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"Brooklyn-Style" Pizza:

The N.Y. Times takes a look at Domino's new "Brooklyn-style" pizza, which not surprisingly only faintly resembles actual Brooklyn pizza.

One thing the article doesn't mention, and which, as a native of Queens (right on the Brooklyn border) astounds me, is the proliferation of Domino's and (worse yet)Pizza Hut outlets throughout New York City, including Brooklyn. Okay, I'm a pizza snob. But really, in New York (outside, perhaps, Manhattan, where the pizza situation has become dire) you are rarely more than a few blocks away from at least decent New York pizza. And decent New York pizza is, for example, better than anything I'm able to find in the entire D.C. metropolitan area. Why would anyone in Brooklyn, ever order the dreck they sell at Domino's?

UPDATE: IMHO, the best pizza in Brooklyn, in order, is Di Faro's (Midwood), Tottonno's (Coney Island) and Grimaldi's (DUMBO). I like My Little Pizzeria in Brooklyn Heights/Downtown Brooklyn for a quick slice, and, if you find yourself in Queens, you can't go wrong with the unheralded but excellent Carlo's in Middle Village. Rosa's, a few blocks down, is also quite good. I used to like Gino's in Howard Beach, but had mediocre pizza there recently; a good friend is highly partial to the pizza at New Park Pizza, which unfortunately is best known for a horrible racist incident in the 1980s that tangentially involved the pizzeria.

KeithK (mail):
Why would anyone, anywhere ever order the dreck they pass off as pizza at Domino's? But in NYC it's a crime. Sacrilege even.
11.8.2006 1:55pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail) (www):
DB, you say that the Manhattan situation is dire. That it may be, with Ray's being the chief cuplrit, because some people don't know that it's just another awful chain. BUT, if you get a chance, go to Joe's on West 4th and 6th Ave, (at just about any time of night). It's perfect.
11.8.2006 2:01pm
Kovarsky (mail):
everything is cooler in brooklyn.

but seriously, whats up with the argument about the impoverished state of manhattan pizza? maybe it sucks north of 23rd in the nosebleed part of the borough, but downtown pie is still pretty strong.
11.8.2006 2:02pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
I don't know, K, a foodie friend in the meatpacking district says he can't get a decent slice in walking distance.
11.8.2006 2:07pm
Chris Pear:
Have you ever tried Alberto's over by Dupont Circle? It's not NY Style strictly speaking but their thin crust is pretty good - maybe even better than mediocre pizza from New York.
11.8.2006 2:13pm
buddingeconomist:
I second your very important point. I have wondered the same thing for a long time. Manhattan still has decent pizza in Little Italy (what's left of Little Italy) btw. Nothing compares to Brooklyn pizza though.
11.8.2006 2:17pm
Enrique Armijo (mail):
I agree with the Alberto's recommendation - pizza is fine and goes by the slice, plus the ambience (standing up at the white counter across from the pizza ovens; garlic powder, red pepper flakes and napkin dispenser all w/in arm's reach) strikes the right note. About as good as you can get here in the District.
11.8.2006 2:17pm
buddingeconomist:
"BUT, if you get a chance, go to Joe's on West 4th and 6th Ave"

Is that that little hole in the wall old pizza joint thats been there forever, on the west side of the street? Or was that a greasy falafel and bagel deli... i forget.
11.8.2006 2:20pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
I haven't tried Alberto's, thanks for the tip. The best I've found so far, believe it or not, is at a place in the Fair City Mall in Fairfax City.
11.8.2006 2:22pm
uh clem (mail):
Why would anyone in Brooklyn, ever order the dreck they sell at Domino's?

Because simply residing in The City doesn't automatically mean that you have developed good taste in food. Sure, much better pizza is to be had, but if you can't taste the difference you're going to go for the inexpensive convienent option.

Hey, there are Subway sandwich shops around Philly. Same thing.
11.8.2006 2:24pm
jallgor (mail):
I just moved from Brooklyn to Manhattan and I have seen a noticeable downturnin pizza quality. I live on 17th street and I have been lamenting the lack of good pizza within reach. Sure I can find some good "high-end" pizza in nearby restaurants but I am talking about places that deliver and serve walk-ins by the slice. All the places use watered down sauce and super cheap, faux-mozzerella that oozes some unnatural orange oil when it's melted.
11.8.2006 2:27pm
Andrew W (mail) (www):
I take it you're not a fan of Ledo's pizza then? They've got franchises now all over the mid-Atlantic but they started in College Park. It's my favorite pizza anywhere BUT it's not normal pizza. The pieces are square (picture Sicilian if it was thin-crust) and the emphasis is on the sauce, not the cheese.
11.8.2006 2:36pm
subpatre (mail):
From curiosity, how do you get around the (pork) sausage dilemma?
11.8.2006 2:38pm
Steve:
Once upon a time when I lived in Chicago, this somewhat ditzy girl from down South was visiting my group of friends. "Let's all go out to dinner tonight," I said, "I know where to get the best deep-dish pizza in all of Chicago."

She gave me a look. "Oh, come on, it can't POSSIBLY be better than Pizza Hut." Words failed me.
11.8.2006 2:40pm
Duffy Pratt (mail):
Because its cheap, fast, and consistent? Those are all things that Americans seem to prize over quality. Yeah, Dominoes may suck, but it sucks the same everywhere and you can have it in 20 minutes, and you can get like 3 bad pies at Dominoes for the price of one good one from the local pizzaria.

Brooklyn pizza is good. Long Island has some places that are as good or better than anywhere in Brooklyn. Christiano's in Syosset is amazing (it's the place that Billy Joel based Scenes from an Italian Restaurant on). So is Little Vincents in downtown Huntington.

And pizza is one of the few really great things about New Haven. Sally's, Pepi's, The Spot, Modern, Naples, Howe Street Pizzeria. Please don't tell me the pizza in New Haven has gone downhill.
11.8.2006 2:40pm
Arbusto Spectrum:
In Manhattan, John's Pizza (three locations) is pretty darned good, in my view. There are plenty of decent brick oven options for "personal-sized" pies, as well. But I have no intent to move back to Manhattan from Brooklyn, where I can walk to Grimaldi's or order in from Fascati's.
11.8.2006 2:41pm
WHOI Jacket:
May I ask, what exactly makes a "Brooklyn Style" pizza?
11.8.2006 2:42pm
David Chesler (mail) (www):
Didn't they sell a "New York style" pizza a few years ago, with Spike Lee hawking it?

The best pizza is in the Bronx: 18", thin, flexible crust, yeasty bready outside, sauce and cheese mixed, mozzarella (I'm in the land of Greek Houses of Pizza, so that's not obvious), and most importantly, the sauce is sweet. (If I could get a decent slice of pizza, and a bagel that fights back, I wouldn't be nearly as homesick as I am. A shop opened near where I live and I was unimpressed with the nominally Neapolitan pizza. The proprietor said "That's because most of the pizza around here is Greek, we're from the North End, and you're not used to this kind" and I set him straight that no, it's because I'm from the Bronx and I know what pizza is supposed to be like, and while this was closer, it was still way off the mark.)

I had a good slice once in Howard Beach or Rockaway, but I have spent an amazingly small part of my adult life in Brooklyn (I spent most of the first 20 months of my life around Brooklyn College), and I don't know if I've ever had pizza there.

But there's a Red Lobster in Hyannis, so go figure.
11.8.2006 2:42pm
WHOI Jacket:
Best Lobster Roll in Hyannis:

Spanky's Clam Shack on Water St.

Right on the inner waterfront, near the Hy-Line ferry stop.

(Now, that's something I know about...)
11.8.2006 2:45pm
John Burgess (mail) (www):
I guess I'm a pizza snob beyond David's pizza snobbery...

I think NY pizza is pretty poor. My preferences, in DC, certainly run to Two Amys and Pizza Paradiso (the G'town branch over the Dupont Circle one).
11.8.2006 2:48pm
James R Dillon (mail):
DB, you say that the Manhattan situation is dire. That it may be, with Ray's being the chief cuplrit, because some people don't know that it's just another awful chain. BUT, if you get a chance, go to Joe's on West 4th and 6th Ave, (at just about any time of night). It's perfect.

I find Joe's overrated, and Ray's, though a chain, is generally pretty good. You certainly can't be suggesting that it's comparable to Domino's!

The best pizza in Manhattan that I know of, though, is Little Italy on 43rd and Madison. Or maybe 43rd/5th.
11.8.2006 2:49pm
wolfefan (mail):
I work near the Fair City Mall - what's the name of the pizza place there? And I'm with Andrew W on Ledo's...

When I lived in Chicago, I developed a taste for that style. I'm a pizza proletarian (or a pizza plebian) so Uno's will do...but I miss Giordano's and Geno's East. Not sure if true Chicagoans consider these good, but for a boy from Ohio they were a revelation!
11.8.2006 2:56pm
Aaron:
The best pizza on the Upper West Side is Coronet on 102 and B'way--the slices are enormous and the crust is perfect. Furthermore, the cheese-sauce ratio is just right (for a non-fresh slice).

What has been lost in this pizza discussion is that the absolute best pizza in B'kln ( and hence, the galaxy) is the sicilian at L&B's Spumoni Gardens.
11.8.2006 2:58pm
dave (mail):
Patsy's near Bllomingdale's and Two Boots in the west Village are good slices.
11.8.2006 3:00pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Sorry, John, I think Pizza Paradiso is just AWFUL. When my wife first came to the U.S. from Israel, she thought it was great, but now that she's had NY pizza, she won't touch the stuff.

I actually do like Lido's, the sauce is excellent, but, like you said, it's not real pizza.

As for sausage, real New Yorkers rarely get toppings on their pizza. Domino's and Pizza hut are basically selling you a crust with some sauce and cheese to put toppings on. But good NY pizza stands on its own (though, when getting pizza with fresh mozzarella at Grimaldi's or Tottonno's, I like fresh garlic added to add some zing.)

As for New Haven, I was at Pepe's a couple of weeks ago, and was disappointed. It was good, but not great.

Howard Beach used to have some excellent pizza, but I was at Gino's recently and it was mediocre. Maybe New Park is still good.
11.8.2006 3:01pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
I don't remember the name of the place at Fair City, but it's easy to find, near the movie theater.

Oddly enough, Fairfax City also has the best bagels I've found in the D.C. area, at the Main Street Bagel Deli, owned by a couple from Brooklyn.
11.8.2006 3:02pm
Ted Frank (www):
David, try also The Italian Store on Lee Highway in Arlington, across the street from the pawn shop, in the mall with the CVS and the Giant. They do a passable New York pizza (including white pizza), excellent (if very treyf) subs, and have a good selection of imports.

I third the recommendation for Alberto's in Dupont for pizza qua pizza, though it isn't New York pizza.

Law school, however, converted me into a Chicago pizza devotee.
11.8.2006 3:13pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
The problem with The Italian Store is (a) too big a line during lunch time and (b) if you go when it's not lunch time the pizza has been sitting for hours.
11.8.2006 3:14pm
Raphael Laufer (mail):
Have you tried Valentino's? It's at the edge of Alexandria where it butts up against Lincolnia on Beauregard Street where it meets Duke. The best pizza I've had outside of NYC.
11.8.2006 3:27pm
Kaimi Wenger (mail):
It's a good question. I blogged some thoughts on the matter at Concurring Opinions . The short version: Domino's provides a baseline, a level of protection against truly awful mom-and-pop shops, for people who are unfamiliar with the area. Domino's is uninspired and bland, but a truly bad corner pizza joint is quite a bit worse, and so for the risk-averse, Domino's may make sense. (The idea is set out in a little more detail at the Co-Op post.)
11.8.2006 3:49pm
Still Learning:
Isn't Brooklyn-style pizza kind of like a cracker with ketchup on it? It'd be a good appetizer.
For a meal I prefer the inch-thick Chicago style.
11.8.2006 3:52pm
Brownie:

DB, you say that the Manhattan situation is dire. That it may be, with Ray's being the chief cuplrit, because some people don't know that it's just another awful chain. BUT, if you get a chance, go to Joe's on West 4th and 6th Ave, (at just about any time of night). It's perfect.

I find Joe's overrated, and Ray's, though a chain, is generally pretty good. You certainly can't be suggesting that it's comparable to Domino's!


Maybe somebody from New York can correct me, but it was my understanding that Ray's isn't actually a chain, just a group of generally-unrelated, confusingly-named shops. I stopped into one in Midtown when I was in New York a couple of weeks ago (only restaurant within walking distance I could find open at 3 in the morning) and it was good (though not great). The quality is supposed to vary greatly depending on which "Ray's" you go to.
11.8.2006 3:52pm
dave (mail):
"Maybe somebody from New York can correct me, but it was my understanding that Ray's isn't actually a chain, just a group of generally-unrelated, confusingly-named shops."

More or less true.
11.8.2006 4:05pm
The NJ Annuitant (mail):
For truly great Pizza, go to New Haven: Frank Pepe's or Sally's -- unique in all the world --- and perhaps the birthplace of Americn pizza.
11.8.2006 4:13pm
James R Dillon (mail):
It's a good question. I blogged some thoughts on the matter at Concurring Opinions . The short version: Domino's provides a baseline, a level of protection against truly awful mom-and-pop shops, for people who are unfamiliar with the area. Domino's is uninspired and bland, but a truly bad corner pizza joint is quite a bit worse, and so for the risk-averse, Domino's may make sense. (The idea is set out in a little more detail at the Co-Op post.)

That might explain the prevalence of Dominos or Pizza Hut in the more tourist-heavy parts of town (like it explains the Olive Garden and Red Lobster at Times Square). I don't find it persuasive as to the parts of the city mostly visited by locals, which would include most of Brooklyn, yet there's a Dominos and a Pizza Hut within walking distance of my Cobble Hill apartment, when every one of the five or six local joints that I can think of in the same area are far superior. On the other hand, I can't think of a better explanation, beyond my suspicion that there is a segment of the population that actually prefers mediocrity.
11.8.2006 4:16pm
Josh Wexler (mail) (www):
The pizzeria in midwood is DiFara's (not DiFaro's). I thought it was worth the minor correction as it is worth seeking out. As for Manhattan, I'm astounded nobody has mentioned Lombardi's (corner of Mott and Spring), which I think is the best in the pizza in all the USA's 52 boroughs.
11.8.2006 4:36pm
Spartacus (www):
As any native Brooklynite should know, the best pizza is almost always "the place on the corner right by my place (or the place I grew up)." My favorite is Dominic's right on the corner of 42nd and 7th in Sunset Park, although it has close competition from the place (name slips my mind) on 9th ave btwn 39th and 40th, right near the 9th ave subway.

For any ex-NYers in SF/Berkeley or Austin, I highly receommend these genuine NY transplants:

SF/Berkeley: Arinell's: on Valencia &16 in SF (is it still there?) and on Shattuck 1 1/2 blocks south of University in Berkeley (ditto?)

Austin: Slices &Ices on the Drag (Guadalupe) right at the end of Dean Keeton.
11.8.2006 4:38pm
eatingforbrooklyn (mail) (www):
I think DiFara's is among the best in Brooklyn, but the wait can be unbearable. Grimaldi's is decent too, but inconsistent. Franny's gets great reviews. Then there's Totonno's that the Times compares Domino's to.

Yeah so why would anyone order Domino's unless for the sheer novelty of it.

In Manhattan, Lombardi's and Una Pizza Napolitana make mean pies.
11.8.2006 4:39pm
Hoya:
I'm a little suspicious of claims of the form 'You can't get a decent X outside of Y.' Would not market forces send enterprising competent Brooklyn pizza bakers even to an outpost like Washington D.C., given the obvious high demand for quality product? Or is it possible, just possible, that demerit points get assigned to Two Amys' (etc.) just because it is located outside of NY?
11.8.2006 4:39pm
uh clem (mail):
By the way, pizza in the midwest is terrible. Soggy, too sweet, too many toppings, and bland. Dominos &Little Ceasar's started here for a reason.

I'm sure you knew that already, but this thread wouldn't be complete without it.

If I want pizza, I have to make my own. It's not the same as NY style - I can't seem to get the thin/crisp thing quite right, but it's better than the alternative.
11.8.2006 4:43pm
BobH (mail):
Okay, let me see if I have this straight: (1) There is pizza of various sorts in various boroughs of New York City. (2) There is pizza in and around the District of Columbia. (3) There is pizza in New Haven. (4) There is pizza in Chicago, but it is fundamentally different from the pizzas in NYC, in and around DC, and New Haven -- though not different enough to be unrecognizable as pizza. (5) In venues other than NYC, in and around DC, New Haven, and Chicago there is Dominos, which doesn't count as pizza. Dominos also exists in NYC, in and around DC, New Haven, and Chicago, but no one knows why. (6) Apparently there is no pizza west of Chicago, but this part confuses me because I know I've had good pizza at Casa Bianca in Eagle Rock, CA.

Oh, wait ... I understand now. Folks in NYC, in and around DC, New Haven, and Chicago are loath to admit that there is ANYthing west of Chicago. Indeed, I've noticed that folks in NYC are seldom willing to admit that there is anything west of NYC.
11.8.2006 4:43pm
Spartacus (www):
Hoya: demand is driven by the fact that only those raised (or genuinely converted) to NY pizza, necessarily prefer it, as demonstrated by the comments. I admit to being a pizza "snob," but recognize that not everyone shares my provincial preferences. Thus, demand outside NY is driven largely by transplants like myself. This is why the quality in Manhattan is patchy--the many tourists will fall for anything, perhpas even Domino's "B'klyn style" [sic, gag], whereas in B'klyn, especially in the remoter nbhds (i.e., not downtown, or in w'burg, park slope, etc.) the quality is more uniform, genuine, Italian-American, original. But as notedin my comment above, the same quality is attainable even outside NYC.
11.8.2006 4:45pm
Master Shake:

Once upon a time when I lived in Chicago, this somewhat ditzy girl from down South was visiting my group of friends. "Let's all go out to dinner tonight," I said, "I know where to get the best deep-dish pizza in all of Chicago."

She gave me a look. "Oh, come on, it can't POSSIBLY be better than Pizza Hut." Words failed me.
You were in Chicago, so she may have been right.

:)
11.8.2006 4:46pm
stevehar (mail):
You miss the real deal...Reason for more Dominos not My Little Pizza's [which I also like for a quick slice]...is....franchise capitalism, what else?

Same reason the interstate is a mass of island franchize food courts and people buy Starbucks coffee not Red Hook coffee from local folks.

There is a small excellent wine store on Henry in Caroll Gardens. Been there for 17 years. Owned and run by Dominic. You can buy a really good bottle of red wine for < $9, recommended and the owner knows your name. It is the right stuff. Franchize wine, coffee, pizza? fugidaboutit.
11.8.2006 4:46pm
BobH (mail):
Uh Clem (nice Firesign Theatre reference, by the way) says, "I can't seem to get the thin/crisp thing quite right." Unless Uh Clem has an actual pizza oven, the reason for this is clear: his oven doesn't get hot enough and doesn't have the right bottom.
11.8.2006 4:47pm
Maniakes (mail):
One theory on both the pizza front and the bagel front is that NYC tap water is uniquely suited (has just the right trace minerals, etc) for making the types of bread you need for the styles of bagels and of pizza dough that are popular in New York. If you try using the same recipe with different water, it won't come out quite right.

As one would expect if this theory were true, there are apparently some pizza places in other cities (I've been to one in LA, which was very good) which attempt to replicate NYC tap water by mixing the right mix of minerals into distilled water.
11.8.2006 4:47pm
uh clem (mail):
I'm a little suspicious of claims of the form 'You can't get a decent X outside of Y.'

Quality devolves to the level the customer accepts. If the customers have low standards, the food will come down to meet that standard. Plus, with something like pizza, the pizzaria winds up hiring local kids who have no idea what good pizza is.

Try ordering a cheesesteak anywhere outside of the Philly environs - most likely it'll be made by someone who hasn't the faintest idea what a philly cheese steak is supposed to be. And it'll show.
11.8.2006 4:48pm
Duffy Pratt (mail):
Hoya:

For a while in Los Angeles, there was a great NY style pizza place, located in the Valley just north of Van Nuys. It's one of the few places outside of New York that tasted legitimate to them. When I asked the owner why his pizza was so much better than everywhere else, he said "It's the water. We import it from New York."

There are other examples. I've never had pasta as good in the U.S. as you can get in any trattoria in Italy. Why? I don't know. But its true. The same goes for dumplings in China and the U.S. And in these cases, you actually get some of the original chefs coming here and trying.

And here's another example that's kind of discouraging: one of the chefs of the best Peking Duck restaurant in Beijing came to Houston to start his own restaurant (after serving Bush 41 in China). His duck here was as good as the restaurant in Beijing. The prices were reasonable, about $20 for a full duck carved at the table, and duck soup from the carcass. The place lasted about three years before folding. Why? I haven't a clue.

All I can say is that market forces sometimes give strange results.
11.8.2006 4:50pm
eatingforbrooklyn (mail) (www):
Would not market forces send enterprising competent Brooklyn pizza bakers even to an outpost like Washington D.C., given the obvious high demand for quality product?

I also think to an extent that pizza more than other foods is a regional affair.

Good point about the water in NYC. Contrary to popular belief it's delicious! The other interesting thing about pizza is that its history in NYC is almost as old as in Italy. So there is a very long tradition of pizza making. So lotsa practice.
11.8.2006 4:52pm
Spartacus (www):
I've always been rather skeptical of the claim about the water--perhaps some proprietors even propogate this myth (if it is indeed false) to add mystique to their product. As stated above, I have had reasonably good NY style pizza in the SF Bay Are and in Austin Texas, and they didn't import NY water. It was just made by NYers who learned their trade from "masters" back in NY. As far as pasta in Italy or dumplings in China go, I cannot say.
11.8.2006 4:53pm
Spartacus (www):
Th water in NY does taste great--it is piped in from the mountains upstate. But I don;t knwo if that seriously affects the quality of the pizza.

As for pizza in Italy, it is an entirely different product. Pizza as we know and love it is an American (Italian-American) product.
11.8.2006 4:55pm
Michael Rappaport (mail):
The pizza at Gino's in Howard Beach is still quite good. David, you must have hit an off day.
11.8.2006 4:55pm
Nathan75 (mail):
As a Midwestern/Eurotrash transplant to Manhattan (specifically NoLIta and now the WV) let me provide some semi-insider and outsider's thoughts:

1. There's definitely some confusion by the non-east coasters on this thread as to what the heck the NE'ers mean by "pizza"...this should have been explained from the get-go. A NY'style pizza (they call it a pie here but it's nothing like a pie -- unlike Chicago-style) is basically a very thin and cooked until very firm crust with tomato sauce and cheese on it. That's it. They also like to fold the slice together when eating it. It's decent enough but if you didn't grow up on it you don't really get it. But yeah, it is entirely different from pizza elsewhere. So if that's what you're used to, no you're not going to find decent pizza elsewhere...cause they don't make NY' style pizza in the rest of the country (at least not well).

2. Lombardi's in NoLIta is where American-style pizza was first invented...1904 I think. Like the rest of American-Italian food, it bears little resemblance to actual Italian cuisine but instead can be considered something de novo. Lombardi's is more of a tourist and B&T trap these days, though not bad. Curiously enough, Lombardi's actually puts various toppings on its pizza. Which is why it's more of a direct parent to pizza in the rest of America than NY'style. (it conceived that as well -- but NY style deviated pretty quickly).

3. To be honest, I can't get great pizza of any kind in Manhattan. And that benighted tourist trap called Little Italy would be the last place in the world.

to quote an Italian friend of mine who tried various American pizzas for the first time (including NY'style, Chicago style and generic Dominos): "This is all very good. But why do you call it pizza?"
11.8.2006 4:59pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
I spent last year visiting at U. Michigan, and there is a surprisingly good place called NYPD ("New York Pizza Depot") with two locations in downtown Ann Arbor. Better, by far, than anything in D.C. I've come across. It did cost at least twice as much as the pizza joints that cater to low-budget students from the Midwest (which charge a ridiculous $5-$6 a pizza). But it goes to show that if there's a will for good pizza, there's a way.
11.8.2006 4:59pm
Spartacus (www):
Nathan75: not bad but puh-lease, where does a self proclaimed "Midwester/Eurotrash transplant" get off using an epithet like "B&T trap" (bridge and Tunnel--a derogatory epithet Manhattanites use to refer to folks from the boroughs, including Brooklyn, or NJ)? And almosty every (genuine) pizza place in NY will add toppings, so I don't think that Lombardi's invented tha, and I'm skeptical of t he claim that they invented pizza, too--as I would be of any place's claim to originality. If you want good pizza, try taking the bridge or tunnel to Bklyn, where you will find it. Though there is plenty in Manhattan, too, as the comments above attest.
11.8.2006 5:12pm
Nathan75 (mail):
Spartacus:

people don't use the B&T term for the other boroughs anymore. it refers to the trashier sorts from Jersey, the Island and CT (not everyone from those places!) who invade the city on the weekends, ruining every bar and restaurant. the definition you gave has been extinct for years (at least as used by everyone under 40).
"B&T" is a reference to attitude. The UES is filled with B&T frat boys and sorority types today....and that's in the city.
11.8.2006 5:19pm
Nathan75 (mail):
to the best of my knowledge, no one has documented any restaurant in America serving American-style pizza before Lombardi's.
11.8.2006 5:20pm
BT:
You guys are making me hungy. As a resident of Chicago, I have to admit an ignorance of NY Pizza, but from the descriptions here, it sounds great. Someone mentioned Gino's East. It once was great when it was privately owned, which to me is major factor in whether a place is good or not. I believe it is now owned by a chain and is not what it once was. While I like deep dish pizza as much as the next guy from fly-over country, the thin crust stuff can be wonderful if they get the crust and sauce right. Oh, someday I am sure there will be a thread on hotdogs, I can just see the NY vesus Chicago guys go at it all over again.
11.8.2006 5:21pm
Nathan75 (mail):
or as one friend of mine (who's lived in the WV for 42 years puts it): "I hate that B&T term...but I have to use it because there's no synonym."
11.8.2006 5:22pm
BT:
I meant hungry. Sorry.
11.8.2006 5:22pm
Nathan75 (mail):
The Shake Shack here serves Chicago style dogs...right down to using Vienna National.

(personally I'm of the opinion that the only thing that really matters with a dog is that it be grilled -- which is why Gray's Papaya is just fine)
11.8.2006 5:23pm
Spartacus (www):
I suppose that as long as I have been living out of NY (10 years) the other four boroughs have been colonized enough by Manhattanites that B&T no longer applies--but I doubt you can necessarily tell the difference btwn someone from NJ or CT and someone from my old nbh in Bklyn, or from Queens, or SI. Just bcs W'burg, the Heights an the Slope have become extensions of the Village, and Bklyn is now "cool" in a way that it wasn't 15 to 20 years ago, doesn't mean that many Manhattanites don't still look down on the "plebes" (and perhaps frat boys, too?) Besides, what's wrong with folks from NJ, BT &LI? Sounds pretty elitist to me. Trust me, the worst contempt is held for non-natives, period--which I think is part of the bogus, NY elitist attitude, but don't get sucked into it.
11.8.2006 5:27pm
Spartacus (www):
RE B&T: But of course, I know who you are referring to . . . the types who can't tell NY pizza from Dopmino's! ;)
11.8.2006 5:32pm
Nathan75 (mail):
Spartacus:
a lot has changed.
the term has entirely morphed in 10 years. today you can spot someone who is B&T a mile off:
if male, the B&Ter will probably be wearing a gold chain around his neck, too much hair product and too much cheap cologne. alternatively, if more educated than the above, he will be dressed in a button down but accompanied by a B&T female.
there are three trademark giveaways of the B&T female:
A. her hair will almost certainly be dyed blonde. (if you see a gaggle of 5 women all with blonde hair in the city, you can be entirely sure that they do not live there). B. she may well be chewing gum while drinking. (I have never found an explanation for this.) C. in the winter she will be dressed entirely inappropriately for the weather -- i.e. cleavage-bearing top, maybe heels, etc. (the city women will be wearing perfectly fitting turtlenecks and coats when going out at night in the winter).
these are the people who populate the meatpacking district (and midtown etc.) on the weekends. these are the people who are universally referred to as B&T today. it's not really where you're from (other than some places are famous for having many of them)....it's kind of a class thing I guess, except that many of them have money (it's not Manhattanites that are buying bottle service at $400 a table in the clubs)
11.8.2006 5:49pm
arbitraryaardvark (mail) (www):
That's just the taste Anthony Saltarelli is looking for. He had driven to Totonno's from Staten Island with his wife, Josephine, and their friends of 36 years, Jean and Al Bloise.
"All I want in a pizza is to be reminded of my childhood," he said.

That's why there could be a Dominos in Brooklyn. For the Utah expat crowd. Re B&T trap, see Robert Caro's "The Power Broker" about Robert Moses, who built those traps on purpose.

I worked in a dominos one afternoon circa 1980. The pies are cooked on a conveyor belt. The job interview doesn't ask if you know pizza - in fact that might be disqualifying.
Here in flyover country, people generally know that New York style is thin crust, Chicago style is deep dish, California style will have goat cheese and organic pineapple over a wood fire. Domino's used "Brooklyn style" as a marketing gimmick to suggest new york style with a hint of the ethnic authenticity it obviously doesn't have. I like to say my ex-wife is "from the old country - Brooklyn."
I'm vegan, but every few years I get that urge to drive all day to the east coast for a real cheese sub - nothing similar locally.
11.8.2006 5:51pm
Nathan75 (mail):
and maybe the disdain is wrong (it partially is)...but it's provoked because I cannot go out in my neighborhood anymore (the far WV for heaven's sake) for dinner or cocktails on the weekend, without everything being incredibly overcrowded and jostled by people who seem to desperately want to be part of "sex and the city" and are constantly searching for whatever Time Out told them was hot...and then disappearing at 3 a.m.

the problem with the B&T is that they killed NY nightlife (check up on the problems for a restaurant to get a liquor license today downtown). that, and they eat at Dominos.
11.8.2006 5:54pm
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx (mail):
most of us in Brooklyn consider almost everyone in Manhattan these days to be tourists. That includes most of the residents who are non-native college grads who move to the city because they love Sex and the City. Manhattan has become almost all tourist since the mid nineties and especially since 2001. The boroughs are where real NYers live and where the cities real neighborhoods are. manhattan is an expensive themepark for residents and of course financial and media capital for workers. There are still some great places to hang out in the city, but things have changed.
11.8.2006 5:57pm
Nathan75 (mail):
ah. yes, the famous justifications from those who gave up paying the prices in order to move to places just like Manhattan but a little cheaper, less access to culture and 24 hour bodegas, fewer tourists (I'll give you that), more trust fund babies (in Billyburg anyway), and no cabs.
they pretend they wanted to do it anyway.

I love Brooklyn, but it's a lot like Chicago (probably why I like it).

The thing is, I grew up in Europe (college and grad school in the midwest). Manhattan today, despite the UES frat boys, is the closest thing in America to Roma, Paris, Firenze or Genoa. I want that frenzied bustle at all hours. I need it. Many don't. That's why they made the suburbs like Park Slope, Westchester and Cobble Hill (where half the lawyers in NY live).
11.8.2006 6:14pm
Nathan75 (mail):
"Manhattan has become almost all tourist since the mid nineties and especially since 2001."

There's something to be said for people who were willing to move here after then. As opposed to everyone who left.
11.8.2006 6:16pm
Marc W:
Based on my experience, NY's best pizza around is at Lucia on Roosevelt Avenue in Flushing.

One key (aside from high quality ingredients) is that they don't make 400 gagillion varieties. When I was a kid, all pizza shops specialized in plain cheese pizza. If you wanted a slice with something else, they put the something else on a slice and heated it up for you. Now, most places have all kinds of varieties sitting out getting stale. But Lucia does it the old way, so the pizza is really fresh.

Of course, that's not everything. I have found other places with similar freshness, but they still don't compare to Lucia.
11.8.2006 6:55pm
fishbane (mail):
Grimaldi's Rocks! I live four blocks from it. Pepperoni, red onion &pesto.

Interesting side note: I believe they are the only shop in Dumbo to have a grandfathered right to burn coal.
11.8.2006 7:01pm
Brian Macker (mail) (www):
It's not what's in the NYC water. It's what's not in the NYC water. If you try to make pizza with water that has a sulfur content or is hard like they have in Florida then it is going to come out different.

I also believe that people get used to what they ate as a kid and think that is the "best". At least for their "favorite" foods. I've often gone over to friends houses where they say thier mother makes the very best X. Of course when I taste it there really is nothing special about it. In fact my mom makes much better X in almost every case. So this might be a factor in people deciding what is the best pizza. If as a kid you had Pizza Hut then you might just subjectively find it tastes better than NYC Pizza.

I for instance like McDonalds hamburgers. This is because as a kid I was poor and ate lots of beans and rice, and a Mc D burger was a special treat. When I did get to go out it was not to some high class restaurant but McDonalds. Frankly it was and still is much better tasting than S.O.S. (creamed chipped beef on toast), Spam, fried baloney, Underwood Deviled Ham, or Canned Meat Food Product.

If you've seen the Eddy Murphy skit on McDonalds you'll know the kind of home made hamburger I would get. Round, charred on the outside, between two slices of wonder bread and the grease soaking into the bread making it translucent. My dad would do that on purpose because he liked them blackened. Yuck.
11.8.2006 7:07pm
PeteRR (mail):
There is a good pizza place in S. Sioux City, NE. Rosie's. Until you hit the West coast, it's the only decent pizza available. At home in S. Jersey, Sal + Joe's makes the best pizza pie. Both of them are transplants from Brooklyn.
11.8.2006 7:25pm
Master Shake:

If you've seen the Eddy Murphy skit on McDonalds you'll know the kind of home made hamburger I would get. Round, charred on the outside, between two slices of wonder bread and the grease soaking into the bread making it translucent. My dad would do that on purpose because he liked them blackened. Yuck.
That don't look like no McDonald's hamburger.
11.8.2006 7:28pm
Master Shake:

Grimaldi's Rocks! I live four blocks from it. Pepperoni, red onion &pesto.

Interesting side note: I believe they are the only shop in Dumbo to have a grandfathered right to burn coal.
There's also a few Grimaldi's in and around Scottsdale, where they let them use the same coal ovens. As far as I can tell, it's basically identical to the Grimaldi's in Brooklyn and Hoboken (which is to say, phenomenal).
11.8.2006 7:34pm
Ted Frank (www):
BobH: I don't think it's geographic chauvinism. As Tyler Cowen could tell you, economic theory predicts that it takes a critical mass of competition to create excellent cuisine, and New York has more competition for good New York pizza and good New York bagels than other places do, so mediocre places are less likely to survive. The chains like Dominos are likely competing on price and risk-aversion. One can't get good Vietnamese food within the Washington, DC city limits, but there are some phenomenal Vietnamese restaurants in the Northern Virginia suburbs where there is a critical mass of competition.

I've had excellent New York bagels in Houston. And there are places in DC that sell H&H bagels shipped down from New York, including Arrowine in Arlington and Calvert-Woodley in Van Ness.

I've had good New York pizza in Houston, and I've had New York pizza in Arlington, VA that was better than a third of the New York pizzas I've had in New York (and perhaps even better than the median New York pizza from New York). There is a wildly expensive pizza place in West LA or Beverly Hills that purports to import New York tap water to make its dough, but my brother and I were unimpressed by the final result.

It is absolutely the case that one cannot get good Chicago pizza outside of Chicago. There's a place forty or fifty miles east of Los Angeles in the middle of nowhere that makes a reasonable facsimile, and the Superossa frozen pizzas imported from Chicago were also acceptable (but hard to find, and Ralphs eventually stopped selling it). I don't know the explanation for this, other than that there's a lot of bad Chicago pizza in Chicago itself, and that there are places like the Uno's chain (as opposed to the original Uno's) that can make money selling mediocre Chicago pizza, and there hasn't been enough incentive to go the next level up.

Two Amys is good pizza, and it's the kind of good gourmet pizza that can be found in a lot of big cities, but it is decidedly a different kind of pizza than New York pizza, and it is entirely plausible that one likes one and not the other.

Similarly, I've had excellent Mexican in Los Angeles, Houston, and Chicago, but not in DC or New York. Go know.
11.8.2006 7:51pm
Spartacus (www):
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx: exactly.
11.8.2006 8:47pm
Duffy Pratt (mail):
Grays Papaya! There's a blast from the past. How much is it now for a couple of dogs and one of those Papaya drinks. When I was a student, it was like $1.25, and it was a staple of mine out of the 72nd street station.

The only decent Chicago style pizza I've had outside of Chicago is in Minneapolis, at a place called Eduardo's (sp?). And it may just have been that there was nothing else in town that you could even swallow. The first year I was there, there was a pretty good NY pizzeria, but it folded. They didn't serve any pizza with pinapple on it, and I guess that was the deal killer.

I agree about liking what you grow up with, especially when it comes to comfort food and street food. I still think that you can't get good pizza outside the NY/New Haven area, good bagels or lox outside of NY, a good deli sandwich anywhere outside of NY or Long Island, and I'm fond of Sabrett's and Nathan's hot dogs, and I love those horrible knishes you get from street vendors that sometimes are too soggy to hold, other times are harder than hockey pucks, but every so often they are just a little piece of heaven.
11.8.2006 9:26pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Duffy. it's hard these days to get a good deli sandwich in NY, especially now that the 2nd Avenue deli has closed. BTW, what's up with "New York reubens" which I see advertised all over the country. I grew up in New York, and come to visit all the time, and still have never seen a reuben here.
11.8.2006 10:34pm
Duffy Pratt (mail):
David:

That's because you think of New York as Manhattan and I tend to think of Long Island, where I grew up. There are still good delis on Long Island. When I lived on the Upper West Side, and also in Inwood, I didn't think much of the delis there, and that was 20 years ago. Of course, Carnegie and Stage still pretend that 5 lbs of meat on two slices of stale bread is a sandwich, but yes, you really had to go downtown to get anything good in Manhattan, even when I was a student there.

As for the NY Reuben, its a joke. Alot of those places give you the option of having turkey instead. Oh, and good pastrami is another of those things that just doesn't seem to exist outside of NY.
11.8.2006 11:42pm
curious (mail):
how in holy hell have there been multiple posts about new york delis and not a single mention of katz's? good lord.

and, on a completely unrelated not, the manhattan snobbery is too funny. loves it.
11.9.2006 2:17am
buddingeconomist:
"Maybe somebody from New York can correct me, but it was my understanding that Ray's isn't actually a chain, just a group of generally-unrelated, confusingly-named shops."

More or less true.
--------


Yes, as I understand it, someone thought it would be fun to call themselves "Famous Ray's" because if they called themselves famous they might do really well and become famous. And then a lot of other people caught on and copied the idea. The one on 6th ave and 12th used to be okay, a little heavy on the cheese and greasy but not bad. Nuthin like good Brooklyn pizza, but fun for a slice. Also I think there was one on 16th and 1st? I forget what block that was, that was really good, I think it was a Ray's.
11.9.2006 9:15am
buddingeconomist:
The 2nd Ave Deli CLOSED???

/me wishes she was still in NY to weep
11.9.2006 9:18am
jallgor (mail):
David,
How can you say that you have never seen a reuben in NY? Unfortunately for my waistline, I probably eat about 1 a month. They are on every menu of every diner in the entire city (albeit, so are gyros). Katz' makes a great one if you like the meat piled up about a foot high. I prefer closed face Reubens which I have been told means it's not really Reuben but . . . the heart wants what the heart wants.
11.9.2006 10:26am
jallgor (mail):
Oh and I totally disagree with the "real new yorker's prefer no toppings" comments. I think real new york pizza doesn't over do it with the toppings and the toppings shouldn't be too fancy but your basic pepperoni or suasage or mushroom pie is very New York in my book.
11.9.2006 10:29am
M.E.Butler (mail):
There used to be great thick crust pizza at Big Als, on one of those narrow side streets between Broadway and Church just north of Trinity Church. I don't know if it lasted through the 90's, but 9/11 probably finished it off.

And as one of the Utah expats living in Brooklyn--Carroll Gardens, to be precise (26 years now), arbitraryaardvark missed the mark. I couldn't believe that a Domino's was opening on on Court Street, and I've never bought a pizza from them.

My son and his friends, Brooklyn born and bred, on the other hand, gets the stuff regularly. There's no accounting for taste, huh?
11.9.2006 10:37am
BobH (mail):
DuffyPratt says: "Oh, and good pastrami is another of those things that just doesn't seem to exist outside of NY."

Langers, in Los Angeles. They also make their own rye bread. Order hand-cut and lean, and you get the best pastrami sandwich in the country.
11.9.2006 10:40am
DavidBernstein (mail):
Duffy, I grew up in Queens, and lots of the delis there, and in Brooklyn, have closed. You can though still get decent deli at Ben's in LI.
11.9.2006 10:50am
uh clem (mail):
david Bernstein: I spent last year visiting at U. Michigan, and there is a surprisingly good place called NYPD ("New York Pizza Depot") with two locations in downtown Ann Arbor.

I've gotta disagree here.

They were pretty good when they first opened about 8 years ago - it was real east coast style pizza. But after about a year or so they had "gone native" and now offer the same soggy sweet midwestern dreck as all the other pizza joints in town. Too bad.
11.9.2006 10:58am
Stevethepatentguy (mail) (www):
Generous George's on Duke Street, a few miles west of Old Town Alexandria, is the best Pizza in the D.C. Metro area.
11.9.2006 12:42pm
Stevethepatentguy (mail) (www):
Generous George's on Duke Street, a few miles west of Old Town Alexandria, is the best Pizza in the D.C. Metro area.
11.9.2006 12:42pm
Dan Schmutter:
Weighing in on this a little late, but here goes:

The precipitous downturn in Manhattan pizza has been going on for a long time. I think it is in large part due to the proliferation of pizza ovens in every salad bar and deli on every street corner. These faux pizza places turn out really awful dreck, using crappy ingredients and poor technique, but there are so many of them that they tend to dilute the critical mass of quality pizza.

I think true pizza mavens are becoming more rare as people come from outside of New York to work and are exposed to this stuff. The result is that the demand for truly great New York pizza is waning, so there are fewer places willing to spend the money on the right ingredients to make the right kind of pizza.

I grew up in the Bronx, and the best pizza I ever had came from (naturally) Pizza Italia on Sedgwick Avenue near my house. Interestingly, years later I went back to the old neighborhood and was dying for a slice, and it was horrible. (Same guy running the place, BTW.) Now I don't think my pizza tastes have changed, but I do think that even places that used to make top quality pizza are now skimping because the market for pizza is far less demanding than it used to be. And I think this effect is most noticeable in Manhattan for the reasons set forth above.

I can't tell you how many times I have commented to my wife (not from New York) that its hard to find a good New York slice of pizza in New York these days.

That said, there used to be a place on 42nd street between Madison and Fifth called Pronto Pizza (not the one on 6th Ave) which was really great. Also, I remember years ago that Ben's Pizza in the Village used to be reliably good. Haven't been there in years (if its still even there).

And BTW if you think its hard to find a good slice in Manhattan, try finding good pizza in New Jersey.

There have been several comments on brick oven pizza. Someone mentioned John's and someone else mentioned Frank Pepe's and Sally's. These are in my view a whole different genre of pizza. All very good but a whole different animal -- sort of proto-New York pizza. I can see New York pizza (the one true pizza) having evolved from the tasty but less fully developed style of brick oven pizza. It's an evolutionary thing ;-)

Finally, a great deal of the mystique of New York pizza is not just the manner in which it is made but also the manner in which it is served. A New York slice is typically a reheated slice. Reheating is very important.

Have you ever noticed that pizza delivered in a cardboard box is never as good as the slice you get at lunch time? That's due to two factors. First, the pizza steams in the box as it is being delivered, which makes the crust rubbery. Second, the lunch time slice is usually reheated. This allows the cheese to firm up (instead of being runny), and it allows the spine of the slice to crisp up. The perfect slice has very slight spine breakage as you fold. That's how you can tell that the slice has been properly reheated. It makes for that great New York slice consistency that cannot be beaten.

Ok, now I'm hungry . . .

Dan
11.9.2006 12:51pm
zapf dingbat (mail):
I live on the Gulf Coast, and I've been seeing a similar trend with seafood. Despite the multitude of great local seafood restaurants serving wonderful southern grandmother recipes, there have been national seafood chains like Cap'n D's popping up here and there. It boggles my mind.

Of course, like the midwest, when it comes to any other type of food the franchises are king. My wife's friend thinks the best you can get is TGI Friday's. If we want some good non-franchise food, we mostly have to go to foreign restaurants like Thai or Indian.
11.9.2006 1:02pm
David Chesler (mail) (www):
New York water wasn't the same after they started using Hudson River water. (Do they still? Truth be told, I spent a lot less time back home after my parents moved out in 1991, and I haven't been back at all in about 8 years.)

B&T: So there we were, a bunch of college guys and recent grads, heading back up to the Bronx on the west side, in my brother's car, which he registered at his college address in Mercer County for insurance reasons, and we got into some sort of road rage altercation. A couple of us angry young men jumped out of the back seat, which surprised the overly groomed other driver and left him speechless until he looked at the Jersey plates and said "At least I'm not from the suburbs!" We considered that a victory so we got back in the car and had a good laugh and went off.

Toppings: You could always get toppings on a pie, just not on a slice.

And we may as well complete the triumverate. I have a cache of glass-bottle Fox's U-Bet, and a siphon bottle and CO2 cartridges, so that's one thing I don't have to go home for. And it's milk, syrup, then seltzer, not how you Brooklyn boys make it with the white froth.
11.9.2006 2:32pm
Corky Buchek:
Totonno's in Coney Island is amazing. There is one on 2nd Avenue and 27th in Manhattan that is not nearly as good or kitschy. Mike's Pizza on 24th and 2nd is great, but make sure to ask for your slices extra crispy.

In the DC area, Tally Ho in Potomac is very solid. Not sure on the slice situation, but their pies are the best around.
11.9.2006 2:57pm
Spartacus (www):
Chesler: I've never heard of Hudson river water winding up in the NYC drinking supply. it's all Adirondack stuff, I have always thought. Also: we B'klnites were never as "prejudiced" against Jerseyans (sic? we always called them Jersey boys) as Manhattanites. Heck, I even dated a girl from Newark once.

Schmutter: Ben's (the one on Macdougal and W 3d) was there this past Feb., the last time I visited (for the FS student symposium. Never was the best, but was at least passable. And you are right on about the reheating and slight break in the crust upon folding thing.

I have been salivating since yesterday now over this thread. I am definitely going to Slices &Ices after work today.

I am also fascinated that this is one of the most commented threads on VC in awhile: up there with the Penn Halloween controversy and medical self-defense.
11.9.2006 2:58pm
solovyev:
One reason why the market may not have replicated Brooklyn pizza is that, in some varieties, it is incredibly labor intensive. At Di Fara's, Sgr. Di Marco personally prepares all of the pizzas himself, and has been doing it for forty years. His assistants/proteges are allowed to cut the toppings, but he is the only one, to my knowledge, who actually kneads the dough, pours sauce and cheese on it, and puts the pizza in and out of the oven. This is why one can easily wait over an hour for a pizza there (where there are no bathrooms!). The wait is worth every second.

People who are willing to spend 60 hours a week for forty years making pizzas are hard to come by, and Sgr. Di Marco may quite possibly be the product of a culture that no longer exists.

On the other hand, one would think that a Grimaldi's, with its much larger staff and quicker turnover time, would be replicable elsewhere. I imagine the demand is not there.
11.9.2006 3:30pm
Master Shake:

On the other hand, one would think that a Grimaldi's, with its much larger staff and quicker turnover time, would be replicable elsewhere. I imagine the demand is not there.
Patsy Grimaldi himself opened three in Arizona, and they are consistently packed.
11.9.2006 3:39pm
CrosbyBird:
Gray's Papaya: 2 dogs and a drink for $2.75 (Recession Special!). There's a sign that says the price is going up but it's been there for a while and they haven't done it yet.

My personal favorite pizza is Jack's in Bay Terrace (in Queens). Used to be inside a relatively small shopping center, and then they tore down a bowling alley and built it up tremendously, but Jack's hasn't moved. Pizza is identical to the way it was 25 years ago though.

I order from Dominos quite a bit because I'm cheap and lazy, but never pizza. Their wings aren't spectacular but they are consistent.
11.9.2006 4:00pm
Dan Schmutter:
Ok, as long as the egg cream topic has been raised, while I agree that its clearly milk, syrup then seltzer, I'm not sure how you make an egg cream without froth on the top (or why you would want to). The froth is the natural result of adding the seltzer to the milk/syrup combination. In fact, you know you have added the correct amount of seltzer when the froth just hits the rim of the glass without overflowing. That's egg cream perfection.

The froth is a key element because in a properly prepared egg cream, the froth at the top must be able to support the straw in the vertical position. When I make an egg cream my straws always stand at attention.

A proper egg cream has a chocolately base with a mildly tan layer of thick froth capping it off.

Dan
11.9.2006 4:10pm
David Chesler (mail) (www):
I've never heard of Hudson river water winding up in the NYC drinking supply.

See this.


Chelsea Pumping Station

In times of drought, Hudson River water can be pumped into Shaft 6 of the Delaware Aqueduct from an emergency pumping station at Chelsea. The station was originally constructed in the early 1950s to augment the City water supply prior to completion of the Delaware aqueduct. Although it was dismantled in 1957, it was reconstructed following several drought periods and has subsequently been put into service on three occasions (droughts of 1965--66, 1985, and 1989) (Warne, 1999a). The station is permitted for 100 mgd. Water delivered from the Hudson River is chlorinated prior to entering the Delaware aqueduct, and equipment is in place for coagulation if deemed necessary.

(emphasis added)
11.9.2006 4:14pm
Corky Buchek:
Also in DC, Washington Deli, on 20th b/w K and I streets, has solid slices of pizza, and a good lunch special for DC standards. They are not open on weekends or late night though. But when they are open, I think they have the best slice in DC, including Alberto's.
11.9.2006 4:44pm
Duffy Pratt (mail):
Gray's Papaya is up to $2.75 for 2 dogs and a dring? Thats about 120% in 20 years. Yikes! What's a poor student supposed to do (I suppose there's still Ramen noodles and cheap felafel.)

BTW, is Szechuan West still at 101st and Bway? Best cold noodles and dumplings outside of China (and cold noodles are hard to find in China. I found one place in Shanghai that was good, and another in Hong Kong that was outstanding).

Yes, with NY pizza, the whole thing is that it is street food that you eat by the slice, while on the go. Getting the right crispiness in the fold is very important. And its hard to make decent slices with toppings, unless the place has huge turnover, which means that the slices would still not likely be decent.

And because slices was the main standard for a pizza place, that means that most New Yorkers I know will judge a place based on the quality of a plain cheese pie. By the same token, I tend to judge a Sicilian style Italian restaurant based first on the quality of its spaghetti marinara. The really hard thing to do is to get pasta and marinara sauce right. Other Italian restaurants get the Linguini con Vongole test.

When growing up, toppings on pizza were exclusively for dining in. Delivery didn't exist, and its clear that letting the pie bake in the box is just a bad idea. It ruins the crust and the cheese.

I can't see getting wings from Dominoes, or anywhere else for that matter. I've had Buffalo wings at the original places in Buffalo, and nothing I've had elsewhere compares. In Minnesota, there was a place that featured "extra mild" Buffalo wings.
11.9.2006 5:12pm
Spartacus (www):
Chesler: scary about that Chelsea pumping station. Wasn't even aware of that although I lived in the City at 2 times it was said to be put ionto use ('85 &'89).

Scmutter, et al: My favorite egg creams come from the little oplace on Ave A btwn St Mks and 7th, across from Tompkins Sq Pk. What is the name of that tony place? Last time I was there they had gotten rid of all the magazines, but still had the egg creams. But it was the kind of ol' faithful place that seemed likely to be crushed under the transformation of the LES into a high dollar playground. The egg creams up the block on 2d Av at Gem Spa were never as good.
11.9.2006 5:15pm
A.S.:
Patsy Grimaldi himself opened three in Arizona, and they are consistently packed.

And yet they are not that great. There is a much, much better place called Pizzeria Bianco, near the ballpark. The proprietor is from Brookyln or the Bronx, I forget. The wait is forEVER (even for my friend who knows the owner), but on a nice Phoenix evening (like when I was last there in the spring), you can sit outside and have a bottle of wine and it's perfect.

Best pizza outside NYC, to me: Casserta's, on Federal Hill in Providence, RI.

Best pizza in NYC, to me: Di Fara's. Also, I like Joe &Pat's on Staten Island. And, if you've got an extra arm and leg to spend, Pizza Napolitana in the East Village...

To those criticizing Ray's: do you mean Famous Ray's, Original Ray's, or Famous Original Ray's???

Re: B&T - this term still applies to people from the outer boroughs, provided, however, that for purposes of this sentence Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Brooklyn Heights, and Park Slope are to be considered part of Manhattan. :-)
11.9.2006 5:22pm
Spartacus (www):
That's tiny, not tony.

A.S. on B&T: Hah! What's next (for annexation into Manhattan)? Carrol Gardens? Boerum Hill? How about DUMBO? I used to live there when it was still pretty desolate, but I hear its artsy-ing up all the time.
11.9.2006 5:38pm
Master Shake:

Patsy Grimaldi himself opened three in Arizona, and they are consistently packed.

And yet they are not that great.
Tastes exactly like the one in Hoboken to me.
11.9.2006 5:46pm
David Chesler (mail) (www):
A proper egg cream has a chocolately base with a mildly tan layer of thick froth capping it off.

Exactly. If you put the syrup in last you get white froth with a dark dot. All showmanship, not taste, and it means you're stirring seltzer.
11.9.2006 5:54pm
The NJ Annuitant (mail):
I once had "pizza" in Arizona, and it seemed to be tomato sauce and cheese on a matzo.
The best pizza in NJ , and it is real pizza, is the Resevoir Tavern in Parsippany.
11.9.2006 6:05pm
Aeon J. Skoble (mail):
Commenter Dan Schmutter is correct, both about pizza and egg creams. I concur with his memories about Ben's in the Village, but don't know whether that's still there. Commenter M.E. Butler: you seem to live in my old neighborhood, so let me recommend Sal's, on Court and DeGraw, to you and to David. If I can add an observation: on the one hand, it's now true, to a degree that far surpasses even 20 years ago, that you can get a version of City X's specialty dish in many places outside City X, but it's rare indeed when it's any good. For people visiting or temporarily residing in City other-than-X, this isn't a big deal: for example, when I was living in Philly, it's true that finding good pizza was difficult (not impossible: Franco and Luigi's, in South Philly), but once I discovered the Philly Cheesesteak, this was not a problem. (And sure enough, no one in NYC seems to know how to make those.) So, when in NY, enjoy your pizza, and when you go to Philly, enjoy the steaks. In Chicago, eat the deep-dish (Malnati's). But what about people (like myself) who now live in none-of-the-above and have withdrawal? We're the ones who end up settling for the local version, grumbling about it, and looking forward to having an excuse to get the real thing. When I lived in Arkansas, I got Domino's quite a bit, and I make no apology for it. Why anyone _in Brooklyn_ does that escapes me.
11.9.2006 9:50pm
Duffy Pratt (mail):
Aeon:

The real problem arises when you live in a place that has no local food. That's not a problem here in Houston, but when I lived in Minneapolis, the closest thing they had to local food was the grilled corn on the cob on a stick, swimming in butter, that you could only get at the State fair. Minneapolis is the place where Picante test marketed Extra Mild Salsa. I think it failed because the locals still thought it was too spicy.

I don't have much good to say about L.A. for local food either. As near as I could tell, you take another regional recipe, put a slice of avacado on the top, and BAM! you had California cuisine. I suppose they had those inedible Corn Dogs, but and some truly dreadful diner food at the Copper Penny and some other places. After that, it was, maybe, Bob's Big Boy for local color?
11.9.2006 10:07pm
David Hughes (mail):
I am a San Francisco native, and as a kid I remember my favirite food in the City was the huge slice of plain cheese pizza I could get for 35 cents at the Woolworth's lunch counter at the corner of Powell and Market. Seriously, those pies were over two feet in diameter and a one-eigth pie slice made for a satisfying meal. They were also very foldable like the touted Brooklyn pizza. The Woolworth's is long gone, replaced by another faceless and sterile GAP store as is found in all major cities.

But if anyone reading this is ever in the Bay Area, try:

Melo's in Pleasant Hill,
Mangia in Lafayette,
Zachary's or The Cheese Board, both in Berkeley.

As far as SF goes, the only decent place is Village Pizza in the Cow Hollow district. The so called authentic Italian places in North Beach are not what they used to be, and most are not even owned and operated by Italian families anymore. The places I mentioned are independent sole proprietor establishments that are not chain outlets. They're the closest thing you can get to a New York pizza on the west coast.
11.10.2006 12:10am
Benjamin Coates (mail):

As near as I could tell, you take another regional recipe, put a slice of avacado on the top, and BAM! you had California cuisine.
Well, that's your problem right there, "California" in the name != LA local food. Tasty Avacado-free LA food:

Tommy's chili-burgers
Canter's deli, anything on the menu
Illegal bacon-wrapped grilled hotdogs
The Pantry downtown (this may qualify as "truly dreadful diner food" though
Phillippes' french dipped sandwiches, over by the jail
In-n-out
All sorts of "mexican" food, I prefer Chano's, which looks scary but has yet to cause me a fatal food-borne illness
I'm sure there's good sushi at reasonable prices out there somewhere, just haven't found it yet
Salads 2000, deep within the failed mall under the city national building downtown
Bay Cities Italian Market and Deli in Santa Monica makes a mean sandwich if you can stand the wait
the 7-11s sell sandwiches and other food made by a local lunch-wagon catering company, it's better taste and quality food than almost anything on the menu at any national fast food chain. Grab a Nemo's cake while you're there, they're as good as "Starved" made them look
Pink's hotdogs are worth the money but not worth the wait in line

The Pizza place that claimed to use New York water was Johnnie's. The one on 3rd street in Santa Monica closed down, I don't know if the rest of them did or not. IMHO it was the best pizza in SM, although everyone else seems to prefer Dagwood's.
11.10.2006 6:22am
Spartacus (www):
David Highews: I repost my prior comment for your benefit:

For any ex-NYers in SF/Berkeley . . . I highly receommend these genuine NY transplants:

SF/Berkeley: Arinell's: on Valencia &16 in SF (is it still there?) and on Shattuck 1 1/2 blocks south of University in Berkeley (ditto?)

Indeed, are either of these still there, or have they disappeared (I was last there 5 years ago)?

Zacharay's is good Chi. style. But then again, as a native NYer, I probably wouldn't "know" good Chi. pizza from bad the way a Chi. native would.
11.10.2006 10:25am
hometownhero:
dominos brooklyn]n pizza rox! i love all those cheesy char. in the commercials! new york is so cartoony haha
11.10.2006 4:24pm
Ted Frank (www):

I grew up in the Bronx, and the best pizza I ever had came from (naturally) Pizza Italia on Sedgwick Avenue near my house.


Dan Schmutter: I'm fascinated that you mention that. My grandparents lived across the street from Pizza Italia, and a good third of the New York pizza I ate in the first twenty years of my life came from there. (When my brother had his bar mitzvah in the shul on Sedgwick Avenue, my father, cousin, and I snuck out of the reception for a slice there.) Sorry to hear that it's not what it used to be.

I'm also glad you mentioned the importance of reheated pizza. My girlfriend looked at me like I was crazy when I told her that reheated pizza was superior to that fresh from the oven, which is why I don't understand Bernstein's reluctance to go to The Italian Store during off-peak hours.

I wasn't all that impressed with Washington Deli the one time I had a slice there, but maybe I'll give them another chance.
11.10.2006 6:10pm
Ted Frank (www):
A good economics exam might explore how minimum wage and zoning laws have contributed to the decline in quality of New York pizza. Discuss.
11.10.2006 6:15pm
Dan Schmutter:

Dan Schmutter: I'm fascinated that you mention that. My grandparents lived across the street from Pizza Italia, and a good third of the New York pizza I ate in the first twenty years of my life came from there. (When my brother had his bar mitzvah in the shul on Sedgwick Avenue, my father, cousin, and I snuck out of the reception for a slice there.)


Hmm. Amazing thing, the internet.

That would have been the Van Cortlandt Jewish Center. Yeah, I remember when Pizza Italia was actually across the street. It started in what was originally a Chinese hand laundry. Across the street was a candy store. Then the laundry and candy store both closed at about the same time, and Pizza Italia opened where the laundry was and Charlie's Pizza opened where the candy store was. Charlie's eventually closed and Pizza Italia moved across to where it has been (or perhaps was) for many years thereafter.

Yeah, last time I was there (which was still years ago) the dough was like rubber and the cheese tasted like the really crappy stuff that you get at Manhattan salad bars.

So when was your brother's bar mitzvah?

Dan
11.11.2006 10:16pm