The general population balks when you start throwing out “real” and “authentic.” They only do so because most chains that make such claims tend to over promise and under deliver. So naturally, like most others, I was a bit skeptical when I saw the word “real” in Johnny’s Real New York Pizza. How really can you get outside of New York in California? Well, folks the “real” starts with Johnny Younesi, a native of Queens New York. When he started telling our table stories of pizzerias he had visited in New York, how he wanted to capture the same simple essence and let the food speak for itself, we were convinced. Here it was – a man with passion, a vision, and better yet – a concept.
Walking into Johnny’s, you’ll notice the cultural influences from Sicily and New York. The interior is branded with reds, whites, and greens. Everything about it yells “pizza.” I couldn’t wait to dig in. Before introducing us to the pizza, we started the night with a hearty round of appetizers. Big C’s Best Eva Garlic Knots (hot, buttery, and packed with garlicky goodness), Johnny’s Hot Wings (spicy and juicy), Sicilian Style Fries (I bet you can’t eat one. I had a hard time avoiding these), New York Style French Fries, Johnny’s Famous House Salad (a mix of everything Johnny loves in salad), and Authentic Italian Mozzarella Sticks (Mmm, you could tell these were fresh and not frozen. They were breaded perfectly and oozing with cheese).
After having our fill of appetizers and pacing ourselves in anticipation of the pizza, the first pizza came out to many ooh and aahs. The pizza is guaranteed authentic due to how it’s processed and made. Johnny’s uses a preeminent water purification process that allows the pizzeria to filter out the harder water chemicals that exist in California water (such as chloride) and transform the water into a softer water that tastes like the kind you find in New York (recognized as the highest quality tap water!). Wow. If that isn’t real, I don’t know what is. The one of a kind dough and the water process is transparent in the pizza. While it’s not exactly thin like most pizzas in New York, the quality and freshness is there and the big slices are meant to be folded over and enjoyed.
Thinking I could hardly eat anymore, Johnny and his crew brought out their penne bolognese. I told myself to try “only a bite” but after hearing about the 100 year old family recipe, I dug in and found it hard to resist much like everything else.
The evening ended, like every grand meal should, with a dessert. Mmm. Our table was salivating around these beauties – cinnamon knots served with a wonderful glaze. Much like everything else that evening, we found it hard to stop at just one and left absolutely stuffed and couldn’t wait to come back. Thank you Johnny’s for an absolutely delightful evening, for allowing us all to experience real New York pizza, and most of all, turning me into a believer.