Monday, February 16, 2009

CLOSED! pizza/american: i strongly recommend FAMOUS LARRY's NEW YORK PIZZA

a/o 2010 CLOSED

No. 2, Lane 137, Yanji St
(02) 2771-1032


hours: Mon-Sat 11am to 9:30pm; Sundays 12pm to 8pm

$-$$ Cash only

Kid friendliness: big slices and lots of choices for toppings. space is not large but not too tight for kids.

Visit reviewed: 12/3/2008 and 12/31/2008; 2/6/2008

I first heard about "the NY slice" when I saw a huge sign near Dun Hua Eslite Bookstore. Of course it piqued my interest and I found the website and even went by the new location last fall. But it turned out that it hadn't even opened shop at that point yet. And then I went to LA and forgot about it.

Then I happened to get some food from Sababa at their Heping branch, and spotted the Famous Larry's New York Pizza sign right next door. I was a bit startled seeing the naked pizzas on the counter- half baked dough with red sauce but nothing else- but thought I'd give it a try since I was there. Famous Larry's Pizza sells pizza by the slice, but not really how you might expect. It's pizza by the slice to order, rather than already made pizzas that you would grab and go. I was a bit doubtful that the way that I was familiar with wasn't the way to go, but after eating the pizza I could see why.

The pizza's dough is a crusty soft and crunchy at the same time, sort of like good bread. It's thin crust, but unlike Alleycats' super crisp, almost cracker-like crust, Famous Larry's NY Pizza is a chewy crispy.

But once the pizza cools down the crust starts getting really hard. So I could see that their crust probably wasn't prime for reheating- plus it's a cost saving method- if the turnover isn't as high as you think that day might be, then they don't have as much pizza to toss.

Anyways, something about Famous Larry's NY Pizza works for me, most of the time. It might be a touch of corn meal or something in the crust that gives it an extra texture. It might be the balance of sauce and toppings, and the toppings are hearty and aplenty. It might be the NT$69 price for the slice of the day, which is huge and could easily be the mass of a Pizza Hut or Alleycats personal pizza. (I might have to take a picture of the three side by side one day). It might be the absence of corn on any of pizzas, but instead fun combos like "Soho" (chicken, pesto and mushrooms) or the spicy "Downtown" (pepperoni, jalepenos and onions).

My favorite is the Hawaiian Vacation- the slice is covered with ham and pineapples.

The meat heavy "Brooklyn" or Vegetarian "Uptown" is second.

Can you tell I've been there a lot? The slice of the day is a good deal at NT$69, but you can still order whatever you like at NT$75-115 a slice. Nineteen inch pizzas run from NT$450-650 and you can customize pizzas to have each half have a different flavor.

My least favorite so far is the "Bronx". I thought it would be a winning combination with mushrooms and meatballs, but the mini meatballs are too soft, almost mushy. The meatballs in the meatball hero are also unfortunately soft- I miss the old meatball sandwiches from this sub shop in Carson that my mom's friend used to own. Meatball subs with provolone cheese and Orange Bang. Mmm.

Recently, they started delivery, but it still has a lot of kinks to be worked out. I placed an order at 12pm and they said that they were doing a delivery so I'd have to get my pizza after 12:30PM. I said fine. I got a call at 1pm asking if I still wanted my pizza? A bit frustrated, but hungry, I said yes. I had hoped that they could communicate somehow with their driver so that they could be already baking my pizza to be ready for the driver to pick up and bring to me rather than call me and confirm with me "did I want my pizza" and then bake the pizza. I ended up getting my pizza around 1:30pm- an hour and half after I ordered it. You'd have a much better time just having lunch at the location, although there are times you just want your pizza delivered.

If you're going to hang out, the Heping Yanji St location is better with a few seats and bar seats (it's not too far from the Zhong Xiao East Road, Lane 216 Alleycats). The Yanji St Heping location seems strictly to go. Also don't confuse NY Slice for the also relatively new NY Pizza Kitchen (near NY Bagel) on Ren Ai Road. Now if only someone would bring back California Pizza Kitchen! I think it would draw customers and lines like crazy in Taipei, don't you?

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No. 8, Alley 54, Lane 118, Heping E Road, Sec 2
(02) 2738-4747


Anonymous said...

wow, i just discovered your blog. thanks for your hard work. this will be very helpful when i go back to taiwan sometime in the future. yay!

Anonymous said...

"If you're going to hang out, the Heping location is better with a few seats and bar seats (it's not too far from the Zhong Xiao East Road, Lane 216 Alleycats). The Yanji St location seems strictly to go. "

Hey Joanne - I think it's the reverse. The Heping location is the one near Tai-Da and is mostly to-go. The one on Yanji (near Zhongxiao) is the one that has seating.

I agree that their pizza is best eaten hot the first time. Re-heating just doesn't work...UNLESS, you ask them to undercook the pizza like I do. If I order a large, I'll ask them to undercook a bit so that I can re-heat when I get home. That way, the crust isn't as cardboard-like. It's still a bit hard but not as bad.

But I think you hit the nail on the head, their pizza works for me, most of the time. There was something about the crust that wasn't doing it for me either.

Have you tried their spaghetti and meatballs? That's next on my list of items to try at Larry's.

Anonymous said...

I have something to look forward to next time I'm in Taipei!

Thanks for finding this place... please keep eating there and help keep them in business until 2010... :-)

The Pizza Locust

Anonymous said...

Seems like you had a better experience with their pizza than I did. I've only had Famous Larry's once, it was some time ago, just shortly after he opened.

The pizza was already cooked, with sauce and cheese. I ordered my toppings and they were put on top and the slice was baked once again.

But since the slice had already been baked once, the cheese had already melted once and when it was baked the second time with toppings, the toppings didn't stick.

The toppings kept falling off the slice as I was trying to eat it. I wasn't impressed with that style of preparation. It made me miss Sbarro Pizza back home.

But perhaps they've made some improvements since I've been there. Your pictures certainly look different from what I had. Maybe I'll give them another try.

Anonymous said...

i miss california pizza kitchen to death ><. will give this place a try though. i tried to go to mary jane's today in search of pizza, but apparently theyre closed on mondays.

Anonymous said...

BILLY you are dead on. The double cooking they do kills the pizza.

And the crust is unlike any of NY pizza I have ever had back in the states (not in a good way)

I would rather make the trip to Costco then eat Larry's and I live next door.

But Sabbaba's all good.

Anonymous said...

I guess I'm officially a pizza snob, but that's what I get growing up in the U.S. Northeast.

The first time I went to Larry's, I left thinking, "What have I done to deserve this flat, flavorless pizza?!", where're the spices, the oregano in the sauce? But I still go back every once in a while for their effort.

It's a matter of expectation. If you think about it being in Taiwan, it's tolerable. If you compare it to New York pizza, no way.

Still, an appreciated review you give. I haven't been to the Yanji location. It's closer to me than the Taida one.

joanh said...

sakura: thanks! hope it's helpful and hope to hear from you again.

wayne: yes! you are totally right.. thanks for pointing that out and i will change it. that's smart for asking them to undercook it. mostly i've been eating it by the slice so i eat it right after i pick it up. if they use the same meatballs for their pasta as they do their sandwich, then i'm not expecting much.. i like firm meatballs rather than mushy.

gridman: yes! you'll have to let me know what you think!

billy: i think they have improved their system since they first opened.. i totally agree if it was already baked w/ cheese on top that it would be a pretty unhappy pizza with all the toppings falling off.. i think now they just have sauce and put the cheese along w/ the toppings when they bake it.

carly: i've been hearing about mary jane's pizza and miss CPK too!

anonymous: i think they half bake rather than double bake the pizzas now.

keauxgeigh: hehe! well i have no idea what authentic NY pizza should taste like so i just judge it on whether or not i want to eat it again, so i probably have lower expectations than people who grew up with NY pizza. sort of how i have higher expectations for Mexican food and my ideal ind would be like the kind i eat in LA.

Anonymous said...

Dear Hungry Girl,
You failed to mention the FANTASTIC meatball sandwiches that FL serves up. With hand-made meatballs, pesto on bottom and their trademark tomato sauce on top, these things are a perfect balance of savory, spicy, sour and sweet. Really good stuff.

At any rate, we love your blog. Keep up the good work.

Karla said...

Just came back from dinner at Larry's (Yanji St location). I was very disappointed. The crust is hard and flavorless. Maybe my expectations were too high- oh well. Better than Alleycats though, where the crust is even harder.

Anonymous said...

The best part about the FL Yanji St. location is the soda machine in the back, which is a "secret" door to a bar downstairs. I thought that was really cool. Did no one know that?

Their pizza is very medicre. As is Alleycats. NY Pizza or Mr. Paco's has much better slices. This is coming from a born and raised Manhattanite, so I know pizza!

joanh said...

Karla- if you eat it right away (hot) it's much better than if you wait til you take it home.. i enjoyed reading your posts about taipei!

anonymous: as a NYorker, what is the best pizza in taipei in your opinion?

Rumela said...

Yum, Yum and YUM!!!!! I love pizza so much. I'm definitely picky with my crust too, and keep trying to perfect my own at home. If only I could get a pizza oven. We have only one truly certified NY Pizza place here in New york. thank you for shearing your post.

Station601 said...

Hi Joanne I love reading your posts. In fact I suggested to my family that we're gonna order in from Famous Larry's tomorrow night. Some comments about the hard crust concern me a bit, as it'll probably be an hour after the pizza's cooked before we can enjoy the chow. Anyway great blog and keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

this place is not good. Very very average pizza. I don't know how you could strongly recommend this pizza. How can I trust any of your recommendations in the future hungry girl???

Pei said...

I was in the area sometime last week and thought I would drop by, but as I was looking up directions, I found their site saying it has been closed!! How sad!! I loved their pizza! And the fact that I can order by slices when I am just craving for some yummy pizza but not want a lot was superb.

Terry J. Benzie said...

Those who are saying that this place was awesome are right! However, so are those who are saying that it is simply average and, sadly, those who claim it to be sub-par. I stopped by the Heping location fairly regularly over the past year they were open and the pizza and service varied greatly from time-to-to time, which probably contributed to their going out of business.

ethankegley said...

I remember when it first opened, I went to the grand opening, free beer and pizza. I really liked it for a long time back in late 2008 and early 2009. We used to get whole pies and split then two ways for band practice. I used to go by there and get a slice or two when I was hungry... but the truth is, their quality went down and down from when they first opened, they were trying to cut corners. In the end the stopped serving slices and I never went back. If you are ever in Taitung, my friend has a pizza place (Uncle Pete's) that Rocks the socks... i also have friends with pizza places in Hualien (Terry's Pizza) and Tainan (Tin Pan Alley).