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THE BEST: NYC Pizza Favorites


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Fornino operates in the same stylistic space as Keste, which is to say new-Neapolitan style pizza.

Can you explain what you mean by "New-Neapolitan", Sam? To me, Keste is pretty darn old-Neapolitan.

Keste's crust treatment strikes me as fairly traditional, but not so much all of their toppings. It's a fine line with Keste, though, I will admit. I put them as "new-Neapolitan" mostly because they don't seem caught up in dogma and creating a replica product.

Makes sense. I suppose my choice to ignore those toppings (butternut squash, truffle spread, etc) doesn't mean they don't exist. :cool:

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Motorino is the place that charges $34 per pizza, right? It'll be a cold day in Hell before I pay those kinds of prices!

Actually, I believe it's Lucali that's charging those prices. Motorino's are more in line with the $10 - $15 per pie; as a matter of fact, their menu only shows one pie at $16.

On what basis is Lucali charging anywhere near $34 for a pizza? As far as I can tell their base pizza is either 18 or 19 bucks for a large (18-inch) pizza. V&T, a decidedly mediocre pizzeria in my neighborhood, charges 15 bucks for a large pizza. Well, call me crazy, but I think 3 or 4 dollars is well worth the upgrade in quality for a large pizza. V&T also charges 3 bucks for each topping added to a large pizza. Do we have any evidence that Lucali is charging significantly more for similar-quality additional toppings? Of course, if they're making an 18-inch pizza with white truffles shaved over it or something, it's going to be a lot more expensive.

IMO, the ridiculously high priced pizzeria is Una Pizza Napoletana, charging $21 for a Neapolitan-sized pizza margherita. Not to mention that, at 5 bucks a slice, DiFara is getting $30 for a pizza. And that's assuming he cuts it into only 6 slices and not 8. If he cuts it into 8 slices, he's getting 40 bucks for a pizza! Surely no one is suggesting that a DiFara pizza at $0 bucks is "worth the money" but a hypothetical $34 pizza at Lucali is a "rip off"? These two positions seem incompatible, unless you believe that Lucalu's product is far inferior to DiFara's (not to mention believing that gold drips from Dom DeMarco's hands).

1- DiFara is $5/slice but $25 for a 8 slice pie (unless tupac is sure its still $20... I think its now $25, but could be wrong). The pie is pretty much the same size as most other local pizza places, maybe a little smaller. Certainly smaller than places like Artichoke (which I cant stand).

2- I took folks' word for the Lucali price being in the $30s since I havent been there for a year or so but, regardless, the pies I've eaten there are not equivalent to DiFara or Franny's (it's stylistically in between but shares the use of very quality ingredients with these 2 others).

Edited by Steve R. (log)
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DiFara is $5/slice but $25 for a 8 slice pie (unless tupac is sure its still $20... I think its now $25, but could be wrong).

I could easily be wrong, as well. But I do know those were the prices as of 6/14.

Serious Eats reports it at $25 as well http://slice.seriouseats.com/archives/2009...to-mondays.html

I guess my timing last month was just right, then. I mean, the pizza is good, but not thaaat good.

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So, if I'm reading this correctly, DiFara is charging $25 for a whole plain pizza (or $40 if sold by the slice) versus Lucali charging around $19 for a margherita, and we've got people complaining about Lucali's prices?

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Motorino is the place that charges $34 per pizza, right? It'll be a cold day in Hell before I pay those kinds of prices!

Actually, I believe it's Lucali that's charging those prices. Motorino's are more in line with the $10 - $15 per pie; as a matter of fact, their menu only shows one pie at $16.

On what basis is Lucali charging anywhere near $34 for a pizza? As far as I can tell their base pizza is either 18 or 19 bucks for a large (18-inch) pizza.

I dunno - I just quoted Bruni from the Times' article...doesn't he do his homework?

Many give the crown to Lucali, which opened in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, in 2006, and charges $34 (cash only!) for a pie with cheese, tomato, pepperoni and mushrooms.

Or, you can read some of the comments at menupages...one commenter wrote:

We ordered one pie (18 inch) and a few toppings (mushrooms, shallots, peppers) and the bill came out to 30 bucks!!

Another:

My pizza cost $41 after three toppings.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

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It's actually surprizingly difficult to get a real bead on what Lucali is charging. The menupages listing gives the base price as $18, as does Peter Meehan's November 2006 piece, which says: "PRICE RANGE Pizzas, $18, calzones, $10. Toppings or fillings $2 to $3.50."

On the other hand, a menupages commenter in January 2009 says that the base price for a plain pizza is $24. That's a pretty steep increase in price over only 26 months. Let's assume that is the current price. Steep? Sure.

On the other hand, the reported prices for Lucali seem to be roughly commensurate with what DiFara is charging. DiFara's base price are $25 for a regular pizza and $30 for a square pizza, with toppings running $3 to $5 depending on how fancy they are.

So, for example, a square pizza with artichoke from DiFara will run you 35 bucks. Of course, he's getting 40 bucks for a plain pizza when he sells it by the slice, or as much as $56 for a "specialty topping" pizza sold by the slice at 7 bucks each.

I think it's interesting that someone would say it's a cold day in hell before they pay those prices. Pan, I guess you've had your last slice from DiFara?

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[...]IMO, the ridiculously high priced pizzeria is Una Pizza Napoletana, charging $21 for a Neapolitan-sized pizza margherita.[...]

Which is why I've never gone there and have no plan to ever go there.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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It's actually surprizingly difficult to get a real bead on what Lucali is charging.  The menupages listing gives the base price as $18, as does Peter Meehan's November 2006 piece, which says: "PRICE RANGE Pizzas, $18, calzones, $10. Toppings or fillings $2 to $3.50."

On the other hand, a menupages commenter in January 2009 says that the base price for a plain pizza is $24.  That's a pretty steep increase in price over only 26 months.  Let's assume that is the current price.  Steep?  Sure.

On the other hand, the reported prices for Lucali seem to be roughly commensurate with what DiFara is charging.  DiFara's base price are $25 for a regular pizza and $30 for a square pizza, with toppings running $3 to $5 depending on how fancy they are.

So, for example, a square pizza with artichoke from DiFara will run you 35 bucks.  Of course, he's getting 40 bucks for a plain pizza when he sells it by the slice, or as much as $56 for a "specialty topping" pizza sold by the slice at 7 bucks each.

I think it's interesting that someone would say it's a cold day in hell before they pay those prices.  Pan, I guess you've had your last slice from DiFara?

I actually haven't been to DiFara in at least a year. I really don't have the time, and have very good pizza options closer to home.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Time for some updates here! I'll be in the city in a few weeks and I want to eat some pizza. You just can't get pizza worth eating where I live right now. I'm particularly interested in crust-centric pies and coal ovens, but I could branch out. Stick with the old standards? Patsy's?  Lombardi's? Grimaldi's? Anyplace new that seems worth investigating, like Co.?

To my mind, the best pie in NY is the Margherita from Una Pizza Napoletana. It's got a tremendous charred flavor, is made with a generous amount of Buffalo Mozzarela, and the "wetness" of the pie out of the oven (at first somewhat offputting) goes to great use when eating the fluffy crust. The balance of everything is, to my mind, perfect.

The only problem is the wait. On a Friday evening, it can be 2+ hours from the time you get in line to the time a pizza is placed in front of you. The man does not hurry for any reason, you can sit in the restaurant for well over an hour with nothing to eat, just watching him bake pies 2 or sometimes 3 at a time. When you start eating, you can appreciate why (just be prepared for the wait).

Given the wait, and the limited days/hours of UPN I probably eat more often at Keste, where the pizzaiolo will at least put some pep in his step when it's busy, and where they have something for you to eat while/if you wait. The best pies at Keste are (to my mind anyways) not the plain ones, but the very very rich ones - ones you pretty much need to share. Same style of pizza in theory, but to my taste, each is better at something radically different.

I wouldn't fuss over the old school pie places, although I guess I would pick John's on Bleecker over the rest.

Edited by sickchangeup (log)
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Just when you thought it was safe to...

Spike Mendelsohn, he of Top Chef "fame," weighs in on a bit of the pizza scene in NYC. Seems as if he is (god help us) opening a pizzeria in DC, next to his hamburger place.

In today's NY Times Style section,, he has this to say about UPN...

"I was sad when I found out that this is what Neapolitan pizza really is,” he said. “I always heard about the high heat, the minimal ingredients. I thought that the pizza was thin. It’s soggy.”

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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I am rather old and live in the sticks, but I cannot imagine paying $7.00 for a slice nor waiting two hours, no matter how good the pizza may be.

"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well." - Virginia Woolf

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New York Magazine, in its current Cheap Eats issue, weighs in with a gut busting article in said issue, entitled:

The Great New York Neoclassical Neapolitan Pizza Revolution - The definitive handbook to the biggest thing to happen to pizza in this town since delivery.

Whew - didn't know if I'd be able to get that out.

The article starts off by stating:

New York pizza isn’t what it used to be. It’s better. Better than in its slice-joint heyday in the fifties. Better than anything Gennaro Lombardi pulled out of his coal oven at the turn of the last century.

which is a pretty bold statement. Were the authors (Robin Raisfeld & Rob Patronite) around to seriously sample slices in the fifties. Jeez, that's even before my time. Well, barely. And I have a feeling old Gennaro might've pulled some pretty damn tasty pies out of his oven in 1905 or so.

Let's not quibble. I just want to say that if you're going to have a poll called Where's the best slice in the city?, then you can't have places that DO NOT SELL SLICES.

Otherwise, an informative piece...they rate their top 20 pizza places in the city, and Lucali's, Totonon's, Arturo's, John's, etc. are all not on the list.

I've got to eat more pizza, I think.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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1. Keste

2. UPN

3. Franny's

4. Co.

5. Zero Otto Nove

6. Luzzo’s

7. Veloce Pizzeria

8. Motorino

9. La Pizza Fresca

10. Di Fara Pizza

Wait, what? Luzzo's does not deserve to be on the list that high, and Veloce was overwhelmingly heavy when I went a few weeks ago.

And supposedly both are better than Di Fara? Hmm.

"I'll put anything in my mouth twice." -- Ulterior Epicure
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1. Keste

2. UPN

3. Franny's

4. Co.

5. Zero Otto Nove

6. Luzzo’s

7. Veloce Pizzeria

8. Motorino

9. La Pizza Fresca

10. Di Fara Pizza

Wait, what? Luzzo's does not deserve to be on the list that high, and Veloce was overwhelmingly heavy when I went a few weeks ago.

And supposedly both are better than Di Fara? Hmm.

I have critcisms of Veloce, but I did not find the crust to be heavy or dense.

I had problems with the pizza, because I found the crust to be a little limp and soggy on the Margherita slices, which kind of nullified the even char that they had on the bottom. I liked the carmelized cheese at the edges and at the crust, but overall the tomato sauce was a little lost on the pie and did not have a bright acidic flavor that I expected.

Overall, it was a tasty slice that warrants a visit if you are in the neighborhood, but I do not feel it belongs on the "best in city" lists that have been circulating as of late. I kind of feel that some of the great ratings are based on the fact that since all the critics like Sara Jenkins and her roast pork sandwiches, and her track record with other ventures, that they have got to give her some extra love on the pizza.

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  • 2 weeks later...
You might also want to look at http://www.pizzaovens.com/specifications/m...s/woodtogas.htm

It's an article by someone who sells pizza ovens for a living.  He points out that wood burns drier than gas, and that a wood burning oven will produce a drier pizza than a wood burning one.  I'm also somewhat doubtful that wood is very consistent, and that someone can always get good enough wood that will always burn hotter than gas.  Coal is much hotter than wood or gas, and there was an article in the NYT I think recently about that.  In any case, the oven isn't a big point, unless you like charred pizzas from a coal oven (I don't).

More specifically, it is an article by someone who sells gas pizza ovens for a living, and has a vested interest in making it seem like gas can compete with wood and coal. It is also worthy of note that he is not talking about regular gas deck pizza ovens. These are special (and very expensive) ovens specifically designed to mimic wood burning pizza ovens. The one argument he makes for gas with which I completely agree is that "you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to master a wood-burning oven, but getting things right does require a bit of training and labor, which many employers are reluctant to provide." A lack of training does go a long way to explain the mediocre pizza some of the wood and coal places serve. But the bulk of his argument seems to be that wood fired ovens are the best, but these special gas fired "faux wood" ovens are almost as good and a lot simpler to use.

The bottom line is this: standard gas-fired pizza ovens go up to a maximum of 550F, whereas a properly fired coal- or wood-fired masonry pizza oven will be between 750F and 840F. This is a huge and significant difference, and as a result there are things that are possible with a coal- or wood-fired masonry pizza oven that are simply not possible with a gas-fired oven. This fact alone suggests that that the assertion "ovens are basically ovens" cannot possibly be true unless one believes that there is no difference between 550F and 750F when it comes to making pizza.

Now... different does not necessarily mean better, depending on one's tastes. A medium thick, "Ray's style" pizza cannot be made well in a hot coal- or wood-fired oven. So, for someone for whom pizza is mostly about the toppings and lots of them, the oven makes much less difference since they're all going to be using standard gas-fired deck pizza ovens at right around the same temperature.

It's always good to remember the Q10 rule in biochemistry and one that applies generally to single step chemical reactions that a 10C increase in temperature doubles the reaction rates.

Which is why a pressure cooker though only increasing temperature from 100C to 120C makes cooking time a mere fraction of the regular cooking time.

It makes a huge difference in terms of what the skilled Pizzaiola can do.

Edited by sxr71 (log)
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Bumping this up - what's the deal with Luzzo's - Daniel seemed to really like it.

Also, anyone try a slice at Vinny Vincenz, also on 1st Avenue?

Yes, I have and frankly was really disappointed. They usually are okay, not great, but the time I went it was just bad. Enough to not bother going there again.

I think for slices the Margherita slice at 33rd and 3rd is among the best for slices. Nice balance of crust, sauce, cheese and basil. Surprisingly good for a reheated slice, and for a place that owes its existence to the bars of the that area to serve drunken crowds who in their drunkeness couldn't tell the difference. Anyway, just to be sure they don't lower the quality for the drunken crew, I would go before midnight.

I haven't tried the new locations that have sprung up.

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Hey Sam - not to reignite the flame (pardon the pun) but I was over at Grimaldi's on Sunday, shooting some pictures for a guidebook for a Japanese client. They actually "service" the oven again around 4pm, so you _can_ go pre-dinner time and it will be blazing hot. Not sure if we discussed that but we should clarify. . Anyway I got a bunch of pictures, sorry can't be more concise but here are the unretouched -

http://www.raji.com/photoshare/110705grimaldis/index.htm

I love their roasted peppers, so I love their antipasto, and I gotta say, once again the Margherita was consistently great, never the leaden crust, but the airy light crust, cornicione that you lovingly mention. Anyway I got some good snaps there, I love the one of the oven!!! See if you can find it.

Oh yes, good point. Get there around 4 and you will have to wait as they reheat that oven, but the pies that come out from that newly reheated oven are simply great. That is by far the best time to go.

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We shared two incredibly good pies at Zero Otto Nove this past Sunday after the Bronx Zoo. We thought a little spice would be nice so we decided on the the Diavola ($14.95) – a spicy sc of San Marzano tomatoes, fresh mozz and spicy sopressata. To balance it, La Riccardo ($13.95) – butternut squash puree, smoked mozz, pancetta and basil. The Diavola sc and sopressata made for a nice kick. Maybe the spiciest pie I’ve had. And the ingredients were excellent as well the crust beautiful. Thin, forgiving, soft and crispy. Almost pita like in some spots which might turn some off but we loved it. Very good pie. If I had to complain I’d say it may be a bit salty for some but that’s mostly due to the sopressata I believe. The butternut squash pie was just crazy good. The way the smoked mozz balanced the sweet squash and then the pancetta lingering with the fresh basil was ridiculously good. The portioning and quantity of the fresh mozz was spot on avoiding excessive moisture. Looking forward to going back for the Cirilo - butternut squash, truffle cream, mushrooms and fresh mozz.

gallery_36244_6718_55024.jpg

That wasn't chicken

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Thanks for the report, Eatmywords. Have you tried the Pizza del Papa (butternut squash cream, smoked mozzarella, artichoke) at Keste? If so, how did it compare to La Riccardo at Zero Otto Nove?

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Thanks for the report, Eatmywords. Have you tried the Pizza del Papa (butternut squash cream, smoked mozzarella, artichoke) at Keste? If so, how did it compare to La Riccardo at Zero Otto Nove?

I have not had the pleasure of trying Keste, Co or most of the popular newcomers. Franny's is the only one if you put them in that group. I thought it was pretty good, not great. Nice crust but a bit sparse on the toppings and dry if I remember correctly (Sneak will probably execute me for saying that). I would certainly love to try Keste. Since we moved from Manhattan to the Bronx (to accomodate the baby in the pot) we don't get in as much. Would be fun to get a group up and sample all 18 Keste pies. :raz:

That wasn't chicken

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