Showing posts with label Midtown West. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Midtown West. Show all posts

Monday, January 17, 2011

Breaking pizza news! Ray's v. 99¢ Fresh!

I'll fill this post in with pictures and more details later tonight, I just got called in for a work emergency. But for the record, in case anyone urgently needs to know what I think about Ray's dropping their slice down to 75 cents to compete with a dollar slice place across the street: I approve. I'm sitting at Ray's right now, I've just eaten at both planes and Ray's wins this one by a long shot. More details tonight after I take care of this situation at work.


I'm not sure if you guys saw the giant pizza-shaped light in the sky last night, Mayor Bloomberg was responsible, he was shining the Slice Signal to get my attention. I noticed, of course, because I was out mooning myself on my roof. Luckily there is a baked bean can in my room with a string through the bottom that leads directly to the tomato soup can in the Mayors office, so I got on the horn and quickly found out that there was a war going on in Midtown and he needed my peace-keeping efforts. So first thing this afternoon, after awakening from my daily siesta, I mounted the saddle of my riding ostrich and headed into the Very Civilized Burough of Manhattan to tend to the crisis.

And what a crisis it was! Famous Original Ray's was flying its war flag:

75¢ Pizza Slices! Run! Hide! Actually in typical shitty F.O.R. fashion, they charge tax on their 75¢ slice. So just like their "$2.75" slice is actually $3.00, their 75¢ slice is actually 82¢. But that's still really cheap so I'll stop complaining there.

Okay, this slice wasn't so bad, and for 82¢ it fucking RULED. This is the first sub-$1 slice of pizza I've ever had that I don't feel compelled to put in a separate category. This is actual pizza! And Ray's cheapened their operation by making their slices a lot smaller, not by skimping on the ingredients, which are still totally mid-grade. The funny thing is, my big beef with Ray's in the past has been that their slices have always been too doughy to cook properly. The crazy reality is that by dropping their price, and the size of their slice, they have actually made their pizza better! Kudos to you, congratulations. The only drawback is, of course, that this is a F.O.R. slice, so the sauce tastes like total crap. But it's easy to drown that in garlic powder or whatever and then this still rules for the price. I'm not sure how long this deal is going to last, but it's a good one.

99¢ Fresh Pizza across the street did not seem to be fairing well in the face of their competition. When I went inside there everyone seemed really depressed and bummed out. And I can see why. The pizza they are serving is garbage!

This slice was also tiny. It had that crappy frozen-dough flavor of most dollar places, and the weird unplaceable aftertaste in the sauce that tastes like a fart. This is pizza I wouldn't be BUMMED to eat on tour, but wouldn't be thrilled about either. It wasn't terribly offensive, and it only cost a buck, but it objectively wasn't very good.

I came into this crisis siding with 99¢ Fresh Pizza. There is something I like about them. They are the scrappy underdog. Famous Original Ray's is the shitty bully. I have unabashedly harshed on FOR since the beginning of Slice Harvester for serving shit pizza, and I have always backed 99¢ Fresh as a model that I like. At least they are trying at a populist approach to food, even if they fall short. But I have to admit, even as an virulent Ray's basher and ardent 99¢ Fresh supporter, Ray's wins this one by a long shot. I am thinking about the slice I had there today and it was actually GOOD. I think it might've been the first good slice I've ever had at a Famous Original Ray's.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

K! Pizzacone: "Shame the original pizza in a cup guy went out of business."

Now I know, what you're thinking, "I thought this was Slice Harvester, not Cone Harvester. Where does he get off?" Because that's pretty much what Paulie said to me when I told him and the gang we were going to head into . In fact, everybody thought it was a bad idea except Peter, who understood my morbid curiosity about such a fascinating culinary anomaly; and who I realized right then that I knew from the week that I spent sleeping on a hammock in the woods next to Megan's house two or three years ago, because he was living in a tent in those same woods and we had drank some beers together. And not a bullshit tent, mind you, like a really sturdy canvas tent that was pitched atop a wooden platform and looked like something from a WWII movie and was probably the size of my apartment in Brooklyn. Anyway, since I am really the only person involved with S.H. who has any actual decision-making power, (besides Nate Stark, I guess), consensus was a non-issue and we ventured in.

We ordered a 'Small, Margherita Pizzacone' (to split 5 ways) and immediately began to feel nervous. The proprietress of the establishment opened up a crazy looking deep freeze unit that emitted that wild "cold steam" or whatever like they had coming off the dry ice beakers in the horror movie tv show that was on channel 9 when I was a kid. She removed a premade, frozen "bread cone" from within the depths of this sci-fi meatlocker and placed in on some kind of stand in a convection/microwave "quick cooker." There was already way too much technology involved in this food and it had barely even been prepared.

When the thing was done, she filled it with cheese and sauce that she scooped out of little trays like they have in Subway, and then sprayed a bottle of what turned out to be some kind of "butter spread"-type substance into the recesses of the cone. Then she placed it in the oven one more time.

While it was cooking, we watched in horror as an informational video about pizzacones played on two televisions, just a few seconds apart. It made everything look so disgusting.

When they handed me my pizzacone, I was a little disappointed it wasn't less grand, but then again, I did just order the margherita. I took my first bite and chewed contemplatively, eying the expressions on my comrade's faces as they were presented with the pizzacone and weighed whether or not they would take a bite. It tasted like "butter," which is to say, it tasted like fake butter, there was absolutely no sauce in my bite, and the cheese was incredibly weird and synthetic. In short, I loved it. As everyone (bom biddilee bom biddilee bom bom bom biddilee bom biddilee), the comments started to roll in:
"Too much cheese."
"I wish there was more sauce."
"This tastes like butter."
"This is amazing."
"Tastes like I'm eating a bowl of pizza hut."
As the cone made it's second trip around the cipher, everyone seemed to grow tired. The whole thing was almost done, and I was the only one that was still excited about this weird thing, although my enthusiasm quickly waned when I began chewing my third bite. This thing was probably the most disgusting food object I have ever eaten. When I was unable to pawn the cone off on anyone else, I simply threw the remnants into the garbage. As we were leaving, Peter said, very succinctly, "Well, I definitely feel grosser than before I ate that."

While the rating system is usually on a scale of 8, that didn't seem like enough for this horror show, so K! Pizzacone gets 0 out of 20 slices.

K! Pizzacone - $3.60
325 5th Avenue (32nd & 33rd)
New York, NY 10016

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

New Town Pizza II: "Kick Out the Tories"

, as it is allegedly supposed to be called, has a deceptive awning that makes it seem like the joint is called "New Pizza Town" which is a lot more fun. In fact, looking back, I realize I had the same thing to say about New Town Pizza I, but at least that place has a more clearly distinguished difference in fonts. There is really no reason for anyone to believe this place is called anything other than New Pizza Town. I'm not sure why that is so funny to me, but it is, okay? Just lay off. Geez, what're you, my dad?

The slice here looked a lot better than the slice there, but it still wasn't all that good. It wasn't bad, though! There was just something... missing. Not quite sure how to explain it. The crust was okay, although it could've been crunchier. There was ample sauce. There was maybe a little too much cheese, but the cheese tasted fresh and salty, so that wasn't such a problem. This made up for the fact that the crust wasn't salty enough during most of the slice, but when we got to the heel it was just totally boring dry, chewy, flavorless bread. Whatever. This was not a total waste, but it's nothing mindblowing, either, and at $2.99, it's definitely not worth it.


New Town Pizza II - $2.99
360 7th Ave (at 30th)
New York, NY 10001

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Little Italy Pizza: "Pizza for Burning Persons"

looks like if someone set up a rugged looking pizza shop at Burning Man. I feel like the pizzaman should've had huge plugs and a goatee, been wearing goggles and a brown leather apron, and should've cooked my slice with an oxy-acetyline torch. I mean, seriously, the inside of the place was covered in weirdo corrugated metal. The walls looked like the front of the Juan bought in high school because had one and then he returned it because he realized and he just wanted a Marshall. Whatever. Whether or not the guitars on those records sounded corny or not I still saw that band like 50 Million times as a teenager because I LOVED THAT SHIT, so who am I to judge, now?

Regardless of whether or not you can "feel" that Burning Man aesthetic, this slice was barely more than mediocre at best. I mean, it's not horrible, and in the spectrum of shitty slices passing themselves off as decent, there are way more egregious offenders. This slice isn't shitty, but it's Barely Good, okay? A little better than average, but not impressive or memorable in the slightest. What're you gonna do? Maybe if I spent $500 to hang out in the desert for a week getting nonconsensually grinded on by Australian men with labret piercings at some mediocre watered down trance rave and this was the first slice of pizza I had seen in days I would be pumped, but as a Regular Joe stomping the streets of Manhattan, this just barely cuts the mustard.


Little Italy Pizza - 2.75
401 7th Ave (32nd & 33rd)
New York, NY 10001

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Cafe Rustico II: "What a shitstorm."

I'm not sure where to begin this entry, but I'll start on Saturday morning. I woke up and my computer still wouldn't turn on. I was hell of stressed because I was counting on it deciding to work again so I could update the website during my unbelievably slow early morning bar shift. I brought it to the bar anyway, in hopes that it would work eventually, but it just served as a constant physical reminder that I am an irresponsible scumbag and I made my bed in shit so I better get comfortable. As the morning progressed, a few customers trickled in to watch whatever football game was on, but mostly I just had free time to stress myself out. This stress was compounded by the fact that my prospective pizza partner for that afternoon asked for a rain check so that he could attend the Mermaid Parade. I don't blame him and I'm not mad at all! It's a hell of a spectacle and he just moved to New York and if you're not a bitter, cynical fuckface like me it's a perfectly good thing to do with your time. I was scrambling to find someone to come along with me when I texted Chuck, who replied, "I'd love to, but all I can think about is the beach."

And that's when it hit me: Fuck stressing out over bullshit. I am going to go in the ocean. So I got out of work and went to Rockaway. Fucking, let me tell you, it was great! Afterwards, there was a barbecue on Chuck's roof and then a show downstairs. At the barbecue I ate two hotdogs, two burgers, two bratwurst, and two chicken legs. Plus I drank two liters of seltzer, the greatest beverage ever. It was pretty awesome. Also, there was some peroxide blonde in a neon orange bikini on the adjacent roof doing some kind of fashion shoot with the Marcy Projects as a backdrop which is totally the most tacky thing ever and made me so mad. I was thinking about mooning the photographer, but instead I just talked about mooning the photographer. What I did do was take off all my clothes and pretend that I was having a fashion shoot too, and all my friends pretended to be fawning groupies, which wasn't hard because that's basically what they actually are!!

The show was great. played, Bender's new band whose name I forgot again played (someone remind me so I can replace this with a link!), and and , both bands from Athens, both bands full of friends, closed out the night. Everyone had a blast and the show ended early so folks could go see The Reigning Sound, but some folks stuck around and I spent a chunk of time talking with and my old friend Ella until I realized how late it was getting and decided to go find Patrick and Joe to say goodbye. They were in Chuck's room, where a half a dozen kids were passing around a bottle of poppers! Wow!

I had a stroke of genius which may or may not have been related to the fumes and told them that if I got off work on Monday, and they were still in New York we should eat pizza together. Palms were spat, hands were shook, and thus a deal was made. On the way out I mentioned it to Ella and she was totally in!

So fast-forward through Sunday (happybirthdaybeckywisehappyfather'sdaydadiloveyou), I got that shift covered and Monday rolled around and I was waiting to meet up with Patrick and Joe. We were also planning on meeting Ella and my sister in the city for pizza eating. Kind of a bigger group than I prefer, but such is life, right? Before I invited my sister along, I had already written the intro for Ella, Joe and Patrick. It was going to go something like,
"Ella is an old friend of mine and super tough New Yorker, Joe loves talking about Murphy's Law and being on tour, and Patrick is a little man with a big, big heart...."
It kind of threw a wrench in the works that my sister was coming, because I was expecting her to come along in a week or two and get her own dedicated Slice Harvesting sojourn, but things don't always work out as we plan and everything ultimately works out alright. (To help myself accept this precept, I've decided to become a Hare Krishna!)

Well, when Joe and Patrick finally showed up to meet me, they were with an entourage of like, 4o dudes. Okay, it was only 4 other people, but plus me made 7, plus Ella and Emma made 9. And I had thought 5 total would be an unwieldy group. I began to wonder what I was getting myself into.

I learned the answer to that question pretty quickly when Max, one of the Athenians, got lost in the subway. We got out at 34th street and I told the others, "Welcome to the big city, you inbreds. You're lucky I even let you hang out with me. Now if you want to come get famous, walk with me, if you want to find your little friend stuck in the big scary subway, you can go ahead and do that. But I don't have all day to wait around. I'm having dinner with Shaq and Bill Clinton at Kim Kardashian's penthouse tonight."

I didn't really say that, but we did leave to eat pizza and just figure that Max would eventually call one of us. Which he did, which facilitated one of my favorite types of social interaction, The Triumphant Reunion. But that is a story for another day. Today, I am here to talk about .

I'm gonna say this for every entry from this expedition, but I am not faulting the pizzamans in this place for being rude. If 9 idiots walked into my pizzeria (if I had a pizzeria) and ordered 3 slices between them, I'd probably be a little curt too. However, my sister, who goes here somewhat frequently because she often finds herself in the neighborhood, informs me that the dudes in this place actually acted totally normal. In fact, she told me, "I see the same two guys working behind the counter there every time I go and I have never heard them say a word to each other and they are always totally weird to me." Interesting.

The slice wasn't great, but it was good. I hadn't learned everyone's names yet when we were discussing it, and I was sitting too far from Patrick and Joe in the throngs of folks to hear what either of them had to say, so this review is just according to me, Ella and my sister.

The slice smelled great. Appreciating pizza smells is a quality shared by most of my family, so when my kid sis told me this slice smelled great, I knew it would. And it did. Totally tantalizing odor. The dough was really good. It was thicker than I generally prefer, but it was fluffy and airy. It was cooked through everywhere and the bottom had a perfect crunch. The cheese was top quality, it tasted like milkfat and cheese instead of chemicals and processed crap. The sauce was the only problem. It tasted a little bit sweeter than I like in this totally crappy way. Total HFCS scene up in Cafe Rustico II. But otherwise it's pretty stellar, I guess. In fact, if the sauce improved this slice would be totally awesome!


Cafe Rustico II - $2.75
25 West 35th Street (5th & 6th)
New York, NY 10001
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