Written by Terecille
While We’re Away…
I’m writing you from Hong Kong . It’s early afternoon here, the sun is out, which it has been these past few days. The humidity is low and the temperature mild. Perfect.
This is a tall city. This is a city filled with beautiful people and great fashion. Of all things, this city is a food city. I haven’t been away too long, but there are some elements about Hong Kong that makes me melancholy. It makes me wonder about what’s going on in the lives of the people and the city we left.
So below is a guest post from our niece, Terecille Basa-Ong from our Hometown, NYC.
Let’s travel the world one dish at a time.
Dish Our HOMEtown, Train Ride #001 – B/C Train to 116th Street/Frederick Douglass Blvd. OR 2/3 Train to 116th Street/Lenox Ave.
While my Aunt Brenda, Uncle Andrew and cousin Bailey are off gallivanting around the globe, they’ve generously asked me to be a local correspondent of sorts. I am honored to present you with the first-ever Dish Our HOMEtown post, featuring my neighborhood, Harlem.
Harlem Pizza Company
I moved here four years ago and have seen the gentrification firsthand – and I must admit that I do love all the coffee shops and restaurants that have been popping up. It’s great to have places I can walk by on my way to the train or bus that do not include a franchise. However, I am introducing a place that I pass to/from my gym, which means it is the perfect post-workout place that my workout buddy and I frequent probably a little too often, but with good reason: Harlem Pizza Co.’s pizza and paninis are legit delicious.
Open since December 2014, just a few weeks after Blink Fitness opened one block east, Harlem Pizza Co. (HPC) took over the old Il Forno space, according to the Harlem Bespoke blog. Since the brick oven was already there, a pizza place was perfect for the space – one of the HPC guys explained how it’s actually NYC law to install only gas-fired ovens, so they’re lucky to have stumbled upon this abandoned brick-fired oven.
Pizzas, Paninis and Desserts
And yes, it does make an immense difference in taste. All of their pizzas, paninis, even desserts are made in the brick oven. Additionally, everything is made to order, so you can count on fresh ingredients and perfectly toasted crust/bread/etc.
I’ve dined at HPC nine times now (and I know this only because I have a buy-10-get-one-free punch card), and have tried three of their 11 personal-size pizzas, two of their salads and one of their paninis – only because I tend to stick to my favorites once I’ve established one. One time, HPC had a Peach Cobbler dessert special with real slices of peaches, whipped cream and oatmeal cookies, which were baked in the oven besides some pizzas – no, there wasn’t a pizza taste, and yes, the cookies were crispy on the outside and chewy in the middle. Served in an espresso cup, the cobbler was two ounces of peachy sweet goodness, though with too much-whipped cream for my liking (but not my friend’s! He slurped it all up).
Spicy Salami Pizza
On a recent visit, I had my usual Spicy Salami pizza (soppressata, tomato, fresh mozzarella, chili flake, basil, pecorino, extra virgin olive oil) and my usual The Cured panini (prosciutto, pesto, baby arugula, fresh mozzarella, pecorino), but since I had just come from the gym and hadn’t eaten anything all morning, I started with the Classic Caesar salad, which comes with romaine heart, pecorino, croutons, a housemade caesar dressing – tasty, tangy and creamier than most. The Spicy Salami was spicier than in the past – as there were more chili flakes than we remembered, The Cured, however, was on point, perfectly toasted.
Other two pizza options I’ve tried are the Alper, featuring Sujuk, or Turkish beef sausage (which intrigued me, but soon thereafter learned that the owner is Turkish); and the Hot Bird, with roasted chicken breast, fresh mozzarella, gorgonzola and baby arugula, drizzled with hot sauce (which I missed when we ordered it – I can’t handle very spicy anything, but it was TOTALLY worth scarring my taste buds for that one hour). But here’s a tip when ordering pizza and any other menu item: be sure to eat the pizza first if you don’t like cold pizza, as it will lose its heat quicker than your panini/calzone.
As for drinks, they offer soda cans and one-liter bottled water, as well as 12-ounce Coca-Cola and Sprite in glass bottles – which is a rarity in most restaurants. And at $1 for cans, $2 for the soda bottles and $6 for the water, the prices are very reasonable.
That can be said for anything that HPC serves: $8-$12 paninis, $9 salads, $11-$16 calzones (which I’ve never tried), and $11-$18 pizzas. That’s what makes for an affordable pizza option that tantalizes the taste buds and doesn’t add too many calories (and thus doesn’t make me feel too guilty for stuffing my face after a workout).
[Tweet “On a block that also houses home-cooking favorite Amy Ruth’s, which almost always has people waiting outside to get in”]
Central Park North
On a block that also houses home-cooking favorite Amy Ruth’s, which almost always has people waiting outside to get in, and a variety of West African shops, HPC is the shiny new restaurant that doesn’t serve slices, only whole 12” pizzas, and refuses to deliver beyond 125th to the north and Central Park North to the south – because they know that the pizza will get cold en route should they go any farther. So don’t settle for lukewarm pizza, just opt to sit at one of the tables either inside or out and enjoy Harlem.
Did you like this guest post by Terecille? Please share it with your friends. We’d really appreciate it.