Almost a year ago I gave up eating dairy. Obviously, since fire is hot, and the sky is blue and cheese is one of the best things in life, it really sucked. Health-wise the difference has been nothing short of transformative but cheese is still amazing, and pizza in New York is one of the most delightful and cheapest things in life.
The pizza landscape in New York is a constantly changing beast. One week the trend is a Neopolitan brick oven in the East Village, the next it’s Lucali’s woodfired pies in Carrol Gardens. We could stand here forever debating Grimaldi’s versus DiFaro’s or whether Franny’s pizza is a contender being kinda expensive and relatively new, but this post isn’t about the best pizza pie, it’s about the best slice which is an entirely different animal.
Being drunk in the city and getting a slice before heading home or to another bar is one of the greatest nightlife traditions in NYC, particularly downtown where the amount of late night pizza shops is rivaled only by the amount of sidewalk masturbators. The perfect slice has a thin, crispy crust, a good amount of tangy tomato sauce and a thin, salty layer of cheese on top. If you want to add pepperoni or some basic vegetable topping, fine, but any more than that and you’re marring the integrity of the slice. It’s a basic, simple thing that should only be improved upon with a shaker of red pepper flakes and oregano. Behold, below my top 5 slice picks, in REVERSE order.
TIP: If you’re not in some terrible rush, always ask the guy to make your slice “extra hot”. It crispens up the crust and melts the cheese a little more, reactivating that pizza magic!
5. Pizza Box , Bleecker and Sullivan
This spot is great for a late night slice because they have this huge back garden, inexplicably, they serve beer and there’s always plenty of hilarious Eurotrash or hammered NYU kids to amuse you while you enjoy.
4. Nino’s, Ave A and St Marks
This place used to be my absolute favorite but over the past couple of years things have kinda gone off the rails over there. The pizza’s still solid, but the cheese tastes cheaper and I don’t know if my palate just got more refined or what, but it’s not quite the same. That said, it’s by far the best in the far-East Village and conveniently located near Tompkins Square park and a number of sketchy drug dealers.
3. Artichoke, 14th between 1st and 2nd
I know I said I wasn’t going to talk about any gimmicky pizza, but Artichoke does have the traditional tomato-basil-mozzarella combo, but their claim to fame is the amazing rich and delicious artichoke pizza. I don’t know what’s on it, and even if I did I don’t think it would sound good, but people it’s insane. There is no better slice if you are in the area post-marijuana experience. You need to have this in your mouth.
2. Village Pizza, 8th ave between 13th and 14th street
This was right down the street from my old office and I always felt lucky that I had such an awesome option for cheap lunch nearby, considering everything else in the West Village/Meatpacking district area was so absurdly expensive. It’s simple, it’s delicious, the guys who work there are incredibly sweet and you might even see Julianne Moore and her kids grabbing a slice to go.
1. Bleecker Street Pizza, Bleecker and 7th Avenue
My absolute favorite ever. Always perfect, and the sauce has this tangy spiciness and no matter what I tell myself before I go in I inevitably leave with two slices in my stomach. The space is a little cramped but when the food’s this good who gives a shit? Plain slice, extra hot with red pepper, garlic and oregano. Ask the trannys, tourists and Jersey douchebags who are lined up out the door. It doesn’t get any better this.
Or DOES it? ? I realize my list is unfairly biased towards the Village, but that’s where most of my pizza eating usually went down.
Where do you, dear reader, like to go for a slice?
Photo courtesy of Newyorklogue.com