108-22 Queens Boulevard
Forest Hills, NY 11375
Gloria Pizza has been the talk of the Forest Hills blogosphere for a few months now. One would have almost thought that Jean Georges Vongerichten was moving into the area what with all of the frantic postings wondering when, oh when! will Gloria finally open it's gloria-ous doors to us. Now that it's here, there's usually a line. Is the pizza good? Yes it is. I can easily see myself returning here for a slice or ordering a pie on a rainy, windswept night. Is it the pizza worthy of all the heart-pounding anticipation? No. It's pizza. It's good pizza. I'd go so far as to say it's very good pizza. But it's not breaking new ground. Gloria serves good, NY style pizza in a generic NY style pizza parlor space (Gloria's isn't competing with Nicks's or Dee's. Those two are their own animals and whether you love them or hate them, they simply don't serve the same kind of food).
The Plain Cheese slice was exactly what I wanted after my recent review of 2 Bros Pizza in Midtown. 2 Bros Pizza is disgusting and at $1 a slice, overcharges like by a degree I can't fully describe. Gloria, on the other hand follows the time-honored tradition of basically matching the price of a slice to the MTA's bus fare. And the results are night and day. Well made crust, a great sauce, and cheese that actually covers the pie instead of sitting next to it. My only complaint, and this was so for every slice I had, was the grease. Too much of it, and noticeably so.
The Bow-Tie Pasta with Pesto Pizza was okay, and I might get one every now and again to switch things up, but it won't ever make it into my regular rotation. Not so with the Chicken Marsala Pizza, grilled chicken with a creamy cheese sauce, was astounding. The Garlic Tomato slice was also very good. A big slice of tomato and enough garlic to have someone with IBS running down the street in under two minutes. It was everything that a pizza should be.
On the non-pizza front, I tried the Chicken Roll and the Rice Ball. The chicken roll was a chicken roll. No more no less. Roast chicken, cheese, some marinara sauce, all wrapped in dough. It was pretty good, and while I've had worse, I've also had better. The rice ball, a balled and breaded baseball made of rice, peas, and mozzarella with a side of marinara wasn't anything to write home about. It was as heavy as a brick, with none of the fiber. Asian rice balls usually come with some tuna in their core or are at the very least sweet. Without the sauce, this one was bland, dense, and flavorless. The marinara isn't a cute dipping sauce here. It's all of the flavor.
What impressed me the most about Gloria wasn't the pizza so much as the staff. Every time I've been there, they always seemed pretty happy. Jovial sometimes. They're not dancing a jig at the register or anything, but everyone seems to be smiling, no one's yelling at the delivery guy or grunting at customers rather than using real words. Maybe this is because it's so well lit and the kitchen isn't hidden in some back room. Sunlight does kill depression.
The Gloria storefront is in what should be a great location, right next to the movie theater. There's no end of folks either too young to drink who need a place to go with their dates before a movie, or people like me who just want to get a bite that's fast and cheap in order to avoid spending a week's salary on a bag of mediocre popcorn. And I'm sure that the timely demise of Ariana only one block away can't hurt.