Yonkers Pizza Co. in Preston Center opened late last year as a place where owner Tony Avezzano, son of Dallas Cowboys’ late special teams coach Joe Avezzano, could share his family's Italian recipes. He signed a lease for this space in fall 2019 and finally opened the doors a full year later because of COVID-19.
“Business, especially foot traffic, hasn’t been what I expected at first, but we’re fighting through it, trying to keep the lights on and, with fingers crossed, we come out of this and continue to grow,” says Avezzano of opening when many restaurants around his have closed.
He says he realizes that a large part of weathering this storm is focusing on reliably good food, with little margin for error. His saving grace are the family recipes that were passed down from his great-grandmother.
"Like many Italian families, I grew up eating meatballs with red sauce every Sunday. My mom learned to cook from her mom and so on for three generations,” he says. “Here, we proudly carry Jimmy’s Food Store's sausage. So, I’ve added that into our meatball recipe. That’s my own tweak on things.”
Everything at Yonkers Pizza Co., which is named after his dad’s hometown, is made in-house, including the giant garlic knots that are warm safe havens for the hand-pressed meatballs and are served alongside other dishes. While many might stop in for the namesake pizza, strong consideration should go to the sandwich section of the menu.
My first choice last Sunday was the Coach Joe, a porchetta sandwich topped with mozzarella. But regrettably, I was told with just the right amount of empathy necessary when being told you can't have a sandwich, that they were out of porchetta at the time.
“We have a pretty small kitchen, so we only make one [porchetta] at a time." Avezzano explained later in a phone call. "And it’s a day and a half process. So, I’m not ashamed to say we're out of something for the fact that we sold out. We like to serve it right out of the oven, as soon as possible. I'd rather run out than serve something that has sat around and has to be reheated.”
So, I went with the meatball sliders instead. For these, they slice their giant garlic knots in half then toast them in the oven to melt the cheese on top. The result is a beautiful, delicious mess, unlike none I've encountered before. You can order either two sliders for $8 or three for $11; go for the later as three is two meals. That's just economics.
Avezzano has the same issue with their Chicago style Italian beef sandwich, which is topped with a house-made giardiniera. It's made fresh on Thursday and Saturdays. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.
But, the pizzas and and salads are solid standbys; we tried one slice of pizza that had really good crust and not a lot of cheese. The Greek salad was plentiful (it's not really fair to judge a salad alongside meatball sliders). Playing with the Cowboys theme, the Troy Aikman pizza has Jimmy’s Italian sausage, pepperoni and jalapeños. The lasagna stuffed with sausage and served with garlic knots will the list for our next visit.
If weathering this storm is reliant on the meatball sliders, they should come out of this Olympic-weather-stormers.
Yonkers Pizza Co., 8421 Westchester Drive (Preston Center), 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Sunday
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