Last week I was in the Big Apple. Amy and I were visiting Noah's new cousin and Amy had a few business meetings she had scheduled at the same time, so I figured I would tag along and check out some of the great restaurants there...oh, and of course get some good pizza.
The thing is, I was disappointed by the pizza, mostly because I didn't get to go to the really outstanding places. I purposely sought it out for the first couple of days, but I was staying in Midtown Manhattan, and none of the really good pizza places are in Midtown, especially if you're looking for good NY-style pizza.
Not that there is really any bad pizza in New York City, but if you want the REALLY good NY-style pizza, you have to go to Brooklyn, Little Italy, or Harlem. There was no way I was going to have time to go that far, especially with Noah in tow, but I did check out some of the places in Midtown.
We stopped at Patsy's the first night for dinner, which is an "offshoot" of the Patsy's in Harlem. The crust on the two pizzas we ordered was stiff as cardboard and overdone, but the sauce was fresh and they were topped with the right amount of fresh mozzarella. It turned out that the original Patsy's in Harlem has nothing to do with the other Patsy's, including the one I went to. The original only allows the others to use its name.
The next day, I ended up in the Met Life building for lunch at a place called Naples 45. This was much better than the pizza I'd had at Patsy's the night before but still not what I was looking for. It was really good since I ordered it by the slice and it was late in the lunch hour so it had probably been sitting there for a little bit under the warmer. If you're around 200 Park Ave and looking for a good slice, you should stop in at Naples 45.
On my last day in New York City, I started out really ambitious. I was going to head down to Lombardi's, South of E. 1st St. in Little Italy. The problem was that my hotel was at E. 42nd Street. So I started walking south...and I walked...and I walked, until I reached 28th Street. (Yes, I'm horribly out of shape, that was only 14 blocks.) I was getting a little tired at this point and I stopped to evaluate my situation. My stomach was growling. It was 2 PM and I hadn't eaten breakfast. It was hot.
"Man, I really should've taken the subway," I said to myself.
I looked over to my left, and there was Totonno's. I don't know what it was, but I recalled reading about Totonno's either on EGullet or SlicyNY.com. So I gave up, and walked into Totonno's on that hot and humid Tuesday afternoon. The pizza wasn't available by the slice, but at that point I couldn't eaten a 20-inch large pizza on my own. I ordered a plain individual size margarita and I'd definitely say it was the best pizza I had while I was in New York. I'm not sure what it was, the fresh sauce, the chewy crust, the way the crust was charred just a little bit around the edges, or perhaps that I was so hungry that I would've eaten gum off the street corner, but I devoured this pizza pie.
So I'm sure that I'm gonna take a lot of heat for saying this, but the pizza I had in NY didn't really live up to its reputation. Yeah, it was good, but not blow-my-mind good, and for all the emails I get from people saying that pizza sucks here in DC and that NYC is sooo much better than DC, (blah blah blah) I expected more. The one thing I'll give NYC is that the pizza you can get at any local joint on any street corner in NYC, beats the local joint on the corner in DC any day. So maybe it's just a law of averages.
However, I'd put the best from DC (2 Amys, Radius, Italian Store, and Vace) up against the best from NYC any day. So all you people that are from NY, go ahead, send me your hate mail and leave you troley comments -- I don't care. I stand by my statements.
Oh and I had other food besides pizza too. In fact, I ate at two very good restaurants which I'll write about later: L'Impero and Artisanal. They were both pretty good.