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Sep 7, 2009 12:12 PM

The Extended Tourist's Pizza Review

I have moved to NYC for a 6 month project for work, and I am determined to eat as much of this city as I can while I am here. One aspect of this plan involves surveying the various pizza offerings. So far, I've gotten to Keste, Grimaldi's and Arturo's. I'll continue to update the thread as a I tick more off my list.

First up, Keste. I went here on a Thursday night. I arrived around 7:15, and was told there was a 15 minute wait. I was meeting a friend, and didn't think she would be there by 7:30, so I held off putting my name in. (I entertained myself by grabbing a fro yo appetizer at the place next door. If you are thinking about doing the same, don't bother. Not terrible, but not particularly good either.) Saw a line of alarming length start to form as I sat there, so at 7:35 I asked and was told the wait was 25 minutes, so I put my name in. Friend arrived at 7:55, at 8:15 we were seated. I didn't mind the extra wait. They brought out pizza samples to the waiting crowd around 7:45 (bummer for my friend!), so I munched on appetizer #2 while I waited. Once seated, we ordered very quickly and the pizza came out in what, no joke, felt like 4 minutes. We ordered the margherita and the pizza del re. Both were quite good. The crust had a great char on the edges. It was flimsy in the middle, but it wasn't soupy or soggy. I didn't mind the texture, but I don't think it's my favorite. Cheese was fresh and delicious on both, and the combo of prosciutto, truffle and olive oil on the del re was excellent. Both were swimming in a bit too much oil for me though, and the topping to crust ratio was off. All in all, I liked it very much, but I kept thinking ... wait, so THIS is the best pizza in NYC?

Week or two later went to Grimaldi's. Did the walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, so I worked up an appetite. Still ended up arriving way too early (thought they opened at 11:30 on Saturday, turns out it was 12). My brother and I consoled ourselves by splitting a pastry at Jacques Torres. At 11:45 we meandered back to Grimaldi's and got in line. There were only about 15 people in front of us. (I imagine the short line was a product of the torrential downpour we had experienced on our walk across the bridge. ) They brought us in a few minutes early to get people out of the still-dripping rain. We were seated near the door, which turns out to be a bad thing, because it appears as though they take orders and deliver pizzas from the back to the front. So people who were behind us in line, but had large enough parties to be seated at the larger tables in the back, got their orders in and their pizzas out significantly sooner than we did. I think we ended up waiting about 10 or 15 minutes before they took our order, and then at least 30 minutes if not more before the pizza arrived. (Good thing we shared that pastry). We ordered 1/2 cheese and 1/2 sausage, but when it arrived it was all sausage. That was a little annoying, but we were starving at this point, so we dug in. My number one impression was how fresh everything --from the tomatoes to the cheese to the sausage -- tasted. The flavors were clean and light, and there was no greasiness to any of it. The crust was chewy on the edges and uniformly cripsy on the bottom. As fresh as it was though, it also as pretty bland. Again, I thought... hmmm, very good, but the best?

This past Friday night was Arturo's. Not mentioned as often as Grimaldi's, Lombardi's or John's, but mentioned often enough and, more importantly for my purposes on Friday, it apparently often does not have a line. This held true for us: walking in at 8 pm on a Friday night my best friend and I were seated immediately. We shared an appetizer house salad and order of mussels. Feel free to skip both. For pizza, we went with the pepperoni. This pizza was excellent. Like Grimaldi's, the crust had a nice crispy, chewy edge, and was cooked perfectly throughout. Sauce was flavorful, with a little bit of sweetness and a little bit of spice. The spice could have been the pepperoni, which also was spicy and delicious. Proportion of sauce to cheese were perfect. Still dunno if this is the "best," but it definitely was my favorite of the three so far. Unlike the others, I had to force myself to stop eating once I was full, and I was craving it the next day. I would absolutely go back, except that there are still many, many more on my list to try.

Next up... maybe Co., maybe John's.... maybe Patsy's...

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  1. Re: Keste, only New York Magazine has proclaimed it the best pizza in NYC. I think most hounds would say that Di Fara is the best regarded here on CH.

    6 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      The problem with comparing Keste to Di Fara is that the styles are different enough that the should be in sub categories of pizza.

      1. re: KTinNYC

        I agree completely! But I was simply trying to state who seemed to be most popular here. :)

        1. re: KTinNYC

          Totally agree about it being hard to compare different styles. I enjoyed Arturo's the most, so it's been MY "best" so far. But I can't say it is THE best. I also don't think I'd be able to rank, even with just three. I know Arturo's is my number one at the moment, but it seems silly to say whether Keste is better than Grimaldi's or vice versa. I enjoyed them both for different reasons and in different ways.

          Also, Kathryn, I'm a little surprised to hear that you think most 'hounds think DiFara is the best. Of course I know it is extremely highly regarded, but I had read some negative stuff, especially after the recent price increase. I really didn't think there was a consensus. But I have to say, hearing that has moved DiFara a few spots higher on my list of places to try, just to make sure I don't miss it.

          1. re: therenowtoo

            Most of the complaints are about the price and the waits. If the discussion was strictly about good pizza I'm pretty sure Di Fara would be the consensus number 1.

            1. re: KTinNYC

              Excellent. Good to know. Thanks guys!

              1. re: therenowtoo

                DiFara is my favorite pizza, too, but Arturo's is also in my top three. Good choice!

      2. I would like to highlight that these pizzas didn't live up to all the hype for you... some folks wait 2 hours on line at Grimaldis.. and I like you don't see the hype in all of these pizzeries. is one marginally better than the other sure.. but is that margin worth 2 hours wait and is that margin subjective to the differing styles of pizza presented? I think the "second tier" pizzerias which dont' have the PR machines or blogs rooting for them are the undiscovered gems of NY right now.. e.g. Arturos.. not the best.. but location in center, no crowd, and people like its food a lot (like you).. but you won't hear of it in the blogs...

        Re the authorities crowning who is best.. I find it all a joke.. ever since NY Magazine proclaimed Resto's new burger the "best burger in NY".. I find it tough to take their "best of" proclamations seriously on any commoditized product... someone is getting paid off somewhere.. I mean.. the artichoke pizza at Artichoke getting so much one-sided positive press... to me its all jokes..

        7 Replies
        1. re: shanshan

          How can you go to Grimaldis but not DiFaras?? If you are willing to go across the bridge for Grimaldis I think it's only fair to go to DiFaras as well. I would love to hear your thoughts!!

          1. re: pizzajunkie

            DiFara is significantly more of a schlep than Grimaldi's, albeit for better pizza.

            1. re: pizzajunkie

              Hi pizzajunkie. I'm not sure if your comment is directed to me or not, but we went with Grimaldi's this time because my brother was in town and I wanted to do the "walk across the bridge, get Grimaldi's pizza and Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory ice cream" touristy thing. I was planning on going to DiFara's on another trip, and now reading the high praise from kathryn, KT and others, there is no question that I will make the schlep. And when I do, I'll definitely post about it here.

              1. re: pizzajunkie

                because it was there across the bridge.. wasn't planning to go there. Man this DiFaras gets so much positive looks.. will have to make the schlep... I wish they did the takeout option like Grimaldis..

                1. re: shanshan

                  You can get takeout at DiFara, but it's the same wait. Be sure you get the square -- it's all about the square.

                  1. re: a_and_w

                    meaning, you can call ahead and pick it up vs. wait on line?

                    1. re: shanshan

                      Meaning you can call ahead AND wait in line. There's also a chance your pie will be given to someone else. Really, it's best to order your pie there and wait at the counter until it comes. People will try to cut and steal your pie -- you have to be vigilant and assertive.

            2. John's Pizza on Bleecker St. Fabulous pizza without the hype and long lines.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Motosport

                John's has lines, too, there's a usually a rope outside their door!

                1. re: kathryn

                  I guess we have been lucky when we go.

                2. re: Motosport

                  john's pizza is good. but there are many other slice places equally good or better, to me

                3. Two places I don't see mentioned in this thread are Co. (company) and Lucali. Both have long lines.

                  And yes, I always speak highly of Arturo's. Better than some of the others? Debatable. But the advantage with Arturo's is that I can actually *get* a pizza there when I want one and it doesn't have to be an enormous project. (di faras, lucali, lombardis, etc. etc.)

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: egit

                    Co. is absolutely on the list. Might even be next in line, since I live in Chelsea and it is so convenient. Lucali was on the maybe list, but if I end up there you'll see it here.