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Monday, January 12, 2009

Pizza: New York City

New York is a dizzying place when it comes to pizza.  There is a spot on every block and it is almost all at least average pizza.  Due to the large amounts of pizza joints in the city, there has to be stiff competition between them.  This is what keeps the price down and the pizza tasting good.  It is hard to find a place like say Greco's on Hollywood Blvd. in NY.  Greco's is over-priced touristy pizza.  You know what is touristy in NY, a place called Grimaldi's.  You can wait in line for over an hour for a pizza.  The difference of course is, this is one of the best pizza's in NY.  Now I am sure that NY has its own no-name touristy pizza joints, maybe around Time Square, but I can guess they are better than Greco's.  

I won't say that LA has bad pizza.  What I will say is that, the average pizza here in LA, is not as good as the average pizza in NY.  There are definitely some pretty good spots here.  But you go to any corner in NY and I bet that pizza will taste better than most places here in LA.  Now you take the best pizza in LA and hold it up to the best in NY, well thats the point of my blog.  But I have yet to find one that is better.  NY is the the king and the father of pizza for a reason.

I recently got back from the City of New York, and had a lot, a lot of pizza.  So as you can tell this is what has sparked my NY pizza kick.  My unofficial mission was to try all the well known, most publicized, best slices of pizza in NY.  There are a lot.  So of course I fell short of that goal.  Such as Rays, the famous original, original famous.  I missed out on that one.  Of course every one in NY has their favorite and it is always a different place on a different street, because there are just so many.  I could never do this same thing with my blog in NY I would go crazy.        

So I went to a small handful of the best.  Starting with Lombardi's, John's and Joe's in one day.  Then Patsy's and Grimaldi's. And a few in between that aren't worth mentioning, not because they were bad just because I don't want to waste your time.  
I want to also mention a little help that I got in my mission.  Scott's Pizza Tours.  A friend of mine that has started a pizza tour in New York.  He has 2 types of tours, a school bus tour that covers more miles and more pizza and a tour by foot, that sticks to a few blocks of the most famous pizza area.  Little Italy.   I highly recommend this tour if you are in town.  It is a complete history lesson on pizza, you stop not only at lots of pizza places and eat lots of great pizza, but there a lots of other things to see along the way, such as a small room where they make 40 percent of all the pizza ovens in NY.  So go to the site and sign up, its awesome.  

Lombardis was one of the places on the pizza tour.  Lombardi's is licensed as the first pizza place in the U.S.  It is the original Napoletana style pizza.  Thin crust, fine sweet sauce and slices of fresh mozzarella.  This is what crust is supposed to be.  Super thin with a light airy and doughy center.  IT is extremely crispy on the outside, and has black spots on the underside due to the coal fired brick oven.   Absolutely delicious, no question.  

Joe's Pizza off Bleeker Street is the next place we went to on our pizza tour.  This is a more traditional NY style pizza.  It has a thinner flatter crust but also extremely crispy.  With good tomatoey sweet sauce and shredded cheese covering the pizza.  This crust had a little more density to it and was doughier in the center.  The ratio was more centered around the cheese with this place.  The sauce was light and sweeter than Lombardi's.  This place cooks in a Deck oven that is electric, which is what most places use, however they are the few who use it right.  
There also is a Joe's that has opened in Santa Monica by the same owner, it does not taste exactly the same but very very similar.  I will discuss in my Joe's Pizza Blog.

John's Pizzeria - the 3rd and last place we went to on the tour.  John's is yet another different style than the last 2.  This crust is a flatter curst that doesnt have as much rise to it.  But very crispy and thin.  Actually it was crispier and had a more blacked bottom and edges than the others.  This had more sauce and more, thicker slices of mozzarella.  It was a little messy and more greasy than the others but in a good way.  This place also used the brick oven, way of cooking.

Patsy's Pizzeria -  This place felt more like a chain than the others, thats because I guess it is.  there are 6 or so of these places.  The place has a newer, cleaner feel than other pizza joints.  Doesn't feel as authentic.  But it is legit.  The crust was yet a different style.  This was so extremely thin, it became too crispy and brittle on the edges.  There was no doughy center.  Similar to Stone Fire Pizza in LA, however crust-wise and all around much, much better.  The sauce and cheese was not layered like most pizza, it was all mixed around some sauce underneath of thick mozzarella slices underneath more sauce.  Some areas were all sauce some were all cheese.  The sauce was sweet with a lot of different spicy flavors.  Over all it was my least favorite, especially since the thin crust and the front door constantly open caused the pizza to go from piping hot to straight up cold, in like 20 minutes.

Grimaldi's Pizzeria - I visited this place on a cold afternoon.  There was a line a mile long, as you can kind of see in the picture.  Every tourist out for the day seemed to be here.  We were told it would be 25 minutes and it wasn't it was an hour.  Then we went in, took our jackets off, ordered a large cheese ate it, paid and left with in 20 minutes.  Then back out into the cold.  Worth it? Yes, it is great pizza.  Very similar to Lombardi's in style.  The cheese was thicker and creamier.  The crust was a bit flatter and had a chewier dense feel.  I prefer the crust at Lombardi's personally.  The sauce and cheese were a little heavier and tastier perhaps, but if I had to wait an hour all the time, I'd probably go else where.

Overall I'd say I was pretty satisfied every time and I wish there was pizza as good as these all over the place.  The best part was the price.  They are so cheap.  This last one at Grimaldi's despite being highly rated as the best pizza in the world, despite being an attraction for tourists who don't know better, despite having the freshest high quality ingredients.  A large 18 inch pizza was 15 dollars.  You can't beat that.  Some of the crappiest pizza in LA I've had to spend over 20 dollars for.  Unbelievable.  
So here is my ranking I guess, but there are all so good.
1. John's - 5 slices
2. Joes's - 5 slices
3. Lombardi's - 5 slices
4. Grimaldi's - 4.5 slices
5. Patsy's  - 4 slices
(this is of course new york slices, the exchange rate is I'd say about a slice and a half better than LA slices)  (Meaning if John's Pizzeria was in LA it would get a 6.5 slices...  maybe)

Lombardi's on Urbanspoon
Grimaldi's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon
John's of Bleecker Street on Urbanspoon
Famous Joe's Pizza on Urbanspoon


  1. Lombardi's is still my favorite pizza to date. I always make a point to stop there for a pie whenever I make it out to NY. Wish they'd export that to LA like Joe's!

  2. Best pizzas .. I live in LA area... too.
    our family really picky about pizza.

    Do you know of more New york style pizza.. .
    nice site.

    also check my blog

  3. now..try front street pizza on front st in dumbo section of bklyn right off the bklyn bridge and 3 blocks from overrated grimaldi's.
    there's patsy's pizza on 114th st and 1st and of course, di fara pizza in bklyn on ave #1 todo mundo

  4. YOUR FRIEND IS SCOTT THE PIZZA TOUR MAN?! i have a friend who's obsessed with that tour, well actually he's obsessed with going on it...

    you should definitely submit some of your photos to their goal is to create a visual restaurant review site with a template similiar to that of tastespotting

  5. Pizza just tastes better in New York!!!

    I lived in south Jersey for 16 years and have been to philly alot. philly pizza sucks, I couldn't wait to come to New York for some real pizza.

    Don't believe the hype, Their chessesteaks in philly are not anything special. I had better chessesteaks in New York!!!

  6. Awesome website!

    BTW.. for anyone ever visiting Alaska, best pizza in the state is Moose's Tooth in Anchorage.. YUM!

    Jerry from Inglewood, CA


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