Are you ready for this? I don’t think you’re ready for this. I don’t even know if I was ready for this. But I guess that’s usually the way it goes when it comes to all the important events in life. Birth. Death. First day of school. First time having sex. This is gonna be like the sex. Except that you might not be as excited. You might not want it. Actually, it’s more like rape.
This is Ally, the Pizza Man. Gaze upon his glory. GAZE UPON IT. He is going to give you pizza, and you are going to like it. He is going to make you like it. Hard. You don’t really have a choice in this.
I’ve had a bit of… how can I put this delicately… “business” to take care of in north Land o’ Lakes recently. Nothing too exciting. A lot of long drives with some very quiet passengers. And though they don’t ever get hungry or anything, I often do. And after a long day of heavy lifting and digging, I’d be more than ready for a bite to eat. And what better place to grab a bite than a pizza place? This big red pizza place seemed good.
Just south of the intersection of SR 52 and US 41 sits this seemingly innocent looking place. Ally’s New York Pizzeria. And with a bail bond agency right in back, it seemed like the perfect place for me!
Sitting outside the shop is a bus, adorned with banners, making bold statements about the pizza, wings, subs, the building, and the man who makes the pizza. The pizza, wings, and subs? Best friggin wings and subs. Best pizza in the world. The building and the man? Ugly. Old. What this means to you? Personality and attitude. Be ready for that.
After snapping a couple pictures, I walked into the restaurant, and was soon greeted by the very same ugly old gentleman whose image was plastered all over the bus. Ally. He moved fast. He spoke quickly. He was from New York. “You taking some pictures?” “Uh yeah.” “Come outside with me.” At this point i shit my pants.
We went outside. Why was I taking pictures? For a food blog. What’s a food blog? A type of review website. How much you getting paid for this? Nothing. You do it for free? Yeah. He may have laughed at me. I tried to explain further. I mentioned Urbanspoon. “Those guys are fuckin’ idiots.” I shit my pants more.
After establishing his dominance, Ally took me back inside.
Ally offered to get me a free slice of pizza. I was all about this. Treated like a king! It wasn’t until later that I realized he did this for all first time customers. I spoke briefly with Ally while he cooked up a slice for me. His language was laced with profanity and sarcasm. It was around this time that I realized that this guy wasn’t a jerk, he was just naturally explosive. It was lighthearted ribbing. He would yell at his customers, his staff. And everybody had a good time of it.
I asked him about ordering some wings, and he asked what kind I wanted. Hot, mild, teriyaki, or barbecue. I was leaning towards the hot, but curious as to how hot it was. I asked. “Hold out your hand.” He told me. “…what?” “Are you deaf? Hold out your hand.” I did so. Half a second later my palm was covered in hot sauce. I tasted it. It was alright. A bit spicy. Somewhat generic. “Works for me.” I told him. “Of course, you can get that anywhere.” He recommended the special homemade teriyaki. I cleaned the rest of the sauce off my hand and ordered the teriyaki.
Soon my slice was ready. It came out hot and crispy. I began to eat it, and got yelled at. “Fold it!” Some people at a nearby table got in on it. “He doesn’t even know how to eat a slice of pizza!” I folded the slice in half through my tears, reminded of every single day of my middle school career. I ate the pizza. And it was good. Best pizza in the world? No, not really. But pretty damn good pizza. The sauce was good, and the cheese was very good, with seasoning on top giving it a strong personality beyond the quality of the ingredients. But the crust was the best. Crisp. Crunchy. Bit of a chew in the ends. High quality flavor. Good crust. I had their supreme pizza on a later visit, which was also quite good. It did not come out as crisp as the plain cheese slice, but there were some really good toppings used.
The wings came out nice and crispy, fried perfectly and large enough to fill me up after eating half of them. The teriyaki sauce was excellent, sweet and salty, with a bold flavor. They were great (definitely the correct choice over the hot wings). While I ate them, Ally regaled me with tales of his past. He grew up in New York, went through some shit, moved to California and opened a pizza shop, went through some more shit, and then came here. He’s been here for a while, and he’s been making pizzas for over 25 years. Despite his wildly intense, aggressive, and often offensive approach with his customers, he seems like a genuinely good guy, with a mean sense of humor. And he’s a shrewd business man.
In addition to selling what he calls the best pizza in the world, Ally, also known as “the Pizza Man”, sells his very own “MAGIC PIZZA KIT”. Just check out his kickass website. Those bullet points. The magic pizza kit comes with a VHS tape providing you with instructions on how to make your own pizza, the Pizza Man way. It’s a great gift for anniversaries, Chanukah, or weddings! Check out this sweet promo:
Make the dough. Make the dough. Make the dough, so you can save some dough.
Listen to that theme song. It really adds to the experience. I defy you to listen to it more than once and not go insane. Try it!
So what have we learned here? Ally’s New York Pizzeria makes good pizza, though maybe not the world’s best. Damn good wings. Predominantly, though: personality, personality, personality. Perhaps not for the faint of heart, but a good time for most. Leave the chip off your shoulder, go in with a sense of humor, and meet one of the most unique restaurateurs I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. Also: free slice!