Zetti’s – The Best NY Style Pizza in WNY!!

Posted on: March 29, 2009
9 comments so far (is that a lot?)

With the opening of the second location of Zetti’s Pizza and Pasta, across from the Flint (main) entrance to UB North, WNYers are finally witnessing the just ascent of NYC style pizza in their region.  While I am a huge fan of traditional Buffalo-style pizza (La Nova, La Hacienda, Bocce, and Just Pizza are among my favorites), “New York style pizza”, as it is known, is simply so transcendent and so self-justifying that its emergence here in WNY is a welcome and inevitable turn of events.

Although I occasionally enjoy some of the pizzerias proclaiming themselves makers of NY style pizza (Buzzi’s – which is very good, Molinaro’s – which is reasonably good, and some others that I won’t mention), most of these pizza makers have been unable to succesfully cross that elusive threshold into the realm of, what true aficionados can easily sniff out as, real NY style pizza.  Before Zetti’s, the only real NY style slices that I knew of in the area were at a place (now closed and whose name eludes me) just down the street from the (also defunct) Molly’s Pub on Main St., near UB South; the raunchy but true-blue NY style slices on Allen, between Elmwood and Delaware (owned by Palestinian pie tosser Keith or is it Keef); and the excellent and sorely missed Leo’s/Leon’s in the Boulevard Mall, pre-food court!!  Other than these notables, WNYers have, on the whole, been missing out on one of the most savory incarnations of pizza since its inception.
Zetti’s is easily the best example of this artful, and yes, even delicate, approach to  pie making.  What sets true NY style pizza making apart from, say, Buffalo style pizza making are four basic things:  the overall size, the overall thinness, the toppings, and the emphasis on slices as opposed to whole pies.  In this grand tradition – which hails from the New York City area – and which is also distinct from other traditional New York City pizza traditions, such as Neapolitan or “margherita” coal oven fired pizza (Patsy’s, Grimaldi’s, Totonno’s, etc.) – pizza is not seen as a sloppy pile-on of excessive amounts of ingredients (cheese, sauce, and dough primarily).  Instead, NY style pizza has a delicately thin and, all importantly, crispy crust, with thin layers of sauce and cheese.  All this is accomplished on an oversized/overstretched  pizza crust (too often neglected by neophyte NY style pizza makers here).  It is precisely because the dough and crust are so spread out, and thus large, that the texture of the final crust can transform into the bendable yet barely crispy crust that is the sine qua non of the quintessential NY style slice.  The total diameter of a NY style whole pie is several inches larger than the average Buffalo (and almost any other region’s) pizza.  In fact, it is so large that it will not fit in a traditional “large pizza” box.  The resultant slice from a gigantic pie like this is predictably larger and is, again, a hallmark of this style of pizza making.
As for the toppings and other differences, these particulars make sense if your business emphasis is to sell individual slices to lunch goers rather than whole pies to families for, say, pizza night.  Because of NYC’s hustle and bustle atmosphere and active, healthy business lunch, the NY style slice reflects the need for a slice or two of quality pizza with a variety of toppings to satisfy a diverse clientele.  It’s logical then that the the Kings of NYC slice-dom (Ray’s chief among them), regularly have 10 or more different pizza pies arranged on a counter for the customer’s perusal at lunch.  Toppings often include, assorted meats, combination veggies, white pizzas, pineapple and ham, dollops of ricotta and red sauce, and an evolving lineup of often creative combinations.  Yes, the ubiquitous pepperoni pizza is presented – albeit with thinly sliced pepperoni, unlike the grease filled “cups” of thick cut pepperoni’s that we Buffalonians know …and love (I love them too and would encourage NY style pizzerias to experiment with this Buffalo style pepperoni twist!).
Zetti’s is so compelling a presence precisely because they are getting all these elements dead-on right!  The size is probably the biggest ever witnessed in WNY, even among those handful of other artisans who “get it”.  The toppings are well conceived, creative and well balanced – never sloppy.  And, the crust:  it’s the true sign that this rendition of NY style is in full bloom.  What can I say but that this crust is perfect and is not too soggy at the front or to hard at the back of the slice but, instead, is relatively consistent tip to heel with just the proper procession from soft to hard as one’s mouth wolfs it down.
So am I a traitor because I confess my love for this pizza?  No effen way!  It’s OK to love Buffalo style pizza and NY style.  They are so different – as each offers a wholly unique taste experience.  We Buffalonians need to embrace change and understand the new.  Our traditions all originally hail from places well beyond our own shores for heck’s sake.  It’s even more justified that a new kind of pizza  – from our very own State – should find a home here …and hopefully revolutionize the way we think about pizza and, perhaps, food generally.  It is these challenges to our way of seeing things that ultimately helps us to differentiate, as well as integrate, our particular foodways from and with all else. Go for it!!!
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9 Responses to “Zetti’s – The Best NY Style Pizza in WNY!!”

  1. Shelly Hunt Says:

    You might just be the guy to help me film “Barbecue, Is it a cult or an affliction?” lol……..Nice site, I’ll follow on twitter.

  2. Shelly Hunt Says:

    Oh, and as is the prerequisite in Texas, Kansas and the Carolinas, you MUST drive far away from your comfort zone, (city of Buffalo) to get the real deal, so come and visit for a bbq experience sometime.

  3. Brooklyn Says:

    Yo, Brooklyn in the hizza.

    The only real NY style pizza slice in Buffalo are the ones you get from Pizza Hut, right?

    I mean, when I get buffalo wings in Brooklyn I order them from Pizza hut. I love how they are BREADED and served with RANCH DRESSING.

    Enough kidding. I would love to SEE this Zetti pizza. I wish you had photos or a link to their website.

    The real secret to NYC pizza is the fact that the slices are cooked twice. Once in the oven and once when you order and they heat it up again. If you get a fresh slice it’s never as good as one that has ben twiced baked. Sometimes the ugliest slices cook up beautiful a secod time. (AKA: the sleeper slice.)

    In NY we have places that do slices and place that do pies. Most slice places do crummy pies.

    I say, give Zetti’s a chance. Sounds good. …the real question is, where can you get a real Margherita pie in Buffalo?

  4. nelson Says:


    You R so right about the re-heat! That is certainly key. As far as a real Margherita… there are none, at least of the coal-fired variety (ie – the real ones). …yet!?


  5. Hal Dergance Says:

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