This is one of the most famous deep dish Chicago pizza joints. There is contention over which is the best between Pequod’s, Giordano’s and Lou Malnati’s. We decided to hit this place because I just heard more positive things about it.
We went with the Malnati’s classic, which has tomato, sausage and mozzarella in it. But I also added pepperoni and black olives for good measure.
As you can see, it’s pretty thick, and generally one needs a fork and knife to eat it, unlike NYC style pizza (unless you’re an asshole like the Mayor).
I really did like it. It’s a bit heavy, but tasty as hell. However, I always say this: Chicago has the best hot dogs, but NYC has the best pizza. I hesitate to even call this pizza, as Chicago style is literally a pie. A tomato pie with a butter crust, cheese inside and other stuff. A lawyer’s argument would be that Chicago pizza is not actually pizza at all. It’s a savory pie.
Bonci is one of the best pizza joints I’ve ever eaten at in my life.
My wife and I first encountered this place in Rome, at their flagship location behind the Vatican. Then I heard they opened up shop in Chicago. This was one of the primary reasons I decided to book the trip to Chicago. yes. Pizza. Not so much the steak. Anyway, this place is just as good as the Rome location.
With the added benefit of free sparkling water on tap!
For those that don’t know, Roman style pizza is the shit. It’s a square pie, more like focaccia bread almost, but with pizza toppings. Crispy, light, fluffy, thick, airy, puffy. All that good shit. Well risen.
You order by weight at these places, so they will cut it up as thick or thin as you like. I went for sicilian slice sizes of four different styles, and the price came to about $33 for nearly a full pie’s worth.
That’s traditional margherita, nduja and potato, spicy sausage, and soppressata and potato – all with varying amounts of fresh mozzarella, ricotta, tomato etc. Fucking amazing.
The only place that comes close is PQR in Manhattan. If you want this experience closer to home without having to travel to Rome or Chicago, then go there. They do great work.
Di Fara Pizza is known for being one of NYC’s (specifically Brooklyn’s) best pizza joints.
It’s been around for a long time (since 1965), and the man running the show, Dom, has been making pizza there since it opened.
The menu is pretty extensive for such a busy spot. Lines can get pretty long, and you might find yourself waiting two hours or more, even for just a few slices.
My wife and I stopped in on our way down to Coney Island for a concert. We ordered two square slices and two regular slices. I was actually surprised that this place was serving pizza by the slice given how long the lines can get. Usually when that happens, pizza joints will start doing pies only just for ease of operation.
They told us it would take about 25 minutes; that was at about 2:30pm. They clearly don’t know how to estimate the timing on this racket, even after 53 years. You’d think that would sort itself out after a few months of intense demand. But we didn’t really mind since our show didn’t start until 7pm, and we expected a bit of a wait.
We ended up standing around for about three hours waiting for our four slices though. Was it worth it? Yes and no. See below…
The first two slices to be ready were the regular slices. They were just okay. My wife even said that I made better pizza at home with respect to these. I agree. The crust was too hard, dense and dry in the back, and I needed to add some of their oil-soaked peppers to liven up the crust toward the end.
My favorite was the square pie. It was thick, saucy and packed with flavor, though still a bit too crisp/hard on the dough. These came out to us about 15 minutes after the two regular slices were ready. Again, poor timing. Everything should be served together.
See that black crust on the bottom of the corner slice there up above? Remember that…
One trick I learned toward the end of our wait was that if you walk in and take a peek over the counter to see if any straggler slices are just sitting around, you can ask if they’re unclaimed. Usually they’re not claimed, which means they’ll serve you right away and you won’t have to wait around like a sucka-ass tourist.
We did that as our two square slices were coming up, so we grabbed those two white slices on the left to go with our other four. The white slice was my least favorite of the three.
This slice, however, had a slightly better rise to it at the point. A little thicker, puffier, more airy, a better crisp – like a crunchy pillow – at that end. So that was a plus. I also liked the ricotta, but I again found myself gravitating toward the oil-soaked peppers in order to get down on the dry and hard crust toward the back end.
Which is really odd to say, because they drench the shit out of their pies with olive oil both before and after they come out of the oven. Shit was making puddles on the regular slices.
I did love the abundance of fresh basil on each pizza, but these fuckers were burning pies left and right all day long. I’m talking pitch black crusts! I usually like a little bit of that on a pie, spotty, just for texture and flavor, but some of these things were nearly destroyed entirely. Hard. Brittle. Dry. Black. And they were still selling them. The balls on these animals! We lucked out, though, and the six slices that we ate were okay, for the most part. Only one corner of one square slice was ruined and burned (I noted it above). Not bad.
So six slices, a glass bottle of Pepsi and a can of Schweppes seltzer ran us $38 and took up three hours of our lives. Was it worth it? Not for the food, no fucking way. Totonno’s is so much better, in my opinion, and you won’t have to wait that long to eat it. This place could really use a dedicated worker to man the ovens at all times so that nothing gets burnt. The commotion was too overbearing at times back there.
Taste and business commentary aside, I wouldn’t trade the experience we had for those three hours and a nice Totonno’s pie. I made sure to stay cognizant of the fact that we had the opportunity to watch Dom make pizza before it’s too late. The man deserves our respect, even if we don’t love every slice that comes out of the oven.
And he may be old, but fuck, man… the dude was pulling hot pies out of the oven with his bare hands! It was worth the three hour wait just to watch him do that.
This pizza joint up in Schenectady is fairly good. I was expecting something rancid and offensive, so far from NYC. But the crust was nice – airy but crisp, with just the right amount of chew and dough bounce. I went with a mozzarella, ricotta, tomato and broccoli slice. I enjoyed it. If you find yourself in the area, this is a decent shop.
I LOVE NY PIZZA – YOU WILL TOO
1705 Union St
Schenectady, NY 12309
When my wife and I were in Italy, we went bonkers for Bonci Pizzarium near the Vatican, and we’ve been craving it ever since. A brand new pizza joint on the upper east side, PQR, brought me right back there.
I have to say this is one of my new favorite spots in the city. Roman style pizza just works on so many levels. If you’ve never had it before, this is an exemplary representation. The dough/crust is perfectly crisp yet puffy and airy, and they’re generous with their high quality toppings.
Get the spicy soppressata with grape tomato and the sliced potato with truffle sauce. You’ll thank me later.
San Matteo is a Neapolitan style pizzeria and restaurant on the Upper East Side. Neapolitan style pizza is characterized by a puffy and doughy crust with, generally, pure and simple ingredients on top. See below:
This style of pizza isn’t crispy with a crunchy bottom like NYC style pizza, but I assure you that it’s still awesome. That was the Margherita Regina pie, $18. After eating this delicious stuff, I was surprised that I had room for dessert: profiteroles.
On a second visit, I came in to test a new burger that the owner Fabio was formulating for a competition (Burger Bash). The thing was amazing. Piedmontese beef in a 70/30 lean/fat ratio, topped with Blue Moon beer caramelized onions, radicchio, and lots of gooey and funky taleggio cheese. It was all housed in a freshly baked ciabatta bun, right from the pizza oven.
We also enjoyed numerous Aperol spritzes at the bar.
An incredible porchetta and arugula sandwich:
And of course more pizza:
This one had guanciale on it:
Fabio even made us a nice risotto dish with fresh porcini mushrooms, mixed up right in a cheese wheel:
I really love this place – such amazing Italian food.
SAN MATTEO PIZZERIA E CUCINA
1559 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10028
Corner Slice is Ivan Orkin’s foray into the world of NYC pizza. He made an impact in the world of ramen, and he seems to be on the path of impact in the pizza realm too. I stopped there for a quick (and pricey – $4) slice of soppressata pizza, and was impressed. I had just eaten a bunch of burger type shit at Genuine Roadside, but despite being mostly full, I was able to house this slice of deliciousness. Give is a shot.
Gotham West Market
600 11th Ave
New York, NY 10036
One Sunday afternoon my wife and I went on a hunt for oysters in the neighborhood. The first place we went to was closed for renovations (they usually have dollar oysters), but we always wanted to try this place ever since we saw it first open.
They had oysters, so we got our fix. Three east coast and three west coast, times two, so we could each try one of each variety.
They were all great and really fresh. The cost goes down as you order more, so this plate of a dozen came out to $3 each, or $36. A bit high considering we were starting off with the idea of paying $1 per oyster, but we were happy with the quality. A few of the varietals normally cost upwards of $4 a piece. We both liked the Kumamoto style the best.
Next up was their seafood pizza.
This elongated beauty of a pie was a bit pricey at $20, but also very tasty. I don’t mind paying up a bit if the quality is good. The only critique here is that the pie could have used some shaved parmesan cheese to finish at the end, and perhaps a sprinkling of some crispy prosciutto.
BLUE SEAFOOD & PIZZA
856 9th Ave
New York, NY 10019
I was recently invited into Imli to try out some of the restaurant’s popular menu items and write a review. My wife and I came here early in the dinner service on a Wednesday, and there was already a good amount of people not only sitting for a meal, but also hanging out at the joint’s beautiful bar and in their outdoor enclosed garden space.
We started off with a pair of interesting cocktails: The Kachumber Cooler (Hendricks Gin, St. Germain, lychee juice, cucumber), and the Desi Daaru (Old Monk, Thumbs Up, coriander, chaat, tabasco). Both were really great and unique.
Bhal is brought out to each table before the meal. This is a savory street style snack made from puffed rice, shreds of fried chic pea, onions, spices, tamarind sauce and chutney. This stuff was absolutely addicting!
This becoming known for its cross-over cuisine and tapas style bites, so we tried a bunch of those first. First were the grilled tandoori chicken wings.
These babies rocked! They’re marinated in Indian spices and then cooked until super tender. They had a great char on them from the grill, and the sauces pack both heat and cooling elements.
Next up was the spiced lamb scotch egg.
The egg was perfectly cooked, and the minced lamb around the outside was reminiscent of the grilled skewers of minced lamb that you commonly see at Indian restaurants (seekh kabob). I really liked this dish.
Our next bite was less of a cross-over food item: cauliflower tikki.
This is a variation on the popular aloo tikki. Rather than potatoes and onions, it’s made with cauliflower.
After being amply fed for the snack portion of the meal, we decided to split a chicken tikka pizza for our main course.
This is not only a great idea, but a really tasty one as well. Recently my wife and I ate some naan at an Indian joint near our apartment, and I was commenting how I think naan in general is a perfect vehicle for something like pizza. I was really excited to see it on the menu here.
Speaking of naan, this joint offers a huge variety of naan options, all of which look delicious.
But anyway, the pizza was topped with chicken tikka masala, diced tomato, sliced of bell pepper and minced red onion. Really tasty. Perhaps just a drizzle of a cooling yogurt sauce across the top as a finishing touch would really put this dish over the top.
Last but not least, we tried some Indian cardamom and ginger tea, along with Indian style ice cream (kulfi).
This was flavored with fennel seed, condensed milk and paan/betel nut leaves, and was a really refreshing way to end the meal.
I’m looking forward to coming back here again. Namely, I want to try the coconut and green chili clams, and some of the beef and lamb dishes. They do a really great job here, and I see a bright future for this joint. It’s only been open for two months and it’s already generating a big buzz in the neighborhood.
IMLI URBAN INDIAN FOOD
1136 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10065