a few months ago i decided that i wanted to combine my love of all things ridiculous with my love of pizza. i spoke with my buddy brian about the possibility of walking around new york city trying all of the famous, highly regarded pizza places. of course we would be drinking the whole time. he loved the idea, and so the NYC pizza tour was born. what follows is a photo series and brief notes that i kept on my phone. the notes are the ones that start detailed and devolve into "big time." the rest is explanation of the photos. i think you're smart enough to distinguish the two. you'll notice that as the night progressed the notes got less specific. that will happen when you've been eating pizza and drinking on the sly for 9 house. man, my life rules and i love my friends. oh, and just for your knowledge, d=dough, s=sauce, c=cheese and o=overall experience/enjoyment. the money signs indicate cheap to expensive, $ being cheap. (note-of course we couldn't hit ALL the places we should have, but we made a list of 9 that we'd regularly heard good things about. some changes were made, but here's what we ended up with. if necessary, we'll have to have a followup tour).
Pizza tour 2k9
though we were quite anxious to get the pizza eating underway, we felt we needed to start the day off right with a guinness. well done greg.
Art d3 s3 c4 o3
Marg d4 s4 c4 o4
Crab d3 s4 c4 o4
Una pizza napoletano
Marg d5 s3 c4 o4
Started off watery
Whole pies only 12"
this is a pretty small pizza for a lot of money, 22 bucks, and looked watery when we got it, but honestly, it was amazing. the dough was similar to naan bread, soft, pillowy and charred perfectly. overall this was one of the best experiences of the day.
the pizza champs outside UPN. i tried to take a photo of the guy chopping wood in the basement but it didn't come out. seriously though, my friends rule. does it get any better? oh, and orange joose? yea. exactly.
if it weren't for brian, the pizza tour never would've happened. thanks dude. well done. oh, and 32 oz cup for drinking on the sly? well done.
we decided to skip john's because it was pretty out of the way for where we were going and as it was we knew we wouldn't fit in every place. after using one of the most useful iphone apps, sit or squat, to find a bathroom we got some more beers and while ross filled us up i shot this great piece across the street. i definitely appreciate the idea.
D4 s3 c3 o3.5
Reg Good trad slice. Nothing new.
Pesto d2 s4 c4 o3.5
Good slice no synergy.
4 beers in.
this was a good slice. not amazing but definitely good. reminds me of new brunswick, nj pizza at my favorite place, so while by no means mind blowing, definitely a really good regular slice. and you know what, i'm quite alright with that.
my buddy jeff suggested this place and said the pesto sauce was "slammin'," i believe. i don't particularly care for olives but don't mind them enough to take them off. still, i think straight pesto would've been better and made more sense. overall, for me, pesto is a bit oily to make the entire base of the pizza, but i appreciate the sentiment.
leaving ray's we saw this entire slice of pizza deserted. under normal circumstances i would've eaten it. but not this day, and also it had meat on it, so probably not, but seriously, who gets a slice of pizza and then just ditches it? sorry the picture sucks, the camera took a second and we were on the move.
Whole pies only. Already had joose just got sparks. Good and bad beers. Getting full. Life rules. USA.
D3 s3 c3 o3
This was a good slice. Quality quasi gourmet nothing special but quite good.
this was tourist central. artichoke had locals waiting on line, this was all people traveling from other states and countries. this was probably when were the most brazen and ridiculous, opening beers and filling up our styrofoam cups on the street. i think it's crazy enough that for some reason i don't think that rules apply to me and that this is ok, but even crazier that my friends didn't bat an eyelash and did the same. i love them so much.
Good not great. Garlicky. Oily. If it's close do it don't go out of your way.
i forgot to take a photo of the traditional slice, but snapped a quick one of the fresh tomato slice before it disappeared. this was another place where i felt quite good about the pizza, and agree that NYC (and to perhaps a greater extent, NJ) pizza is generally awesome. even if it's not perfect or amazing, it's quite good.
further fillups in cool doorways.
you know it's a good pizza tour when it requires you to take a subway to another borough. we were headed towards lucali's which we hear is quite good, but when we got there a sign in the window told us they were closed for vacation. who does that? probably a place that doesn't believe in leaving the shop behind with just any random worker. we also met some locals who agreed it ruled and suggested a few other places, a few of which we'd already tried. go us. with no brooklyn slice yet we walked down the street and decided we'd throw a wild card in the pot and just try a random place. and that place? francesco's. it ruled. was arguably in the top two or three, and when i told the oven guy, he thanked me with a free slice cut into tiny pizza tour trial slices. amazing.
while they do make great pizza, brooklyn's spelling leaves something to be desired.
on our way to grimaldi's there was some really cool lights by the highway.
there was a long line but they let us cut it. they claimed it was because we were doing take out as opposed to sitting in the restaurant, but i think it's because they could smell we were professionals. well, it could've been that or the booze, not sure. there's probably a good explanation why photo's are missing.
after grimaldi's we walked across the brooklyn bridge back into manhattan. in all my time living right outside of NYC i've never done that. my brother and i used to talk about how we've done so many interesting things in other cities but never really did the "tourist" based things in new york. this was really fun and i got to do a lot of these kinds of things without it being super corny. and it really is quite beautiful at night.
We were drunk and it was good.
i believe greg exclaimed, "see, it doesn't matter where you go, the pizza's always good!" and while we're all aware of the old adage about how pizza is like sex, and we were pretty gonzo, i do remember this pizza actually being quite good.
overall i'd say this tour was a huge success. what did we learn? i'm not totally sure. i do know that for the most part there are huge differences between "gourmet" pizza and "traditional" pizza, but both are of worth and wonderful. i think they both have their place in this world and in my mouth/stomach. by the way, if you're wondering where the incredibly scientific scores came from, they were loose averages of everyone on the tour. i've decided for the most part they didn't help us come to much of a conclusion, but the basic notes did help quite a bit. the best part? wandering the city with people i love drinking beers and eating pizza on a beautiful day. does it get any better? i think not.