This category two pizza joint (individual slices available) on the lower east side has gotten some big hype for being a great spot. I was in the area for dinner, so I had to check it out and grab a slice for dessert.
Most people clamor for the pepperoni slice – probably after seeing ‘roni cups on Instagram – but I’m more of a traditional guy. So traditional, in fact, that I generally prefer the Margherita style slice to the plain slice. This consists of fresh mozzarella, tomato sauce and basil.
This was a great slice. The sauce was bright, sweet yet savory, and nicely seasoned. The cheese was delicious and evenly melted. The basil was fresh (just roasted). The crust was puffy and light, while also being crisp and stiff enough to fold. A winner all around. The only down side was the $4.25 price tag for a single slice.
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. They have daily special pies too, like this pesto and spicy coppa pie.
Their meat and cheese boards are pretty incredible too:
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:
The meat you get in the pork chop Milanese, which is one of the best I’ve had, is raised on chef/owner Fabio’s farm.
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.
They serve up some great LaFrieda steaks too.
And my favorite arancini rice ball of all time.
SAN MATTEO PIZZERIA E CUCINA
1559 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10028