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The Best Pizzas in New York Today

racer x Sep 26, 2008 03:14 PM

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. k
    kathryn RE: racer x Sep 26, 2008 03:44 PM

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

    4 Replies
    1. re: kathryn
      racer x RE: kathryn Sep 26, 2008 06:17 PM

      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
        kathryn RE: racer x Sep 26, 2008 09:32 PM

        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
          a_and_w RE: kathryn Oct 2, 2008 01:49 PM

          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
          xny556cip RE: racer x Nov 15, 2008 04:05 PM

          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. s
        SoylentGreen RE: racer x Oct 2, 2008 06:55 AM

        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
          racer x RE: SoylentGreen Oct 2, 2008 08:08 AM

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

        2. b
          boccalupo RE: racer x Oct 2, 2008 07:43 AM

          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
            racer x RE: boccalupo Oct 2, 2008 08:04 AM

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

            1. re: boccalupo
              bnemes3343 RE: boccalupo Oct 2, 2008 08:23 AM

              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
                intrepid RE: bnemes3343 Nov 15, 2008 03:36 AM

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

              2. re: boccalupo
                s0ccerm0m RE: boccalupo Oct 17, 2012 08:12 PM

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

              3. r
                racer x RE: racer x Oct 2, 2008 08:28 AM

                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

                1. a_and_w RE: racer x Oct 2, 2008 01:47 PM

                  For the life of me, I'll never understand how Grimaldi's makes anyone's list of top pizza places -- above DiFara no less! But to each their own, I suppose...

                  11 Replies
                  1. re: a_and_w
                    bnemes3343 RE: a_and_w Oct 2, 2008 01:57 PM

                    I think a lot more people have maybe been to Grimaldi's than DiFara. Because even though Grimaldi's is pretty good if you eat-in, it's not in the same league as DiFara.

                    1. re: bnemes3343
                      racer x RE: bnemes3343 Oct 28, 2008 12:24 PM

                      I'm thoroughly familiar with both Grimaldi's and DiFara's. I've eaten in and taken out from Grimaldi's on many occasions. Grimaldi's isn't half as good as it used to be, but it's still better than most other places (including DiFara's).

                      1. re: racer x
                        a_and_w RE: racer x Oct 28, 2008 04:13 PM

                        Disagree, though I'm factoring the square into my judgment.

                        1. re: a_and_w
                          slindroth RE: a_and_w Mar 15, 2012 04:58 PM

                          That square pizza is sheer heaven. Grimaldi's has nothing on DiFara...except for location and number of tables :)

                        2. re: racer x
                          NYJewboy RE: racer x Sep 8, 2012 05:49 AM

                          Grimaldi's pies are often grossly undercooked, doughy, and their cheese is common commercial stuff. I cannot see how what they do is anything but hype for the tourists.

                      2. re: a_and_w
                        itchynscratchy RE: a_and_w Oct 28, 2008 11:31 AM

                        Totally agree. Grimaldi's is so overrated and shouldn't be above Difara.
                        Waldy's on 6th ave and ~28th st is pretty good as well.

                        1. re: itchynscratchy
                          a_and_w RE: itchynscratchy Oct 28, 2008 11:41 AM

                          I like Waldy's too, especially the pepperoni, but skip the lamb and preserved lemon pizza.

                          1. re: a_and_w
                            racer x RE: a_and_w Oct 28, 2008 12:20 PM

                            Waldy's didn't do it for me. The cheese mix reeked.


                            1. re: racer x
                              tabs RE: racer x Oct 28, 2008 02:46 PM

                              How about Una Pizza Neopolitana

                              1. re: tabs
                                racer x RE: tabs Oct 28, 2008 06:03 PM

                                Never tried it.
                                (A basic requirement for inclusion in this survey was sausage pizza.)

                              2. re: racer x
                                a_and_w RE: racer x Oct 28, 2008 04:14 PM

                                Yeah, there's definitely something sharp in that cheese (aged provolone?) though I personally like it.

                        2. b
                          Bingo The Cabbie RE: racer x Oct 30, 2008 08:17 AM

                          Patsy's 117th and 1st ave

                          Full Moon Pizza 187th and Arthur ave.

                          The only places I go.

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: Bingo The Cabbie
                            jackieparis RE: Bingo The Cabbie Oct 31, 2008 05:39 PM

                            I'm a very picky eater and I have to say that even though Grimaldi's attracts a lot of tourists the pizza is among the best that I've had. I also like Otto and Patsy's but they are completely different and no where near Grimaldis.

                            1. re: jackieparis
                              xny556cip RE: jackieparis Mar 31, 2009 06:57 AM

                              It seem like Pizzerias are opening like spring flowers right now! Two more worthy of a mention are Neapolitan - Keste on Bleeker St ( V.Good ) and Tonda in the EV.Also Mezzaluna took over the short lived DeMarco (?) space on Houston,though i've yet to try it.Good luck

                              1. re: xny556cip
                                racer x RE: xny556cip Apr 2, 2009 03:59 PM

                                Mezzaluna did not impress. Perhaps they will improve, but not yet worthy of mentioning on a The Best list.

                              2. re: jackieparis
                                a_and_w RE: jackieparis Aug 24, 2009 09:26 AM

                                Grimaldi's is inferior to Patsy's East Harlem imo.

                                1. re: a_and_w
                                  racer x RE: a_and_w Aug 29, 2009 02:48 PM

                                  a_and_w, your pizza tastes and mine are polar opposites.

                                  I think I have tried Patsy's East Harlem three or four times over some 15 years or so and hated each pie I got there. (Never had a slice there.) I much prefer pizzas from the other Patsy's over the East Harlem Patsy's, although I don't really like the other ones all that much either.

                                  1. re: racer x
                                    a_and_w RE: racer x Aug 30, 2009 10:31 AM

                                    I respect your opinions racer x, but I've noticed our tastes are opposite, too LOL! I get the vibe that you prefer more Neapolitan and NY-Neapolitan style pies. No surprise, therefore, that Patsy's East Harlem disappoints you every time. IMO, it's basically a NY street slice cooked in a coal oven.

                            2. r
                              rushbikes RE: racer x Apr 7, 2009 06:12 AM

                              My 2 favorite "designer" pizzas at the moment are the Puta d'Mare at L'asso (I believe it's mozzarella, ricotta, shrimp, artichokes and broccoli rabe) and the Popeye at Co. (pecorino, gruyère, buffalo mozzarella, spinach, black pepper, garlic).

                              Just had the Keste pizza at Keste a few nights ago and don't think it quite lived up to the above 2, but their simple Regina Margherita was delicious. Have not yet been to Neopolitana but it's next on my list.

                              1. m
                                MFARMARCO RE: racer x May 2, 2009 08:00 AM

                                Just tried Difaras for the first time and was disappointed. Maybe it was all the hype, maybe it was the anticipation of tasting one of the supposed best pizzas in NYC after waiting over an hour. Or maybe it was just not what I would consider a fantastic slice. Was the slice good? Yea it was good. Was it great? That is actually a tough question. I think that it could have been great if I could have actually tasted what makes a pizza so good in the first place. The sauce. I could not taste the sauce because it was overcome by the Parmesan cheese. Another thing that I didn't like was the enormous amount of basil. If you were eating it blindfolded you would have thought it was a pesto pie. If the pizza had more sauce maybe it would have balance out the use of the basil and cheese but without it it just tasted like an oily cheesy pesto pie.
                                The crust was very good though.
                                My favorite pizza is still L & B. the squares are heaven. It is what a pizza should be. the sauce and crust are fantastic. It's no wonder that some pizzerias have on their menu
                                "L & B squares". I have never seen another pizzerias name mentioned in another pizzeria anywhere but L & B. That says something about how good it is.

                                9 Replies
                                1. re: MFARMARCO
                                  powermd RE: MFARMARCO May 2, 2009 10:33 PM

                                  Agreed on DiFara. Highly overrated by zealots. The pizza's good, but not remotely worth what you have to go through to get it. What time did you go, and how long did you wait for your slice/pie?

                                  For my money, Una Pizza Napoletana is the best in the city, but I love the pizza from Lucali, Grimaldi's, John's (mated to a pitcher of beer, of course), and Giorgione's. The sausage slices from Sal & Carmine are terrific- I love their sausage. Never tried L&B.

                                  1. re: powermd
                                    a_and_w RE: powermd May 4, 2009 10:09 AM

                                    Please. UPN and Grimaldi's are, in their own ways, as much of a hassle as DiFara. I would gladly put up with the lines at DiFara for a square slice. But I personally won't tolerate the pretentiousness of UPN or the tourist trap that is Grimaldi's. I also would go to Arturo's over John's any day of the week. Different strokes for different folks, I guess...

                                    1. re: a_and_w
                                      biga290 RE: a_and_w May 5, 2009 05:01 PM

                                      i just came from zero otto nove on arthur avenue. ate at the bar, which has a window to the kitchen. i was served a sausage and broccoli rabe pie about 10 seconds after it left the brick oven. it was out of this world -- thin crust perfection with the right balance between crust and toppings.

                                    2. re: powermd
                                      racer x RE: powermd Aug 13, 2009 07:55 AM

                                      Just in case someone new to NYC or just visiting the area comes across this thread:
                                      as previously noted on Chowhound, Una Pizza Napoletana has closed.


                                    3. re: MFARMARCO
                                      Gigi007 RE: MFARMARCO Aug 23, 2009 10:09 PM

                                      Good assessment of Di Fara's. I cannot stand the excess oil and the tremendous amount of basil. Pesto pie is a good characterization.

                                      1. re: Gigi007
                                        a_and_w RE: Gigi007 Aug 24, 2009 10:15 AM

                                        There is nothing remotely pesto about the pie at DiFara.

                                        1. re: a_and_w
                                          Gigi007 RE: a_and_w Aug 24, 2009 10:18 AM

                                          a_and_w, please see MFARMARCO's post above which I commented on. Again, everyone is entitled to his/her opinion, and I am guessing that the excessive olive oil and basil on Di Fara's pizza influenced MFARMARCO's influenced description, which I happen to agree with.

                                      2. re: MFARMARCO
                                        a_and_w RE: MFARMARCO Aug 24, 2009 10:26 AM

                                        The grated cheese at DiFara is Grana Padano, not parmesan. Also, are you comparing the round slice at DiFara to the squares at L&B? That's apples to oranges. Love the square at L&B but square at DiFara is superior imo.

                                        1. re: a_and_w
                                          bombadilio RE: a_and_w Jan 2, 2012 10:22 AM

                                          Joe's Pizza is missing for the best street pizza.

                                      3. n
                                        Nytmstr RE: racer x Apr 29, 2012 12:53 PM

                                        The best and most authentic NYC Italian "abeetz" comes from Patsys in East Harlem, Totonnos in Coney Island, Denino's ,Mr Pizza, and Brothers on Staten Island and of course L&B in Bensonhurst.

                                        1. j
                                          jimmyjo1 RE: racer x Jun 19, 2012 10:40 AM

                                          bring an extra set of teeth for the crust if you choose Totonno's or Grimaldi's.

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