Oak Cliff pizzeria Zoli's NY Pizza Tavern has done a fine job of educating Dallas diners about the nuances of New York pizza, be it the Grandma (kinda puffy) or the Sicilian (very puffy). But Ferrari's Pizzeria in Plano was doing the Grandma long before it was a twinkle in Zoli's eye.
The New York-style pizzeria first opened five years ago in an obscure corner of Plano with all of your basic New York pizza options, including the all-important "by the slice." Now that Ferrari's has moved to a more prominent location two miles away on Legacy at Coit, the world — or Collin County, at least — can discover the joys of its pies.
"We do New York pizza and New York food – pasta, sandwiches and salads," says owner Vinny Ferrari, a native of New York. "I worked for a family I grew up with in New York and learned the business up there."
One thing Ferrari noticed when he moved to Dallas is that the Italian here did not resemble the Italian he grew up with.
"A lot of places call themselves 'New York style,' but I guess there's a different definition," he says. "I can tell right away when someone is using a good-quality cheese, and a lot of places here use a cheap cheese. I use the best there is."
His care extends to the sauce and the dough.
"My sauce recipe, I'm the only one that makes the sauce," he says. "I was taught that you don't let anybody know your sauce recipe. My dough, it's me and one other guy; we're the only ones who know the recipe, and he's been with me since day one. The crust is very important. You need to get a little bit of a crisp to it."
It's like this with everything they make.
"We make our own house bread, and our lasagna and meatballs are awesome," he says. "It's from a recipe of my great-grandmother's passed down to my mother. Customers rave about the marinara. They call it 'the gravy'; that's a Northeast thing. We have a lot of customers from the East Coast who appreciate the food and the level of quality."
The restaurant is counter service during the day and sit-down service at night. The move has brought in a larger dinner crowd, so Ferrari has added salads and panini, including one with portobello mushrooms. There is also another kind of specialty New York-style pie not seen elsewhere — not even at Zoli's.
"It has pomodoro sauce, seasoned bread crumbs, caramelized onions and basil, and it's half the thickness of a Sicilian, which is our thickest pizza," Ferrari says. The name? "It's called the Grampa."