Quick bites: New York Pizza
It’s time for Quick Bites to pay a visit to our second Italian restaurant of the season. This time, it’s New York Pizza Pub and Italian Grill’s turn.
The restaurant name has been anchored at its current location in Nags Head for about 16 years.
In 2003, Joe and Laura Gurski bought the restaurant and kept the name.
Their son, Mitch, jokes that they chose the Outer Banks because severe hurricanes had been absent for a while, and snow, well . . .we didn’t get much of that here either.
As the family was relocating from New York, weather was a factor. In 2003, Isabel arrived and a winter nor’easter dumped over a half foot of snow on the Outer Banks.
Joe Gurski hails from the Bronx, where he learned to make pizza at a restaurant called “Pizza and Brew.” He hired his wife, Laura, as a server. The effort grew into a family chain of three stores.
Years later, Joe and Laura opened “Grandma’s Restaurant and Pie Shop.” They offered over 40 different pies, ranging from standards like apple and blueberry to exotics like Napoleon apple, Swiss chocolate almond and Mississippi mud pie.
The pies became famous throughout lower New York, but the restaurant also served breakfast, lunch and dinner — basic comfort food with an Italian twist. Eventually they sold the restaurant and headed south.I was lucky enough to meet Joe and Laura before they purchased the restaurant. You can’t help but like them and there was a sense that they would succeed.
One of the first things they did was stabilize the operating hours — lunch and dinner during the summer season and a little beyond. They close after Thanksgiving for a short break and are usually open again three weeks before Easter.
The previous owners kept unpredictable daily and seasonal schedules and the client based dropped. The Gurskis rebuilt that base quickly.
One of the reasons I wanted to feature New York Pizza Pub is that if you believe this to be a pizza shop, you are missing out on some awesome food.
I prefer to think of it as an Italian-centered restaurant that also serves a good pizza. As a local, NY Pizza pub is on my rotation of three places I regularly order “to-go” pizza from.
But when I visit the restaurant, the Lays and our friends never order the pizza. Open that menu and explore!Grandma’s Lasagana ($15.49) is, in my humble opinion, the best lasagna served on this beach. It is full of cheese, beef and pork. The recipe came from Laura’s grandmother, Nanna, who was from the small town of Cava de’ Tirreni in the Selerno province of Italy.
I know dozens of locals who swear by this dish and the serving is so generous I guarantee most of you will carry some home!
My staple is the bourbon teriyaki steak ($23.99) — a full 14-ounce, hand-cut black angus ribeye. There’s a shot of Kentucky bourbon in that marinade and “lot’s of love.”
My wife almost always orders the chicken piccata ($16.99).
The Gurskis also have their favorite dishes.
They like the chicken saltimbocca ($17.99), a chicken cutlet with prosciutto pounded in, then pan sautéed in a brown marsala wine sauce topped with provolone cheese and served over a bed of spinach sautéed in garlic and oil.
Their chicken wings have won numerous awards locally ,and their homemade garlic knots are something we always fill (too much!) up with before the entrée.
Mitch tells us the Grilled Chicken Pesto pizza is a “must have” and his favorite.
I can also vouch for the panini press sandwiches for lunch. The Italian is my favorite.
Any time the restaurant is open Joe, Laura or Mitch are “in the house.” It is a hands-on operation.
This year during the summer, The Amazing Stanley” performed tableside magic tricks and kids are always welcome. For the “under 10” crowd there’s a kids menu.
In spite of the New York Yankees flag flying prominently along the bypass in front of the store (I am a Red Sox fan), NY Pizza Pub has been a regular stop for me.
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