New York Flavor: Egg Creams and Winning Sandwiches in the West Valley

When it comes to finding the flavors of their city, many an ex-Gothamite has been dragged to joints all over the Valley touting real a New York vibe and authentic Big Apple fare.

Bill Olear didn't find his New York in any of them.

"Most places take a nostalgic view of the city, with photos of old scenery and the Rat Pack, but that's not what New York is," says Olear. "It's a vibrant, progressive city, constantly on the go. And you can get sandwiches made with quality ingredients at a good price."

New York Flavor's basil mascarpone burger (right) and top-notch deli sandwiches are 
welcome additions to Surprise's dining scene.
Jackie Mercandetti
New York Flavor's basil mascarpone burger (right) and top-notch deli sandwiches are welcome additions to Surprise's dining scene.

Location Info


New York Flavor

15170 W. Bell Road, 103
Surprise, AZ 85374

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Surprise


New York Flavor
15170 West Bell Road, Surprise
Hours: 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily

Hot corned beef sandwich: $8.99
Tribeca sandwich: $7.99
Basil mascarpone burger: $8.99
New York cheesecake: $3.99

And at Olear's fast-casual eatery, New York Flavor, the sandwiches are very good.

From New York favorites to specialty creations, there are more than 25 to choose from. They are hefty, two-handed affairs packed with fresh meats, cheeses, and produce between quality bread from Wildflower Bread Co. and Tempe's Jonathan Robins Bakery. Each is served with a choice of several tasty sides like golden, hand-cut fries and housemade potato salad loaded with onion and dill. And, like any New York City eatery worth its salt, bottles of Dr. Brown's soda are available.

In the New York favorites section, there's a solid Reuben and a house recipe chicken salad that, like the potato salad, features a strong dill flavor. Better choices include the classic hot corned beef sandwich, stacked sliced and lean with just the right amount of yellow mustard nestled between pieces of marble rye, and the Philly cheesesteak, a favorite with regulars, served bulky and warm and packed with small pieces of thin-sliced steak, caramelized onions, peppers, and provolone on a wonderfully soft long roll.

When it comes to the names of New York Flavor's signature sandwiches, Olear takes diners on a trip through the city with monikers like Arthur Avenue, Herald Square, and Delancey Street — and it's difficult to make a wrong turn anywhere. You could spend some time in Little Italy with a satisfying ciabatta-packed grinder of Genoa salami, provolone, and roasted peppers with mayo, mustard, and a balsamic reduction; get to Midtown for a veggie-filled flavor fest made with grilled peppers, zucchini, squash, mushrooms, red onions, eggplant, and pesto on a pillowy baguette; or take a taste of my favorite neighborhood-named sandwich, the Tribeca. This hunk of cold comfort features thin-sliced roast beef piled between ciabatta bread along with caramelized onions, tomatoes, and lettuce with just enough creamy horseradish mayo for a zing in every bite.

"The East Coast uses a lot more mayo versus the West Coast, which uses more mustard," Olear says. "And we use quality mayonnaise, which makes a big difference."

Olear hails from Freeport, Long Island, and spent more than 20 years in the oil business. After a few independent ventures, he decided to realize his dream of owning a New York-style eatery by learning from the ground up — which meant working in New York restaurants owned by his friends, in positions from busser to server to cook.

"It wasn't like in the movies," Olear says. "It was much hotter."

When Olear and wife Lynn moved to the Valley in 2010 to be closer to their son, they liked the openness of Surprise, not just as a place to settle down, but as a location for a restaurant, which they opened in October of last year.

"The west side is all about chains," Olear says. "I thought it might be a city where an independent business could be successful."

Not a chef, Olear hooked up with one, Washington-born Craig Emmons, to bring the flavors of New York sandwiches, salads, burgers, and other bites to life. And at this small but comfortable counter-service eatery, ex-New Yorkers, or those who just want to eat like one, can find great-tasting food for less than a ferry ticket to see the Statue of Liberty.

Hidden within New York Flavor's burgers and hot dog selection — featuring items like a Coney Island Dog covered in chili, a New York burger topped with pastrami and Swiss cheese, and three baby burgers featuring ground beef medallions called Yankee Sliders — are two more noteworthy gems that don't take their cues from the Big Apple, but are worth taking a detour for all the same.

Emmons' acknowledged obsession with imaginative hamburger creations is deliciously evident in his stellar basil mascarpone burger. Featuring a well-seasoned beef patty layered with caramelized onions, meaty and moist strips of roasted portabellos, luscious mascarpone cheese, and long, thin ribbons of aromatic basil between a lightly grilled soft bun, its unique combination of flavorful ingredients make this burger more gourmet than fast-casual fare. And as one of the best I've had in the Valley, it's almost worth a drive to Surprise for.

Admittedly, when the friendly counter gal suggested I try New York Flavor's popular veggie burger, I waited for the punch line. When none came, I ordered it, took a bite, and instantly understood why. A recipe from Olear's wife, Lynn, this surprisingly moist patty, made with black beans, mushrooms, celery, carrots, beets, onions, and seasoning, is served up thin and flavorful on a fluffy bun. The secret to its success, Emmons tells me, is nearly no filler, as well as a thin dusting of flour that makes for a light and crispy crust when it's grilled. Even my carnivorous dining companions had to admit it was one of the best items they'd tried.

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Tony Simek
Tony Simek

The food here simply rocks! Probably one of the most flavorful sandwiches I have ever had was the Basil Moscarpone burger! Plenty of dishes with plenty of flavor! Also, I personally dig their breakfast and coffee!


Incredibly mediocre food. Just because it's in Surprise doesn't mean the bar should be set lower. I'm shocked at such high praise coming from NT, thought you guys were impartial.