PIZZA PARTNERS: Bleu and margarita.
It was a hot day in the cold city, the streets full of mugs mopping sweat — one of them days when all you want to do is park in your dump under the blower; just you, a deck of Luckies and your collection of shoulda’s, woulda’s and coulda’s. Gotta rack the chips though, so there I was, a news hawk on the beat — my mob in tow — dusting through West Little Rock in my boiler.
We were looking for a hash house called NYPD Pizza. A pigeon I know spilled that they were the bees with flatbread. I’m a weak sister when it comes rubbing out some rate pizza, so peeping the neon — at the corner of Chenonceau and Highway 10, just across from The Ranch — really got my pump squeezing.
Inside, we cooled our dogs in a booth, me ready to burn a spike until I caught the “no smoking” sign. Stashing my coffin nails, I spun an eye around the joint. The place has got a “cop theme,” which means their flimflam is flatfoot, the walls jazzed with all things Shamus (the theme stretches from the bathrooms — with lineup-style height markers on the mirror — to the menu, which is made up to look like a coffee-stained police report). I was still giving the lookaround when a dame breezed over. She had the finest set of getaway sticks I’ve seen since Betty walked out on hers. Even better, she had a menu. My birds closed their beaks and let me supply the chin.
“You got pizza?” I said.
“Don’t be a bunny,” the dame said, and jammed the menu in my button. “You glommed the sign, didn’t you?”
“I ain’t kicking, sister,” I said. “Don’t get gashouse on me.”
She took a powder, and me and my ginks gave the menu the old up-and-down.
OK, OK. That ought to be enough hard-boiled detective speak for anybody. Besides, have you ever tried to find a “Big Sleep” translation for “eggplant parmigiana?” It’s just not to be had.
So, in plain old English: Looking to carve as wide a swath as possible out of NYPD’s impressive lineup, most of our group decided to go small — as in a communal spread of several of their personal 10-inch pizzas, and a Patrolman’s Pepperoni roll ($6.99). From a list of 15 pizza choices (including the enticing Papa’s Pesto, with pesto, pine nuts and tomato slices) we chose the Brooklyn Bleu Cheese and Buffalo Chicken ($8.99), the Queens Deluxe ($7.99) and the Margarita ($6.99). Another of our companions — his boardinghouse reach a little rusty and fearful we might slap him away from the table — decided on the baked ziti ($9.99). Yet another walk-on-the-wild-sider added a salad to our order, an overdose of blue cheese crumbles and creamy bleu cheese dressing over mixed greens. And not to skip out on the appetizers, we also gave their spinach dip with toasted and buttered bread pieces a try.
Everything arrived quickly and hot, served by a waitress who continued to cheerfully work her tail off throughout the meal, schlepping back and forth to the kitchen for our very thirsty — and very picky — crew. Though one companion complained that the margarita pie wasn’t margarita enough somehow (it had tomato sauce rather than sliced tomatoes), the others were fine, on a not-too-thin crust with a spicy red sauce. While the Queens Deluxe, pepperoni roll and baked ziti were good, with fresh ingredients and a nice smothering of cheese, everyone agreed that the star of the show was the Brooklyn Bleu Cheese and Buffalo Chicken pizza. Covered in two-glasses-of-tea-hot chunks of chicken breast, the pie put us off at first with its drizzling of bleu cheese dressing — as opposed to the actual lumps of bleu cheese we had expected. A bite or two later, however, our suspicions proved unfounded. A nice mix of hot, cheesy and creamy, it cried out for a beer to go with it. Think spicy hot chicken wings. Next time we head to NYPD, it’s an 18-incher of this one and a pitcher of suds.
The only other complaint from our table was a detection by one diner of, perhaps, overkill on NYPD’s part. She was mostly noting that the garlickly buttered toast bits accompanying the spinach dip overwhelmed the taste of the dip. She also thought plain ol’ pita chips (or maybe pizza dough chips) would have sufficed instead of the bread. We’ll note that not a drop of dip or a piece of toast remained, however.
We couldn’t use our favorite “Godfather” line — “leave the gun, take the cannoli” — because they were still waiting on delivery of the right ricotta cheese filling to make the dessert when we visited. So we made off instead with zeppoles (pronounced “zepp-oh-lees”), which were powdered-sugar-dusted fried dough balls (beignets).
In the end, one of our Hillcrest-dwelling companions gave NYPD the ultimate compliment when he said he wouldn’t mind the drive out to West Little Rock for more of their pizza. They are waaaay out in McMansionville — far enough out that the windows offer a spectacular view of the surrounding mountains (though it’s soon to be thoroughly blocked by the construction of a bank). Still, given how arresting our experience at NYPD Pizza was, we’re bound to be repeat offenders.
6015 Chenonceau Boulevard, Suite 1
For dessert, try the zeppoles, flash-fried little lumps of sweet dough, doused in powdered sugar and served in a paper bag. They’re messy, but if you don’t mind having your shirt, face, hands and car interior covered with powdered sugar, they’re a little piece of heaven.
10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.
Moderate prices. Credit cards accepted. Beer and wine available.