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« One of each please! | Main | Taste of Georgetown »

Wed, Sep 19 2007 at 09:29 AM

New York Pizza Tour Recap

Posted by Jason, Sep 19, 2007

It just came to me that I never told you all about my pizza tour in New York City...What was I thinking?!!

As you might remember, I went to New York City to celebrate my birthday and tour of all the famous (and not so famous) pizza joints. The whole experience was very eye opening and fun for me and Amy. So here's how it all went down...

Amy went took the train to NY early to visit with her sister and niece and go to her niece's graduation where she met Aida Turturro and nearly shit herself. On my way up on Thursday, I researched all of the great pizza places in New York and I had an entire game plan by the time the 2 hour train ride was done. One bad thing though, I found out from SliceNy.com that Di Fara's, the primary pizza place I wanted to visit, was closed due to a health code violation. Mother F-er!

Ok...minor setback, but there are plenty of awesome places left to visit. I got off the train and took a cab to the Lower East Side hotel to meet Amy and a friend of hers at a little wine bar at the corner of Ludlow and Rivington with really overpriced wine by the glass (they also didn't know how to keep their red wines at the right temperature). We chatted for a while, but the entire time I was thinking about pizza, Googling on my phone to see where the closest pizza joint was. Gah! Me. Freak.

My_first_slicesWe went back to the hotel and Amy passed out on the bed. I sat there a while watching TV, but at 1 AM, I was still thinking about where the closest pizza place was. With Amy asleep, I headed out. I just started walking around, with no idea where I was going and about a block or two away, I came across a place called Rocket Joe's. It was open, I was hungry, and the pizza looked pretty decent. Good enough. I ordered a plain and a pepperoni slice, the pepperoni slice rocked my world. Ok, so looking back, it wasn't nearly the best slice of pizza I had the whole weekend, but at the time, dear God, it was just what I needed! Greasy, drippy (especially the pepperoni slice), and...a sesame seed coated crust??! Ok, so it made up for the lack of flavor in the crust, but seriously, this totally hit the spot.

Like Amy, I pass out after devouring the 2 slices of pizza. I should've ordered 4.

Lombardis Morning comes way too soon. We skip the continental breakfast at the hotel and head for Lombardi's in Little Italy (all three square blocks of what's left of it) at about 10:30 AM where we order a whole margherita, but only finish a couple slices of it to save room for later. Looking back, Lombardi's pizza wasn't the most memorable. While it it was better than what I'd eaten the night before, with nice salty sauce, fresh mozzarella, the crust was fairly dense. But, there were better things to come...

Our next stop, was a little place called Una Pizza Napoletana, except, shit, they're only open for dinner. Dammit! Ok, so much for my beautifully laid out plan...I just walked fourteen blocks for nothing. Luckily, a little place called Vinny Vincenz was right around the corner, but overall, fairly disappointing. The crust was just bland and way too thin and weak. Moving on.

Pizza_makers_grimaldis We walked off out two lunches with a little shopping (bleh). I wanted more pizza so we made out way out to Brooklyn, taking the F train to the first stop on the other side of the river, and made our way to the infamous Grimaldi's. Ahhhh YES!! This was what I was waiting for -- a perfect crust of crunchy, chewy goodness and fresh rich sauce. They didn't overdo it with heaping layers of toppings either. We ate the whole pie. On future trips, we'll definitely be going to Grimaldi's!

Tired from the endless walking, we stopped and had a drink at a local wine bar around the corner from Grimaldi's and after a couple smooth glasses of red and some stinky cheese, we decided to head back over the Brooklyn bridge to the Lower East Side to grab something light to eat. We ate dinner that night at a little Italian wine bar close to the hotel called Aroma Kitchen and Wine Bar. I'd definitely recommend it if you're in that area.

Sore from all the walking, I could've stayed in bed all day. We spent most of that day in Greenwich Village where our first stop was Otto's to meet Amy's family for some of Mario Batali's flat iron grilled pizza. The toppings were all great, but I wasn't crazy about the rest of the pizza. On top of that, each topping on the pizza was kept separate from each other, which traditional or not, is really kind of stupid. I mean isn't the point of having multiple toppings to be able to taste them together?

Peppereponi_slice_at_johns From Otto's we walked over to John's of Bleeker Street. And this is when everything started getting really good, at least for me. It was an off time, probably the middle of the afternoon, so maybe my experience was a little different than most (I've read about crazy crowds at this place, but we just walked right in and sat down), but the pizza at John's was my favorite of the entire trip. It's made in a coal oven, that dates back to the 1920s. The crust was f-ing amazing! I tasted the yeast, salt, smoky char, and perfect thickness. Wow! We ordered a pepperoni and all the little slices of pepperoni had these charred edges that made them crispy and chewy at the same time. This pizza we finished.

After John's, it started to pour. The rain came down like a blanket, but we didn't let that stop up. We ran around the corner to Bleeker Street Pizza, a little dive that has maybe five or six tables, and ordered a couple slices. The sauce was the best thing about this pizza, in particular, the Nonna Maria slice which uses a chunky fresh tomato sauce that is full of garlic.

The rain stopped, and just in time for us to walk for a while and work off all those slices of pizza. Back to the hotel we went, to relax until our dinner at WD-50.  (And while you might be hoping that I'll write about my experience there, I'm sorry, but this was one of those occasions where I refused to take mental note of every bite I took, because I just wanted to enjoy the meal.)

Slice_of_pepperoni_patsys Sunday was our last day in the city, but we had one last pizza place to try, Patsy's in East Harlem. Acclaimed by many to be the best pizza in New York City, I wasn't going to miss it for the world, no matter how far out of the way it was for us. We took the 6 train to the Upper East Side to 116th St and walked a few blocks over to 118th and 1st where the Original Patsy's was (notice I said Original, because I've been to the other Patsy's across the city, and they're no where close to the same). It took us about 40 minutes in all to get there, and we arrived just after they opened for lunch at 12, but it was well worth the trip. This is NY style pizza people. While it wasn't my favorite, it was definitely Amy's. For me, I thought the crust was a little thin and floppy, but other than that, it had a perfect combination of sauce and cheese.

And with that, the tour was over. We stopped back at the hotel to pick up our bags and headed to the train station to come home. What an amazing trip it was -- I can't wait to go back for more!

Before I finish, I'll say this. None of the places we ate at had the perfect pizza, at least according to my taste. While one had an amazing crust, the cheese might have been a little less fresh, or the sauce a little bland.  But taste is a sense that everyone's brain interprets differently. What I define as a perfect pizza, someone else might think is sloppy mess. So while I may have dismissed a place in my writing here, I encourage you all to try all the places I've talked about here, because in all honestly, they were all very good.

John's Pizzeria (Bleeker Street)

278 Bleecker St
New York, NY 10014

Get Directions
(212) 243-1680

Grimaldi's
19 Old Fulton St
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Get Directions
(718) 858-4300
grimaldis.com

Patsy's Pizzeria (East Harlem)
2287 1st Ave
New York, NY 10035

Get Directions
(212) 534-9783
Bleeker Street Pizza
69 7th Ave S
New York, NY 10014

Get Directions
(212) 924-4466
 
 
* approximate times
 
bleeckerstreetpizza.com


Categories: Just Because
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Dakota Guy

I would have sworn you wrote about the trip before. Anyway, how did you get a two hour train trip from DC to NYC? Amtrak takes 3+ hours when I go to NY.

Jason

I drove to Philly to drop off Noah and then took the train from there.

Anthony

I went to Lombardi's the last time in was in NYC (a few months ago) and I completely agree. The pizza was solid, but it just made me want to go to 2 Amy's when I got back into DC - which I did that same day.

Jason

I find that pizza cooked in a coal oven like Lombardis, Grimaldi's, or John's is a lot different than that cooked in a wood oven. The wood oven just doesn't get as hot and therefore, the pizza cooks for longer which leaves a dryer texture to the crust. I think that's why it's so common to get an undercooked pizza at 2 Amys, because they would prefer the crust be moist and spongy than dry. Just a theory though. I'm no pizza chef.

monavano

Ah! about time you posted about this ;-)
Great report. We were in New Jersey last week and had some good slices, but you know..I gotta say the Italian Store stands up to any of them. It has the perfect "lilt" of the end when you pick it up (after blotting, of course) and plenty of cheese. The best pizza I've ever had was near my brother in law's house in Fair Haven, NJ. It's a square pizza. Can't think of the name. I'll post it when I do.

erin

I looked at your archives for a pizza recommendation in August before my trip to New York. I'm glad to know that I am not crazy or search challenged! We managed to find John's without your help and it was amazing.

Laura

I've been to Grimaldi's once before, and it was an amazing pizza experience. It was pretty cold that day, and we waited outside for half an hour, but it was so worth it.

Liz

Oh man, I read this as I stare at the nasty reheated bland Maryland pizza that I had for dinner. Why is it so hard for people in DC to produce decent NYC style pizza???

JoeHoya

One step ahead of the mainstream media again, Jason. No wonder DCFoodies was listed as a top blog by readers of the Washingtonian. Check out this month's issue for an article by Todd Kliman comparing pizzas from most fo the DC staples, including 2 Amys, Paradiso, and Comet Ping Pong.

Danielle

Wine bar at Ludlow and Rivington? Were you at 'inoteca? I went there for the first time a couple weeks ago and was blown away by the food. Did you only have wine? If so, you really missed out--the cheeses, the panini, and the bruschetta were all amazing. I'm drooling a little just thinking about it. Next time you're up there, try the food!

Dan

Oh man - how could you be eating pizza in the Bleecker Street area and not get Joe's pizza? As well as being featured in Spiderman (it was the pizza joint where Parker was working at the beginning), it's in my opinion the best pizza by the slice in the city. The sauce is a bit sweet for some, but it definitely has a distinctive flavor in a good way.

Another place to try, if you go back, is Sal and Carmines, another place in an out of the way neighborhood (high up on the Upper West Side), but despite its odd location, it too has some of the best pizza in the city, served courtesy of two old crotchety Neapolitans who would make a good pizza foil to the Soup Nazi.

Jason

Sorry, I went to Joe's and I didn't really think it was all that great, at least not as good as the other that I went to. Just my taste though. ;)

Aaron

Nice write up but you missed most of the good places. Una Pizza Neopolitana is the best pizza I've had and would have been worth doubling back to. Franny's, DiFara & Totonno's Coney Island are all better than the places you tried, and are all on the Q if you don't want to drive around.

Aaron

Also Grimaldi's is an awful tourist trap, although the atmosphere is nice.

Jason

There are lots of varying opinions on what's better or best, all varying based on peoples taste. But, I do have to say that Grimaldi's was anything but awful. You haven't had awful pizza until you've had Pizza Movers delivery here in D.C.

Aaron

In the context of artisinal NY Pizza Grimaldi's is awful, if you had eaten at Una Pizza you would probably know why I think that.

Did you have the pizza pebbles at WD-50? That would make an interesting counterpoint for your tour.

Aaron

Also try Lucali on henry st if you get a chance.

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