Nike’s: An Unlikely Hit

Nike%27s+Pizzeria+has+an+unexpected+charm.++%28Courtesy+of+Facebook%29
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Nike’s: An Unlikely Hit

Nike's Pizzeria has an unexpected charm.  (Courtesy of Facebook)

Nike's Pizzeria has an unexpected charm. (Courtesy of Facebook)

Nike's Pizzeria has an unexpected charm. (Courtesy of Facebook)

Nike's Pizzeria has an unexpected charm. (Courtesy of Facebook)


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By Dan Ziebarth

Even the ugly duckling, so harshly ridiculed, was recognized as a beautiful swan eventually. What is the point of this poetic B.S.? The point is that Nike’s Pizzeria, if you look closely enough, may just be the ugly duckling of the Bronx.

Let me begin by saying that I, even to this day, have only heard bad things about Nike’s pizza from others. People really have nothing good to say about this place. Now, to be clear, I kind of get it. The lighting is dim, and the floor is dingy. It’s probably not the cleanest place you’ll find.

The tables and chairs are reminiscent of old bars back in Wisconsin sitting on the side of country highways. But, as the wise Abraham Lincoln once said, “don’t judge a pizza shop by how creepy it seems when you first walk in.”

Where exactly does the good part start? Good question, let me continue. The first time I went to grab a slice from Nike’s was on a Thursday afternoon, and the place was closed — on a Thursday afternoon. A little weird, but give Nike’s some credit for playing by its own rules. The next week I went back again. This time it was open. Score.

I walked in, and it was just how I described early, a little dim, a little dingy, a little old. The place is on the corner of 189th and Hughes Ave. and is one open square room. There were two other patrons in Nike’s, so by no means was the place packed. The scene behind the counter was a classic: a pizza display, huge red menu sign and double-decker oven in the back.

I went up to the counter and was greeted by the only guy working in the entire place. Snapback-hat turned backwards, and, with no excitement in his eyes, he asked what I wanted. I ordered a slice, he tossed it in the oven to reheat, and I sat down. Still wondering where the good part comes in? Almost there, I promise.

So, as I wait to get my slice, I go to sit down knowing it will be a couple minutes. At that moment, I realized they had a TV in the restaurant. On the back wall they had a small, old TV hooked up. Now, a lot of restaurants and slice shops have TVs, but this one was placed by the corner of the back wall seemingly with no purpose.

The best part is they were playing reruns of “The Office.” Actually, even better was that either the TV was messed up or they had copped some bootleg episodes, because the audio was not synced with the visual so the words barely matched the scene, and the picture was zoomed in so it cut off the entire outside of the shot. Classic.

Soon enough, I get my slice on the white paper plate and return to my throne at the old wooden table facing the bootleg “Office” reruns. In a strange sense this place was starting to feel like paradise. I grab the slice. Perfect size. I fold it over and take a bite. Not bad.

To be sure, this wasn’t the best slice of pizza I have had, but honestly there was not much wrong with it. The crust was a bit doughy and could use a little more crunch on the outside, but they put on just enough sauce, and the cheese was solid. I enjoyed every bite as I watched Date Mike show off his smooth moves at the bar.

Nike’s Pizzeria may get a bad rap from time to time, but give it a chance because you may just find yourself enjoying your own dim and dingy paradise.