Featured Pizza: “The Rustica” At Manducatis Rustica In Long Island City

Manducatis has been a Long Island City stalwart almost uninterrupted since 1959. No one is saying it’s the City’s best Italian. But there is still something fun about walking through its non-descript door and into the cascading dining rooms that each feel like secrets. Development may have infiltrated Long Island City, but Manducatis’ owners, the Cerbones, have made their own progress in the past two years. Namely, when their daughter, chef Gianna Cerbone opened her Italian café nearby: Manducatis Rustica.

There is a doll-house, but thrown together quality to Rustica’s decor. An old oven. Mismatching chairs. Brick walls. There’s a large open doorway to the kitchen. The layout takes a cue from Manducatis, with a working fireplace in the back of the first dining room.

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New York’s Battle Of The Pizza Cones

K! Pizzacone is getting the kind of opening day publicity that most restaurants would kill for. We almost ended up on Japanese television this morning just by stopping in for a Breakfast Pizza. Cone-steria indeed. In anticipation of getting a first taste this morning, we visited Rio Bonito last night to have their Pizza in the Cone fresh in our minds. Let the battle of the Pizza Cones commence!

We visited Rio Bonito (the fantastic Brazilian grocery in Astoria), with the same spirit of discovery that I Dream of Pizza visited with last August. We also wanted to love the Pizza Cone! And while the cheese wasn’t rancid, we did notice similar issues.

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First Look: Totonno’s Reopens

Frank Ciminieri filled the fridge with small bottles of wine while talking about how much he loves Cash Cab, “I watch it for two hours in the morning when I wake up and two hours at night.”

His sister, Cookie, bemoaned the lack of mirrors in the restaurant and said, “We need some music in here.” So a customer obliged by singing Louis Prima in between taking pictures on his iPhone. Eleven months after a fire shut it down, Totonno’s is back.

The large cheese pie ($19.50) was delicious. The center crust was as thin as the styrofoam plate it sat on, the edge’s crust was light, airy, and delicate, and the upskirt was covered with wonderful, large raised flecks. That thinness created a ratio of cheese and sauce that even makes sauce-monkeys happy. And with the opening, making New Yorkers happy with pizza will be routine once again in Coney Island.

Good luck, Totonno’s. Welcome back.

Totonno’s Pizzeria Napolitana
1524 Neptune Ave.,
Brooklyn, NY, 11224
Phone: (718) 372-8606
Subway: F, Q (W 8 St – NY Aquarium)

This post was originally published February 12th, 2010, on the now-defunct, James-Beard Award-nominated blog AlwaysHungryNY.com.

5 Best Clam Pizzas In New York City

You can’t talk about clam pizzas without mentioning the New Haven, Connecticut, clam pie maestro Frank Pepe, but until it makes its way to Manhattan, you have to look to lesser practitioners (there’s no shame in being in this shadow). We tried clam pizzas all over town, and in the end, found these five to be the briniest, juiciest, clam pies around.

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Spatola Latticini Factory: Queens Mozzarella From Factory To Plate

You can find great mozzarella and great pizza in New York. But restaurants that make mozzarella from scratch to put on their pizza? That’s another story. When Franco Spatola offered a factory to plate demonstration in Queens, we couldn’t resist.

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Empire Slice Of Mind: Best Pizza Near The Empire State Building

The Empire State Building is one of New York City’s defining symbols. So nearby it you might expect to find a fantastic slice of this great metropolis’ defining food. But as one local doorman advised, “I’m from the Bronx so I know, most of the pizza around here tastes like cardboard!”

It was a Midtown challenge worth investigating. Since the closing of Giuseppe’s we counted fourteen pizzerias within a two-block radius of the Empire State Building (36th to 32nd streets, north to south; and Park to 7th avenues). That’s without venturing inside the Manhattan Mall, and including Rosa’s Pizza, which is actually in the Empire State Building.

While technically Sbarro and Pizza Hut are pizza places, most self-respecting New Yorkers wouldn’t consider them representative slices (same goes for the California Pizza Kitchen, just outside the aforementioned boundaries).

Similarly, a Brazilian cone pizzaspot called K! Pizzacone is preparing to open nearby on Fifth Avenue. While it will be interesting to see how New Yorkers (and tourists) take to it, this taste-off to find the best ‘Empire Slice’ involved eating conventional, plain slices in each pizzeria.

Check out the top six slices below, and the full cast of cheesy characters.

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New Haven’s Best Apizza, Pie By Pie

Frank Pepe’s Yonkers location just recently opened so in honor of New Haven-style pizza coming to New York, we’re sharing our recent experience of trying New Haven’s three most well-known pizzerias on one day during a pizza club outing organized by pizza blogger, Jason Feirman of I Dream of Pizza. Continue reading New Haven’s Best Apizza, Pie By Pie

Frank Pepe’s “The Spot”

You’ve heard the clamor: the line, The Guardian’s declaration that it’s the best place in the world to eat pizza, and claims about them having the world’s best clam pie. The following recent five-pizza pie-by-pie meal is to honor the scheduled November 2nd opening in Yonkers (1955 Central Avenue) of New York’s first Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana.

If you have been to Pepe’s in New Haven, Connecticut, you know how to make a visit go smoothly (let someone else wait on line while you visit Libby’s Italian Pastry Shop nearby for cannoli cake). If you’re a pizza-lover and you haven’t been — the commotion, the huge ovens, the slicing methods, and the 10-foot long pizza peels are truly sites to behold.

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Lobstah Feast Friday At Rocky Sullivan’s In Red Hook

Rocky Sullivan’s is hooking up with Susan Povich and Ralph Gorman of Red Hook Lobster Pound who will be hosting their “Lobstah Feast” every Friday through the end of the year. Starting at 6 pm, $23 gets you corn, coleslaw or potato salad, a 1½-pound lobster, and dessert, first come first serve.

Last Friday was the inaugural feast. Susan Povich said the Pound teamed up with Rocky’s for several reasons, “Our business is in Red Hook, we live and work in Red Hook, Rocky’s has always been a great pub, and their deck is unbelievable.” She added that the owners “are real, great people, honest, full of integrity.”

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1933 Rollback And Pizza-Eating Contest At Patsy’s Pizzeria

“Try drinking a grape soda,” advised Ray Cabrera, 57, a lunch companion at Patsy’s Pizzeria during their 76th anniversary celebration in Harlem, “it keeps the weight off your chest.”

Ray should know the best way to eat pizza at Patsy’s — he has been doing it since he was 17. Today, he and his friend Tommie Kirk were taking a break from work to enjoy their lunch during the rollback to 1930’s prices, which Frank Brija, the owner of Patsy’s described as their way of “giving back to the community,” after being in the neighborhood for 76 years. Also on the docket later was a pizza-eating contest and the unveiling of a new street sign depicting the block on 1st Avenue as “Patsy’s Way.”

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