Wednesday, February 6, 2008

A Brief Enquiry Into Pizzeria Ethics (Alba's Pizza and Restaurant, 36-20 Ditmars Boulevard)

We expect to encounter many places like Alba's on our mission, serviceable places that you would never go to unless you lived down the street. Neighborhoods need places like Alba's but rarely will anyone bother to sing their praises; it would be like championing your garbage collector or corner-bodega proprietor. In short, a pizzeria needs to be pretty conspicuously good (or remarkably awful, for that matter) to warrant special attention. Alba's is neither of those things.

We went in on a cold afternoon and were thankful for the heat blasting out of the pizza ovens. We asked what was good, but the answer surprised us, as the counterman recommended what looked to be clearly the least appetizing offering behind the glass, the penne a la vodka slice, which looked like an ordinary slice with some ziti baked into it on top.

This raised the ethical question that confronts any food-service employee when asked for a recommendation: Do they say what they really like, or what it would be expedient for the establishment to get rid of. We suspect that we will become more adept as we proceed at placing the divers waitstaff we encounter along that moral spectrum. But right now we need other cues. For instance, should we be alarmed that Alba's, like La Mia Vita, also offers a Grandma pie? If we can't trust Alba's nana, who can we trust?

The penne a la vodka slice ended up being perfectly edible, if a little bizarre, and the plain slices were adequate and filling. No pizza toppings at individual tables, but they were readily available at the counter. And seating was ample and the mood relaxed. It felt like a safe harbor from the street.

So if we were hungry for slices and happened to be walking by Alba's, nothing would make us hesitate from going in. But it's hard to imagine planning a special trip there.

Price: Like all other pizzerias.
Will we go again? Totally unnecessary to do so.

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