By Rick Rodriguez Special to Published Oct 23, 2013 at 12:36 PM

When I found pizzeria coupons in the Entertainment Book, I decided to find out how many there were that I could use. One of the coupons stood out with a colorful design, but I saw that the place was located in Kenosha.

However, Slice of NY Pizzeria recently opened a second location in Milwaukee at 700 W. Wisconsin Ave., so I dropped by. The bad news is that the Entertainment Book coupon is only good at the Kenosha location. The good news is that I think pizza is worth paying full price.

The appearance of the restaurant hasn’t changed much since it was Quiznos, other than the red and white checkerboard table cloth and the addition of pizza ovens.

Bess Bajrami and his wife, Amber, own both locations. The two of them met in Madison where Bajrami and his brothers owned several pizzerias. They sold those businesses, and in March 2012, Bajrami opened Slice of NY Pizzeria in Kenosha. The Milwaukee location opened four months ago.

Bajrami moved to Madison from Brooklyn, where he worked in pizzerias learning the craft of pie making.

The menu includes wings, garlic bread, salads, pizza by the slice, whole pies, calzones, stromboli, sandwiches and desserts such as home-made cannoli. The Kenosha location offers a few more appetizers and adds several pasta dishes to its menu, such as chicken marsala, penne carbonara, chicken or shrimp al vodka, and home-made lasagna.

Visitors can walk in and order slices from any of fifteen different pizzas including barbecue chicken, buffalo chicken, vegetable, mac 'n' cheese, margherita, supreme, meat lovers, Philly cheese, lasagna pizza topped with ground beef and ricotta, Grandma’s pizza and the Manhattan pizza topped with tomatoes, mozzarella, green olives, basil and Grana Padano cheese.  

I ordered a slice of the Supreme, which is topped with sausage, pepperoni, onions, green peppers, mushrooms and black olives.

I’ll admit I’m not a huge fan of ordering slices from New York-style pizza joints, so I rarely, if ever, visit them. There’s just something unappealing to me about knowing those pizzas may have been sitting there for four, six or more hours, possibly with frequent visits from flies. I’m sure the hot oven kills any germs on the slices that accumulated while they sat out, but I feel better ordering and eating a fresh made pie.

At any rate, the slice was pretty good. There was enough sausage and pepperoni to prevent the green peppers and onions from dominating the flavor. Each slice comes with a crispy, chewy and buttery garlic knot, which is a nice value to consider if you’re in the area looking for a quick bite.

My friend and I also ordered a whole sausage, pepperoni and mushroom pizza. The pizza had the expected slightly crispy crust with a chewy center, and the sausage and pepperoni were very flavorful.

The fresh mushrooms and delicious mozzarella cheese helped balance out the spicy flavors of the meat toppings.

The only request I have is to use a little more sauce. I was able to find just enough to isolate and taste the zesty flavor with a somewhat thick texture. Slice of NY Pizzeria starts with canned whole tomatoes, breaks it down into a sauce and adds a secret blend of seasoning.

I went back for lunch a couple of days later to try a slice of Grandma’s pizza. It’s topped with a garlic sauce, a house blend of cheeses, and blots of pizza sauce widely scattered over the pie. 

I could taste the garlic, enough to enjoy but not overpowering. The blots allowed me to taste the delicious pizza sauce. I think I was expecting a flavor explosion, but it didn’t happen. Nevertheless, it was a good slice.

Slice of NY makes its pizza dough from scratch, tossing and stretching the dough by hand without the use of a rolling machine. Even more impressive is that it makes its own Italian sausage, so it seems Bajrami had some great teachers in Brooklyn who took pizza-making very seriously.

Pizzas come in 14- and 18-inch sizes, and run from $9.95 to $13.95 for cheese plus $1 to $1.50 for additional toppings. Specialty pizzas range from $11.45 to $21.95.

Pizza by the slice is available for $3 up to $3.95, including a garlic knot. Stuffed pizza slices are $4 and whole stuffed pies include white spinach, pepperoni, or your choice of two toppings for $14.95 to $19.95 for 14- and 18-inch pizzas.

There were only two other diners in the venue on my Sunday afternoon visit. I’m always curious about how Downtown businesses survive, especially restaurants. Many do not.

I think delivery service will help quite a bit, and I think it makes a solid pizza, so as long as it has a good marketing strategy, there is potential for success. I would start by blanketing the Marquette campus with flyers and coupons, and dropping of delivery menus to the Downtown area businesses, small and large.

Hopefully the Marquette students share some of the love they’re giving Sal’s up the street and give Slice of NY Pizzeria a call for its late night "group study sessions."

Rick Rodriguez Special to
I was born and raised in Milwaukee, and I plan to stay in Milwaukee forever. I'm the oldest of three children and grew up in the Riverwest neighborhood. My family still lives in the same Riverwest house since 1971.

I graduated from Rufus King High School and the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater with a business degree.

My true passion for Milwaukee probably started after I joined the Young Professionals of Milwaukee (now called FUEL Milwaukee) which just celebrated its one year anniversary at the time. The events that I attended, and sometimes organized, really opened my eyes to what Milwaukee had to offer, as well as its potential for the future. So for the past, present, and future FUEL Milwaukee corporate sponsors out there, that organization does produce results (editorial)!

I love all of the Milwaukee Sports teams, professional and amateur. I love the Milwaukee arts scene and all of the festivals. I love that you can find a free concert in the summer just about every day of the week. I love the various neighborhoods around the Milwaukee area and the unique characteristics that they offer. I love the people who take the time to tell us about those unique characteristics. I have to hold my breath and count to ten when someone tells me that there is nothing to do in Milwaukee. Then I prove them wrong.

Most of all, I love the Milwaukee dining scene. I love how it continues to evolve with modern dishes and new trends while the classic restaurants continue to remind us that great food doesn't have to be "fancy schmancy." However, I also love the chefs that create the "fancy schmancy" dishes and continue to challenge themselves and Milwaukee diners with dishes we've never seen before.

Our media provides attention to the new restaurants, which is great, but I don't like seeing the older great restaurants close their doors (Don Quijote, African Hut) because they've been forgotten, so I try to do my part to let Milwaukeeans know that they're still out there, too. I do that through social media, online reviews, and a dinner club I run for my friends, where we visit restaurants they haven't heard of before or try ethnic cuisine they haven't had before.

My dream is that one day I can mention a great experience in Milwaukee and not have someone respond with "have you been to Chicago?" I don't like those people very much.