In Taipei, where eating quick and cheap is the norm, it's surprising that no one served pizza by the slice until Greg Walsh opened Larry's New York Pizza. "It was a no-brainer," says Walsh. The way he sees it, Taipei residents love convenience, value for their money and the Yankees - how could they not go for a New York-themed pizza joint?
Larry's, which opened in March, has the simple, hole-in-a-wall charm of a pizzeria in New York City, and it's on the well-kept side. The shop fronts an apartment building, with a transparent plastic roof that lets in natural light. The walls are lined with red brick, and the "floor" is blacktop gravel. There are three sets of tall stools and tables. Two pictures hang on the wall: one of New York Yankees pitcher Wang Chien-ming (王建民), and another of Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle. In case that's not enough, the employees wear Yankees' jerseys.
More importantly, the pizzas are made and presented much as they are in New York. You order your slice at the bar and cash register, where a few freshly-cooked pizzas sit in a heated glass shelf. The cook then puts your slice in a large oven for a few minutes to warm it up.
It's New York style pizza, which means: the pizzas are big - a whole pie is 19 inches (48cm) and cut into eight slices; the slice is thin (one is enough for a light meal; two slices and you'll be very full) - and it's cheap. If you're new to this kind of pizza, try the classic - the New Yorker (NT$75), which is simply mozzarella cheese and marinara sauce, or Pepperoni (NT$95).
You can also customize your slice. For vegetable toppings, there's green pepper, mushrooms, onions, pineapple and jalapenos (NT$10 each). Other toppings include pepperoni, chicken, ham, pesto and extra cheese (NT$25 each).
Address: 8, Alley 54, Ln 118, Heping E Rd Sec 2, Taipei (台北市和平東路二段118巷54弄8號)
Telephone: (02) 2738-4747
Open: Monday to Saturday 11am to 9:30pm; Sundays 12pm to 8pm
Average meal: NT$100 to NT$150; whole pizzas NT$395 to NT$595
Details: Chinese and English menus; credit cards not accepted
On the Net: www.thenewyorkslice.com
Soft drinks (NT$25) are self-serve from a standard soft-drink machine that also dispenses water, which is greatly appreciated. Bottled Budweiser (NT$75) completes the beverage selection.
What Larry's does well: the crust is just right - it's chewy and crispy on the sides, and slightly charred on the bottom. The marinara sauce tastes freshly made. My only misgiving is that the mushrooms are canned.
Larry's is located right next to the Sababa near Xinhai Road (辛亥路), across from National Taiwan University. Look out for a new branch scheduled to open on Yanji Street (延吉街) at the end of June. - David Chen