#88 Sofia Pizza Shoppe

November 13th, 2017

Manhattan, NYC

We have been to Sofia Pizza Shoppe a couple of times now. It is super inconvenient to get to via subway from our offices, but worth it for the slices every time. Our first trip up here was probably around 6 months ago.  The small restaurant just opened in 2016.

It must be hard to open a new slice shop in NYC. For a city that has such ingrained pizza traditions and so many famous slice joints, it is really surprising (and amazing!) that a newcomer like Sofia Pizza Shoppe could open its doors and make it on to the 2017 Daily Meal list while primarily selling no-frills, traditional NY slices. It just goes to show that location is everything – it is really hard to find a decent slice in this area of Midtown.

The other reason that Sofia Pizza Shoppe got so famous? The DoughDici. The best way to get food-famous in NYC is to create something outrageously expensive that everyone will want to instagram. A $38 pizza available only a few days during the week that you have to buy tickets for? I think that fits the bill exactly.

There’s been some debate on if the DoughDici is worth the money. We bet it probably is. It is a style of pizza all its own: a 2 inch, fluffy crust, topped with sauce and cheese, with a crusty edge reminiscent of Detroit-style pizzas. The crust is cold-fermented for 3 days and then risen in the pan for 12 hours to get the super-tall rise. Honestly, we’d love to try it, but after our previous experiences with pizza ticket buying (cough..Margot…cough) we didn’t (and still don’t) feel like trying to fight our way in.

So, while we can’t say how good the DoughDici is, we can talk about the rest of the slices here. The first time we came we tried a variety of slices, including the spinach dip slice, which is a bit more spinach-y than the spinach artichoke slice at Artichoke, and is slightly less filling (although maybe just because it is a little bit smaller).

This time, we tried a classic slice, a Sicilian, and our new favorite slice, the upside down. They were all really solid NY slices. Our favorite upside-down slice is still from NY Pizza Suprema, but this one was really good.

Between the two of us, we had 5 slices. The lady sitting next to us said that she’d be impressed if we could eat all of them. She obviously didn’t know us.

While we won’t usually take the trip up to get slices here, we’d highly recommend it if you are in the area.

Also, if you want to get tickets to try a DoughDici and want to invite company, we’d be thrilled to join you.

To visit:

Sofia Pizza Shoppe
989 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10022

Bruno, Bruno’s, and Mr. Bruno’s

September 5th and September 21st, 2017

Manhattan and New Jersey

Bruno’s is apparently a popular pizzeria name. This month, we’ve been to three pizzerias named Bruno’s (ok, one is actually named “Mr. Bruno’s”). So I’ve decided to post about all three together to find the Best Bruno’s Pizza in the NY/NJ area.

  1. Bruno, Manhattan

The first Bruno can be found in the East Village of Manhattan.  We first noticed the pizza here on Instagram because all of the pizzas posted by the chef look amazing. It has been on our list to visit ever since. While being based in Manhattan, Bruno has a “Brooklyn” feel to it. The chef grinds his own flour in the basement using wheat imported from farms in New York. The ingredients are all locally sourced, and the menu changes seasonally. The restaurant itself has interesting artwork and whitewashed walls, with farmhouse style tables. We loved it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We ordered two pizzas here, the roasted corn seasonal pizza and the ‘nduja, although it was a really tough choice. We had a great talk with Demian, the owner, who told us the story of the pizzeria and how he comes to create such unique pies. We were the only ones in the restaurant (early dinner) and he recognized us from our Instagram! We finished this meal with some of the homemade gelato. We would never have thought that sourdough gelato would be good, but we highly recommend it!

2. Mr. Bruno’s, Lyndhurst, NJ

We’ve been meaning to try out some more pizza found in our home state of New Jersey, so we stopped at two pizza places not too far off of our commute home for dinner one evening.

We ended up testing out Mr. Bruno’s, which was in a strip mall in Lyndhurst, NJ as our first stop. We ordered two Sicilian slices and sat and ate them quickly at the bar.

The plain cheese slices didn’t look so appetizing, but these Sicilian slices were surprisingly good. The sauce was excellent and we liked the more tomato pie-like slice without the heavy dose of mozzarella. The grated cheese on top was just enough cheese for us. We were also pretty excited to see that they sell the sauce there in jars!

3. Bruno’s Pizza, Clifton, NJ

Our second stop after Mr. Bruno’s was Bruno’s Pizza, not too far away in Clifton, NJ. It was similar to Mr. Bruno’s in that it was also located in a strip mall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like at Mr. Bruno’s, we also ordered the Sicilian tomato slice here. It was also a pretty decent tomato slice. They only have two types of slices here, round and square, and that is all that they serve, so you expect that the slices are good.

When we come down to the comparison of the two, we have to give the slight edge to Mr. Bruno’s, because the sauce there was better. On a tomato pie, it is really the sauce that counts. The slice at Bruno’s had more oregano on the top, which did give it a little something extra though. If we had to pick, Mr. Bruno’s would also win out in the crust category, although that would be a close call.

Overall, our favorite Bruno’s was Bruno, in Manhattan. But we were very happy that our Bruno quest helped us find some solid tomato Sicilian slices on our way home in NJ!

We Went on Scott’s Pizza Tours!

June 11th, 2017

New York, NY

Some of you may be familiar with Scott from Scott’s Pizza Tours. We’ve known about Scott for AGES. He personally knows EVERYONE making pizza in NYC, and his instagram is constantly reminding us about all of the pizza places that we have yet to try. He pretty much has our dream job: eating pizza, talking about pizza, and having people actually listen to him talk about pizza. He’s even starred in a documentary about pizza.

So even though we knew all about Scott, and he (sort of) knew about us because he followed our instagram, we had never personally met him or been on one of his famous tours. For Eric’s birthday gift this year, I got us tickets to one of the Sunday tours. Scott always leads the Sunday bus tours but he has other pizza-dork/tour guides to run some of the weekday walking tours.

So, a few weeks ago we found ourselves running from the World Trade Center PATH station up to the start of the tour at Lombardi’s. The PATH had been super delayed that morning, and we REALLY didn’t want to miss the beginning of the tour.

It is lucky that we are pretty quick runners (even in sandals) and we made it to Lombardi’s JUST at 10:30, as Scott was introducing the tour and telling us how much pizza we would be eating that day.

 

At each of the four stops, we’d get a slice of pizza. We were looking forward to trying the pizza at Lombardi’s again. We had stopped there earlier last year and hadn’t been too impressed.

We got to check out the super old coal oven that Lombardi’s uses to cook its pizzas as we walked back to our seats. It was looking like it had seen better days, but it still cooked the pizzas just perfectly!  We noticed some differences in the pizza since the last time we came. The sauce was slightly different and the size of the pizza was different too. But we weren’t too concerned with the smaller slices, since we knew we’d be eating plenty of pizza over the course of the day.

We hopped on the bus and headed uptown to Patsy’s. This was another place that we had been to before and we really liked. If you remember from our previous post, Patsy’s was ranked in the top 20 on the Daily Meal list. Unfortunately for us, it is located all the way up in Harlem and we never make the trip back. We were glad that the bus took us all the way there so that we could try it again!

Patsy’s was the same as we remembered. A little more sauce, a little more cheese, a more NY-style crust than Lombardi’s. Patsy’s also makes a coal oven pizza, and it was fun to be able to compare it with Lombardi’s with back-to-back tastings!

We also got to check out the ovens at Patsy’s! Check out that hot coal over on the side!

 

Our third stop on the bus tour was all the way up in the Bronx, another area of the city that we don’t travel back to often for pizza. Mario’s Restaurant on Arthur Ave is in the “Little Italy” area of the Bronx, and it doesn’t seem to be known for its pizza since they have an extensive regular Italian menu. We could see why Scott included it on his tour after trying it, though. It was Eric’s favorite style of pizza. Smaller slices, again, but with a good crunch on the crust and a really flavorful combination of cheeses.

We had a quick laugh because at Mario’s they cook the pizza AFTER they add the basil (unlike pizzerias like Di Fara, where it is added after it comes out of the oven). Scott had just told us that this is one of his pizza pet peeves. We didn’t think it altered the flavor too much, though, and the pizza still tasted really good. But we definitely tasted the crispy, almost-burnt basil.

PS: Here’s Scott showing us all about the pizzas at Lombardi’s —————————————>

Our last stop on the bus was also up in the Bronx. Eric and I remember taking the looooong subway ride out to Louie & Ernies over a year ago. We thought it was a good slice then, but we wouldn’t have ranked it in the top 10.

We really liked the outdoor seating here, which we hadn’t gotten to sit at before! For all of the pizzas so far, Scott had ordered a regular classic cheese pizza, but Scott also ordered a sausage pie here. If you remember from my previous post, Louie & Ernie’s is known for their sausage pizza. Eric chipped in a couple of dollars for a slice, but I was happily full with my one slice of plain.

 

These slices were better than we remembered.  We finished and then headed back on the bus for the ride back to Manhattan. Scott entertained us with some more pizza stories and his pizza music playlist and answered everyone’s questions about pizza on the drive back.

You’d think that we were full at this point, but with all of the bus rides between the different pizzerias we were probably only averaging one slice per hour. So we stopped and got Mr. Softee ice cream from the truck on the way back to the PATH.

 

I think Eric enjoyed his birthday trip! We are definitely considering going on another pizza tour, especially if we can stop at some places that we haven’t been to yet. Even though we knew most of the random pizza facts that Scott told the group, we definitely learned a few things (like not to put basil on pizza pre-baking!). We would also recommend to everyone to try out one of the tours if you have a free day in NYC.

    

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!

#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

 

#19 Motorino

December 30th, 2015

New York City, NY

One of the great things that came from telling everyone we knew about our pizza goals was that we ended up with a few gift cards for various restaurants for the holidays! One pizzeria that we kept hearing about in NYC was Motorino. We didn’t waste any time in heading to their East Village location one cold night last December.

      

Like most Neapolitan pies, Motorino’s pies are all about the crust. It was perfectly chewy, and so light to eat. The toppings weren’t bad either. We ended up with the famous brussels sprout pie with smoked pancetta and a traditional margherita pie. Yes, we know brussels sprouts are so trendy, but we really love them, and we had to see what all the fuss was about.

The original Motorino is still located in Williamsburg, but we were too tempted by the much closer location in the East Village. There’s also a shop on the Upper West Side, as well as in Hong Kong, Manila, Singapore, and Malaysia, if you find yourself traveling to those locations and need a pizza fix. Also a plus – they deliver!

We didn’t have any problems getting a table here right after work, although it was pretty busy by the time we left. They also have a nice wine list, and the East Village location has a cozy, café feel. I hear the Williamsburg location is a bit bigger and has a more traditional pizzeria feel to it.

And if you are looking for dessert afterwards, we’d recommend walking a block south for ice cream, or a block west for a cake or cookie treat. You may not know this (because we figure that you are tired of hearing us talk about pizza and don’t want to bore you even more), but we also have a running list of ice cream places to hit in the city.

 

 

To visit:

Motorino
349 E 12th Street
New York, NY 10003

#87 Pizzetteria Brunetti

December 22, 2016

New York City, NY

When we were at our family holiday party last week, our family members who live out on Long Island asked if we had been to their favorite pizza place, Pizzetteria Brunetti. We hadn’t, since it wasn’t on the 2015 list, but we did recognize the name from the 2016 list. We originally thought that the only location was out in Westhampton Beach, but we were excited when we found out that there is also a location in the West Village!

We walked up to Brunetti after work for a quick dinner before a show last Thursday evening. We actually walked right by it, probably because we were too distracted by the holiday decorations up around Chelsea Market, but we found it quickly after turning around and consulting Google maps. The restaurant was festively decorated for the holidays, and we were grateful for the warmth inside. Even though it was a bit on the early side for dinner, there were a few other people eating or at the bar, which has a nice view of the pizza oven.

We had a hard time picking out what pies to try here. I really wanted to try the Margherita, but the specialty pies sounded too good. We ended up going with the Funghi e cippole (mushrooms, caramelized onions, cheese, and finished with honey truffle oil) and the Spezie (broccoli rabe, spicy Italian sausage, burrata cheese, hot peppers, and a pepper puree drizzled over top). The two were nice paired together because the mushroom pie had a sweet aftertaste due to the honey oil, and the Spezie had a really great spicy kick to it. While I’m not a huge fan of really spicy pizza (Eric is, though), the burrata is what really got us. We also really liked how the crust on these held up a little better than a traditional Neapolitan pie.

Brunetti has a lot of great looking pizzas on the menu, including a clam pie that they say is their “specialty”. However, we have yet to have a clam pie that lives up to New Haven clam pie, so we tend to stay away from those when they are on the menu. Also on our list for next time: one of the salads. The farro one looks awesome. And we’d come back for thanksgiving next year if they end up doing this again.

To visit:

Pizzetteria Brunetti
626 Hudson Street
New York, NY 10014

#41 Rubirosa

December 9, 2015

New York, NY

Another old, classic, NYC establishment is Rubirosa, which is located right near our SoHo offices. Techically, it is located in Nolita, but we can’t keep track of which neighborhood is which, even after being there for a few years now. We took advantage of a not-too-cold December day last year to walk over for another pizza lunch date.

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It looks a little unimpressive from the outside, and we almost walked right by it. Inside, however, there was a great bar and old reclaimed wood tables. We had our choice of table, since we came for lunch. We should really keep track of how many times we show up to a pizza place and are the first ones there.

The pizzas are not exactly like the other traditional NY style pies you will find around, especially the slices. The crust here is thinner, and it generally tastes a little bit lighter. The family recipe made here originated in Staten Island in 1960, so in some ways it could be considered a NY classic.

 

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The most famous pie here is probably the vodka sauce pie, which is what we decided to split. We also split a small pie here, because the large pies were pretty pricey.

Rubirosa also has a decent food menu, unlike many of the other classic NY pizza places. The Italian food here gets rave reviews in general, as does the wine list. Unfortunately, we had to get back to work and couldn’t enjoy the wine list this time.

 

Having eaten this pizza, we’d like to go to the original Joe & Pat’s in Staten Island, where the recipe originated. For now, though, its nice to have this place just a short walk away, especially with the colder weather.

It’s also pretty amazing that Eric managed to keep that nice work shirt clean…

To visit:

Rubirosa
235 Mulberry Street
New York, NY 10012

#98 Artichoke Basille

November 24th, 2015

Manhattan, NYC

Another lunchtime stop within walking distance of our office. Artichoke Basille has several locations around Manhattan, including the East Village, Chelsea, and Astoria, but we hit the location in Greenwich Village. It opened in 2008 and is famous primarily for its artichoke slice, which really is unlike anything that you’ve ever had.

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Obviously, we had to try the artichoke slice, which really should be an entire meal on its own. It has artichoke hearts, spinach, cream sauce, mozzarella, and pecorino romano, and is very heavy. I probably had one bite and then passed the rest off to Eric. We couldn’t just stop there, though, and we also had to order the margherita, pepperoni, and meatball parm slices.

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We thought these were decent slices. The crust was pretty sturdy to hold all those toppings (especially the artichokes) and the slices were the biggest that we had in NYC. They weren’t cheap though, each slice was about $5! When you can get dollar slices in NYC, its hard to justify spending that much here. Although, one slice will be enough to fill you up (unless you have giant stomachs like we do), and $5 for lunch in Manhattan really isn’t bad at all.

To visit:

Artichoke Basille
111 MacDougal Street
New York, NY 10012