and left the kitchen.

The 12-year old didn’t hesitate, but he rarely hesitates on anything pizza-related. He ate it heartily. “What do you think?” I asked.

His mouth full, he gave me the thumb’s up.

“Would you order it?”

“No, never,” he said after swallowing.

I nodded.

He eyed his brother’s uneaten piece. “Can I have his?”

I said he could and he stuffed it down.

Now the more mature palates sampled.

“It tastes like it came from a can,” my wife said.

She was right. The pineapple had a metallic flavor to it and its sweetness overpowered the ham and cheese. Though I could find no visual evidence of tomato sauce, there was a hint of it in the slice. How it got there, I don’t know.

The Hawaiian was edible…at least to all of us but the 8-yar old. No one gagged. And we all swallowed what we chewed. Still, I wondered, what would motivate a chef to think to put slices of canned pineapple on a pizza? Did he/she think the sweet would meld with the salty? Maybe some people just need a little sugar on their pizza? And if they do, who am I to deny them that gratification.

Adventures in Chow City: The First Decade

27 Mar

This past January, our group celebrated ten years of traveling New York City’s environs searching for mostly unheralded, inexpensive, usually ethnic eating establishments. To honor this very important anniversary, we hoped to gather at a place somewhat representative of the restaurants we had been visiting the past decade. We were looking for something maybe slightly more broadly appealing than a place where cow foot soup and goat belly were the signature dishes. And since this was supposed to be a special occasion, we also decided to invite spouses, partners, significant others; anyone our members wanted to bring along.

Gerry recommended an old time Italian place in Mount Vernon, just over the Bronx border, called the Lincoln Lounge. From his description; “good pizza—old school, family-style Italian in a run down neighborhood with a full bar,” the Lincoln Lounge sounded exactly what we were looking for.

It took numerous group emails to nail down a date when all could attend. And then things happened. A wife dropped out due to family obligations; a girlfriend couldn’t come because of a conflict until we got an email from Rick saying “Sounds like its turning stag. Should we just commit to no wimmin?”

We never did commit to it, but as it turned out, no “wimmin” were in attendance.

And on the appointed day, neither was Rick; a family emergency denying him our celebration.

To make up for the loss of Rick, we were graced with the presence of original member, Charlie, who left us in 2005 for the greener pastures of the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania.

It was a Friday night and the Lincoln Lounge was mobbed with large groups; the small bar two deep with “regulars,” including one uniformed policeman who ate at the bar with his bullet-proof vest on and gun holstered around his waist.

No room at the Lincoln Lounge bar.

After we were seated; cramped in a corner, we quickly ordered a sausage pizza and here the Lincoln Lounge did not disappoint. With its thin crust, sauce bursting with flavor, nicely charred crust topped with fresh sausage; the pie, as it turned out was the highlight of the meal.

Lincoln Lounge’s excellent pie.

The antipasto salad, a bowl of greens topped with provolone, sopressata, and olives and doused in a vinegary dressing was passable while the steamed clams in white wine and garlic, standard and more than acceptable.

The calamari pasta, however, along with the shrimp scampi were disappointments. Apparently, when the dishes at the Lincoln Lounge are advertised as family style, they don’t mean our gluttonous family.

The shrimp, of which here they most definitely count, were barely enough for each of us to get a taste. As it turned out, a taste was more than enough.

The modest amount of spaghetti adorned with a light tomato broth and tiny pieces of calamari was devoid of flavor.

Calamari compromised

Zio shook his head as he gazed at the miniature calamari.  “I like big fat calamari rings,” he said. “Not these little ones.”

“Was it really worth slaughtering baby squid for this?” I questioned indicating the “family-sized” platter.

“Yeah, it’s inhumane,” Gerry said as he speared one with his fork.

Thankfully, the pork chops with peppers and onions were good enough to almost redeem the travesty that was the squid and shrimp.

Pork chops with vinegar peppers and onions

While we cleaned our plates, Eugene began to, once again, muse on a trip to a Caribbean all-inclusive he was soon to embark on. “You know what I like to do,” he swooned. “Eat a big breakfast, stay at the beach until two, take a nap, and then eat dinner. You never have to leave the hotel.”

Trying desperately to divert the conversation back to why we were at the Lincoln Lounge, I was curious about our group’s memories of the past ten years.

“Remember the bean dessert,” Eugene barked out. “At the Filipino place in Queens. The worst!”

“Yeah and the cheap Polish place in Greenpoint,” Zio added. “I went back once.”

“What about that one in Chinatown. The place with fish stomach and goose feet,” Mike from Yonkers reminisced.

“Sheesh, that was inedible,” Eugene spat. “Even Gerry had a hard time eating it.”

And from there they all came back. The highlights and a few lowlights of our ten years.

Chow City’s Top Ten Moments (Good and Bad)

Presented in chronological order:

  1. Eugene’s bean drink revulsion The Beans of Halo Halo
  2. Cherriolies and Kvass Kvass and Vodka  
  3. Pan fried chicken and old school soul   Across 125th Street
  4. Eating ribs in a South Bronx backyard junkyard Southern (Bronx) BBQ
  5. Traversing mountains of snow to get to the great Tandoori Hut. Dining With Sikhs

    Tandoori Hut

  6. The rending padang at Upi Jaya  Spice Tsunami
  7. An after dinner espresso served on my lap. The Un American African Place
  8. Broccoli rabe pizza, the choice meal of strippers. Bronx Broccoli Rabe From a Brother From Corona

    Bronx broccoli rabe

  9. Fuzhou fish stomach and goose feet. F(e)asting on Fuzhou Style Fish Stomach
  10. Zio’s upper body massage apres fufu and four fingers. The Bistro that Serves Fufu and Four Fingers

And let us not forget those who are no longer with us.


La Fonda Boricua

LeWoro Dou Gou

La Pollada de Laura

Southbound Bar-B-Que

M&G Diner

Bay Shish Kebab

Uncle Sal’s Ribs and Brew

Malaysian Rasa Sayang

Zabb Queens

Florence’s Restaurant


Spicy Mina

World of Taste Seafood and Deli


M&G Diner circa 2010

Pizza Unleavened

20 Dec

Eddie’s Pizza
2048 Hillside Ave
New Hyde Park, NY

I didn’t know when I walked into Eddie’s Pizza on Hillside Avenue in New Hyde Park that the place was some sort of Happy Days throwback. Gerry was at the bar, alone, sipping vodka and watching ESPN. The bar area was dimly lit. There were framed photos on the walls of Long Island celebrities like Boomer Esiason and a poster of the HBO series “Entourage.” The bartender was certainly a throwback; big frosted blonde hair, brassy nicotine ravaged voice and kiddingly friendly in that old school way.

And when I pulled up to the bar next to Gerry, she said, “What’ll you have, hun?”

For the first time in the almost ten years we have been convening, we were in Nassau County. This was Rick’s pick and he had taken us to the area where he grew up. Where, as he told us later, he and a few other friends, known as the Valley Stream “Fat Boys,” would cruise the strip malls in search of whatever place would satisfy their insatiable food cravings. That meant usually diners, but also, according to Rick, included Eddie’s Pizza.

Rick was stuck in the inevitable traffic on the LIE and Eugene was a late scratch, but Zio and Mike from Yonkers made it and after we all had a drink at the bar, moved to a table in a much more brightly lit area surrounded by posters from 1950’s teen rebel movies like Elvis’s “King Creole,” “Rock Around the Clock,” with Alan Freed, and of course, “Rebel Without a Cause.”

There were two televisions tuned to ESPN, but the sound was muted replaced by a stream of oldies. At first the music was just background noise, but soon it became intrusive not because it was too loud, but because there was something just not right with it. We were familiar with the songs, but they were off—remakes of the originals but meant to sound exactly like the original.

Though Rick was the man we needed at Eddie’s, we couldn’t wait much longer and ordered appetizers and by the time the sweet potato gnocchi and fried calamari ravioli arrived, so did Rick. The gnocchi was a nice balance of sweet and salty, but the fried calamari ravioli was an enigma. It was something deep fried stuffed with something else that had a briny, seafood flavor, more like the stuffing of a baked clam than anything reminiscent of calamari. We ate it anyway.

Our waitress, a brunette version of the bartender, suggested three pies. “They’re thin crust,” she said. “Kind of pizza on a matzoh.” The connotation was not the most appealing but we tried one tomato cheese pie, another white clam and a third tomato with anchovies. All three were regular-sized pies as opposed to the restaurant’s famous “bar pies” which were really just smaller, individual-sized pied that were said to fit perfectly on the bar. While we waited, glancing occasionally at the televisions, the music began to take over.

The “matzoh” crust of Eddie’s.

“Johnny Angel,” was the title of the female weeper about a teen rebel’s early death. Who was the singer?

“Lesley Gore?” Mike from Yonkers offered.

“No, not Lesley Gore,” Zio, the senior in our group, said adamantly.

“Connie Francis?” I tried.

Zio shook his head again.

Where was Eugene and his usually useless oldies’ knowledge when we needed him?

“I think it’s Shelly Fabares, but it’s not really her,” Zio said.

Yes,Zio, it was Shelly Fabares.

The pizzas arrived. The clams on the white pie were a bit tough, but the clam juice flowed through the grooves of the cheese which I thought was a good thing. The anchovies on the tomato pie gave it much needed flavor while the standard tomato and cheese pie was a disappointment.

We could hear “The Great Pretender,” playing in the background.

“That’s not the Platters,” Gerry said.

“That’s someone singing ‘The Great Pretender,’ I said. “Pretending to be the Platters.”

I poked at the matzoh-like crust to see if it would break. It didn’t. The sauce held to it. At the moment I couldn’t decide if that was good or bad. There was one clam slice remaining. No one wanted it. Not even Zio.

The waitress returned with espresso. There were lemon peels with each demitasse cup. Zio was impressed. “They never give lemon peels anymore,” he noted. “You gotta always ask.”

At Eddie’s you don’t have to ask for lemon with your espresso.

“Here we always bring them,” the waitress said proudly.

“But what do you do with it?” Zio wanted to know as he tried to squeeze the thick peel, hoping to extract some juice from it.

“You rub it around the rim,” she said. And this she proceeded to do, working over his shoulder to show him and then spilling half his espresso. She returned with another espresso, but after two super-sized diet Cokes, more caffeine was something Zio did not need.

“Come Go With Me,” a doo wop made famous by the Dell Vikings played, but this wasn’t the Dell Vikings.  Zio was listening closely.

“The scream’s off,” he muttered in disgust. “They couldn’t even get the scream right. Let’s get out of here.”

So went our Long Island strip mall experience at Eddie’s Pizza, Home of the Bar Pie.

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