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Sep 26, 2008 03:14 PM

The Best Pizzas in New York Today

Who’s turning out the absolute best pizza in NYC today?

Here are my favorites. The ratings are based on the taste of the best sausage pizzas I have recently* had from each place.

1. Trattoria Otto Zero Nove (Arthur Ave, Bronx)
2. Nick’s (Forest Hills)
3. Giorgione’s

4. Lucali’s (Carroll Gardens)
5. Gnocco
6. Grimaldi’s (DUMBO)
7. Giovanna’s
8. Bettola
9. Marco Polo (Carroll Gardens)
10. Luzzo’s

Honorable Mention:
L & B Spumoni Gardens (Bensonhurst)
Sam’s (Carroll Gardens)
DiFara (Midwood)
Arturo’s (SOHO)

This is in comparison to:
Patsy’s (East Harlem, University, UWS, W 56th), John’s (Bleecker), Lombardi’s, Franny’s (Prospect Heights), Vinny Vincenz, Totonno’s (Coney Island, UES, and Gramercy), Naples 45, Otto, Denino’s (Staten Island), Lil’ Frankie’s, Two Boots (West Village), No. 28 Carmine, Trattoria Anna Maria, Posto, Lazzara’s, Adrienne’s, Piola, Dee’s (Forest Hills), Angelo’s (W 57th), Cafe Centosette, Pizza 33 (14th St/6th), Waldy’s, La Pizza Fresca, Mariella, Artichoke, Dean’s (UWS), Nick’s (UES), Fornino (Williamsburg), Joe & Pat’s (Staten Island), Gotham, Pala, Il Fornaio, Al Forno, Giorgio’s, Mimi’s, Cafe Amore (14th St), Pintaile’s (UES-91st), Louie & Ernie’s (eastern Bronx), among countless others.

There are a few of the restaurants listed among the top 10 and honorable mentions above that I have visited only once. I subscribe to the philosophy expressed by Vince Staten and Greg Johnson in their book "Real Barbecue": "A good [restaurant] can have a bad day. But we have confidence in our selections because we don't think the converse is true: A good place can have a bad day but a bad place can never have a good day."

(A few of the restaurants mentioned do not ordinarily serve sausage/mozzarella/tomato sauce pizzas but agreed to add sausage to their standard margherita pie at my request.)
Some places that I would have included in a list of the best in the past have fallen off their game and can no longer be included (eg, Nick's on Upper East Side, which is actually where I get 90% of my pizzas from simply because it's close to where I live).
All of the top 10 and the honorable mentions are based on whole pies (some of the others listed at the bottom were just slices).

*I sampled (or resampled) each of the top 10 and the honorable mentions within the past few months. I also visited most of the others listed in this post within the past few months. However, there are a few places listed at the bottom that I have not been to in a year or more (because I did not care for their pizza).

I am posting this on the Manhattan board because I focused on Manhattan restaurants. The list includes a few restaurants from other boroughs because they were superior (eg Otto Zero Nove and Nick's) or otherwise noteworthy (DiFara, Lucali).

Of course, everyone has his or her own pizza preferences, so your taste experience may be different.

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  1. Isn't the most fair test only tasting their standard margherita?

    4 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      Not sure what you mean by "fair."
      Is it fair to include pizzerias that only serve DOC pizzas with pizzerias that serve pizzas with processed cheese product mozzarella? Or with restaurants that serve gluten-free pizza?

      I chose sausage pizzas for 2 major reasons: (1) I love sausage pizzas and wanted to find the best versions around the city out of pure selfishness; and (2) plain margherita pizzas are too easy -- most NYC pizzerias make pizzas with crappy sausage, but many, many pizzerias make good margherita pizzas -- comparison of their sausage pizzas was a great discriminator. I found a number restaurants had delicious pizzas except for the sausage. Seeing how well the sausage works with the pizza is, I think, the best test of the chef's ability.

      I suspect that NYers as a group don't demand the highest-quality (tastewise) sausage pizzas, and pizzerias don't feel obligated to provide them, because most NYers don't know what good-tasting sausage pizza should taste like. It's a vicious cycle.
      Take a look at the pizzas in the frozen food sections of Manhattan grocery stores -- it's hard to find any sausage pizzas (aside from the occasional sausage and pepperoni frozen pizza)! Go to Chicago, for instance, where the pizzerias have terrific sausage pizzas, and you'll find plenty of different brands of sausage pizzas in most grocery stores.

      1. re: racer x

        Oh, I was just thinking that thin crust + a topping = a soggy, heavy pizza which might be misleading about the pizzeria's quality (pies that just aren't designed to hold toppings).

        Agreed that NYers usually don't demand sausage (I usually don't order sausage pies) so you could make the argument that it's more useful to gauge pies by what people actually order. Aside from plain, I'm not sure what the most common single topping is. Pepperoni? Really, it would be interesting to have two columns for your ratings: for the unadorned pie and for the pie with a single topping, and see how they diverge.

        1. re: kathryn

          I think as long as he's consistent, it's valid, though I agree it would be nice to see a similar test done solely on cheese pizzas.

        2. re: racer x

          Surprised to see Luzzos sausage made it in the top 10?That in particular really dissapointed me on a recent visit.Thanks for bringing some other places to my attention though racer.

      2. I'm throwing in my vote for PALA on Allen near Houston. Was just there last night and had the amazing arrabiata (cherry tomatoes, garlic, chile, +$2 for the buffalo mozarella). Every time I go there I am impressed by the freshness / variety of their toppings and their crust (pretty thin and crispy with a little bit of chewy bite in the middle). So good! I am always surprised this place doesn't get more love on the boards / blogs.

        I've been to most of the celebrated pizza spots in NYC (inc di fara, lucali, una, etc) and in my book Pala ranks up there with the rest of them (and no crazy ass wait like at di fara). if you haven't been you should.

        btw I still don't get the hype about artichoke. thought that place was very meh.

        1 Reply
        1. re: SoylentGreen

          I didn't like the one pizza I had from Pala much (reviewed Aug 30).

        2. Your numero uno should read Trattoria Zero Otto Nove (O89)...Which I must try since I have heard so many good things about it. It is a bit of a hike for me though. I agree that Marco Polo is really good and wonder why it does not seem to get a lot of business.

          4 Replies
          1. re: boccalupo

            Thanks for the correction, boccalupo. A little dyslexia there.

            1. re: boccalupo

              I'd love to try this place (089), but they don't take reservations, and I'd hate to schlep all the way out there from Hoboken and be shut out. How big is the place? Is it generally crowded or not too bad? I was thinking of Sat. night, but could do a weeknight too.

              1. re: bnemes3343

                you wont need a reservation, go there, zero otto nove is great

              2. re: boccalupo

                Trattoria Zero is amazing! Totally worth it. I love that area of the Bronx. You cannot go wrong.

              3. The original comment has been removed
                1. Here are some addresses

                  Nick's Pizza
                  108-26 Ascan Ave, Queens, NY 11375

                  Zero Otto Nove
                  2357 Arthur Ave, Bronx, NY 10458

                  307 Spring Street, New York, NY 10013