Hempstead Turnpike Hidden Gems: Part II

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The prosciutto-laden Aurora (foreground) and the classic Margherita (background.) (Photo by Steve Mosco)

The prosciutto-laden Aurora (foreground) and the classic Margherita (background.) (Photo by Steve Mosco)Spaccanapoli, the narrow street that traverses the historic center of Naples, Italy, lands in this week’s Hempstead Turnpike Hidden Gems with Naples Street Food in Franklin Square.

Opened last year by a husband and wife team with deep roots in Avellino, Italy, which is about an hour outside of Naples, this eatery has a palpable familial atmosphere and comforting tone—and, oh yeah, it also boasts an Acunto, an iconic Neapolitan pizza oven that once cooked pizzas in the owners’ homeland.

That magnificent, wood-fired oven cooks more than 20 varieties of authentic, outstanding pizza at Naples Street Food. And at a blazing 1,000 degrees, the eatery’s oven turns out 12″ and 17″ pies (no slices) in about 90 seconds. The heavenly combination of that heat plus incredibly fresh ingredients equals pies that far exceed the standard Long Island pizzeria. The menu sends any well-versed food fan into frantic anticipation, as ingredients like buffalo mozzarella, fresh prosciutto di parma and porchetta jump off the page and light up the flavor imagination. Standard pies like Marinara (tomato sauce, garlic, oregano, basil) and Margherita (tomato sauce, mozzarella, basil) are certainly the best in the area, and might even challenge those legendary pizzerias in Brooklyn. The sauce hits all the right notes, including that hard-to-achieve perfect sweetness without going overboard.

From the pizze bianche (no tomato sauce) side of the menu, the Aurora features buffalo mozzarella topped with arugula, prosciutto di parma, shaved Parmesan and truffle oil. The buffalo mozzarella is impossibly soft with a lingering flavor that lasts throughout each bite as the bitterness of the arugula, the earthiness of the mushroom and the saltiness of the cured prosciutto and shaved Parmesan fight for dominance on the palate. The result of that fight is a flavor combination of exquisite decadence. Across all of Naples Street Food’s pizza, there is the ever-present crust. A product of fermentation and extreme heat, the crust is bubbled and cracks with each bite. Pizza crust is so very important to the finished product, and Naples Street Food is about as close as a restaurant can get to perfect crust.

Beyond pizza, the superb crust also elevates the eatery’s three varieties of calzoni, as well as its panozzi, which fashions pizza crust into sandwich bread. The porchetta panozzi with roasted pork and broccoli rabe is this eater’s leading contender for sandwich of the year. The quaint eatery also doles out fresh, homemade desserts including Nutella pizza, tiramisu and Italian cheesecake.

Naples Street Food is the type of hidden gem you feel everyone should know about, but you also selfishly want to keep to yourself. Street parking can be tricky, but it’s worth the effort. Make a right on Pacific Street just after Taco Bell for more parking options.

Naples Street Food is located at 970 Hempstead Tpke., Franklin Square; 516-673-4630; www.facebook.com/NaplesStreetFood081.

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