In a city defined by change and culture, there is one delicious (and cheap!) constant: the signature New York City pizza slice. Thin crunchy crust, perfectly balanced sauce with a sprinkle of cheese, and the character of crust bubbles to boot. This treat is an essential element of the New York experience – and now you’ve got a shortlist of spots to seek out with closeness to the city’s most significant venues. Here’s our guide to savoring an NYC staple surrounding your next live event.
Arguably the most famous pizzeria in the country, Di Fara represents the holy grail of old-world deliciousness. For decades, its Italian immigrant owner, Dom De Marco, lovingly made each and every pie himself. Crusts were carefully charred, olive oil drizzled just so, and scissor snips of basil finished things off. His kids are doing most of the work at this point, but there’s obviously something in their genes. Can’t choose between round and Sicilian square pies? Get one of each. Important note: Drooling customers line up at the small pizzeria shop for hours, especially on weekends, so plan accordingly.
For years a strong contender in New York’s ongoing Best Basic Slice competition, this joint located literally across the street from the Garden rarely disappoints. Expect a sauce with a hint of sweetness, a generous cheese portion, and a crisp crust at this dependable standby established by Italian immigrant Salvatore Riggio in 1964. And if you’re thinking “Sicilian,” opt for the thinner-crust Grandma variation.
New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells has been raving about this recent addition to the Upper West Side, writing that the shop’s classic cheese slice delivers “the traditional sidewalk pizza experience,” but “you will be tasting flavors you normally find only in high-minded sit-down pizzerias.” Owner Frank Tuttolomondo also sells formidably tall square slices somewhere between Sicilian pizza and Roman pizza al taglio. Options for these include pepperoni, cacio e pepe, and pear-Gorgonzola.
The latest offshoot of a classic East Harlem pizzeria specializing in the old-school, coal-oven pies you can find only in New York lies across the street from Barclays Center. Established by Pasquale “Patsy” Lancieri in 1933, Patsy’s pizza is a humble yet amazing creation that transforms unexceptional sauce and cheese into a transcendent experience thanks to an exceptionally soft and delicious crust. While the original location still sells slices, the full-service Park Slope franchise sells only whole pies with the usual options, along with a wide selection of pastas and entrees.
It’s well worth heading a few long blocks west of the Theater District to experience another critically acclaimed example of New York’s slice renaissance. There you’ll find Ivan Orkin’s Corner Slice inside the Gotham West Market, a far-West Side food hall. You’ll want to stick to, or at least start with, the basics. That means Orkin’s tomato slice, which blends canned and fresh tomatoes elevated by roasted garlic and Sicilian oregano. The crust – a crisp bottom supporting a chewy middle – is to die for, and the price is about the same as a subway ride.
One of New York’s very best bakeries makes a mean pizza, too. Likened to a “church of bread” by former Gourmet editor Ruth Reichl, baker Jim Lahey’s Hell’s Kitchen headquarters is great for sandwiches, breads, and pastries. His pizzas, though, combine overnight-risen bianca dough with no-frills toppings that give customers the swoons. This square-pan, Rome-style pizza al taglio is served by the slice and topped with cauliflower, potato, zucchini, mushrooms, or tomatoes. It’s then sliced off with scissors, and served at room temperature.
Midtown Manhattan being sadly bereft of quality pizza, head either uptown or downtown for individual Motorino pies famous for their chewy, perfectly charred crusts. The margherita – just tomato sauce, olive oil, sea salt, fior di latte, and pecorino cheeses – is the place to start. Motorino also makes a mean brussels sprout white pizza, if that’s your thing, while its clam version features fat cherrystones that will make pizza mavens nostalgic for the style’s New Haven origins.
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Another proud New York institution (populated with constant celebrity customers), John’s of Bleecker Street was established in 1929 by Italian immigrant John Sasso – just a quick few stops downtown from the F train station directly outside of Town Hall. The restaurant’s pair of coal-fired brick ovens churn out hundreds of pies per day. The crusts are crispy perfection, the cheese memorable, and the toppings above average. If you’re pizza’d out, go for the giant calzone. Fading murals and brusk service keep the New York ambience dialed high.