Finding the best pizza in NY is nothing short of impossible. There are too many places for starters and everyone's a connoisseur. But it IS National Pizza Week, and we couldn't let it pass by without giving you a guide to the best that the city can offer.
There's no way we could have done what the Slice Harvester did, but we considered (and tasted) both traditional NY slices and pies, as well as taking a look at some of the non-traditional choices. We stuck to places in Manhattan and Brooklyn to keep it simple, and our only criteria was that the pizza would be nothing gimmicky (looking at you, OccuPie), and we weren't looking for the best 99-cent/dollar slice joint. Without further ado (and in no particular order), we present our guide to the best pizza in town.
Pizza Suprema (Chelsea)
There's a huge banner above the awning that says, "Awarded One of the 10 BEST PIZZAS IN N.Y.C." Not that it matters who awarded it though; the Slice Harvester (Colin Hagendorf) himself rated this place as being the best of all the pizza joints he tried in the city (that's all 362 slice joints in Manhattan, folks!). It was so good, he got a second slice!
Price: $2.50 and up.
Try: The plain cheese slice (light thin crust topped with their house tomato sauce, the finest Grande Mozzarella and Romano cheeses) since it's the one that the Slice Harvester gave it a perfect score of 8 out of 8 slices.
Artichoke Basille's Pizza (various locations)
These are not your traditional NY slices and you shouldn't even come here expecting to get a traditional slice (it's available though). Fans include Keith Richards and Momofuku's David Chang.
Price: $4 and up
Try: The namesake artichoke slice (artichoke hearts, spinach, cream sauce, mozzarella and pecorino romano cheeses). It's like pizza with a creamy, cheesy, spinach and artichoke dip.
Lombardi's Pizza (Nolita)
America's first pizzeria. Despite moving a block from their original location, Lombardi's still makes their pizza with a brick-walled coal oven.
Price: A small pie (14"/6 slices) will set you back $16.50; a large (18"/8 slices) costs $20.50.
Try: The original margherita (fresh mozzarella, San Marzano tomato sauce, topped with romano and fresh basil), if only to see why the rest of the country copied the style.
They only use organic ingredients for their pizza.
Price: $13-$29 for pies that come in 12", 21", and 29".
Try: Tartufo (portobello pesto, mushrooms, mozzarella (smoked or regular), rosemary, and truffle oil). Mmm, truffle oil.
Motorino (East Village)
They use a wood-fired brick oven, and Sam Sifton of The New York Times called it "the city's best pizza." The original location in Brooklyn is closed, but is looking to re-open soon. Fans include the likes of Rachael Ray.
Price: $9-$17 for a personal pie.
Try: Brussels Sprouts & Pancetta (fior di latte, garlic, pecorino, smoked pancetta) or Soppressata Piccante (tomato, fior di latte, spicy soppressata, chili flakes, and garlic). We assume Brussels sprouts are actually included in that first pie. And in case you were wondering, fior di latte is a type of mozzarella and soppressata is cured dry salami.
Two Boots (various locations)
A fun themed Lousiana-style pizza place. The pizza crust is made with cornmeal. Definitely not traditional.
Price: $7.50-$26.95 for pies that come in 12", 16", 18" and various toppings.
Try: The Dude (Cajun bacon cheeseburger pie, with tasso, andouille, ground beef, cheddar, and mozzarella). Jeff Bridges and bowling ball not included.
Patsy's Pizzeria (East Harlem)
As one of the earliest establishments to make pizza (they opened in 1933), they also have a coal oven. The eponymous Patsy is said to have learned how to make pizza from training under Lombardi. This was Frank Sinatra's favorite pizza joint; he ordered 100 pies from Patsy's to be flown to Palm Springs for a party once.
Price: $12 and up.
Try: The original (paper thin crust, tomato sauce, grated mozzarella). It's what Frankie would've wanted you to do.
Vezzo (Murray Hill)
Not usually on the list for best pizzas in the city, we thought we'd give it a try.
Price: $7 for the 9" personal pie, $14 for the 16" large pie
Try: Shroomtown (marinara sauce, cheese, portobello mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, button mushrooms, and white truffle oil). What can we say? We love 'shrooms.
Di Fara Pizza (Midwood):
As of 2011, it is Zagat-rated as the #1 pizzeria for the 8th year in a row. The only person allowed to touch the pizza is the legendary owner, Dominic DeMarco (though his kids are also getting in on the business). The plain cheese pizza is made with a combo of fresh and canned San Marzano tomatoes made daily on premises and a combo of high-quality mozzarella and fresh mozzarella that is imported from Italy, with a dusting of grana padana, all on a thin crust. Dom DeMarco will also be the one drizzling the EVOO and cutting up the fresh basil to top it off right in front of you.
Price: $5 and up. (Downside: At $5 for a plain slice, it is the most expensive place in the city for pizza sold per slice.)
Try: The Di Fara Special (square, red pie, hand-cut pepperoni, fresh and aged mozzarella, grana padana, EVOO, fresh basil), if you're looking for something other than a round plain slice/pie. It's "legendary" according to their menu.
L&B Spumoni Gardens (Gravesend):
The one place on our list where the Sicilian pie is what made them famous. Oh, and the spumoni too.
Price: $2.25 and up.
Try: We tend to like our pizzas round, but get the Sicilian. It's light, but saucy, and it's what made them famous.
Luigi Pizzeria (Clinton Hill):
Pratt students enjoy this neighborhood staple.
Price: $2.50 and up.
Try: The point of it being a neighborhood joint and near a school is that it's meant to be quick, easy, and cheap. Get the regular.
Totonno's (Coney Island)
A part of the pizza-making dynasty (if we may call it that), Antonio "Totonno" Pero began selling tomato pies cooked in a coal oven and wrapped in paper and tied with a string when he was employed at Lombardi's. When he left Lombardi's, he obviously had to get himself a coal-oven, knowing how good it made the pizza.
Price: $15.50 and up.
Try: OK, we understand it's located in the hinterlands of Coney Island, but the trip is worth it. Our rec? A pie with red peppers and olives.
Grimaldi's Pizzeria (Dumbo)
Also a part of the pizza-making dynasty, Patsy Grimaldi learned how to make pizza at his uncle's shop, Patsy's Pizzeria. Grimaldi's also uses a coal-fired brick oven to make their tasty pies. The line in the summertime is usually an hour long, and that's for both eat-in and take-out orders. (Side note/History: Patsy Grimaldi sold the establishment (along with naming and branding rights) in 1998 to Frank Ciolli. As of December 2011, Grimaldi's moved to a new location - next door to 1 Front Street - because Ciolli had fallen behind on rent and taxes and the landlord refused to renew the lease. The original location will now be used by Patsy Grimaldi for a pizzeria called Juliana's, in honor of his late mother. And the circle is complete.)
Price: $12 and up.
Try: We like the basic pie (fresh mozzarella cheese, fresh tomato, basil), but get the pepperoni. They use the most amazing pepperoni ever. None of that store-bought stuff.
The owners have been "obsessed with pizza their whole lives" so they set out to make pizza that reminded them of their childhood, because, honestly, nothing is better than good food memories from childhood. They also use a wood-burning oven for their pizzas.
Price: $10 and up
Try: Capocollo (cured pork salumi), for the delicate flavor and tender, fatty texture that is sure to make your mouth happy.
Artisinal pizza in Brooklyn? Not possible, you say? Roberta's will prove you wrong.
Price: $9 and up
Try: Banana Hammock (bechamel, mozzarella, pork sausage, pepperoncini, red onion, garlic, and cilantro). Great name, great pizza.
And that's our list. We know you won't be able to try them all this week, but there's always next week, and the week after that, and the week after that... You get the idea.