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Dining: Clearview pizzeria's slices topped with charm, attitude

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By Sarah Jackson
Herald Writer
CLEARVIEW -- When we asked readers to tell us about their favorite Snohomish County pizza places earlier this year, one of the most promising recommendations was for #1 New York Pizza in Clearview.
Three readers recommended it emphatically.
"They do pizza absolutely right. Big slices, good food, true New York style," one said.
Yelp's reviews were almost all rave.
Could this funky, run-down place four miles east of Mill Creek and five miles south of Snohomish on Highway 9 be the great find I was hoping it would be?
Yes. Mostly.
Let's start off by saying it's run by actual New Yorkers, Tony and Relita Ventura, who came -- with their sassy New York attitudes -- to Snohomish County 25 years ago.
Relita Ventura is a retired mathematician who used to teach college math classes.
Tony Ventura is a self-taught Italian chef originally from Sicily.
He's also a bit famous locally: His smiling face has been plastered for years across local transit buses with the words: "Survived food critics. And lung cancer," as part of Everett's Providence Regional Cancer Partnership ad campaign.
My trip to #1 New York Pizza at noon on a Wednesday was surreal, more like a visit to a grandmother's kitchen than a restaurant.
When I opened the door, my nostrils filled immediately with a gorgeous aroma of sausages and fresh pizza dough.
Tony was out for the day, so it was just Relita and me.
Relita, in a classically New York accent, said something like: "What do you want?"
She wasn't rude, just direct, you know, New Yorky.
I asked for a single slice of sausage pizza ($3.25). Cheese slices go for $2.50.
She quickly topped a previously baked piece of thin-crust cheese pizza with sausage slices and popped it in a hot oven.
I also ordered two pizzas for take out, a large pepperoni ($21.50) and a medium white pizza ($14), one of the restaurant's specialties.
Relita chatted away pleasantly about the restaurant's history and culture while I looked around at the many hand-written signs: "No PINEAPPLE on pizza!" "Please do not bring drinks. We serve drinks." "Please keep feet off seats."
Relita said her husband -- who is still cancer free, by the way -- won't tell her (or anyone else) his recipes for the red sauce or dough.
In no time, my slice was ready. It was hot and delicious with rich-tasting melted mozzarella, the good stuff, just slightly greasy and just right for me.
Though I really liked the thin, tasty crust, it wasn't the super thin, bubbly base I envision when I think of authentic New York pizza. (Visit Brooklyn Bros. Pizzeria in Everett to see what I mean.)
I didn't like how the sausage slices, which were yummy and mild, didn't have a top-dressing of cheese to anchor them. I had to hold each piece of sausage onto the slice to keep them from falling off as I ate.
Relita said the sausage on a full pizza goes under the cheese, but not on by-the-slice orders.
Relita didn't throw my pizza dough in the air.
She stretched it by hand with the care and confidence a potter might give to a piece of clay on a wheel, chatting the whole time.
In the front of the restaurant there are two booths for quick, dine-in eating. Extra seating is in the back of the building, but you have to go outside to get to it and the restroom.
No one else came in during my hour-long visit, so it wasn't a problem for me.
When my carry-out pizzas were ready, I took them back to The Herald's review team.
We were all pretty delighted with the white pizza, a no-sauce pie topped with mozzarella and little meatball-sized piles of Italian-style Polly-O ricotta.
I was certain that much cheese would be too rich, but the pizza was perfectly balanced and fully flavored with fragrant, bright oregano.
Our pepperoni pizza was tasty, but our reviewers, including one Long Island native, said it didn't seem like authentic New York pizza because it was short on sauce and the crust just wasn't right.
See for yourself if #1 New York Pizza lives up to its name and your tastes.
Just don't ask for pineapple and don't argue with Relita.
Sarah Jackson: 425-339-3037,
#1 New York Pizza
17809 Highway 9, Snohomish: 360-668-7282.
Specialties: Pizza and Italian
Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
Alcohol: Wine and beer
Payment: Cash and checks only. No credit cards.
Story tags » DiningClearviewLocal Food

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