Say uncle

Uncle Vito’s N.Y. Pizza brings a slice of East Coast out west

PIE GUY<br> Head pizza cook John Frederickson slaps some sauce on a pie at Uncle Vito’s.

Head pizza cook John Frederickson slaps some sauce on a pie at Uncle Vito’s.

Photo By C. Moore

Uncle Vito’s N.Y. Pizza

3221 Cohasset Rd.
Chico, CA 95973

(530) 891-8486

New York-style pizza, you say? Calzones, parmigiana, subs and pasta? Yo. I’m so on it. Uncle Vito’s N.Y. Pizza is the restaurant touting traditional New York brick oven pizza and Italian food on Cohasset Road, appropriately located in La Dolce Piazza.

I’m a Jersey girl; I’ve heard the NY/NJ/Chi-town pizza debate ad nauseam, and have eaten plenty of Neapolitan slices that claim authenticity but are lacking some of the fundamental elements of true East Coast pizza.

During my first visit to Vito’s, I asked if the owner was really from New York. I found out Vito’s is a franchise (this is the first California location), but the owner of the franchise is actually from New Jersey.

No problem. Neapolitan slices from the Tri-State area tend to be pretty similar. Crust, sauce and cheese should be about equal thickness, slices should be big (a slice should damn near cover an entire paper plate and the last inch or so of the tip should hang over the edge) and cost around $2. The crust can vary from floppy to crispy, depending on the dough, the oven and the ‘hood.

That first night, though, I had a hankering for the comfort of a calzone. I ordered the Veggie Roll with mushrooms, spinach, green peppers, broccoli, onion and tomato, and added cheese for an additional 99 cents. My friends went with the Greek Roll (Feta cheese, tomato, onion, green pepper, banana pepper, black olives and mozzarella cheese) and the Stromboli (pepperoni, sausage, onion, green pepper and mozzarella cheese). Priced at $7.89, the Greek Roll and the Stromboli, along with the Veggie Roll ($6.50), are huge mountains of fillings, dough and cheese.

Well, mine was served without cheese, and I was, at first, admittedly disappointed. After a few bites, though, the thought of demanding my mozzarella at the counter disappeared, and I realized that no cheese meant a calzone simply packed with vegetables. Order extra sauce, though, because the little plastic cup provided isn’t enough for even half of the behemoth rolls.

The front of Vito’s menu has a disclaimer: “Please be patient; Rome wasn’t built in a day!” Take this to heart. While your meal may not compare to a vast continent-spanning empire, it will be pretty good. You just gotta wait.

If you’re super-hungry, the long wait can be excruciating. And expensive. I ordered two extra slices of pizza while I was waiting for my calzone and made a mental note to order ahead next time. Their slices are tasty, with a good, but not paper-thin, crust and sauce that’s not over-spiced à la California style.

They don’t skimp on toppings, but a smallish slice of Neapolitan will cost you $2.25 plus 60 cents a topping. Their Sicilian is damn good, too, with a soft, thick crust and ample sauce. At $2.55 a slice, it’s good, it’s cheap and it’s authentic.

I hit up Vito’s again on a slow Wednesday night. I ordered two eggplant parmigiana hoagies ($6.50) and a Greek Salad ($6.25) and sat down to wait.

Half an hour later, I got my subs but had to ask about my salad. It had apparently been made, but then was given to another table. Another salad was made in about a minute flat, and I was on my way.

Their eggplant parm is superb. Baked in the brick oven, the sub is composed of eggplant fried to perfection, smothered between sauce and cheese and soft bread.

Next time, I’m trying the manicotti ($8.79) and the baked feta with marinara ($5.49), and I can’t wait. Vito’s is good. It ain’t fine dining, but it’s a pretty traditional East Coast-style pizza joint.

Simple, good, not a whole lotta ambience, but there’s nothing wrong with that. Capice?