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Top Pizza in NYC

Please help me out! I searched for the perfect slice in Mid-town East the other day and wound up with a burrito from Chipotle! Give me your top three please...

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  1. Not sure if you're must looking in midtown or in general. Here's a thread (there are many others) on best pizza in the city: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

    1 Reply
    1. re: Lucia

      best in the city...I just happened to be marooned in east mid-town with a craving for a good slice. Not much looked worthy of wolfing on Lex or 3rd Ave in the upper 40's to mid 50's...so I went for the tried and true burrito. I do need to kn ow the best destinations for pizza wherever they may be in the Big Apple...please give me your Top parlours.

    2. Well, I went to dinner at John's on Bleeker last night for the first time.

      My friend and I ordered one pie:
      half plain
      half meatballs, pepperoni, peppers, onions, and mushrooms.

      The plain was fine. It was nicely charred/crispy and the sauce was not overly sweet or tangy. I found it was just right. The cheese tasted good and wasn't too stringy when bitten into.

      We both started on the plain, and by the time we got into the topped slices, they had cooled off considerably. The slices became slightly bogged down and were somewhat soggy. I think I'll save the topping overload to deep dish pies from Uno's or the like.

      I enjoyed the plain slices very much and the topped ones slightly less. My friend and I both hadn't had pizza in quite a while, so we didn't have any memories to recall for a basis of comparison.

      1. By no means am I saying that my following suggestion is the Best in NYC, but mid-town east isn't the greatest neighborhood for pizza, so I'd say the Two Boots in Grand Central may be a good bet.

        And the best in the city is... Joes!

        4 Replies
        1. re: Michael Ambrosio

          As I mentioned recently in another thread, Joe's used to be fabulous but has changed greatly since moving. Its slices are completely ordinary now, not at all like they once were.

          1. re: Michael Ambrosio

            For Midtown East, Oxford Cafe on Lex & 52nd has a decent slice.

            1. re: Michael Ambrosio

              The best pizza in NYC - a real sleeper if you love thin crust and a surly server......LAZARRA;s on W 38th St
              THE BEST - try there pizza w/ clams

              1. re: hls102660

                hello, i often eat at lazarras, the pizza is good, to call it the best...not me

            2. I'm actually eating a slice or margherita right now from Brick Oven Pizza 33 and it's incredibly awesome!!

              3 Replies
              1. re: frenetica

                for that area of town, i agree with brick oven 33 - i go there every time i'm in the area (33rd and 3rd) - great combination of the typical margherita ingredients. brick oven 33 also has locations throughout chelsea

                1. re: meredith315

                  Walked in here randomly and had a great slice!

                2. re: frenetica

                  Brick oven 33 is incredibly bad pizza.
                  Of course I might just be tasting my own tears in the cheese as I cry and lament the fact that I'm constantly stuck eating 33's horrible junk.

                3. I would second Two Boots in Grand Central. Pizza Rustica (on Lex and 46th) can be good sometimes, but it's hit or miss.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: martigrl

                    I went by Pizza Rustica thinking it was the same exotic Pizzaria as on South Beach, no such luck. Everything looked a little lame-so I passed.

                  2. There's a pizza place on 49th between 6th and 7th--Bella Napoli. It's pretty good. Not my favorite in the world, but the place I go when I'm at work in Midtown. Everybody in my office building raves about it.

                    1. I had Patsy's tonight. (1AV/117th). First slice was delish, second slice not as delish. Second slice was from a different pie and was a tad undercooked (almost no char). Still good though IMO. I was there around 5:30-ish, and it was busy. We have to make allowances when they're rushed I suppose.

                      Midtown decent Pizza places:

                      Two Boots (GCT) is pretty good.
                      And for Sicilian [squares] I like Royal Pizza (3AV/ 38th-39th sts).

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: Cheese Boy

                        I dont undertand what people in NYC like about Two Boots pizza. I've heard it recommended time and time again over the 5 yrs I've been here and will never get it.....I think its some of the worst pizza I've had in NYC. I mean this is a city with places like Lombardi's......Two Boots tastes like the stuff I'd get for delivery in San francisco. And that corn meal on the bottom is a terrible texture in my opinion.

                        Can someone explain to me what I'm missing? I work very close to the one on Bleeker so I've tried it more than a few times now. And every tme I've regretted it.

                        1. re: Nehna

                          I hear you, but that's the only place where I don't mind the cornmeal (usually I hate it) on the bottom. maybe it's cause it detracts from how spicy their sauce is. But I do love the perrpeoni pizza, sorry.
                          If you're in Queens, go to the New Park Pizzeria in Howard Beach on Cross Bay Blvd. right of the Belt. It's the stuff movies are made about, real NY pizza.

                          1. re: Nehna

                            That cornmeal baffled me, too. But then I tried the pizza at Full Moon, in the Bronx. Not a world-beating pizza; very good, but not Great. BUT, they used a fine-ground cornmeal (actually, come to think of it, it might have been semolina) in the same way as Two Boots, and the crust was fantastic - the best part of that particular pie. So, that cornmeal addition can be great; but I agree, for me it doesn't click at Two Boots.

                            1. re: ratatosk

                              Full Moon is consistently good - and occasionally, like the sicilian slice with eggplant fresh out of the oven which I had last week, outstanding. If you're in the Arthur Ave nabe and looking for pizza, this place and Roberto's new trattoria "Zero Otto Nove", which has a brick wood-burning oven and does Salerno-style pizzas, would be good places to try.

                            2. re: Nehna

                              Two Boots is very different from the others. Not that it's wonderful, but it's almost in a different food group, so comparisons are difficult. The taste and texture is something you either like or don't, but it's not really the same category- any more than a slice of Sicilian would be. Certainly, it's worth a try for those who haven't.

                          2. is coal fired better than wood or gas??? what gives?

                            1. Lombardis on Spring, Awesome
                              Joes on 6th Ave, Awesome
                              There is some place in Alphabet City that is pumping out some individual pies that are as delicious as they are expensive.
                              You cant go wrong with pizza 33 at 33rd and 3rd
                              Johns in the thater district is not to shabby either, same with the Tottonos that are all over town.

                              1. There is nothing like a slice from a brick oven. Wood and gas have their own nuances but can't match the intensity of the heat from coal.

                                Go to Lombardi's.

                                1. sorry, quadruple post

                                  1. sorry, quadruple post

                                    1. sorry, quadruple post

                                      1. I love Two Boots. I especially like the slighlty spicy sauce. I haven't been ther since 2001 when I moved to LA, but it never dissapointed.

                                        1. Two Boots is kind of good-bad pizza, if anyone knows what I mean by that. It lures you in with that wonderful garlic smell that stretches around the block...and then doesn't quite deliver when you bite into it, and yet it's enjoyable. Dunno.

                                          Not sure if there's an outpost of Bravo Pizza in that area, but their fresh mozarella slice is always delicious...and I see more and more Bravos around and about. I believe there's one on 42nd near 5th Ave.

                                          1. Patzeria in Times Square on 46th- surprisingly great slices!

                                            1. thanx...any other good ones on the island of manhattan?

                                              1. sorry dude, but the best pizza in NYC is not in manhattan. Grimaldi's under the brooklyn bridge is the best pizza on the planet. period. happy holidays!

                                                1. Uh, not even close. Maybe because it's become a mini-chain? I could never understand why people line up outside for this pizza.

                                                  1. ok thanks...aNY other opinions out there???

                                                    happy holidays 2U2 & 1&ALL

                                                    1. DIFARA in BROOKLYN !!! top of the pops- got to go to new haven or napoli to do any better- made by the master!!! ave j and east 15th in midwood brooklyn- it's just downhill after that- in manhattan, try Patsy's upper east side (lower harlem)- great, and totonno's in coney island is pretty good. dom dimarco (difara) is the man...

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: frankbooth

                                                        Second DiFara! There's nothing else like it. Dom is an artist!

                                                      2. DiFara is on my list. I keep hearing about it. But Totonno's I do know and it is spectacular. I was there once when a very famous NYC chef arrived in limo with his family. A limo in scruffy Coney...hilarious.

                                                        1. what's the top pie/s now a days? I need some good dough!

                                                          7 Replies
                                                          1. re: netmover

                                                            Hi Net, DiFara and Totonnos still seem to be the favorites as they have been for many years now.

                                                            1. re: tpigeon

                                                              Hi TP!

                                                              Seems I lost track of this post when they moved it from the NYC board, still not certain why as it specifically targets said geographic destination. Be that what it may, where exactly are DiFara and Totonnos?

                                                              1. re: netmover

                                                                NYC is divided into two boards - Manhattan and Outer Boroughs, so threads that cover both, such as this one, belong here on The Best board, which covers the greater NYC area, including the Tristate area.

                                                                1. re: netmover

                                                                  DiFara is pretty deep into Brooklyn (1424 Avenue J ). Totonnos (the original) is in coney island. 1524 Neptune Avenue Between 15th and 16th Sts.

                                                                  1. re: netmover

                                                                    Here you are:

                                                                    Di Fara Pizza
                                                                    1424 Avenue J, Brooklyn, NY 11230

                                                                    Totonno's Pizzeria Napolitano
                                                                    1524 Neptune Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11224

                                                                    1. re: netmover

                                                                      oh ok, thanks for the clarification CHT...I was originally going for Manhattan, thinking NYC=Manhattan. However, it is in fact the 5 borroughs.

                                                                      Thanks for the help with the locations TP & K...I guess I got to get off the island!

                                                                      1. re: netmover

                                                                        If you want the very best pizza, you most certainly do. Get the squares at DiFara btw.

                                                                2. Top 3...

                                                                  Well, I haven't eaten at all the greats, but I think right now I'd go with DiFara, Patsy's, and then Joe & Pat's down in Staten Island. The first two are relatively easy for me - DiFara is DiFara, and Patsy's is my favorite of the coal-oven pizzerias (the char from coal is a clean, bitter carbon smoke flavor that I think is delicious with the relatively clean tastes of good mozzarella and un-sweet, refreshingly tangy tomato sauce - in an ideal world, it would be coal smoke for pizza, wood smoke for unctuous, salty meat).

                                                                  Third place is contentious. Totonno's has a mind-shatteringly perfect crust, but their cheese is kind of stringy and flavorless, and their sauce, while adequate, doesn't have enough flavor to make up for the cheese. If you want toppings on your pie, Totonno's gets a huge boost and might be 3rd, because the flavorless cheese is less of a liability when you've got sausage, peppers, and onions on there. But I ultimately live and die by the plain cheese pie, so Totonno's probably doesn't even make my top 5. If you love a good crust, though - hey...

                                                                  I think Grimaldi's makes a great pie - good basic sauce, good cheese, nice coal char on the crust. But their pies are frequently a little soggy, and they can be inconsistent. Still, a strong contender for 3rd. Picturesque location under the Brooklyn Bridge, sort of a friendly bustle to the place (which is unfortunately almost as overcrowded as DiFara), and really good cannoli all add to the picture.

                                                                  L&B Spumoni Gardens is a fantastic place. Their round pie is nothing special, but I think their square slices are very good. But it's a very different aesthetic than most pizza around the city - they are fluffy and kind of sweet and tangy, with a delightfully crunchy bottom; the presence of cheese is almost subliminal. When you consider the whole experience of heading down there on a summer's Saturday afternoon for a couple of squares and a cup of spumoni, eating it under the red awning on the sidewalk surrounded by kids' sports teams and families, the place ranks right up there. But removed from context and soberly considered by itself, their pizza is not up to par at this sanctified level of competition. So L&B might be my 3rd favorite pizzeria in the city, but it's definitely not my 3rd favorite slice.

                                                                  I have high hopes for Lucali - I like the place a lot - but I ate there again last night and the crust just isn't up to snuff. Their tomato sauce is delicious, and their cheese is impeccable (the guy who owns the place took his cheese cues from Dom). But the crust isn't quite what it should be. A little doughy and not very flavorful, almost no char. It picks up some flavor from the wood smoke in the oven, but not enough. I think maybe the pies I've had there have just been undercooked - a few more minutes in a wood-smoke filled brick oven might edge them closer to perfection - but they seem to be that way kind of consistently. Anyhow, it's a shame, since they nail the sauce and cheese; if they can work the kinks out of the crust, this will be a really legendary pizza place, possibly vaulting to #2. But for right now, the puffy, flavor-deprived crust keeps this place out of my top 3. I hope they read this and take it into consideration. Maybe next time I go I'll ask for my pizza "well-done". In fact, that seems like a really great idea - I'll have to try it ASAP.

                                                                  Anyhow, all of these places are extremely good, but at least this week I'm going with Joe & Pat's cracker-thin plain cheese pies. This place is the opposite of Totonno's; if you like a lot of toppings on your pizza, you're out of luck. But if you like a plain cheese slice, maybe with a sprinkling of oregano or some pepper flakes, this pizza is excellent. They have a gas oven - no smoke - but their pies are so thin that they can cook them at a really high temperature without producing uneven cooking. As such, they can get just the right amount of charring every single time. The chewy-crackery crust is delicate enough that their thin layer of high-quality mozzarella provides just the right balance (on a thicker crust, you'd have to add more cheese, and would need to move to something slightly less rich). And the sauce is very good. A word of warning - this is a pizza that won't survive cooling and reheating. But it's in Staten Island, so I doubt many people will find themselves in the position of trying to get one to go. And the slices are so thin and delicate that you could be about to burst and still put away a quarter of a pie (it's wafer thin!), so leftovers should never be necessary. Adding to the pizzeria's rank (but not to the slice's), there's an Italian bakery about a block down the road that has some of the best cannoli in the city.

                                                                  I'll mention one or two other things, as long as I'm unburdening myself of pizza opinions. I went to Nick's out in Forest Hills the other night, and convinced myself to get a pizza instead of one of their outstanding sausage calzones. I'm glad I did - they just about nailed it. I went with half cheese, half sausage and peppers (because I like the sausage they use there quite a bit). The sausage and peppers were very good. The cheese surprised me - I remember this place having really good cheese, but this was almost Totonno's-ish, kind of stringy and not quite as flavorful as it should have been. But still pretty good, and when you combine that with a very good tomato sauce and a PERFECT crust, the result was the best pie I've ever had there. In the past, their pies have been a little on the soggy side, but this crust was crispy-chewy like a crust from Joe & Pat's, and had a great char to it. Maybe they overcooked it? Maybe this is more evidence that I need to start ordering my pies well-done? Whatever it means, it was a phenomenal pizza. And then for dessert I had a good espresso (served, charmingly, with a vinegar-shaker full of sambucca) and their tasty-if-incorrect cannoloid. I cannot in good conscience call it a good cannoli (it does too many things very wrong), but I insist on calling it good (it's very tasty!), so I am forced to call it a cannoloid, which I think rolls off the tongue a little easier than quasi-cannoli or pseudo-cannoli. Not a contender for top 3, but worthy of mention.

                                                                  I've also found myself in the neighborhood of Columbia quite a bit recently, which has meant visits to Sal & Carmine's. When I first ate there, years ago, I was unimpressed. But the place is really growing on me. Their crust is doughy, which for some of these places I've mentioned is a bad thing, but here it's definitely a good thing. Most street slices use the crust as an edible means of conveying a bunch of hot greasy cheese to your mouth. And that's cool - that's cool. But, while the pizza at Sal & Carmines IS street pizza, with a bunch of hot greasy cheese ready to be conveyed mouthward, the crust here is recognizably bread-related. It's doughy, chewy, and actually quite delicious, good dense freshly made flatbread that happens to be part of a pizza but which would be good on its own. And about that mass of hot greasy cheese - it strikes you at first like all the others, but about 3 chews in it melts in your mouth into a delicious, creamy cloud of cheesiness, like a bite of freshly-made mozzarella cheese. Which is NOT something that most street pizza does. Anyway, this place still doesn't stand up to the heavy hitters of the outer boroughs, but I think it's moved up to join Patsy's in my top 3 list in Manhattan. I don't know what the third would be. Right now, probably some fancy "Authentic Neapolitan Style" pie, but I'm hoping that maybe Adrienne's downtown can bump it off - I've heard good things about their grandmother slice.

                                                                  Note: I've made no mention of Lombardi's or John's. I just wanted to make explicit the fact that this was not an oversight on my part.

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: ratatosk

                                                                    You win!

                                                                    I also see that you left out Joe's...explicitly or oversight?

                                                                    1. re: kathryn

                                                                      I'm glad someone approves! It's such a touchy subject.

                                                                      Joe's is sort of half and half. I've never been blown away by their pizza. Various sources suggest that this has to do with the time of day, or the time of week, or who knows what, but if I can't go there any time it's open and get a great slice, the place loses a lot of its appeal. That said, you can go there any time and get a pretty good slice, and that's worth a lot to me. If I lived anywhere near the place, I'm sure I'd be a regular. I definitely prefer their pizza to John's, and possibly to Lombardi's. But I don't really consider it a "destination pie", as I do the others I mentioned; I wouldn't travel more than about 5 minutes out of my way for a slice there, whereas I'd spend a whole day going up to New Haven, or two hours waiting in line for a slice at DiFara.

                                                                      In other words, I left Joe's off my list without meaning any disrespect. It's great for what it is, I just don't think it's one of "The Great Pizzas of New York City". Whereas, with Lombardi's and John's, disrespect was definitely part of the package deal.

                                                                  2. Not exactly midtown, but I would say Otto's pizza with the egg is the best.

                                                                    1. I tried Delizia on 73rd and 1st (I know-not midtown) last night and was very impressed. The plain slice was not exceptional but the margarita slice and grandma slice were very very good.

                                                                      Although not in Manhattan, my favorite is Carmines in Williamsburg off the Graham Ave.
                                                                      subway stop. It's a perfect slice of pizzeria pizza.
                                                                      I recently tried pizza33 and thought it was very average.

                                                                      1. I've got a clear cut winner when it comes to pizza. Friendly Gourmet on the corner of Nassau and Cortlandt. They're only open for lunch during the week. My favorites there are the sausage and pepper pizza and the white pizza.

                                                                        I'd introduce Friendly Gourmet's pizza to people I used to work with who's favorites were Lombardi's, Grimaldi's, etc. While I converted less than half, even those non-converts admitted that this little storefront shop made great pie.

                                                                        1. For a street slice I like Little Italy pizza on 45th and 5th...

                                                                          1. Di Fara on ave J, say hey to Domenico.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: TdotFoodKing

                                                                              There really is no better then Di Fara.

                                                                            2. Honestly, if you're willing to go to first and 22nd, try a pizza from franks..But, get a pie, not a slice and order it well done with meatballs....ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

                                                                              1. I love Mia Famiglia near Port Authority for regular slices.

                                                                                Pronto on 55th between 5th & 6th makes the most delicious garden pizza with fresh whole slices of tomato, basil and fresh mozzerella. It's to die for!

                                                                                1. Angelo's on 55th and 2nd has a quite respectable Margherita, though I have never had a slice, just whole pies.

                                                                                  1. Grimaldi's
                                                                                    Little Italy off of Vanderbilt

                                                                                    1. I agree that Oxford on 52nd & Lex isn't bad in a pinch. My favourite is Rigoletto on 69th and Columbus. Any comments?

                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: jheazlewood

                                                                                        There is no better in the USA than Di Fara.
                                                                                        You would have to go to Italy for anything more genuine

                                                                                        1. re: samersova

                                                                                          Is there any question? Di Fara's!

                                                                                      2. Luzzo's in the EV is my current favorite.

                                                                                        They use buffalo mozzarella, have a real coal oven and they have a pie seasoned with a sprinkling of truffles that is seriously addictive.

                                                                                        Really expensive though.

                                                                                        1. Grimaldi's in Brooklyn and Totonno's on the east side.

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: jkorsak

                                                                                            what's the name of the original coal fired pie place down in the village or soho?

                                                                                            is it any good?

                                                                                          2. When your near Maspeth, Queens try Rosas on 69th street....you'll be impressed all around...just north of the L.I.E.

                                                                                            1. Last night I went to Joe's for a slice and was underwhelmed, given all its rave reviews. It was a good slice, far better than the average, but not GREAT. Then I happened to walk past Bleecker Street Pizza and even though full, couldn't resist the mozzarella slice (I think also called Nona Maria). I was shocked at how delicious it was. Though not DiFara's, it might indeed be the best slice in Manhattan. (They sell pies & they deliver too.)

                                                                                              1. Can anyone confirm that the legendary Totonno's in Coney Island burned down?

                                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: kathryn

                                                                                                    Thanks for the update. Looks like the legions should be lining up soon at the legendary Totonno's Coney Island locale. Does their other joint/s compare?

                                                                                                    1. re: netmover

                                                                                                      Nope -- not even close. The Coney Island one is pretty special in comparison.

                                                                                                      1. re: kathryn

                                                                                                        Thanks for the info and helping me avoid wasting my time and dough. I am just happy I made it to the original before the fire. That oven they had must be irreplacable...Totonno's CI may never be the same!!!

                                                                                                      2. re: netmover

                                                                                                        I wonder if people will still line up like they used to....
                                                                                                        It's been a long hiatus and the pizza climate has changed quite a bit. At the time, it was my favorite pizza but I will have to go back to compare it again.

                                                                                                  2. Is John's on Bleecker is related to John's on 260 w 44?

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. Sal & Carmine's is amazing!!! I think it's the best slice in the city. It used to be run by 2 crank old italian guys but Salvatore has since passed away. RIP Sal. Not it's just Carmine and a guy who I suspect is a son of one of the namesake. The crust is doughy and chewy in the best of ways. The sauce is good but the cheese is great. The slice is a bit salty but I like it that way. It makes me know that i'm eating pizza with real whole fat cheese and makes me ache for a beer. The back of the joint is dark, quiet and a respite from the streets. I like to get the paper and eat a few slices in silence to get out of the house and take a break from the family. I love this place. Long live S&C's

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