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I'm from Boston, NY Wife says: "NY Pizza is the best." So where is it?

Our tenth anniversary is coming up in October. We have a weekend away from the kids. Going to Babbo for a late dinner (10PM). We get into upper west side in the early afternoon. So....
where is this mythical great New York pizza? She's talked about it for years, every time we eat pizza in Boston "Oh this isn't as good as in NY."
So where can we go? I want this stuff!!
thanks
nick

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  1. There's actually a significant variety within NYC pizza. Really, it depends what you're looking for: cheesier/greasier gas oven style (like a Ray's) or lighter, fluffier coal oven style (like Patsy's or Totonno's)?

    What matters more to you, quality of toppings or quality of crust? Do you mind a chewier pie? Or do you want a crispier pie? Etc. I assume you don't want one of the newfangled Naples inspired pies, which are not really what people think of when they think of pizza in NY.

    Takeout? Sit down? Or is standing up OK with you? Are you willing to wait in a long line? Note also that a lot of famous pizza places are pies only.

    How far are you willing to travel? Where on the UWS will you be?

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6928...

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    Totonno's
    1544 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10028

    25 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      OK I'll try:
      My slightly helpful wife says "I just mean a regular pizzaria slice o pie. Thin and chewy. Not froo froo."
      I'll eat it standing on my head if it's delicious.
      We're staying at 68 and Broadway.
      Slice is good, but our dinner reservation is late enough that we could eat a whole pie no problem.
      My image of NY pizza is "Two slices" from Do The Right Thing.
      thanks for the help.

      1. re: nickbobo

        One more thing that might be important. My wife grew up on Long Island as opposed to Manhattan proper.

        1. re: nickbobo

          Yeah, that's going to be a problem. I grew up on Long Island too, where pretty much any strip mall pizza joint you wander across is going to have pizza that's far better than 95% of the pizza you find here in Boston. And when I visit my family in NYC, I'm excited for a pizza slice and always disappointed until I head out to Port Washington to visit my brother there. I like Patsy's and Grimaldi's but it's not like what I grew up with and am looking for. I haven't tried DiFara's and I think I'd love it, but it wouldn't be like the slice of my youth. It's been a long time since I've had Ray's and I remember liking it as a kid, but as a change, not an example of the pizza I generally ate. MVNYC is probably right in that a slice joint will probably be the closest to what your wife likes, but the few I have tried in NYC proper didn't do it for me (Abitino's, in particular, which was some of the worst pizza I've ever eaten.)

          If you really want to quench her pizza craving, take the Orient Point or Port Jefferson ferry home, and stop at any random pizza place you see on the way. I kid you not, your wife will very likely not be disappointed. And check out some of the pizza threads on the Boston board. There is actually pizza here worth pursuing.

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          Grimaldi's
          47 W 20th St, New York, NY 10010

          1. re: Chris VR

            Patsy's and Grimaldi's are both coal oven places, I'm guessing what you want is gas oven pizza, right? Or something different? Can you elaborate on what you ate as a kid if it isn't what Ray's, etc. serve now? Agree that Abitino's was horrible.

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            Grimaldi's
            47 W 20th St, New York, NY 10010

            1. re: kathryn

              LIke I said, it's been years since I had Ray's but I recall it being closer to what I now know is deep dish style, with a thicker crust, a straight mozzerella cheese topping (I think, but don't know, that the pizza on LI also has parmesan and/or romano) and crumbly sausage, which is something I had never seen- meatballs and sausages were always sliced, never crumbled. I seem to remember it came in a triangle-shaped box, which I'd also never seen before. Looking at the pictures I can find of Ray's, it's not what I am remembering, so perhaps my memory is thinking of something completely different.

              I assume it's gas oven pizza. The bottom was not quite crisp, mostly smooth although you could see small air bubbles if you looked closely, sort of a caramel color, and the dough has a perceivable malt flavor. The sauce has an acidic bite to it- not too sweet. The aforementioned cheese blend, applied a bit too thickly. You always needed to blot it with napkins to take off the oil slick. or it dripped down your arm when it was folded. I can't speak for the OP's wife, but if she grew up on Long Island, I can state with a fair amount of certainty that's what she is looking for.

              1. re: Chris VR

                What you are describing is a classic slice of NY Pizza whether that is LI or NYC. There are plenty of places to get a slice like that. Joe's is like that as are a lot of other places in all of the boroughs. Next time you are in NYC post where you will be and perhaps someone can help.

                1. re: MVNYC

                  My husband also grew up on LI, and we've never found pizza anywhere else that fits with the pizza we've gotten from there. We're going to be in Manhattan in January, and we'd really like some good pizza, LI style. We'll be staying uhm, I think it's called Midtown, in the Theater district, not far from Hell's Kitchen (I THINK I got that right). Any suggestions? :)

                  1. re: Morganna

                    Same suggestion, head to Joe's on Carmine and Bleecker. Kathryn's idea of how to spend the day a few posts up is a really good idea. That area is great for NYers and tourists alike.

                    I am sure there are good Pizza shops in that area but I am not too familiar with it. Someone else can pipe in for that. Really though for what you are looking for, Joe's will fit the bill.

                    1. re: MVNYC

                      2nd joe's. if you don't want to travel to the village. gino's on 83rd between 1st and 2nd makes a good ny slice as does pizza suprema by penn station.

                      1. re: daffyduck

                        If you're looking for a slice near penn station, then you have to go to Don Pepe. Its next to the Krispy Kreme, between the NJ Transit and Amtrak sections of the station.

                        1. re: ml77

                          thanks for the tip, ill check it out the next time im there.

                          1. re: daffyduck

                            Cool. I look forward to your review.

        2. re: nickbobo

          You want a NY style piece of pizza. There are a lot of Neapolitan style places that people rave about and they are good but that is not what you are looking for and your wife would call "froo froo". I eat at them but they are not where I would send someone who is from out of town for a standard NYC slice. It seems like a lot of people on this board look down on typical NYC slice joints but they are what keeps NYC like NYC. People seem to forget how bad regular NY style Pizza is out of the area.

          For a great slice I like Joe's. Off of Bleecker and kind of near Babbo. I suppose you could get a slice early afternoon, do the tourist thing in the Village and hit Babbo.

          http://www.menupages.com/restaurants/...

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          Babbo
          110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

          1. re: MVNYC

            I can definitely see a mid-day afternoon stroll in that area yielding lots of delicious stuff. A few slices at Joe's (try the fresh mozzarella one, too), then a croissant at Claude's, gelato at L'Arte de Gelato, try some of the wares at Murray's Cheeses or Amy's Bread. Yum! You could also stop for a cocktail or two and some light bar snacks at Pegu Club when they open around 6pm or so. Or a glass of wine at the bar at Otto. Babbo would then be a short walk away from either.

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            Pegu Club
            77 W Houston St, New York, NY 10012

            1. re: kathryn

              Kathryn, that sounds like an great day whether you are a tourist or not.

            2. re: MVNYC

              Try Patsy's up in Harlem, then Ben's on Spring St, and Lombardi on Spring St. for what she might remember as NY pizza. Then for a change try Co. and Try Grand Daisy pizza on Sullivan St.

              1. re: foodwhisperer

                Ben's on Spring St. -amen to that, the ne plus ultra of slices in the city.

                [I'm reminded, reading Chris' posts above, that the key to good pizza is the water used to make the dough. That may be why Boston suffers so: when I shower at my sister's house in that town, I never come away clean.]

                1. re: Phil Ogelos

                  As the song says " I love that dirty water........Boston your my home"

                  1. re: Phil Ogelos

                    I don't know if that's necessarily so, as there IS good pizza to be found outside New York City... and supposedly in Boston as well (Regina's).

                    1. re: kathryn

                      As a New Yorker who went to school in the Boston area, I have to say I was unable to find particularly good pizza there. I probably liked Galleria Umberto's Sicilian slice the best. It wasn't nearly as good as Artichoke's or Di Fara's, but it was also about 30-40% the price. Gran Gusto's Neapolitan pizzas were pretty decent.

                      The original Regina is ok. Their other locations are flat-out bad.

                      1. re: kathryn

                        I was only talking about the role fine water plays in producing good dough and thus good pizza, kathryn, and how Boston might or might not live up to that condition. That's ALL I said.

                        There might be superlative pizza in Boise, Idaho and in Milton, MA, concurrently, for all I know -I made no claim to an NYC monopoly on the good stuff.

                        1. re: Phil Ogelos

                          Also, if you jsut walk into the first pizza place you see. You're likely to be disappointed. Do research. Most places are just bad.

                2. re: nickbobo

                  You're looking for the old-school new york slice. If you haven't been here in a while you should know that there's been an artisinal pizza movement going on for a few years now. Places like Keste, Co., Motorino, etc... But you want an old-school slice. That breed has been going downhill for years now but you can still find a few decent places. My favorite is Joes on 6th ave just north of bleeker in the west village.

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                  Motorino
                  349 E 12th St, New York, NY 10003

                  1. re: psawce23

                    Curious why you think that breed is going downhill for years now? Are the slices becoming worse or have your tastes changed?

                    1. re: psawce23

                      i find the good slice places are still good, so i'm not sure what you mean by going downhill

                3. Rather than look for the best NY pizza, I would go for the best pizza in NY. Keste or Motorino. Possibly Co.

                  None of these are probably what your wife was talking about, since they haven't been in business for years, but this is what's been getting New Yorkers excited lately.

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                  Motorino
                  349 E 12th St, New York, NY 10003

                  1. Di Fara's. He is the artist. Your wife would need to be willing to wait. He is the only cook and he takes his time. Each detail of each pie gets his full attention. My favorite is the Sicilian porcini mushroom pizza. However, any will do. Dom is consistently great. Take the Q train to the Avenue J stop and walk two blocks to 1424 Ave. J (corner of 15th St.) This is authentic old New York pizza at its height. If you want something more comfortable, a sit down eating experience, less wait time, Motorino is good. I had a wonderful mozarella di bufalo with proscuitto pie. Motorino has unusual and great beer. L train to Graham, corner Devoe (Manhattan location is 349 E. 12th St.).

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                    Motorino
                    349 E 12th St, New York, NY 10003

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: ConnieC

                      If the OP's wife wants what she grew up with, though, I'm not sure Di Fara or Motorino will be the right place to go.

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                      Motorino
                      349 E 12th St, New York, NY 10003

                    2. I truly believe that NYC (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx and Staten Island) has the best pizza in the world. So many places and so many unique styles. All of the recs will steer you in the right direction. Enjoy!!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Motosport

                        Although I think that NY "has the best pizza in the" continental USofA, I would never stretch that to say "the world". Most pizza in Italy are heads-and-shoulders better than ours in good 'ole NY.

                        1. re: RCC

                          I.M.H.O. Nah!!! Traveled extensively in Italy. Had some great pizza. NYC pizza is as good or better. Maybe it just suits my pedestrian taste.

                          It's all good!! Except for maybe the slab o' cheese glop at any one of the "one and only" "original" "none otherthan" Ray's Pizza.

                      2. NY pizza is quite decent by Italian standards: I lived in the northern Italy (Trieste, Venice )for a while. I have one word for you (two actually): Di Fara. Other than that, depends on what you are looking for.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: diprey11

                          Some of the worst pizza I have ever had was in Venice. Overall the pizza in the north was not as good as NY, IMO.

                          DiFara beats it by 10,000 miles.

                          Also, I do agree with the above sentiment that the average strip mall pizza in Long Island is pretty good compared to the rest of the country: i.e. Gino's on the North Shore for exapmle...

                          1. re: NYJewboy

                            It depends on where exactly in Venice, tourist traps and all. Please don't say, anywhere near the Grand Canal. ;-) Outside of that touristy area, I would probably disagree: even in Santa Lucia, let alone in Mestre, but that discusion probably belongs to another board. We are in a violent agreement that the NYC pizza beats any other tri-state offerings, and pehaps far beyond that.