A Taste Test of FREE Pizza Options in NYC
Two weeks ago while at Lulu‘s listening to The Fear and Trembling live, I savored my delicious free pizza. I stared at my empty tin round and started to wonder if this truly was the best deal in town. Turns out that the other 3 places I know of with free pizza, Crocodile Lounge, The Charleston and Alligator Lounge, are all owned by the same people. Granted, I love the pizza’s I’ve had at those places but I know they couldn’t be the only game in town. I enlisted a decent Google search and my friend Kate, and off we went on a free pizza adventure.
First Stop: Enoteca (347 Court Street – Brooklyn)
Kate met me at Enoteca after a trip to the gym. She knew she’d need it with all the carb-o-licious food we were about to enjoy. The staff was super friendly and, even though there wasn’t a bartender, they let us sit at the bar so we could enjoy the special. The place itself has an inviting dark wood decor. Kate suggested starting our jaunt with something sweeter and the waiter let us swap in a glass of sangria ($9) for the requisite draft pint ($5). The price was steep but the cinnamon sweet taste was totally worth it (and hey, we still got the pizza!). Our very authentic looking mini-pie came out after a little wait and we were ravenous. It was a saucier pizza but the mozzarella was fresh and the basil in the center was a nice surprise. It was delicious.
Next Stop: Crocodile Lounge (325 East 14th Street – East Village)
It was still early in the afternoon when we got to Crocodile Lounge. We were worried because from the outside, it looked like it may be closed. Luckily, we were mistaken! It was, however, virtually empty when we first got there. The bartender was quick to pour us two pints of Abita Light ($5) and regale us with some history of Irish surnames from a very large anthology he was reading. I took our red tickets to the pizza man for a cheese pie that was all ready for the taking. Thin, crusty and definitely large enough to split, the pizza was quite satisfying. Crocodile (as well as its sister bars) offers the option of toppings for either $1 or $2 extra. And they have Trivia Wednesdays and Bingo Thursdays. Games and cheesy pies.: great combination.
Uptown to: Pizza Pub (294 3rd Avenue – Murray Hill)
The name of this place says it all: Pizza Pub is a balanced mixture of a pizza parlor and a pub in the craziest possible way. We weren’t sure how exactly to take in the atmosphere. They are also the one place that has the most variation on the free pizza special: $5 for a draft and a slice, $24 for a pitcher and a large pie, and $27 for an entire bottle of wine and a large pie. OR you can get a slice with a shot. However, there is little room for negotiation. We tried to finesse our way into a glass of wine ($6) but there was no sympathy. The slice itself was mediocre at best but the size of the slice was great. The place is probably best for groups who could use a whole lot of pizza. It definitely wasn’t the bar atmosphere we were hoping for.
Last stop: Emporio (231 Mott Street – NoLiTa)
For the last stop, we chose someplace more upscale. Emporio only offers pizza during their (very short) happy hour from 5-6:30pm. Low-lit and romantic, we felt slightly out of place trying to cash in on free pizza. The couple making out next to us didn’t seem to mind though. The deal, price-wise, was the best so far. Glasses of house wine and pints of Peroni are $4.50 and there is always a chance of a variation added on to the freebie, like salami or olives. The pizza itself is a little reminiscent of Chef Boyardee but the wine is delicious, as was the salami. I’d probably go back with a significant other though (sorry Kate!).
Overall: We thought the winner was Enoteca. Atmosphere, service and pizza – plusses across the board. But honestly, when it comes down to it, we’ll take free pizza from any place that will give it to us.
Photo Credit: Me