Introducing Best Pizza NYC: An Adventure in Pizza

New York City’s best pizza. I’m obsessed with it. There’s tremendous pizza in the city and yet, also some poor slices mucking up the bunch. With Best Pizza NYC I want to document great pizzerias, talk with pizza masters, get leads on pizza palaces and unheralded gems, and hopefully, help handicap others’ pizza adventures too.

Like most Americans, I’ve been in love with pizza as long as I can remember: eating it at Formica tables in booths as a kid in the 70s on Long Island, learning to live with substitutes for the real thing at Pizza Hut while living in Hong Kong in the 80s, settling for jumbo slices while attending Georgetown University in D.C. in the 90s, seeking out the best New York City has to offer in the 00s, and pizza-spelunking America’s icons, sleepers and of-the-moment meccas for the past eight years.

I’m truly happy when I’m seeking out a great slice, talking with pizza people, and burning the roof of my mouth. Walking down into the subway, lifting a leg over my bike and pedaling off down the block, turning a key in the ignition, and heading to the airport for storied pizza always gives me a little chill of excitement about the greatness I might be about to find.

What’s my pizza cred? I’ve written about pizza for The New York Times, Tasting Table, TimeOut New York, First We Feast, and for five years, I spearheaded The Daily Meal’s quest to determine America’s 101 best pizzas, an effort, I’m proud to say, to my knowledge canvassed more pizza experts than any publication ever.

I’ve tried to personally eat as many of America’s best pizzas as possible. All that pizza needs a place. Best Pizza NYC is that place.

Lists are a fact of life. TripAdvisor’s best this, Thrillist’s best that… Some are worth trusting. Many are easily dismissed. My gripe with most is lack of methodology. There’s a 50-word intro featuring clichés and little more when it comes to the how and why of the places chosen. That’s not good enough. Restaurant folks work hard. And pizza people are no different. The ones doing God’s work deserve as thorough an approach as any other great restaurant in America. Agree with the results of the lists I’ve curated or not, I’ve always made it my business to explain how they were created and made sure there was a how beyond, “there’s a place down my street,” even when there was a place down my street ;).

New York City is pizza’s birthplace. It’s also my home, and fortunately for me, home to some of the country’s best pizza and most talented pizzaiolos. Thus the name of the site. But New Yorkers shouldn’t get too cocky. There’s great pizza all across the country, often in unexpected places. And the scope of my pizza adventures isn’t limited by the borders of New York City.

While curating, I’ve tried to personally eat as many of America’s best pizzas as possible. All that pizza needs a place. Best Pizza NYC is that place.

— Arthur Bovino, 7/21/2016

New(er) Haven Pizza: Bru Room at Bar

When it comes to pizza in New Haven there are the classics and local favorites: Frank Pepe, Sally’s Apizza, and Modern Apizza. Not as well-known is the pizzeria across the street from the city’s other famed food institution, Louis’ Lunch. Bar’s Bru Room is much younger (since 1996) than New Haven’s storied pizzerias, but it’s another place to sample the city’s signature style. There are no less than 24 topping options. The most intriguing, the reason for a Bru Room visit, is mashed potatoes.

Before getting to the main event, there are a few requisite New Haven inspired pizza topping combinations to put up against renditions previously sampled at Pepe’s, Sally’s and Modern: the clam pie, the clam and bacon, and a red pie with shrimp.

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2010 New York City Pizza Run

Ready, set, go! Er, no, wait, eat! No! Run!

There may have been some confused passers-by and homeless people at Tompkins Square Park on Sunday, but the 65 people who gathered there at 11 o’clock in the morning knew the score. Four laps around the park (2.25 miles), with stops after three for a slice of pizza. It was the first annual New York City Pizza Run, an event conceived by pizza blogger, Jason Feirman (I Dream of Pizza).

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Le Fooding’s “Any Way You Slice It”

Any Way You Slice It, it was a New York Neapolitan pizza-lovers’ ultimate dream, a Le Fooding preview at Co. that featured some of the City’s hottest pizza-makers.

Representing Manhattan: Pulino’s Nate Appleman; Jim Lahey of Co. (the evening’s host); and Heather Carlucci of Print. Representing Brooklyn: Mathieu Palombino of Motorino, and Mark Iacono of Lucali. Five pizzas were paired with Rhône Valley Wines introduced by Blue Hill at Stone Barns’ sommelier, Thomas Carter.

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Kesté’s Insalata “Pizza Sandwich”

Last June, when Grub Street reported on the pizza wallet at Kesté Pizza & Vino, aka “the portfolio,” we took note with excitement — the Neapolitan pie goes portable! But we measured the ‘Neapolitan’ equivalent of New York’s street slice against the original with mixed results.

While they tasted good, wallets made with regular Kesté pies (they wouldn’t make minis), with toppings and without, eaten crust or tip first, either burst open or devolved into a mess of bread and cheese. Whether you were sitting or walking, it was a fail. A new innovation at Kesté, the “pizza sandwich,” had more promise.

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New York’s Best Pizza Brunch Is At Roberta’s In Brooklyn

The concrete jungle sizzles in summer. Light twinkles off the glass condo windows through waves of heat. You get jostled by sweaty sidewalk-denizens. The city is too much. Too full, too busy, too— too much. It’s Saturday. Almost noon. Or maybe Sunday and already past two. You’re hungry. Need food. Brunch. Breakfast. But you don’t want French toast. Enough eggs Benedict. You laugh in the face of omelettes. You want something different, somewhere else. It’s time to flip this meal upside-down. You need to head to Brooklyn — to Roberta’s. You need pizza for brunch.

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Jumbo Slice Wars: DC Vs NYC

With Spike Mendelsohn’s We the Pizza slated to open in about six weeks, you’d think that would be the subject of conversation for DC’s pizzascenti. Much to the chagrin of some DC food-lovers, Travel Channel’s Food Wars recently shone the spotlight on jumbo slices with a face-off between the Chishti brothers’ dueling jumbo slice shops: “Pizza Mart,” and “Jumbo Slice.” As a Georgetown graduate, I can vouch for ruling in favor of Pizza Mart. But the resolution of one feud raises another question.

Locals have noted that DC is not a pizza town. Of New York’s iconic foods, pizza is king. Among slices, Koronet may not be the best, but it is one of the largest, and most visually memorable. So, how would Pizza Mart fare against New York’s jumbo slice?

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First Look: Paulie Gee’s Greenpoint Pizzeria

Brooklyn’s newest pizza drama is playing out in Greenpoint, just blocks from Metropolitan, in a space that was previously a restaurant of a former Top Chef contestant. The new chef is someone with considerably less airtime, a guy from Jersey named Paul Giannone — Paulie Gee.

Until weeks ago, Paulie’s pizza-making was mostly confined to the oven he built in his yard. Now pizza-lovers and aficionados are gathering to see if this former software quality assurance engineer can pull off dreams of joining the City’s elite pizzaiolos. It’s the kind of New York— er— Brooklyn story you can literally sink your teeth into. To learn more about his story, check out this interview.

Recently, we joined Slice’s managing editor, Adam Kuban, at Paulie Gee’s to sample some of this Brooklyn-born dreamer’s early efforts.

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Paulie Gee, On Living The Dream (From Pizza-Questing To Pizza-Making)

You do your best every day to realize your dreams. But how many people get to see their dreams come true? And if and when they come true, how does what was dreamed measure up to reality? There’s man in Brooklyn making pizza who may be best suited to answer these questions, Paul Giannone. Or as New Yorkers are starting to know him, Paulie Gee.

As recently as February 2009, Paulie was profiled by MyCentralJersey.com talking about a pizzeria as a ways off. Last week he broke from making Neapolitan pies to discuss Paulie Gee’s, his pizzeria in Greenpoint.

Paulie, you’re living a dream here, aren’t you? How did this come to be?
Paulie: I always loved to cook, I’d invite people over my house just so I could cook for them. You know, for the past 25 years, people have been encouraging me to open a restaurant. What I did for a living wasn’t what I really enjoyed. But opening a real restaurant always seemed daunting.

And so…pizza?
About 15 years ago I become a pizza enthusiast after visiting Totonno’s. Me and my sons started going on quests for good coal-oven pizza. You know, pizza is very challenging to make, but it’s also very simple. And I started to realize that serving it to people could be very simple.

How did you go from pizza-questing to pizza-making?
Up until about three years ago, I didn’t take it very seriously. Then I built an oven. I started in September 2007, I was going to buy one, and then I saw that I could build one for one-tenth the cost, and I went out and took one of the steps that was the point of no return: I bought a couple of hundred dollars worth of bricks.

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First Look: Pulino’s Bar And Pizzeria On Bowery

Funny how things work. Frank Pepe opened its first New York location in Yonkers last November. Last week, Eddie’s of New Hyde Park announced it would soon make its first inroads into Manhattan since they opened in 1941. Now both styles of pizza have met on Bowery and Houston in Pulino’s Bar and Pizzeria, Keith McNally and Nate Appleman’s much-awaited pizzeria. The kicker? As Eater has well-documented with its first looks at the decor, the place looks like it has been there on the corner forever.

Of course, Neapolitan-style was a New York staple long before Frank Pepe left the confines of New Haven. But Pulino’s combines the crust texture and taste of Pepe with an even thinner pie, one that’s just about two-and-a-half times the thickness of what you’d expect from Eddie’s. Not to say it’s cracker-like — it’s not at all. But it is not a doughy pie. Do not think KestéCo., or Motorino. Nor are pizzas as charred as the ones pictured by Zagat. What we have here folks, as was the intention – is an idiosyncratic style of pizza. A standardized amoeba shape, a thin crust, and square cuts.

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