is johns pizza on bleaker better than the one in times sq ?
any views here for an out of town brit ?
There's one in Times Square?!
I did some Googling, I don't think it's the same. Beware cheap imitations!
There's a big pizza war in NYC, everyone tries to capitalize on famous pizza places. There's Ray's Pizza, Original Rays, *THE* Original Ray's, even a place called "This is Not Ray's Pizza" (or something like that). I was discussing pizza with my buddy for about 15 minutes when I realized he was talking about JOE's pizza, right around the corner from JOHN's pizza.
Honestly, take a 5-7 dollar cab ride down to The Village and go for the real thing. It's a real NYC experience. I avoid eating around Times Square whenever possible.
chow gal , i am right in thinking u like it and the food is good ? i am flying in with the family on sat and staying near times sq and so felt this would give these brits a touch of usa within an easy distance and be a good choice before we crash . if its awful i'd rather not bother .
It's good. It is in an old bank (or church) and the space is beautiful. If it's close to your hotel and your time in NYC is precious (who wants to wait outside in a queue for 45 minutes in December?), the 44th street location will suit your needs and be a good NYC pizza experience for you.
the bleecker street branch of john's is the original, while the times square location is much bigger, newer, and nicer. but the pizza at the latter is awful; i'm 99.9% sure they don't use a coal-fired oven like the bleecker st location, based on the lack of char on the way-too-soft/bready crust. the cheese and sauce used at the times square location are subpar as well, to say the least. all in all a miserable dining experience.
even the original john's on bleecker street is vastly overrated, though it's still one of the better pizza options in manhattan by default. that says more about the sad state of pizza affairs in manhattan than the quality of john's pizza, though; its best days are way behind it. and it's not even close to a top 10 pizza when taking into account all five boroughs of the city.
i'm aware that every tourist guide hypes up john's (and lombardi's in soho and grimaldi's in brooklyn), but honestly, the best thin crust pizza in manhattan is at the original patsy's on 1st ave in spanish harlem. i realize that as tourists, you're probably not going to head up that way, but if you're serious about getting great pizza and don't want to leave the island, check it out. not a great neighborhood, but it's only a short cab ride from 96th st on the upper east side, which is the boundary between the (much safer and cleaner) upper east side and (sketchier but slowly gentrifying) spanish harlem.
for what it's worth, i'd recommend lombardi's and grimaldi's over john's if you absolutely refuse to venture north of midtown or the upper west/upper east side. like john's, both of these places were also once quite good but have slipped considerably in recent years.
the top pizza in nyc still remains di fara in midwood, brooklyn, in the opinion of most (but not all) people on this site. if you're serious about sampling the best in the city, it's a must-do. plus, there's much more to nyc than manhattan, so you'll have a chance to take in some of brooklyn's old neighborhoods on the train ride in (the tracks are elevated for much of the ride through brooklyn). to get there, you'd take the q train to the avenue j stop (about 35-40 minutes from the 42nd street/times square station), then walk 1 block westbound on avenue j, and it'll be on the corner of avenue j and east 15th st. go earlier in the day - preferably not on weekends - to avoid the long waits. if you go at the wrong time (i.e. after 5pm, esp. on weekends), you might end up waiting 1-2 hours for your pizza.
and totonno in coney island, brooklyn is still excellent, too. even farther from manhattan than di fara, but you'll have the opportunity to check out the coney island beach and boardwalk (albeit during the desolate off-peak season). note that totonno has weird hours/days of operation. also, they have two manhattan locations, but neither is good.
Excellent post surly. I totally agree with everything you say...but being an ex-pat Brit myself I would say that even the most mediocre Johns pizza is 20 times better than what you'll get in the UK...:)
I have a soft spot for Arturos on W. Houston in soho/village...I rate their pizza way above Johns and Lombardis and the atmosphere is pretty good with live jazz etc.
Steven - if you have time on your hands and would enjoy a bit of exploring (!)...the best pizza I have ever tasted is at Frank Pepe's in New Haven in Connecticut!! Maybe a bit far for you on this trip though...:)
I'd skip both John's pizzas frankly. The long post above captured the pizza advice perfectly.
Another option for a family meal close by in Times Square would be Virgil's BBQ. It's Americana food and I'm not sure you can get good BBQ in the UK. I think few people would tell you that Virgil's is the best bbq in New York, but I think it's good and it fits your location requirement.
I, too, agree with surly's long post above.
I also agree that the OP should, at least go for the best the Manhattan has to offer, given that they claim that the pizza in UK is not as good as the regular ones in NYC.
IMHO, the best pizza in New York is not at John's, which I might add I do think is great, but at Lombardi's on Spring Street between Mulberry and Mott. The spot opened in 1897 and has a coal fired pizza oven. The pizza is outstanding, true to New York pizza, and probably the best you'll find.
I don't mind John's pizza but I think Patsy's on 1st Ave at 117 Street is better. The John's in Times Square is a nice location but I didn't think the pies were very good. John's on Bleecker Street is better but, again, the wait out in the cold. There is another John's on E 64 Street just east of 1st Ave that is pretty good but I haven't been there in quite a while.
I'm a big fan of Patsy's but we were there two weeks ago and the pie wasn't up to the usual standard although the crust was just as good as ever. We also don't like the change in the house salad. It is now dressed with balsamic vinegrette whereas in the past it was made with top quality olive oil and wine vinegar. They had the mixture just right and now they've gone and changed it.
I am not a fan of Lombardi's, and all this talk about being original is just hype. Certainly it's not bad pizza but I find it bland compared to Patsy's and John's.
For the record, the Totonno's on the UES is not good.
re: Brian W
I'm a huge fan of the Patsy's on 118 & 1st, it's the only one I'll go to. A pie person is my motto when I go there.
I've gone to John's on Bleecker St a few times to make sure I got a proper feel for it, but I have yet to be impressed. There is always a line and the food was not that good. The pizza toppings tasted like the cooks were using cheap ingredients. That’s a buzz kill in my book.
Been to John's in Times Sq quite a few times. My most recent visits have been somewhat disappointing with the quality of the pizza and service. Although much larger than the one on Bleecker, its still a madhouse of sorts because of the area. Especially now during the holidays. I would say give it a shot. You have nothing to lose, but don't walk away thinking you are eating one of the city's best pizza experiences....
well what an interesting reponse one and all and thank you for your help.
i have been to nyc and now have returned to the uk . i indeed did go to johns near times sq and found it a nice way to start my families time there after a long flight and journey . that the restaurant was minutes from my hotel was a very welcome thing . thank you chow_gal for your thoughts .
the family enjoyed the pizza and was glad to have visited the restaurant .
i dislike the deep pan pizza and was therefore happy to find the base enjoyable but if i have a criticism its more to do with american cheese which i find very processed and lacking in much flavour .
please note that its my humble opinion that the best pizza served in the world is not in the usa which i have visited many times but simply has to be in italy . its something to do with the flour they use there , the wonderful tomatos from the base of versuvius volcano near sorrento the other ingredients and the ovens . pizza was invented by the italians and with the love that they cook all their wonderful food with i guess my view wont change at all !
In regards to cheese, I would think you might have been a little more pleased with the many, many pizza parlors popping up that use fresh hand rolled mozzerella.
John's happens to used very processed cheese, maybe even an oil based cheese supliment. It's a bit like getting spaghetti and meatballs in Little Italy for that old 50's red sauce style taste of Italian.