When it comes to pizza, I am a hidebound traditionalist who hews to the classic New York City slice as served at Lucia. Glistening with orange grease and dusted with garlic powder and crushed red pepper there’s nothing better. Sure I’ve been known to enjoy blistered noveau Neapolitan pies from places like Co. and Motorino, but there’s one type of amalgam of cheese and dough for which there is little room in my pizza loving heart: the novelty slice. Buffalo chicken, barbecue, and ziti are all legitimate food groups unto themselves and have no business topping pizza. Neither, for that matter, does falafel. Yes, falafel. The falafel slice, as served at Benjy’s Kosher Pizza Dairy Restaurant and Sushi Bar in Queens is the best and only novelty slice I have eaten to date.
“Is that what I think it is?” I ask the guy behind counter, as I stared in awe at the slice of New York City pizza gilded with six falafel balls. “Yes, falafel pizza, $3.25,” he responded. Instead of crushed red pepper and garlic powder I ask for tahini and hot sauce. It is messy, salty, nutty, crunchy, cheesy and spicy: exactly what a mashup of Middle Eastern and New York City street food should be. It’s the type of dish that could only happen in Queens.
What some might deem an unholy marriage of chickpea balls and cheese has sparked my imagination for all manner of cross-cultural pizza mashups: shawarma atop a Sicilian square, al pastor instead of the dreaded ham and pineapple; the possibilities are endless.
Benjy’s Kosher Pizza Dairy Restaurant & Sushi Bar, 72-72 Main St, Flushing, 718- 268-0791