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Monday, March 12, 2007

PIZZA, PIZZA!

Husband and I have been on a pizza quest. Pretty much since the first week we started dating, we have tried to sample the various pizza fare of NYC at least once a week and, by this point, consider ourselves something of pizza connoisseurs. We are also each about 10 pounds heavier than we were when we met, but a slight increase in our BMI is hardly worth abandoning our noble quest.

So, after approximately four years of sampling, I thought I would bring our findings to the general public. Even my father would agree that this is something that would make a blog worth reading.

However, some disclaimers are in order: I do not eat meat on my pizza for religious reasons and Husband does not eat meat on his pizza because it is not worth hearing me complain about it. Also, we are from Connecticut originally and all pizza is measured by New Haven standards – thin crust, brick oven and made to order. If you want deep dish pizza reviews go elsewhere. We order the same thing, a Pizza Margherita (tomato, cheese and fresh basil) and use that as the standard by which pizzas are judged. Also, while I am sure that people will comment about great pizzas in the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island, we don’t travel often enough to those boroughs so we don’t care about the pizza there.

So, without further ado, here is the review (hey, that rhymed!)

Slices

Nick’s: There are two locations a couple of blocks from each other but the better pizza is at the 71st street location. Plus, the 24-jour delivery is key. Also, as a fan of the cornmeal on the bottom of pizza, I like the texture. However, depending on how busy they are, the quality is uneven. However, to grab a quick slice with friends after drinks, it can’t be beat.

Pizza Rustica: There are a million locations of this chain, but what really drew me here when I used to have one nearby was the fresh mozzarella option. Plus, the sauce was really sweet and the staff was more than willing to make the slice “extra hot” both by leaving it in the oven for longer and by liberally applying hot peppers. For a quick lunch, it was perfect.

Rays: They are all the same no matter whether it is Famous Original, Original or just Ray's and, although not made to order worth including in this list if only to remind people of the poor quality. The sauce tastes like it is canned, the dough like it was frozen (and it probably was) and the cheese is bland. However, the slices are huge and, when I was in school, I admit to having a slice or two on the run. Still, if you want a slice of pizza and you are on the upper west side, I would much rather head to Nick’s.

Pies

Cronkite: Awesome atmosphere and upon walking in, Husband declared it was just like a place he would open. Wonderful wine list with servers who actually know about that which they speak. Truffle pizza? How can you go wrong with a pizza covered in black truffles, even if it is $35 for a 10-inch. But, on the Pizza Margherita, the sauce tasted like Prego, the oven is clearly electric and the dough tastes like it was frozen. Plus, the pizza came out way to fast to be made to order. The real draw is the drinks…

DiFara: Heaven on a metal dish and worth a trip to Brooklyn. Here, it is all about the toppings. The artichoke pizza and portabella pizza were the best I had ever tasted. The Margarita was almost as good. Prepared by one man who does not let anyone else touch the pizza and only the freshest ingredients, this is just wonderful. Be prepared to wait at least 90 minutes for your pizza in a small restaurant with only a few dirty tables and no liquor license. I would go back again in a second.

John’s Pizza: Excellent mass produced pizza. The busier they are, the better the pizza but for pre-theater, it is worth a stop at the 44th and 8th Ave location. Also, great for tourists because it is some of the cheesiest of all the NY pizzas (although Two Boots also has a large amount of cheese) and the staff is wiling to allow you to add your own toppings and make the combination you desire.

Lambardis: Why oh why do people still come here? The lines are long, the sauce is bland and the crust is too puffy. Skip it. America's first but not NYC's best pizza.

Lazo: On First Avenue somewhere between 12th and 14th streets. For when you can’t get into Una Pizza Napolitano, it is right around the corner and a nice substitute. Fresh ingredients and reasonably priced, it also offers a wide selection of wine and pasta. Plus, the booths are comfortable and the staff very attentive.

Grimaldis: Right under the Brooklyn bridge, this is pizza the way it should be. Or rather, it used to be that. In recent years the pizza has fallen off. The sauce changed and the pizza has not had the same taste. Still worth a trip to this NY favorite, just don’t expect it to meet your expectations.

Patsy’s: The question is…which one? Excluding the location on 117th Street and 2nd Avenue, they are all the same. Decent pie made with fresh ingredients and a sauce with a little bit of a tang mixed with a subtle sugar taste. Fresh mozzarella is an important element of this pie and although it little too much cheese for me in the cheese to sauce ratio. Also, the end of the crust can be a bit doughy so make sure to ask for the pizza to be cooked “extra crispy” if you want a great experience.

Patsy’s on 117th: Yum! According to the servers, the restaurant sold the name but not the pizza recipe so this Patsy’s is in a class all its own. Sure, the neighborhood is sketchy and the atmosphere leaves something to be desired, but the pie is heavenly. Sweet sauce, excellent cheese to sauce ratio and thin crust made piping hot in a brick oven. However, having only gone on Sundays, the pizza can be a little uneven depending on who is working, although it has certainly never been bad.

Two Boots: Ok, I will admit I am always drinking when I go here so my thinking of the pizza is altered by the beer and wine, but I love the texture and the cornmeal crust and bottom. While I doubt the oven is brick, it is still a tasty treat.

Una Pizza Napolitano: I saved the best for last, even though it worked out that way alphabetically. Sure, my Father would call this “fancy pizza” and $17 for a personal sized pizza is pricey, but you will never find better. Brick oven pizzas prepared one at a time until the dough runs out. And the sauce has a sweet taste that combines deliciously with the smoky flavor in the oven. Oh, but Sister learned the hard way – there are 4 tyoes of pizzas (all variations on a Pizza Margherita) and its probably better if you don’t even bother to ask for any oregano or parmesan, because the only “extra” you are allowed is sea salt.

3 comments:

SWCNBN said...

How can you not mention the spot across from Lehman! That is still the best Margherita i've. I even dregged the husband from NJ to taste that pizza.

PTG said...

Ummm, the Patsy's that you rave about (and that I too love) is in my old (apparently sketchy)neighborhood. Is there an emoticon for taking offense?

super des said...

I'm lucky because your reviewed pizza type is exactly the type my boyfriend & I get. (both vegetarians, and he doesn't like "stuff" on his pizza.) Lucky for pizza lovers, this is a city where you can always get a slice. And at 2am after a night of drinking, the coinossuer-ness goes tight down the toilet.
:)

I do like Grimaldi's, and Lombardi's isn't bad. Both have the longest wait ever, and several times I've forsaken Lombardi's for something more... fast.


ps - I finally got around to linking hto your site.