Nate’s New York Pizza
920 N. Highway 41, Suite 1,
Here in the Inland Northwest one could say that the apples were big, but in the “Big Apple”, it’s the pizza pies that have all the size queens swooning. New York style pizza is identified by its thin hand-tossed crust, lightness of sauce and use of fresh mozzarella cheese, but most notable are it’s magnificently large dimensions. In fact, even a mere slice of the stuff is so unwieldy that it’s traditionally eaten folded in half. Folding pizza into quarters or eighths is not recommended however, as one will surely end up with a hot plop of sauce and cheese on the front of their purple velour double-breasted jacket, and who can afford the luxury of dry cleaning these days?
Nate Banner, the man responsible for bringing New York pizza to a strip mall in Post Falls, says that a group of locally transplanted east-coasters were waiting outside the store on opening day last year, ready to challenge his output to see if it could stand up to the original back home. These folks ordered just a slice at first and were so impressed they immediately had to order a giant 24-inch pie to take away. Many have become regular regulars, returning sometime two or three times in one day to quell their craving for a slice of the good stuff, according to Banner.
Some purists claim that there’s something about using actual New York City water in the dough that makes New York pizza what it is, and some pizzerias located outside of New York even have gallons of that city’s water shipped in so they can be authentic as possible. North Idaho might not have the same hip, fashionable Giardia and Cryptosporidium bacteria hopping from trendy club to trendy club in our boring old Rathdrum aquifer, but as far as anyone can tell, the dough, as well as the rest of the pizza pies at Nate’s, tastes just as delicious.
I was tragically unaware of Nate’s until I received an email recently (thanks, Liz) touting Nate’s as “awesome” and suggesting I check it out pronto. I looked on Google to find their exact location and pulled up a few user-submitted reviews raving about their fabulous food and the jaw-dropping circumference of their pizzas. “Couldn't even fit it in the backseat of my Ford Focus 4-door,” wrote one reviewer, and I pictured them returning home and having to fold up cold slices to microwave after being forced to strap the huge pie to the roof of their car with bungee cords. “Word to the wise,” read another comment, “do not get the large pizza unless you are feeding 10 or more adults. Make that grown men; it is huge.” I grabbed my keys and headed out the door with a mission; to see if one slice of Nate’s pizza was really enough to satiate even this very hungry grown man.
“Yeah, I’ll just have a couple of individual slices, what d’ya got for toppings” I said, with a hint of smugness. Nate chuckled slightly under his breath at my naiveté. “A couple of slices? Here, let me show you how big they are,” he said as he reached into the oven and pulled out a pizza pie so round and big it could cause a solar eclipse, or at the very least, an unexplainable wireless outage. “I’d suggest the lunch special, which is one slice with two toppings and a soda for $4.49” What a bargain! I ordered my favorite combo of toppings, pepperoni and pineapple, plus I had them throw on a handful of black olives for an extra 25 cents.
I picked a table with a good view of the large screen TV which was tuned into the History Channel’s oddly fascinating show “Ice Road Truckers.” The atmosphere of Nate’s Pizza is simple, almost stark, but classy and relaxing. A New York Yankees flag hangs proudly along with a half-dozen large framed posters featuring black-and-white images of that team’s legendary players such as Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio and Billy Crystal. The place has a breezy, open quality with lofty ceilings, large screen TVs, pale orange walls and subtle industrial elements like pattered steel paneling and wrought iron chairs.
An unexpected blizzard was causing our fearless but freezing trucker to become stranded on the weakest part of the Ice Road when Nate brought out my sizzling slice, which was actually too large to comfortably fit on its two side-by-side paper plates. “Careful,” he warned, “that’s some pretty hot stuff”. Stupidly, I ignored his advice, overwhelmed by the intoxication of the olfactory and visual experience brought on by this holy slice of pizza heaven suddenly before me.
“Aarrgh!” I resisted the urge to blurt it out, although my soft palette was now melted like a cheap marshmallow. I quickly chewed and swallowed, trying to remain graceful in front of strangers, who thankfully seemed to be too caught up in the TV’s arctic drama to notice my pained gesticulations. I chased it with some cold Cherry Pepsi and when that didn’t work I popped some ice cubes in my mouth. I’m not thrilled to admit that I burn my mouth all the time with pizza, so I certainly wasn’t damaged enough to let the little mishap ruin my lunch. I let my mega-slice cool a moment and after spilling pineapple and olives everywhere, remembered that I needed to fold the beast in half before eating. Once I was able to get hold of the darned thing, I fully dug in. The freshness of the ingredients was obvious in the subtle flavors of the homemade tomato sauce and in the bright colors of the toppings. The mozzarella cheese tasted freshly grated (a notable difference from pre-shredded) and the crust was ultra-thin but pliable, not cracker-like, and very scrumptious. I blacked out slightly in a haze of flavor bliss.
Mission accomplished: one Nate’s slice is equal to at least three regular-sized slices, more than enough to satisfy. Their pizza gets high marks in all categories and easily ranks among the best in the region. Nate’s also serves a variety of massive sandwiches and salads, calzones, and spaghetti. Beer and wine are also available with homemade New York Cheesecake for dessert, Careful, after all that you may be riding home bungeed to the roof of the car.