NYC Pizza: Hotspots and Hell Nos

As The Food Network would have you believe; basically every country in the history of food eating will claim the invention of pizza: the Ancient Greeks were noted to use their shields to bake bread with cheese and spices. The Lebanese and Persians baked bread with cheeses and dates, and even the Latin poem of Aeneid in 19bc reference what could be understood as pizza by calling them tables to be eaten. Weird stuff. But hey, even in American culture we're in a constant battle of which region supplies the best type of pizza (it's Detroit, BTW). Nobody has a clear story. Pizza moved to the US of A unofficially before the 20th century in New York thanks to Italian immigration and came to prosper more so during post-war times when the first pizza chain stores were introduced in California. That's our story. But, because of that initial boom in family run and loved pizzarias in NYC, I bring you a calm to some American pizza storm confusion- where in NYC can the best slice be found for the Michelangelo in all of us?


I'm no slouch in the pizza eating category, so, with this short introduction due to my over abundance of affection for New York City (just like Answer W. K. said) (I miss you deeply) I bring you the results of my NYC mini-tour in all things pizza. Four spots in as many days- good thing Manhattan is a pedestrian kind of town, eh?

 This drawing had me before I'd even ordered from Broadway.

E Broadway Pizza, Chinatown - Yassss Qweenies

My first stop. Not just in pizza but in the city. My plane was delayed for hours and by time I finally made it to Laguardia (after waiting again on the tarmac for about 50 minutes doing NOTHING because Spirit Airlines plus a drive from Queens to Chinatown) Broadway was one of the only vegetarian friendly places open nearby after 10pm. Gino, my incredible Airbnb host showed me the way to one of the most New York things I could imagine. A gorgeous oversized slice of cheesy brick oven goodness *swoon* after hearing two rats fighting or doing it under a car on the street. For $1.50 I received a piece so large that it was everything I needed after nary a cracker for about 9 hours. But it was good because it was good, not because it was there. Easily the best pizza of this self-proclaimed tour. Crisp, melty, seasoned! Actual seasoning! Perfection. If I could tolerate a day 5 of nothing more substantial than pizza and were near Chinatown at all by then I would have definitely become a repeat offender.

Villa Pizza, Times Square - Hard No

I did not want to go here, actually. I just got to walking in Times Square one night and it is difficult to find vegetarian friendly food on the street corners that aren't just fries that is also mascot character free. It was roughly 9:30p by time I ate as I kept trying to put it off, but as I was staying in Harlem (ugh never again) and had nothing around there I could trust besides the WORST Dunkin' in history. Erlack, I had to eat downtown. So, it's either crap pizza or paying for a 3 course meal because it seems like there's no in between if you don't want to eat on the street. So, crap it would be. I can get Villa at the mall near my house. It's not good, not as flavorful as even Sbarro, but I soon had it in my head that this would be my holy grail of dinners since my feet were dying and at the mall food court it's usually around $8 for pizza, a side and a drink. I must have blacked out and forgotten where I was because in TS it's about $14 for the same. Actually, less than the same. I got pizza and a pop for $12 and some change and my piece was real small so I was actually still hungry but so bitter at the crappy pizza for so much money that I refused to pay for anything else in Times Square. So, no, don't go here. It's weirdly loud, the pizza sucks, it's bland, dry and rife with bitterness and and overabundance of price. Not worth it. The place at the mall food court is actually better and faster. You come to Villa knowing you're paying more than it's worth, but, not this much. Bummer.


Radio City Pizza, Broadway - Harder Fuckin No

I went here on a whim, not actually intending for pizza, but mostly looking for something to drink and a place to pee. But I figured I'm hungry and already walked 6 miles, let's continue this god damn pizza journey. This was actually the last pizza I ate in town because this place made me so over it that I couldn't face another slice. Or, you know, timing, but still. This pizza was not good. I'm looking over their photos and menu and reviews and people seem to like it? Okay. When I went there was only one cheese option available, actually the only one with
out meat total, and it was square and lumpy. It was soggy yet dry on top and dry on the bottom, overly doughy and old tasting. They reheated it for me for a minute or two so I can't even imagine how dry and sad it would have been otherwise. Maybe I just had a bad timing moment while there, but probably not. Their rest room was in shambles, just like their pizza options. There were bottles of cleaner all over the floor,  paper towels instead of TP and the sink was rusted from the tap. So, no, I don't think it would have been much better on a different day. It was just plain awful. Like, when you wish you had lunch lady Colleen back from your Lakeview HS hot lunch days instead of this crud you just paid $7 for- that's a problem! Freshish pizza in one of the pizza capitols of the world should never be compared to and beaten in flavor by your Styrofoam plate of "pizza" in school. But thems the breaks. (Shout out to Colleen who is still great.) It was garbage pizza and I'm bummed to have discovered it. I don't know what could have possibly happened to me this day because looking it up now I'm seeing gorgeous pizzas and options galore with 4-5 star reviews. LIARS! Look at that less than mediocrity right up there! Don't do it. It's better to be hungry than poorer and dissatisfied wishing for school lunches.

Ray's, Famous Original, Midtown- Meh, okay. I'd go again.

Pizza day two brought me here but I like storytelling out of order, apparently. It's more of a chain than you'd think because it's basically just a hole when you look in. But, the pizza is good. I got a slice with ricotta, which was new to me, and nearly defeated me. Well, I suppose it did. I could not finish it but not for lack of want like other places. *AhemFuckYouVilla* It's amazing at first- best thing ever and every bite brings on a Pooh Bear dance, but then it hits like a cheese brick half through and you're certain you couldn't possibly take one more bite. It's roughly $5 or $6 for this one stupid slice that I could not even finish. It was really good while the feelings lasted and introduced me to a new flavor palette. Well, the same but different. Not all cheese is created equally and I will fight you on that. I'd go here again, but be advised that the signs say things like cheese slice $2! or One topping $2.50! and other lies like that and what they mean is that this piece of shit dunce cap we call pizza sitting in the darkened corner without so much as a heat lamp that was made 6 hours ago- THAT is $2. There's nothing specifying any degree of menu item here, or at least it's a map of confusion rather than just something like "here is some pizza, it costs this much money, do you want it?" Yes, yes I do. Though a tad more pricey than I'd prefer from my holes in the wall joints, because I reckon I was spoiled by East Broadway right off, it's still pretty good eating. There were tons of options if you're into that kind of thing, and as long as you know it's going to be more than a few bucks you'll be fine. I sat and read for about 45 minutes without feeling rushed (I read the shit out of Unbroken ALL over this town!) and was full enough to make it past an hour, again, unlike other places. It's worth at least one stop. Like Baskin Robins, there are probably 31 flavors.

Look at how gross this looks. Dry and burned fare at Villa. Only $5 for two. Hard pass.

So, all in all, E Broadway was the best and I am betting that all pizza holes in walls that peddle 'za for $2 or less are all the best pizzas in town. In my small field test here I sort of picked up that the more expensive the pizza slice, the more terrible and wasteful it is. Mostly, at least because Ray's was okay and middle of the road in price. But speaking in generals, I agree with my own words. For being the kinds of places you can walk into, get a paper plate of food and leave; the cheaper the better. For every reason. Perhaps on my next trip I will round out on bagels (pun!) and/or desserts. But for now, you know you love me.

XOXO, Gossip Girl.

Just kidding. It's still me. But, please do send me your NYC tips.

Be kind out there, my doves.

Comments

  1. I love the title of this post! The only one of these I have eaten myself E. Broadway Pizza and it was really good! I have seen gas station pizzas that have looked better than the Villa Pizza

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    1. It's the best one! And yeah, Villa was better from lakeside mall than in times square, it was not even pizza!

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  2. I'm not the hugest fan of pizza, but I have to say that the E.Broadway Pizza looks pretty delicious!

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    1. It is! Plus, they give back to the community so that somehow makes it taste even better.

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  3. Love your guide to pizzas in New York! I adore pizza, serious yum! So this is perfect for anyone in New York and looking for some of that scrumptious dough. I like that you've rated as well to show the places that aren't so good, very thorough!

    Jordanne || Thelifeofaglasgowgirl.co.uk

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