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Capozzi's: When the moon hits your eye 

True New York taste without the subway stench

We argue pizza like we argue politics. Personal preferences depend on region, ethnicity and individual opinion. There's a freedom to this food that has not evolved entirely into the McMelting pot; pizza permits us all to sauce up and top our own personal slice of the Americana pie.

Worth the stains: Some swear by Chicago renditions. But many hold onto memories of a New York slice. Those who want true New York taste without subway stench will find their slice of pie at Capozzi's, where the Bronx meets Marietta and mixes it up at an otherwise sterile shopping center.

Capo di tutti capi: "Capo" names in Italian are often monikers for mob bosses, or "the top guys." So it's only appropriate two Bronx brothers named Capozzi's (both this pizza joint and their more high-end Roswell Road location) after their grandfather, a butcher -- of meat, not men. Like good "family" leaders, driven by food rather than crime, they've developed a loyal crew of employees and customers who are all too ready to show their unsolicited faith.

While discussing which dishes were most popular, one employee who was flipping dough explained he's been at the restaurant since he was 13, as well as his mother's work with the "family" before him. A regular customer told us she just trekked from out of state to pay umbrage. She whispered we should come in and ask for Frank, who might "hook us up" with his special eggplant rollitini. Since Frank was not in the house, all concurred we must try Grandpa's pie ($13.95), which features a crust layered with fresh sliced tomatoes rather than sauce, sprinkled with fresh basil, garlic and cheeses all browned until bubbly.

Trusty crust: While the Grandpa's pie was stellar and larger than a manhole, I would have preferred starting with a classic cheese slice. The sauce is true pizza "gravy" -- not too sweet or acidic, nor too watery or pasty. It is subtly spiced just right. The cheese walks the fine line; gooey but not too chewy. The essence in the architecture of the pie is, of course, the dough, which is pinched to form a variation of bubbles and crunch at the rim but is uniformly even and thin throughout the bed of the pie. Stable enough to hold flavor but subtle enough to flex to myriad toppings.

Along with the NY Neapolitan specialty pizzas and individual slices, there are Sicilian-styled pies with thick, pillowy crusts. Those seeking light bites can try the generous Greek salad ($6.25). Various heros include a sausage parmigiana ($6.75), piled on a crumbly bread that succumbs nicely to fennel sausage shipped from NY Capozzi cousin Joey. Various pastas can be matched with sauces such as fresh poached clams in white wine, alfredo or hearty mushroom. Calzones can be customized. And the menu promises the veal parmigiana is made from a hearty cut of meat pounded into submission with a "Mickey Mantle 34 inch bat" and TLC. The small eatery has a stellar 99 health rating. The drive and the beating is worth trying this Bronx-style eating.

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