Tony's: Heaven By the Slice
By Eve Zibart
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 23, 2007
At first glance: Regardless of where you sit at Tony's New York Pizza in Manassas, you get a good view of the action -- and that's half the charm. The D'Agostino family and staff hold court in front of the pizza ovens, writing down orders, calling out pickup numbers and hailing regulars. Tony's is seat-yourself, with booths on either side and a row of round family tables down the center of the room (set for six but often with a dozen crowded around) that hints at its popularity. There's a mirror with a Madonna on one wall and hand-painted vistas of Rome, Venice and so on in "archways" on the other. No canned music, no TVs, just the babble of three and four generations.
At the table: Tony's offers a raft of pizza styles: regular or white thin-crust New York pizza; square Sicilian pan pizza; a thick focaccia-crust version (the artichoke-sun-dried tomato is particularly fine); and the rustico, which is something like a double-crusted quiche only in bread dough, not pastry. All are available by the slice, and constant flows of hungry teens and truck drivers have theirs out of the box before they make it to the door. Slices also come with an extra dip cup of the house-made tomato sauce, a nice touch.
But while pizza may be the name brand here, the entrees are generous, not overly heavy and a fair bargain even if you don't take half home as leftovers. An order of the delicate house-made lasagna came with garlic bread and a better-than-average house salad (and the kitchen remembers to shake the vinaigrette). The Greek salad has large chunks of high-quality feta, cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives and sweet peppers and just a toss of lettuce; the artichoke salad is almost as good. Pasta is not soggy, tomato sauce is smooth and the seafood, notably the shrimp and calamari rings, is unusually tender.
So are meat and poultry. Veal alla Sorrentina, for example, is two palm-size and flavorful slices of meat topped with slices of fresh eggplant, prosciutto, tomato sauce and mozzarella. Chicken cacciatore is a nice dish of breast meat with a green pepper- and mushroom-studded marinara sauce over fettuccini.
What to avoid: If you want only a slice of pizza, and you prefer it piping hot, avoid the thicker styles, especially at rush hour. In an attempt to reheat slices without drying them out, the staff sometimes doesn't let them get heated all the way through.
At your service: This is self-serve: You pick up your flatware and napkins from a side counter. The staff occasionally sends over the wineglasses or delivers an extra cannoli.
At the bar: Tony's offers beer and wine, and if you ask for a bottle, Tony himself might pick out "a charming little Chianti" or the like from the back.