#85 Sal’s Pizza

April 10th, 2016

Mamaroneck, NY

Sal’s Pizza in Mamaroneck is ranked mainly for their Sicilian pie. We took our friends Claire and Jeff out to Mamaroneck one weekend afternoon to test it out. Mamaroneck, for anyone who doesn’t drive around NYC that often, is right in Westchester County, right off of I-95 as you go into Connecticut. It is probably an hour drive from our house in NJ to get there. I can’t remember if Eric got us lost driving there – the chances are good that he did.

 

When we went here last April, it had been a while since we had eaten a Sicilian slice. We’d been so busy eating our way around the NY slice joints! It was good to change it up. We ended up just going with a plain Sicilian pie to split between the four of us, which ended up being plenty of food. Next time we probably would have also tried the salad pie, since it seems to be another popular option.

Sal’s is known in the area to have lines out the door for these Sicilian slices, but we were there for lunch and got a table right away. The pizzeria is very old-school, and just what you’d expect from a 50-ish year old restaurant in terms of both atmosphere and decor.

 

As for the pizza, it is also pretty traditional. The regular slices looked like traditional NY slices. For the Sicilian, the crust was good. It was nice and airy and not too dense like the crust on some Sicilian slices that you find around NYC. The sauce was on the sweeter side. The mozzarella was not put on lightly (as you can see in the picture above). The Sicilian slice was pretty much everything that you’d expect from a Sicilian slice, although it also sort of reminded us of Ellio’s frozen pizzas.

We know that some people like their pizza full of cheese and grease. If that’s you, you should make a stop here at Sal’s as soon as possible. You probably aren’t trying to stay the same pants size while eating pizza 2-3 times a week.  While we will never turn down a slice of pizza, so much cheese isn’t really our thing.

There’s a rumor that Joe Torre used to stop here for pizzas on his way home from home games. I’m not sure if that’s true or not, and we think he probably could have found better pizza in the area. But it is quite possible he is one of those cheesy pizza lovers, in which case, we’d understand why he made the stop.

To visit:

Sal’s Pizza
316 Mamaroneck Avenue
Mamaroneck NY 10543

 

 

 

 

 

 

#7 Louie and Ernie’s

April 3rd, 2016

Bronx, NY

After our trip to Queens, we decided to hit another NY borough and we headed up into the Bronx to try another NYC classic pie. Louie and Ernie’s ranked high on the Daily Meal list, in the top 10, so we had some major expectations. When we were researching why it was ranked so high, we kept reading about the sausage, so of course, we had to get half of the pie with sausage to see what the fuss was all about.

The closest you can get to Louie and Ernie’s on the subway is by the 6, but then it is about a 15 minute walk from there. So in total, it took us about an hour to get there from work. The restaurant has a really local vibe, and they only serve pizza.

The sausage was the clumpy-style, instead of the sliced-style (are there technical terms for this?), which we decided that we prefer. The sausage is also made locally, right up the street. We loved the crust on this one, and the ratio of sauce:cheese.

We aren’t quite sure why this is ranked so high, though. Sure, it was a good NYC slice, but to rank it higher than John’s of Bleecker, Patsy’s, or Totonno’s is strange. We liked all of those better. We ranked it on our lists at #40 (Barb) and #69 (Eric), so decently far from the top 10. If we find ourselves back in the Bronx, though, it will be the first place on our list.

To visit:

Louie and Ernie’s
1300 Crosby Ave
Bronx, NY 10461

#87 New Park Pizza

March 30th, 2016

Howard Beach, Queens, NY

By now, you probably know what a good NY slice of pizza looks like. This week, we are going to show you a couple more. New Park Pizza is over in Queens, right near JFK. We note this because it would make the BEST stop going to or from the airport. We chose to take the subway out from Manhattan, which took about an hour.

We just ordered a couple of slices here, nothing too special or fancy. A couple of cheese slices, and a Sicilian slice. For all the time we spent on the subway to get here, the slices were gone in about 10 minutes and we were back on the subway going back to NJ. These are definitely not the best NY slices that we’ve had, but they are solid. We’ve also read that you should order the slices “well done”, which we didn’t try, but have noted for next time.

The crust here is also salty, but not overwhelmingly so. We read that this is because they throw salt into the oven as the pies bake. We’ve only had salted Neapolitan crusts, so this was a little different.

So I guess our take-home message here is, don’t go out of your way for these slices because you’ll find slices that taste the same, if not better, in Manhattan (although, you may pay a bit more for them). However, if you are anything like me and find yourself tired and hangry after any flight into JFK, you may want to consider stopping here on your way home. (Eric is making a mental note of this right now.)

To visit:

New Park Pizza
156-71 Cross Bay Blvd
Howard Beach, NY 11414

Six of our favorite NYC pizzas NOT on the list

As we’ve been tackling the Daily Meal list, we’ve been accumulating a list on the side of other NYC pizza places that have gotten good reviews, either from other “Top NYC Pizza” lists around the internet, or personal recommendations from friends and family. Currently, our “other list” has about 20 pizzerias around NYC that we still would like to hit, but here I’ll highlight a couple that we’ve been to in the past year that we feel could be on any list.

  1. Franny’s

Franny’s is out in Brooklyn, and we ended up going there one night when we had plans to head down to J&V Pizzeria. If you remember my previous post, we got frustrated with various subway delays and got off earlier in Brooklyn, not too far from Franny’s. Franny’s has gotten a lot of press since it opened in 2013, and is found on most “Best Of” NYC pizza lists that we’ve seen. We split two pizzas here, one Margherita and one white pie with garlic and hot peppers. Both were good, and we would have also tried an appetizer if everything wasn’t priced so high. Also, you get to cut your pizza here with scissors. They really make you work for your dinner.

To visit:

Franny’s
348 Flatbush Avenue
Brooklyn NY 11238

 

2. Sottocasa

Sottocasa is also in Brooklyn, although they also have a location in Harlem. We first heard about it when we went to that pizza discussion night at the Brooklyn Brainery, where the owner of Sottocasa, Luca Arrigoni, told us all about his adventures starting the Neapolitan pizzeria, including a fascinating story of how they dropped the oven in to the backyard of the restaurant using a crane originally going to be used to lift an airplane at JFK, after flying it over from Naples (the things you must do for TRUE Neapolitan pizza!). They couldn’t get it through the door. Here, we also split two pies, one Burrata and the Parmigiana, which had tomatoes, eggplant, and spicy sausage. They were both awesome. If you are huge Burrata fans (like we are), you should know they only serve that pie from Friday-Sunday, so plan accordingly. Also, this is a great date-night spot.

To visit:

Sottocasa
298 Atlantic Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11201

3. Juliana’s

Juliana’s is the third Brooklyn pizzeria we are going to mention here, and then I’ll move on to Manhattan. If you’ve ever been to Grimaldi’s, you may have noticed a second pizzeria right next door. Well, that one is Juliana’s  and if you don’t feel like waiting in line at Grimaldi’s, the pizza here is also very good (although I can’t guarantee that there won’t also be a line here). Juliana’s is named after Patsy Grimaldi’s mother, and it is a less-touristy version of Grimaldi’s. It has actually been listed as the best slice in NY before as well, but not by the Daily Meal. We went with a traditional pie here, which certainly could have been on any “Best pizza” lists.

To visit:

Juliana’s
19 Old Fulton Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201

4. Marta

Moving on to a few good pizzas in Manhattan, we went up to Marta one evening after work.  This was another pizzeria that has gotten a lot of good press. It was a little difficult to find, because it is actually in the lobby of an old hotel, but the actual restaurant was very spacious. It also looked like it had a nice bar, although it wasn’t too crowded when we were there because we went a bit on the earlier side for dinner. This isn’t traditional NY-style pizza. Instead, the pizzas are very thin crust. We got the Mercato and the Carciofi, which had artichokes and garlic bread crumbs. If you like thin crust pizza, you should check this place out. And we also highly recommend the butternut fries to start.

  

To visit:

Marta
29 E. 29th Street
New York, NY 10016

5. Patrizia’s

Patrizia’s is famous on instagram for their star shaped “Stella” pies. We admit it, we went purely for the photo. But we’d go back again for the pizza, because it was really good. They have other locations in Brooklyn and around NYC, but we went to the location right in Manhattan. We got my sister to join us for pizzas (and wine), so we ordered a Margherita, one with a bunch of veggies, and Eric got one of the sausage pizzas. They were all very tasty. We were too full to eat a dessert pizza there, so they kindly made us two Nutella pizzas to go. We reheated one when we got home in the oven, and it satisfied our chocolate craving for sure.

 

To visit:

Patrizia’s of Manhattan
462 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10016

 

6. Bleecker Street Pizza

Finally, we want to mention one of our go-to slices places, Bleecker Street Pizza. We like these slices almost as much as Williamsburg Pizza, and Bleecker is ever closer to our office. It is actually right near Joe’s, and in our opinion, the slices are even better here. It is slightly different than your traditional NY slice because it has a thinner crust, but they always have a decent selection of pies to choose from for a quick lunch break. It’s tight inside, but if you go when it is nice out they also have a few small tables out front. When we just went back there for lunch, we grabbed a fresh cheese slice right from the oven, a buffalo chicken slice for  Eric, and two slices of the almost-Sicilian, the Nona Maria, which is our new favorite slice here. If you are wandering around Bleecker street, we’d recommend stopping here AND at Joe’s, just for the comparison.

To visit:

Bleecker Street Pizza
69 7th Ave S
New York, NY 10014

Let us know if we’ve missed any of your favorites!

#83 Pizzeria Beddia

March 19th, 2016 and April 8th, 2017

Philadelphia, PA

Aside from Margot’s, Pizzeria Beddia is probably the most difficult pizza to get. This is because the pizzeria is open only from Wednesday to Saturday, from 5:30-close, and Joe Beddia only makes 40 pies per night. But we should start off by saying that this pizza is entirely worth any wait. There is a reason that we rank it at #2 (after Pepe’s of course, and only narrowly before Di Fara). It is also cash only.

The first time we went to Beddia, we went on a cold March Saturday. We had heard that there would be a line, and the website said that people start lining up before 4 pm. So, we decided to get there a little after 3 pm. We weren’t going to take any chances of missing getting a pizza.

We were obviously the first ones in line, but only for about half an hour, when the next couple joined us, and the line just kept growing until the doors opened just before 5:30. We had to take a couple of warm up/bathroom breaks to the closest McDonalds.

 

Here we are, first ones in line (and not dressed appropriately for the cold):

We were really glad that we got there when we did, though. The restaurant itself is tiny. There is only one gas oven in the back, and they make one pizza at a time. You don’t have many options – you can only get whole pies, and the main pie is tomato sauce, mozz, old gold aged cheese, and olive oil, and costs $21. You can get toppings for $3-5 dollars extra, but we just went with the straight plain pie. They also have a seasonal rotating pie,  one Arrabbiata pie, and one tomato pie, but we’d recommend just going for the classic here, at least to start.

    

You walk in, order your pie, and then they tell you when to come back and pick it up. You can order a max of two pies, and they pop one out every 15 minutes or so. Since we were first in line, we only had to wait about 15 minutes until the pizza came right out of the oven to our table. As we were eating it, though, we’d hear people placing orders that would be coming out of the oven around 9:30 pm and later. Lucky for those people, there are plenty of good bars and beer gardens around Fishtown that they could visit while they wait for their pizza to be ready. They keep a running tally until they get to 40 pies, and then you are out of luck.

We went back to Beddia for the second time this past Saturday. It was a bit warmer out than the last time we went, so the wait was much more enjoyable. We were first in line again, since we got there around 3:15pm. We also brought our friend Phil this time, so we felt justified ordering two pies. The line was even longer this time, and we felt so bad for the people who were next in line when they ran out of the 40 pies to order.

But OK, about the pizza. There is a reason that people line up for these pies, and as we told everyone in line who hadn’t been to Beddia before, it is absolutely worth the wait. The crust is thin but has a great char on it (I mean, look at those bubbles!). The sauce is perfectly seasoned and there is just enough of it on the pie. The cheese really steals the show, though. It must be that Old Gold aged cheese that adds the perfect complement to the mozzarella.

 

Pizzeria Beddia only opened in 2013, but Bon Appétit magazine has already called it the “Best Pizza in America”. We maybe wouldn’t go that far, but it easily places in our top 3.

Philly Mag recently scared everyone with a headline that said that the pizzeria is closing next year, when the 5 year lease is up. It doesn’t sound certain, and we hope it doesn’t happen!

 

 

We already have another date to head to Beddia this summer, and I think we’ll give one of the other pies a try. Let us know if you want to join us waiting in line 2 hours early!

To visit:

Pizzeria Beddia
115 E Girard Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19125

#16 Patsy’s

 March 23, 2016

Manhattan, NY

Patsy’s pizza is ranked pretty high on the list, and we do love a good NY slice, so we headed up to Harlem one day after work, and ordered this plain cheese pie.

We ALMOST went to the wrong restaurant, and finding the “original” Patsy’s took a little bit of digging. The problem is that there is a sort-of-related chain of Patsy’s Pizzerias around NYC, and several are in locations closer to our office. The original Patsy’s opened in Harlem in 1933. The original Patsy learned the ropes making pizza downtown at Lombardi’s (another example of how all the great NYC pizzerias are connected). When he died (in the 90’s), the restaurant was sold to a franchiser and a new chain of Patsy’s was started. We haven’t been to any of those, so we can’t say how they compare to the original.

 

After some online searching and reading too much about the feud over the name “Patsy’s”, we figured out that we had to head up to Harlem to the original location, which was exciting because we had never had an excuse to go to that area of the city before. We got a table and ordered our pizza, which came out hot and bubbling. The crust was thin and crispy and held up to the sauce and cheese perfectly, just as it should. We know that we usually try interesting topping combinations on our pizzas, but sometimes you just need to go with a traditional cheese slice.

Patsy’s is one of the few remaining coal oven pizzerias still operating in Manhattan (I talked a bit about this here), so for that reason alone, it is worth the trip uptown. The slices reminded us a bit of Joe’s, which makes sense since they are ranked near each other on the list. We probably liked these slices a bit better, but they are both as true to New York slices as you can get.

Fun fact: Patsy’s claims to have originated the idea of “selling by the slice”. Although in all our online searching, we weren’t able to verify that this is actually true.

To visit:

Patsy’s Pizza
2287 First Avenue
New York NY

 

 

#63 Williamsburg Pizza

September 14th, 2016 and April 3rd, 2017

New York City

This is a new addition to the 2016 list, and we’ve already been here twice. Williamsburg Pizza has three locations, two in Brooklyn and one in Manhattan, and we’ve been to two of them.

      

The first time we went out to Brooklyn. We figured we should try the original location, since it is called Williamsburg Pizza. Once again, we walked there from Manhattan, and once again, we got caught in a downpour. I think I mentioned that this happens to us fairly regularly on our pizza treks. By the time we got to the pizzeria, we were drenched. And hungry.

We ordered a wide variety of slices because the selection here is amazing. We tried a regular slice of the Brooklyn and one called a Sophia Loren, which had fresh mozzarella and sliced tomatoes and basil. We also had a few Grandma slices, including one with kale and sausage (the Kale Tallegio), one with sausage, mushrooms, roasted red peppers (Paesano), and one with wild mushrooms (Tartufo).

   

This past Monday, we went to the Lower East Side location, which was a much shorter walk from our office. Both locations have the same feel to them, and both had the same great variety of slices. Here, we got another slice of the Brooklyn. We also had a margherita slice, and again tried the Tartufo and Paesano Grandma slices. We forgot to check what we got last time and ended up with almost the same exact order.

The Tartufo slice here is really good. We think it’s our second favorite mushroom slice, right after the pizza we had at Antico in Atlanta, and right before the one we had at Pizza Moto in Brooklyn. I think the Sophia Loren slice would be our next favorite, but they didn’t have that one at the LES location this time around.

We’ve found our new favorite slices place in NYC. (Sorry, Bleecker Street Pizza.) At only a 20 minute walk, it is a perfect lunch date location. The slices are everything you’d expect from a New York slice, with fresh cheese, interesting toppings, and sort-of-sweet tomato sauce, with a crispy crust. We have yet to try a slice here that we don’t like.

To visit:

Williamsburg Pizza
265 Union Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11211

OR

277 Broome St
New York, NY 10002

 

#89 Tarry Lodge

March 12th, 2016

Port Chester, NY

The first time that I heard of Tarry Lodge was when they were thinking of opening a new location in New Haven, just a month or so after I left. I didn’t even know that there were other locations, although I did know that it was one of Mario Batali’s restaurants.

I *think* that everyone knows who Mario Batali is, but in case you either 1) don’t have a TV or 2) never eat out at restaurants, he is one of the most famous television chefs and restaurant owners in the world. He runs many of his restaurants, including Tarry Lodge, with Joe Bastianich, who we know primarily from the older seasons of MasterChef Junior.

Side note: If you aren’t watching the current season of MasterChef Junior, you really should.

So, we drove out to Port Chester to have our first meal at a Mario Batali restaurant. The restaurant itself is really cute, and would make a great date location (especially because they also have a nice looking wine list). We ordered two pizzas here: a Margherita, and one with goat cheese, pistachios, red onion, and truffle honey.

While the flavor combo on the goat cheese pizza was really amazing and unexpected, the Margherita pie was just average. We’ve had much better.

The crust on both pies was light and fluffy, but we didn’t love it. The sauce was decent, but it was sort of bland and lacking that flavor punch that you get from a good tomato sauce (like, from here). So while we aren’t going to say that this pizza was bad, it was mostly forgettable.  And when we are visiting and eating over 100 pizzas, that isn’t really a good thing.

I don’t want to sound completely negative here – the goat cheese was awesome. The combination of creamy goat cheese with the salty pistachio and the sweet honey reminded us of a perfectly arranged cheese platter, and that pizza alone probably saved Tarry Lodge from being all the way near the bottom of our lists.

Honestly, we think that this restaurant only made it on the list because it is from Mario Batali. We noticed that it didn’t make the 2016 list. I really wonder how the location in New Haven is doing, considering that New Haven is such a pizza town. I think it’s probably good that they serve regular Italian fare also – I’m sure those dishes are excellent. I would guess that people aren’t going there for the pizza.

To visit:

Tarry Lodge
18 Mill Street
Port Chester, NY 10573

#41 Nick’s Pizza

March 19th, 2017

Forest Hills, NY

We had a free weekend, so of course, we spent Sunday afternoon driving to get pizza up in Queens. It’s really great how an hour drive now doesn’t even feel so long. We decided to go to Nick’s Pizza in Forest Hills. Nick’s is known for its thin-crust pies, and for its calzones, which Adam Kuban highly recommended.

We went with a normal cheese pie, a large, and because we can’t leave anything just plain, we added spinach to half. The toppings are pricey, but we were glad to see that the spinach was fresh. We really dislike frozen spinach on pizzas (we should add that to our list of “pizza pet peeves”). We also got a small calzone to go with the pizza since Adam Kuban had told us to “just order both”. We thought that we’d just take home any leftovers, but of course, we didn’t end up with any leftovers to bring home.

The pizza was good, and the crust was nice and light. We really like when pizza doesn’t make us feel heavy because that means we can eat more of it. We were pleasantly surprised that they were able to get such a good char using a gas oven.

The calzone was definitely worth trying, so we thank all of the reviews for suggesting that we order one. It is almost like a grilled cheese pita, and it was stuffed to the brim with ricotta and fresh mozzarella. The sauce was SO GOOD that we ended up dipping the calzone AND the pizza in it. We couldn’t get enough of it. Eric even said “we should always ask for a side of sauce to go with our pizza”. Not a bad idea…

 

We also really liked the splattering of fresh basil on top of the pizza. It reminded us of Di Fara, which reminded us once again that we need to go back there ASAP.

ALSO: Eric didn’t get us lost this time! We are finally figuring out how to drive around Queens. (It didn’t hurt that Nick’s is pretty much right off of the highway, though).

To visit:

Nick’s Pizza
108-26 Ascan Ave
Queens, NY 11375

 

#2 Di Fara

March 2nd, 2016

Brooklyn, NYC

I don’t even know where to start talking about the pizza at Di Fara. I guess I’ll start by saying that this pizza deserves its #2 ranking. There is a reason why the lines can be 2 hours long to get a couple of slices.

We went out to Brooklyn early to get there right when they opened for dinner. We had heard some horror stories about how long the lines could get. We were pleasantly surprised, though, because there was no one there, which was probably a combination of a) it was a weeknight, b) it was raining, and c) it was early March. We walked in when they opened, ordered our pizza, and then sat at one of the tables in the back to wait for it. About 15 minutes later, we had this amazing pie sitting in front of us. We ate the whole thing.

 

 

 

Di Fara was opened back in 1964, and is still run by the original owners. Each pizza is still made by Domencio DeMarco, who is now quite old, and many of his family members work at the pizzeria as well. When he isn’t available, they close the pizzeria. The place only has seating for about 15 people (which contributes to the long lines). It has consistently been ranked on the best NYC pizza lists for years.

 
The pizza is incredibly fresh and had the perfect ratio of sauce:cheese. The cheese is a blend of mozzarella and cow’s milk cheeses, all imported from Italy. It is such a great combination of cheeses, probably bettered only by Pizzeria Beddia in Philly. They grow the basil in house, and DeMarco personally cuts it with scissors over the entire pie.

The pizzas are not cheap. Di Fara raised it’s prices for a slice to $5.00/slice in 2009, which made it the most expensive slice in NYC. This one large, plain, pie cost us $30.

Would we head all the way out to Avenue J for this pizza again? Yes. Would we pay $30 for one pizza again? Only if it’s Di Fara’s. And if anyone wanted to join us, don’t count on us sharing our pizza. WIth any luck, the next time we go it will also be early March and slightly rainy, so we can skip the lines again.

 

To visit:

Di Fara Pizza
1424 Avenue J
Brooklyn, NY 11230