First Look at Neapolitan Express
The new Neapolitan Express truck slowly rolled on to the streets a few weeks ago. Since they’re completely powered by compressed natural gas, they received a rare approval from Mayor Bloomberg. Sure, it’s better for the environment and we can all appreciate that, but Mayor Mike made no statements about the quality of the pizza itself also seemed to like the pizza.
After testing out the truck at sporadic locations around the city, Neapolitan Express seems to be on their way to a more permanent schedule. I caught them on Friday set up at 53rd and Park. I overheard one of the guys tell somebody that they plan to be in this area for most of their lunch shifts from here on out. The menu lists just three savory personal pie options and a dessert pizza.
When I arrived in the midst of lunch, there were just a few people around the truck. Amazingly, I was able to order my pizza and have it in my hands in just a few minutes. The truck felt very clean, slick, and organized, which was refreshing since most new trucks feel chaotic the first few weeks out.
The names of the pizzas are certainly authentically Neapolitan (which is probably my favorite style of pizza) and I was eager to try the Bufala, which features fresh buffalo mozzarella in addition to tomatoes and basil.
Upon opening the box, I could immediately tell that this was not in league with the best of the Neapolitan joints in the city (like Don Antonio and Motorino). First off, the crust of the pizza was a stark white instead of a nice browned color. I believe it was undercooked (or the oven wasn’t hot enough) because it had sort of a doughy, soft texture – what I imagine a pita pizza might taste like.
A little char made its way onto the bottom of the crust, but not enough to really give the pizza a crisp texture or a smoky, woodsy flavor. Traditional Neapolitan pizza is cooked in a wood-burning oven and sadly, it doesn’t seem that Neapolitan Express’ electric oven can do this pizza style justice.
There’s no denying the ingredients were fresh: big buttery globs of buffalo mozzarella, a nice tangy tomato sauce with blistered cherry tomatoes, and potent (yet sparse) basil leaves. But it’s just a shame the crust was lacking and thin, especially at this $9 price point.
Perhaps the truck is still working the kinks out. It is their first few weeks on the streets. No doubt we will check them out again in the coming months and hopefully their pizza will live up to their environmentally conscious good deeds. Check out their Twitter feed or the ML Twitter Tracker to make sure they’ll be back on Park Avenue this week.