Showing posts with label Washington Heights. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Washington Heights. Show all posts

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Como Pizza: "I am not as precise as I thought."

While James and I were out eating hella slices, my friend Jordan called. He is a super rad buddy who knows everything cool. Like, walking around Manhattan with him is way more intesting than walking around with anyone else because he's all, "that's where Malcolm X was living when he was assassinated," "there are only four freestanding houses in all of Manhattan and that's one of them. The other three are in these three places," "etc." Dude is totally like, an unending fountain of rad information.

Anyway, Jordan was like, "hey Colin, you never went to the pizzeria I go to the most in my neighborhood, ." I didn't believe him because I totally remembered the name from a couple weeks prior. But sure enough, I leafed through my grease-stained Pizza Journal, and there was not an entry for Como. "By God," I thought, "I fucked up and I need to rectify this situation. So James and I got on the subway and headed up to 168th.

This brings up a brief digression which is as follows: I am but one man, and though I try to focus my energy on pizza all the time, I also work a couple jobs, write puppet shows, and do rape crisis work. Which is just to say, there's a lot on my plate at any given moment, and though Slice Harvester is a pretty top priority, I am bound to make a few mistakes. So if you are following the blog and notice that I've missed the best, most loathsome, or least exceptional pizzeria in your neighborhood, write me a comment or send me an email to let me know. I want to be comprehensive, but I'm not perfect. That said, on to Como Pizza.

Pretty unexceptional looking exterior, but the inside looks like all the best Jewish delicatessens.

I think it's that design on the walls, whatever the hell that shit is. It made me feel like I was at in Rosedale, where I had my first ever Corned Beef and Pastrami on Rye with a Dr. Brown's Black Cherry Soda as a wee lad. The lady behind the counter looked just like my Grandma Sylvia--hair dyed black, overly made up, tacky costume jewelry--and I immediately felt so comfortable inthere..

The pizza, though, was just not phenomenal. It was decent. Perfect amount of grease, good ratios, the sauce was great. But the whole slice was majorly undercooked. I enjoyed the whole thing, straight through the crust, which tasted superb but wasn't crunchy enough. I would come back here for sure, and I will when coming to visit Jordan, but next time I'm here I'll ask for my slice well-done, and I'd suggest you do the same if you like your pizza crunchy.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

New Millennium Pizza: "The ultimate mediocre slice"

New Millenium. I can only hope there is no kind of sorcery involved in the name of this place, because if the current new millenium is as dull as the slice here, mankind is in for a boring 991 years.

Here's the deal: this slice is too salty, way doughy, the cheese is a solid sheet, and overall, it's a mushy, floppy mess. However, the ingredients are decent quality and the crust is REALLY good. Like, I wish the crust was a piece of bread that I was dipping in the juice around a bowl of mussels. Instead of pizza crust. Because as bread it would rule, but as pizza crust it's just not firm enough. Point is: the flavors are nice but the texture blows chunks.

Ultimately, this slice is cooked and assembled poorly but the quality of ingredients is way above average, which goes a long way.

Eric the Red had two things to say:
1. "After a hard day of work I would love to wolf this thing down."
2. (And I'm paraphrasing here) "I want to throw this thing against a wall and watch the dough slide off the cheese."

General assessment: this slice COULD be good, given the right circumstances, or perhaps a more adept pizziola.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Pizza Double Feature: Tommy's Grill & Pizzeria / I Love NY Pizza

- $2.25
3795 Broadway
New York, NY 10032

After the last couple of places, I was not expecting much when I saw this awning and storefront.

It looks like "pizzeria restaurant" was kind of an afterthought. Tommy was opening up his dream business one day in 1982, Tommy's Grill, because then Deborah 'Deedee' Mandolfino, who he'd had a crush on since the 7th Grade dance at Maria Teresa Middle School, would ditch that rat bastard Johnny Madden. Just because Johnny owns a bar she thinks he's respectable, but Johnny cheats behind Deedee's back and it breaks Tommy's heart every time he sees it happen. So Tommy's like, "Yeah, all right, I'll start a business, she'll see that I'm not just some shmuck. And a bar's no place for kids, so when she see's I got a Grill, a real place for everyone, we can start a family!"

And things are moving along pretty well, the business opens, it's slow, but that's to be expected for the first year, right? Everyone's supportive, but it just never picks up. And so Tommy is despondent. He's like, "I make the best damn burgers in the Heights! Where's all my customers at?" His friend Joey, a tall, mumbly motherfucker who seems like a goober but is actually quite smart, sees Tommy whining and he's like, "Listen, Tommy, just add pizza. People want pizza, they'll come for the pizza, they'll stay for the other stuff. Trust me. And I'll make you some fresh squeezed lemonaide. It's the best."

And Tommy listened. Eventually, he was the proprietor of a thriving local business. But he was never happy, because he never won Deedee's love. See, when Johnny caught wind of Tommy's plan, he used some of his immense amounts of money to build a kitchen on to his bar, creating the first ever Bar & Grill. He got out of all that soon and became a cop, though. They made a biopic about him called . (Which, by the way, I can't believe these assholes in Hollywood have the gumption to remake with Nicholas Cage.) Tommy ended up killing himself, sadly, but this nice kid from the neighborhood Marky, who wasn't the brightest bulb but seemed to have an aptitude for it, took over running things. Marky went to jail in 1983 on false charges and his cousin Richie ran Tommy's until DNA evidence cleared Marky's name in 1987. When asked what people thought of the success of Tommy's Grill, Marky was quoted as saying, "Joey loved it, but Johnny was real mad."

But yeah, Tommy's Grill (and pizzeria). Me and Eric both walked in and were like, "this doesn't even look like a pizza place." But the lone plain pie in sight looked decent, so we ordered up some slices and sat down to try it out.

This picture doesn't really do justice to how decent this slice looked. The bright orange walls in the place and the crappy camera on my phone were working in collusion to sabotage Tommy's, they were probably paid off by Johnny Madden, is my suspicion. Here's what Eric said, which I thought was pretty right on, "it's not really a great slice, but compared to the last couple of places it's amazing." Overall, the slice was a little on the sweet side for me, and the cheese tasted a little burnt, but otherwise it was pretty spot on. Nice, thin but not too thin crust, perfect ratios of cheese:sauce:bread. Eric added salt to the last half of his slice and said that it made it much better.

But apparently, you shouldn't come to Tommy's for the pizza, you should come for the Fresh Squeezed Lemonaide, which is allegedly the best on Earth.

You can check out my sister's blog Juice Harvester, if you want to see the run down, but she drank a glass of lemonaide everywhere in the world that it gets made, which includes inside this volcanic crater in Borneo, and she determined that Tommy's Grill and Pizzeria in Washington Heights actually is the best.


- $2.25
900 Saint Nicholas Ave
New York, NY 10032

As we were walking here, I kept thinking to myself, "I know I love New York pizza, but will I love I Love New York Pizza?" When I got here, I was pretty confident, because the place looked incredible.

"Please be good please be good please be good!!" was running through my head like a mantra as I crossed the street. Eric and I walked in and ordered our slices and the first thing we noted was how shiny they were!

Grease! Of course! The key factor missing from all of the prior slices. What are the four elements of pizza? Bread, Sauce, Cheese and Grease. And the last handful of pizzerias had three-part slices, they were veritably greaseless.

So, this slice: the dough/crust was slightly on the undercooked side, but it was PERFECT otherwise. If you took the crust from Tommy's and added everything else from this place to it, it would be the ultimate best slice of pizza in the universe. Seriously, so good. The cheese was a perfect consistency where it had some give, and was stringy and sometimes soft, but not runny, there was a perfect amount of sauce, and the sauce was excellent, and everything was coated in a nice sheen of delicious grease.

You wanna know what's so awesome about putting spices on your slices, by the way? When you get a nice greasy slice like this, you can turn it over and drip it onto your plate after you've folded it, allowing a small puddle of grease and pepper and oregano to leak out. Then, when you get to the crust, tear it open, so the warm bread inside is exposed, and DIP THAT SHIT! Seriously, just shmear grease all over the crust's doughy interior. Do it from now on if you don't already.

Anyway, this place was fucking phenomenal, and the first of all the pizzerias I've been to thus far that had a bulletproof window around the counter, which reminds me again of what Sweet Tooth said back at , "sometimes fear is a key ingredient in the perfect slice."

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Pizza Double Feature: El Pique Pizza y Flaco's Pizza

3887 Broadway
New York, NY 10032

I am lumping these two places together because they're across the street from each other, and they are both totally unexciting. Me and Eric went here after Famiglia, and knew, almost right away that it was gonna stink. Undercooked slice, with practically no sauce. The dough was so sweet the crust tasted like a pastry. Bad slice, nothing more to say, really.

The slice did come on one of those metal trays that I love, though. And not that this has any bearing either way, but the end of it kind of looks like when those weirdo, mall goth, body mod people get a .

3876 Broadway
New York, NY 10032

After our totally experience with El Pique we didn't have the highest expectations in the world for Flaco's. Which was right across the street.

I love that Eric reps that shirt so hard. I went there the first time when I was 13 for my grandparent's 50th Anniversary and I try to go at least once a year now that I'm an adult because that place is the SHIT. Anyway, we walked in and were immediately confronted by some of the most wild looking pizzas I've ever seen.

The pineapple/pineapple and ham slices are one thing. But look at that pile of minced broccoli on top of that green slice. And then the one with the whole can of mushrooms dumped on it?! Even the chicken slice looks weird. It reminded me of that that's been floating around the internet for a while. Luckily were eating plain slices.

Looks like crap, tastes like crap. Eric got his and bit into before me and immediately muttered, "horrible," under his breath, just couldn't control himself. This slice was dry as a bone, and covered in cheap flavorless cheese, so it basically just tasted like mediocre bread. Somehow, despite that, it still managed to be too sweet. And the cheese was this weird solid mass that was thick and congealed. I feel like the cheese on this slice could be used by a scrappy and industrious mouse as the sail of the tiny boat he is constructing to make his way out of the city to track down his true love in a children's movie. Basically, this slice stinks.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Famiglia Pizza: "I am pretty sure this is actually a chain."

I woke up on Friday feeling kind of haggard.  Band practice was canceled, but Matty B came over anyway and we had a nice hangout while I waited to meet my friend Eric.  The reason I was feeling like crap was because I had spent the night before at Eric's bar, , where I have probably spent an average of 4 nights a week since it opened a year and a half ago.  After closing out the bar, I was a total mess when I woke up on my day off with the intent to eat pizza all day.  But that's life, right?  Plus, massive hangovers make for better pizza eating.

Eric and I met up and got on the train for what seemed like an eternity getting up to Washington Heights.  We talked about the most ridiculous assortment of shit.  People abandoning their houses, being an exterminator, leaving your dead friends phone numbers in your phone because you can't bring yourself to delete them, etc.  Hangover talk.  We got out of the train at 168th Street and were standing in front of .  I was like, "I think this is a chain..." but Eric was all, "Fuck it I'm hungry," and walked in.

 This place looks like it's in a mall.  Because it is a chain.  Look at the website.  They are in Anchorage, Alaska.  They are at airports.  But I guess maybe I can visit one location from each chain as a compromise.  I won't go to another Famiglia ever again in my life, but this one, whatever.  The slice:
 Duh, it sucked.  I don't even need to tell you that.  Probably the best of any chain, though.  I'll take this over Dominoes, Pizza Hut or Papa John's any day.  This pizza may be as mediocre and soulless as the current, semi-ironic Yacht Rock revival among communities of young urban honkies, but at least it's real pizza.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Multi-Pizza Feature: Tommy's Pizza / 177 Street Italian Cafe / Ernesto Pizza / That's Amore Part II

- $2.00
4185 Broadway
New York, NY 10033

This place looked and smelled GREAT.  Seriously, the outside of this joint had so much goddamn character I was kind of pissed off at it.  Look at this tiling!

Sadly, it wasn't actually the best pizza.  But it was good.  The slice looked pretty impeccable, and it smelled great, too, so I was way pumped to eat it.

In retrospect, I think I might've just been enamored with their "best pizza" claim.  This slice had excellent sauce, but otherwise it really didn't have much going for it in my estimation.  The cheese was too salty, and the dough was way too puffy and undercooked.  It reminded me of a big fat soft turd.  Cristy and Matt were into the first half of the slice, but as we got to the second half, even they admitted the dough was getting too thick.  The crust, I think, should've been crunchier, although Matt and Cristy were both down.  In fact, Cristy said it "took her back to childhood," although she later acknowledged that it was probably this painting, and not the slice that did that.


- $2.00 / $2.50 with a can of soda
1341 Saint Nicholas Ave
New York, NY 10033-7236

This place was so weird.  Like, all around.  I almost didn't go in because it looked like it was all waiter-service, but then I noticed what looked like a counter one could order from and it seemed easy-going enough that I could order a slice and sit down and eat it.  But I ordered my slice and then sat at a table and they demanded that I let a waitress bring it to me.  I obliged, and when she arrived, she asked me if I wanted any spices, which I could see from where I was sitting.  I was like, "don't worry, I'll get them!"  And then she just got everything for me.  Strange times, I'll tell you.  The slice was doughy and floppy with too much cheese, so Cristy and Matty were obviously way into it.  I think it's kind of sweet how me and them have totally divergent opinions on what good pizza is, because it highlights the fact that pizza taste is so subjective, a fact you'd think I'd want to disguise if I were going to keep my readership.  But let's get real, I can't tell you what the best slice of pizza is.  Like, maybe I don't think your boyfriend or girlfriend is a babe, and maybe you don't think my boyfriend or girlfriend is a babe, but as long as I think my boyfriend or girlfriend or post-gender partner is a babe, who cares what you think!  You feeling me on this one?  But while hopefully everyone's a total babe to someone, we can say pretty definitively that some pizza totally blows chunks, so I am doing a service in separating the weed from the hash or whatever.   Because you gotta admit, even when I don't like a slice, I can admit that it's well-crafted, if not to my tastes.  So you do need me afterall.  But back to the slice at Roman pizza.

If you've been following this blog at all, you will immediately be able to tell that this is just not my style.  However, the ingredients weren't cheap, it was assembled well, and I love it when they give you your slice on these little round trays.  Overall, I had so much fun sitting in here.  Plus they were playing like, gorillas doing it or something on the tv and that was rad.


- $2.00 - GOOD SLICE!
1315 Saint Nicholas Ave
New York, NY 10033

Check out Matty B looking like a goon.  He might as well just move to New York, already.  When we got here Matt and I loafed around smoking for a while before going in.  The pizzamen were standing in the doorway staring us down with the worst stink eye, attempting to draw us in to their pizzeria with their tractor-beams of loathing and superiority.  You could see it all in their eyes.  We went in to check the slice out and Cristy came in and met us because she had been having an adventure at the discount store adjacent to Ernesto which apparently sold Dildos!

Whatta slice!  This slice had amazing ratios and pretty great flavor all around.  Hard crunch on the bottom with a soft interior, and enough cheese to evenly coat but not so much that I was afraid I might choke.  The middle of the slice was soft and gooey, kind of like the slice I had at a couple weeks ago, but to less of a ridiculous extreme.  And the ingredients in this slice were overall way superior to whatever they were slinging over at West 190.  The crust was phenomenal.  Half was puffy, half was thinner and it was covered in a perfectly even sheen of grease, adding some extra moisture and flavor.

If I had to eat my last slice of pizza tomorrow before put us all into slavery, I probably wouldn't get it from here, but if someone asked me where to get a slice between the GW Bridge (which I heard they're renaming after the Godzilla when the New Administration comes in) and 168th Street, I'd tell them to head to Ernesto.


- $2.00
1246 Saint Nicholas Ave
New York, NY 10032

This place was  exactly the same as .  Literally.  At first I was thinking that we'd been here already, but then I realized they had just managed to build two of the exact same pizzeria like, ten blocks apart (if even).


Look at Matty destroying that slice.  Once again he loved it, Cristy was into it, and I didn't really care for it.  Them's the breaks, I guess.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Exclusive Pizza: "Death to Exclusive Pizza, Long live the new flesh."

looked like crap. I was totally unenthused right off the bat. I don't know why, but there was just a gut feeling that the pizza here wasn't going to be very good at all. But a guy's gotta do what a guy's gotta do, right?

So I sucked it up, ordered a slice and paid my $2.00 for it. When it came and I was carrying it back to the table, the pockmarked texture of the burnt cheese reminded me of .  As soon as I got to the table and set the slice down, Matty B took a look at it and commented that it looked pretty good, which means nothing because he's from California. 

The slice tasted about as good as it looked.  The cheese was burnt.  The dough was too thick, and dry, and hard as a rock.  Cristy said it tasted like Yo Mama's Pizza in Sarasota, Fl, which apparently sucks.  Matty didn't say anything, I think because he was embarrassed that he said it looked good in the first place. 
Exclusive Pizza
810 W 181st St
New York, NY 10033

Sunday, August 30, 2009

That's Amore Pizza: "When your eye's hit the pie / and you just wanna cry..."

Cristy, Matt and I left and wandered around in a daze, still high off the incensual aroma of Rap's rad slice, until we found a block or two away.


I was pretty pumped at the front of the place.  The filthy awning and Italian Ice Area out front worked in collusion to take me back to childhood.  As soon as we got in, though, I lost any expectations that the rad exterior might have instilled in me.  The slices sitting behind the counter just didn't look very good.  I ordered my slice, paid my $2.00, sprinkled on my usual array of pizzeria spices (if you care to argue about the legitimacy of spicing pizza, we may as well keep it all in the comments section of , just for the sake of containment), and brought the slice to the table, feeling pretty unenthused about how it looked.


The undercooked, thick glob of cheese at the very front of the slice, falling apart, with sauce poking through the holes in it's structural integrity, really turned me off.  While I totally realize that this is someone's ideal slice, I also realized that I am not that someone.

I kept my reservations to myself, so as not to prejudice Matt and Cristy, my pizza partners.  Taking the first bites, I was impressed by how good the sauce tasted, though I did mention, after everyone had tried it, that I was generally unenthusiastic and thought the slice had too much cheese.  Cristy mentioned that there was "something wrong" with the taste of the crust.  The she put her finger on it, "it seems like this crust has been frozen!  It's a good thing, though.  I fucking love Elio's."  Take that however you will.

Generally speaking, I think the slice was totally undercooked overall, and it might've been a little better if it had been a little more cooked through.  However, with that much cheese lumped on the middle, it'll never really be possible to cook it more without the cheese turning into total liquid and dripping off.  Initially I thought the crust was pretty good, but that was just because I had bitten into the reservoir of grease that had collected when I'd folded it in half.  The rest of the crust was the most textureless, flavorless waste I've tasted in a while.  The sauce sure was good, though.

That's Amore Pizza
1405 Saint Nicholas Ave
New York, NY 10033


I got a really nice letter recently from my friend Kate Ferencz, whose new tape my roommate happens to have put on in the living room ten minutes ago and it is BLOWING MY MIND.

did you get the idea for the pizza blog when you were traveling through sad lonely places where there wasn't any good pizza? I'm sitting in my mom's house in westchester reading it and thinking about how it really makes me want to eat pizza and remembering what it was like in new orleans when all we ever ever did was talk about how we wished we had pizza, or sometimes, you'd think it but you wouldn't say it, because you didn't want to remind everyone else around you and make them all upset.  I can't believe I'm about to leave pizza land again.  keep up the good work!

You can listen to Kate's rad music and check out some upcoming tour dates on her , which you should do.  She is way talented and worth seeing live if you're in the Southeast, where she will apparently be playing some shows next week.  And if you aren't lucky enough to live in Asheville or Murphreesboro (really, Kate, Murphreesboro?), you should still listen to the songs and order a record if you like them.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Rap pizza: "You could have my heart or we could share it like the last slice"

Matty B came over yesterday at 12:20 or so.  Meredith was already here for band practice.  So when Matty showed up and was all, "hey, I was in the neighborhood so I figured I'd stop by," I was like, "Wait, but Matt, we talked last night about having band practice today!"  But the man was tired and had forgotten.  Luckily he was biking past my house and was seized by a totally overwhelming desire to stop by and see me, because he loves me so much.

Anyway, band practice was superb.  I've had all the songs stuck in my head since we started showing them to Meredith.  After band practice me and Matty drank coffee till we were crazy and waited for my friend Cristy to show up, so we could all head up to 181st st and eat some pizza.  She arrived promptly, we sat around and talked, then walked to the subway for the trek to Washington Heights.  During the course of our lengthy subway ride we told stories about adolescent awkwardness, discussed Matty's new comic (topics: confrontations with yuppies, craigslist ripoffs, failed experiments in queer sexual practice), shared goofy makeout stories and just basically made too much noise and acted more gregariously than is fitting for public transit.  Here's the thing, though, we couldn't help it.  I seriously felt like I did as a teenager when I just wanted to talk really loud and fast about everything awesome, and so what if that church lady over there is offended when I talk about smooching boys, she'll get over it.  In short, the three of us had an excellent hangout dynamic and that made shit awesome.

We accidentally took the train to 191st, because we were so busy talking we missed our stop, which was great, because we got to see !  When we got out it was lightly raining and pleasantly cool, so we didn't mind the ten block walk down to :

In the process of getting to this shining oasis on the overcast corner of 181st and St. Nick, I almost walked in front of two cars, and almost dragged Matty and Cristy into traffic.  I couldn't think, my mind was clouded by visions of pizza.  Halfway across the street, not even on the sidewalk directly in front of the place, I was confronted by The Smell.  The smell of pizza so good, no matter what I'm doing, who I'm with, or how full I am, it calls to me like a siren song and I will run across traffic, embarrass myself in front of a crush, push my way through gangs of street toughs, just to get a slice and eat it while I walk.  The smell doesn't always accompany a perfect slice, but it never wafts from a bad slice.

After making sure none of the bunch had died or been wounded due to my irresponsible leadering, I went inside and ordered my slice.  It was $2.50, which was a little bit of a disappointment.  I had hoped Rap's slice would be $2.00 just because the place looked so damn great:

But such is life, right?  While aesthetics are important, we are here for the pizza.  My slice came and looked great:

The sauce on this slice was phenomenal.  On the sweet side, but in a really subtle and excellent way.  And the way the flavor of the sauce combined with the slightly sour taste of the cheese was incredible.  Insert some kind of metaphor about beautiful celebrities having an orgy in my mouth, or something.  The dough, though, was a little bit too floppy, and a little bit too floury tasting for me.  I want to stress the phrase 'a little bit' in both of those criticisms.  Because it really was by a hair.  Basically, this is not a slice that's gonna make you shit your pants, but it is kind of like the prototypical, exceptional but not amazing, way above average street slice.  A-.

This place would be a great element in a good cheap date.  Imagine this: we take the train up to 191, walk through the rad tunnel, admiring the murals.  Next we stroll around drinking surreptitious beers and make out on a bench in that park on 189th and Broadway.  I am so clever and charming and I know so much about the city.  Then we walk down to this adorable little hole in the wall, Rap Pizza, and get a slice, then go walk around on the George Washington Bridge for a while and like, spit in the river or something.  Afterwards we head to this great dive bar I know, where you buy the first round, since I got the pizza.  I'll ask for an expensive whiskey drink and then when it's my turn to buy a round, I'll get you a Coors Light despite the fact that you wanted a Tanqueray Greyhound.  The entire time we're hanging out I'll talk incessantly about my band, and how big my blog is getting.  I'll never ask about you, and whenever you figure out a way to get a couple words in, I'll find some reason to interrupt you and bring the conversation back to me again.  For some reason, against your better judgment, you'll invite me back to your house.  I'll hail us a cab that you'll end up paying for.  When we get to your place, you'll excuse yourself for a minute and I'll start drinking any of your booze I can find.  By the time we make out, I'll be so drunk I basically just slobber all over you and then fall asleep.  In the morning, when I wake up, I'll tell you that I "don't think it's going to work out."  In the future, if I ever see you out in public while I'm with my friends, I'll point at you and tell them we "totally did it."  Sadly for all of you, dear readers, I've got a bit too much on my plate to date anyone right now.  What with the band, this blog, really important political projects, and working two jobs, I've just got no time for romance.  C'est la vie, it's the world's loss, not mine.

Rap Pizza
1422 Saint Nicholas Ave # 2
New York, NY 10033-4051

Friday, August 28, 2009

Fivo Pizza: "Ooooh, that looks gooood"

That's what Kevin said when we got our slice. By the time we got to , we had eaten 7 slices already and were NOT in the mood for another, but since we were right there, we decided to just go for it. First things first, this place looked amazing:

No sign anywhere mentioning the name of the place. Just a simple facade and neon letters in the window. This pizzeria does not need to try to impress anyone. Because the slice is so damn good. Check it out:

I was just talking with a buddy the other day about the possible drawbacks of this whole venture. The week prior I went to nine places or something, and none of them had a totally amazing slice. I started thinking that maybe I had developed some notion in my head of what that perfect slice might be, and it was based more on childhood nostalgia than real life. Maybe I was on an impossible mission. The mythic, perfect pizza in my head didn't even exist in the real world, and all I could possibly do by continuing my journey would be to disappoint myself and possibly ruin all the potential Good Pizza in the world by trying to get it to measure up to some unreachable standard. I thought perhaps I was using the same mechanism that our culture uses to try and make women hate themselves as a weapon again one of my only true loves, pizza.

But then I ate this slice. And GODDAMN! Everything was perfect. Salty enough, sweet enough, tangy enough. The textures were unbelievable. Perfect crunch on the bottom, halfway congealed cheese on top, a squirt of sauce in the middle but nothing too drippy. I didn't want to eat any more pizza when I got to Fivo, and by the time I was done I almost ordered a second slice. I will definitely come back to this place.

Fivo Pizza
804 W 187th St
New York, NY 10033-1218

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Washington Heights Mediocre Slice Redux

- $2.50
If my grandma were alive to read what I'm about to say she'd plotz, but I don't think Jews can make good pizza, although, granted, this is the first Kosher slice I've had yet. I read somewhere that Kosher pizza will never be good because the Kosher cheese doesn't have the same fat content and the tomatoes aren't good. At least we invented .

My review of this slice will be one sentence long but will sum up everything: it tastes like burnt Elio's.

- $2.00
The crust looks amazing and this slice has great ratios. Otherwise, forget it because the sauce is waaay too sweet, the dough is so dry I felt like a guy in a cowboy movie stuck in the desert for a week with a mouth full of sand, and the crust, though excellently textured, was a major Flavor Vacuum. Worse than not tasting like anything, it tasted like less than nothing. Like a black hole. Kevin said this slice tasted like "diet pizza."


- $2.00
Undercooked slice with too much cheese. The dough was rubbery and dense. Kevin pointed out that it was the same texture as the cheese. Blegh.

- $2.00
I almost want to go back here because the guy behind the counter was such a sweetheart. The slice here was the best of this bunch, which isn't saying much. The dough was incredible. Totally perfect. Biting into the crust was like biting into a soft pretzel or a bagel. However, the cheese looked like it had been sitting out all day, which tastes crappy, and tells me they're not really moving slices. To top it off there was like, no sauce on the damn thing. If I lived in this neighborhood I would try this place again a couple more times. It seems like they could've just been having a bad day.


My kid sister just emailed me this excerpt from :
When I was a boy I used to love pizza, and whenever my father took me to the pizzeria I'd order two slices. And I'd sit and he'd watch me wolfing down the first slice with my eyes on the second. I wasn't even tasting that first slice. And one day my father said to me, 'Son, you need to learn that while you're eating the first slice of pizza, eat the first slice of pizza. Because right now you're eating the second slice before you've finished the first.'

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

West 190 Pizza/Arcade Pizzeria: "Check out that cop's eyebrows."

This place looks like a perfect pizzeria. In my ideal New York, which is equal parts , and , every pizza place would look like some variation of :

That Lemonade and Fruit Punch have probably been spinning in those machines since my Grandma Sylvia came through Ellis Island, fleeing the bad pizza and mediocre knishes of Nazi-occupied Poland. Notice the grease stains on that old newspaper-clipping documenting some spurious, pro-pizza, health science of yesteryear. A pizza shop should be a little messy and chaotic, not streamlined and well-groomed like that cop's eyebrows.

Despite the fact that there was nary a seat in the entire establishment, the guy behind the counter asked me if I'd like my pizza to stay or to go. "To stay," of course, and I handed the guy my $2.00. The slice was WAAAAY too hot to eat when I got it, which is a great sign that the slice will be adequately crispy. After a torturous waiting period staring at what looked like an awesome slice, I took a tentative first bite and slapped my forehead, because the slice was still definitely too hot, AND I had forgotten to take a picture of it before biting in. It just looked that good. So here is a picture of my soiled slice:

The thing that I noticed as soon as I picked the slice up was how greasy and soggy it was. The whole slice hung flaccid in my hands, and the cheese sagged loose over the bread like the skin on an old man's legs. But here's the thing: sometimes it's just time for a soggy, greasy slice. If it's done right, it can really hit the spot. But when the pizza is already mediocre and it also suffers from texture deficiencies, that's when things get rough. Despite being a soggy mess, this slice looked and smelled great.

And the first half of the slice was great, albeit a little too sweet. The textures and ratios were perfect. The floppiness I had initially noted when picking the slice up was a result of the soggy foundation being unable to support the firm and crisp apex. Because aside from the slightly overwhelming sweetness, the beginning of the slice was AMAZING. And while the middle was somewhat lackluster, the very end of the slice was this amazing, greasy, gooey mess that I couldn't help but love. It was like how I imagine Pizza In A Cup, which apparently nearly exists as I read recently that someone's selling .

All in all, I wouldn't rush back there, but it was a decent enough slice for $2.oo and the atmosphere and people watching we excellent. I give this place a solid B.

Arcade Pizza
1611 Saint Nicholas Avenue
New York, NY 10040

Heights Pizza: "I am at a loss for words regarding how good this slice is"

After we left The Son of Pizza Delia, we walked a little ways to find the next couple places. I'd never really been to that part of Washington Heights before, so it was a real pleasure to walk around and look at the buildings and shit. There's way more hills, and a lot steeper, than I am accustomed to in other parts of Manhattan or New York City in general. Either way, we shlepped up this huge winding hill. I almost felt like we were in San Francisco, and when we got to the top, and turned onto St. Nick, was staring us right in the face.

I was immediately dismayed by the awning. It's one of these new vinyl computer printout awnings that have absolutely no character or soul and were probably designed by students in the graphic design program at Apex Technical Institute. (Not to badmouth Apex, I have plenty of buddies who learned trades there, but I can only imagine the kind of rote graphic design churned out in that type of environment, like the art schools they used to advertise in the back of EC Comics.) Really, the place was hideous.

The inside didn't look much better. Bare walls, no music, no real ambience of any kind besides the bad vibes being given off by the two surly pizzamen. The depths of our respective hangovers were starting to settle in and Kevin and I could barely mutter a word to one another. And then we got our slice:

And what a slice it was. $2.00 had just bought me and Kevin a little taste of heaven. I took the first bite and it was as near perfect as it could be short of it's only existing as the waking recollections of a fleeting pizza dream. The dough, made and cooked perfectly, was probably a centimeter thick throughout the slice and maybe 1.5-2 cm at the crust. The very bottom was a layer of perfectly crisp perfection, segueing into a beautifully soft sponge of dough. The sauce was adequately sweet, but still retained a fair amount of the natural tartness and tang of the tomatoes. And the cheese was solid and congealed enough to properly contain the moist interior of the slice, but it was still warm and gooey enough to slide apart in my mouth with every bite. Slices like this make all the mediocre and bad pizza I have and am bound to continue eating worth it. This is an A+ slice.

Heights Pizza
1624 Saint Nicholas Ave
New York, NY 10040
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