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The physics of reheated pizza and the shell game at Joe's & Bleecker St. Pizza

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I must be what present day pizza joints dread; a native New Yorker who wants a fresh slice. I've been doing it since grade school, when my buddies and I would descend on a lousy pizza place on 14th St. and 3rd Ave. We never ate what was sitting out. Today, I finally gave up as I watched my favourite place, Bleecker Street Pizza and my ( long cooled, like their slices), old flame, Joe's, play the pizza shell game. It had to do with shuffling slices that had no heat at all coming off of them , ( which they would reheat in the oven upon someone ordering one), or the dreaded cold pizza from the drawer, which is a newer innovation...
I'm always ready to wait in the corner until a fresh pie comes out. I'm patient. I have a real aversion to reheated slices. I always get excited when I see they've exhausted all the cold, un-fresh slices sitting around, figuring a fresh pie is coming out of the oven at any minute. Instead, yesterday, the guy at Bleecker Street Pizza reaches down into a drawer below the counter and pulls out another pre-made pie, equally room temp, and the same process continued. After waiting a while at both places, I realized I wasn't going to get a fresh slice, so I gave up. I felt it was a sign from above that I wasn't meant to eat such a fattening food, and I left, deciding to stay hungry. Kind of a hunger strike against reheated pie. I would yield to anyone who can educate me as to whether there really is a scientific difference between fresh and reheated pizza. Maybe it's a personal aversion I have to overcome. My own observation in the field is that with reheated pie, the crust becomes cardboard and the cheese just gives up the ghost altogether. With a fresh pie, the cheese goes through the baking process and surrenders the viscous, fatty oil that makes it so ambrosial to taste. Once it's congealed and gets re-heated...that can't be good! Isn't there even a DOH rule regarding certain foods dropping below a given temp?
As I walked home hungry, it occurred to me, wouldn't it be ironic if the only fresh pie around was the dreaded $1 a slice place that I can barely look at on 6th Ave, between Waverly Pl. & 8th St.? It looks awful in the window, and what could they be putting out for $1? It wouldn't be surprising, though, since people seem to run each over getting to the cheap stuff. They must have great turnover. I'll test that theory at a later date, but my sense of it is that there is almost no fresh pie being served in slice form at most places. So, I think I'm over Bleecker Street Pizza. They knew what I was up to and gave me a look which seemed to say that the fresh slice party was way over. Joe's has been playing this game so long that I haven't eaten a slice there for almost a year and I feel as if I built that place. When it was still on the corner of Bleecker & Carmine, fresh pies rolled out every 15 minutes, and my money flowed into their coffers. So be it. I guess a new business model is in play, but it's one in which I won't be participating.

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Bleecker Street Pizza
69 7th Ave S, New York, NY 10014

Joe's Pizza
7 Carmine St, New York, NY 10014

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  1. A few weeks ago, I happened upon the 2 Bros. on 6th Ave. and 24th St. just as they were serving their last pre-made slice. I got in line and had to endure a 3-minute wait, after which I was rewarded with an amazing fresh-out-of-the-oven $1 slice. I've been back two or three times since, each time being subjected to a reheated slice (I tell them to make it "extra hot," hoping that the extra time in the oven will somehow resurrect its freshness), and each was a terrible disappointment.

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    2 Brothers Pizza
    753 6th Ave, New York, NY 10010

    1. The only time I had a slice at Joe's on Carmine (and it was recently, within the last two months or so), I arrived at around 7pm on a Saturday night. I had to wait about 10 minutes in line, but the pizza they served was right out of the oven. So that's a strategy: go at a peak time. If you're willing to wait anyway, you may as well wait for something you want.

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      Joe's Pizza
      7 Carmine St, New York, NY 10014

      2 Replies
      1. re: small h

        I think that is the best way, just go during busy times and you will end up with a fresh slice.

        1. re: MVNYC

          I find that the fresh slices are always too under cooked for me, and I have to ask them to make a well done crispy slice (my personal preference). My theory is that they make them undercooked knowing that they'll have to reheat the slices during times that are not busy, and when it's busy it's undercooked so that they get more pies out faster.

      2. Have you tried South Brooklyn Pizza? Their newest location, 190 Bleecker St.. At MacDougal.

        I went by a few weekends ago, and they actually apologized for lack of available slices because they were busy baking new pies; might be a promising sign?

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        Percy's Pizza
        190 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10012

        2 Replies
        1. re: kathryn

          Funny you mention them! I noticed South Brooklyn Pizza last week and went in to check the menu out and wish them good luck in the neighborhood. The sweetest guy was working the oven and he had a real sense of pride about what they put out. I assumed he was the owner, but he was just the pizzaiolo. So I took a menu, with the intention of getting a margerita pizza some day, just to check them out. I like their menu and the fact that the bigger pies are oval in shape. That's kind of cool! I think they went in where Gus' Greek used to be. There has been a lot of movement on that side of Bleecker, with Indian sandwich spots and other new models. Further east there' s even a wurst/ curry place. It may be fair to assume I won't try that, but you never know!

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          Percy's Pizza
          190 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10012

          1. re: sing me a bar

            I hope they do well, they seem really nice. It's a little crazy to decide to open up in such a pizza saturated area--with Artichoke and Ben's so nearby.

        2. I love the title of your post - sounds like the title of a good short story :)

          1. It is some sick irony that the freshest slices are now the dollar slices. I've never had a reheated, or lukewarm dollar slice. Even the one time they pulled another pizza out under the counter, it was still fresh out of the oven.

            22 Replies
            1. re: sugartoof

              Ever since the $1 slice place opened in my neighborhod, the "old school" pizza place that has been steadily increasing the price of their regular slice to a staggering 2.50 is now offering a special of 2 slices and a drink for $4. The fact that a slice of pizza in this city averages about $2.50 is insane. The $1 is not great but is is certainly decent, hot and fresh.

              1. re: princeofpork

                It's true, I had actually stopped eating slices except for the occasional stop a South Brooklyn Pizza or somewhere spendy like that which is good stuff. Until the $1 slices came around, I was priced out of most corner slice shops once they too started trying to sell a $4 slice, and cheap was $2.50. I'd start calculating all the real food I could be eating for that same price, and kept walking.

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                South Brooklyn Pizza
                122 1st Ave, New York, NY 10009

                1. re: sugartoof

                  Joe's is best late at night when the ovens are ridiculously hot, the pies can be rather magical then, but it's hit or miss and always was. Bleecker St Pizza has gone way down in quality to the point where it's plain bad and creepy. Which leads me to NEVER EVER want to eat one of those 1 dollar slices near 8th street, The smell alone is revolting. So much good pizza in the WV no need to cheap out.

                  Tried south brooklyn when they opened and yeah they are nice, the place is cool and the ingredients are good. the price kind of high and the taste well, let's say this pizza addict isn't running back there soon.

                  What I like...Joes (spotty but often awesome) Johns, Kreste, Spunto, place next to Rafettos, Artichoke (is ok), I don't know so many..just don't east the 1$ slices. I don't believe that is food. Now that I'm writing I might have to trip over the the WV for some pie.

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                  Bleecker Street Pizza
                  69 7th Ave S, New York, NY 10014

                  John's Pizzeria
                  278 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10014

                  Joe's Pizza
                  7 Carmine St, New York, NY 10014

                  Pizza Mezzaluna
                  146 W Houston St, New York, NY 10012

                  Keste Pizza & Vino
                  271 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10014

                  Spunto
                  65 Carmine St, New York, NY 10014

                  South Brooklyn Pizza
                  122 1st Ave, New York, NY 10009

                  Artichoke
                  111 MacDougal St, New York, NY 10012

                  1. re: whenslydale

                    I've found the EV location of South Brooklyn Pizza to turn out one of two pies - a really good, high on fresh garlic and basil slice, made with lots of care, that is packed with flavor....and the other, a late night drunk food slice, undercooked, missing the care and flavor. Both are too expensive. 2 of their slices shouldn't cost $8.

                    I've never had a Joe's slice that was worthy of it's reputation. There are dollar slices about as good out there.

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                    Joe's Pizza
                    7 Carmine St, New York, NY 10014

                    South Brooklyn Pizza
                    122 1st Ave, New York, NY 10009

                    1. re: sugartoof

                      Pray tell where is a dollar slice worthy of Joe's?

                      1. re: MVNYC

                        I'm not going to get into that game with someone who thinks Joe's is the ultimate slice ever in all of mankind.

                        1. re: sugartoof

                          Joe's is an excellent slice, not the best though. If there is a better $1 slice please direct me to it Sugartooth

                          1. re: MVNYC

                            How did "about as good" become "a better slice" ?

                            1. re: MVNYC

                              I've had $1 slices at 2 Bros. (6th Ave and 25th St) that have been better than the last slice I had at Joe's. I've also had slices at 2 Bros. that have been as disappointing as the last slice I had at Joe's.

                            2. re: sugartoof

                              Never mind.

                              1. re: Bob Martinez

                                Huh?

                          2. re: sugartoof

                            I'm no die-hard Joe's fan, and I'm not interested in playing games. Just looking for a dependably decent slice, one "about as good" as Joe's. Which dollar slices do you recommend? Specific tips are far more credible than vague ones.

                            1. re: squid kun

                              It is pretty far fetched that someone who would complain about the quality of Joe's ingredients would be eating at these dollar slice places frequently.

                              1. re: MVNYC

                                The $1 slices are not that bad. Are they the level of Arturos or Patsys, no but those places dont offer slices. They are usually hot and fresh and for a buck you cant beat it. Have realistic expectations and you wont be dissapointed. They are just as good as Elios and who didnt love those growing up?

                                1. re: princeofpork

                                  I've tried a couple of $1 slices and they were adequate for $1. One by the Port Authority and one on 33rd off of Madison. Nothing I would rush back for.

                                  1. re: MVNYC

                                    80% of the slices in this city I would not rush back for.

                                2. re: MVNYC

                                  It's pretty "far fetched" that I'd be posting about dollar slices if I weren't eating them.

                                  Pizza Bash for example has a 99cent special during the daytime, and it's a gluten free pizza, with fresh ingredients. Your perception of a dollar slice being inferior based on price is mistaken. Still, I don't have the same expectations of a 99cent slice as I do over a place like Joe's, the Emperor without clothes of all slices.

                                  -----
                                  Pizza Bash
                                  42 Union Square E, New York, NY 10003

                                  1. re: sugartoof

                                    I like Pizza Bash and will try their $1 slice if I am in the area. Thanks for the tip Sugartooth.

                                    The $1 slice places I was referring to are the ones that have sprung up around town and only sell the $1 slices. They bake them on wire racks I believe.

                                    -----
                                    Pizza Bash
                                    42 Union Square E, New York, NY 10003

                                    1. re: MVNYC

                                      Another $1 slice I've found to be above average is across from Baruch College/Gramercy Theater, around the corner from the Hot Dog Papaya place. It's at least as good as a $2 slice, which is to say, it's still fast food, but better than the typical dollar slice. The cheese usually covers for one thing.

                                      Also good, but on the decline is the red dollar pizza truck that parks at Union Square in the evenings. Not as good as the $1 square when they first opened, it's now a pie slice, with sparse cheese, and gone are the cherry tomatoes.

                                      Pizza Bash goes dollar slice around lunch as far as I can tell, but I'm not specific on the hours or days they do it. There will be a paper sign advertising it at the entrance when the special is live.

                                      -----
                                      Pizza Bash
                                      42 Union Square E, New York, NY 10003

                                      1. re: sugartoof

                                        are you talking about Mike's Pizza (im pretty sure its also Mike's Papaya) on the SW corner of 23rd and Lex?

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                                        Mike's Pizza
                                        1315 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10128

                                        1. re: tex.s.toast

                                          Sounds right.

                            2. re: whenslydale

                              John's and Keste don't do slices, so I'm not sure they should even be mentioned in this conversation about places to get fresh slices, hot out of the oven....

                              Spunto's pie is more like a crispy flatbread or cracker-like crust. I like it but I know a lot of people might not. (Gruppo, Posto, Vezzo, Spunto are all related.)

                              -----
                              Gruppo
                              186 Avenue B, New York, NY 10009

                              Posto
                              310 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

                              Vezzo
                              178 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

                              Spunto
                              65 Carmine St, New York, NY 10014

                      2. This is a bummer. I go to Joe's every time I visit NYC. I guess I may still go and just hope for the best!

                        1. Solution: Go with a friend or two and order a whole pie. Request preferred doneness. Wait 10 -15 minutes. Eat straight from oven. If a pizza place can't do that - move on. Oh for the glory days of Gloria's Pizza on Main St. in Flushing... I didn't know how good I had it then.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: demifast

                            Chances are they're going to pull out a precooked whole pie instead of just a slice. and try to reheat that , depending on how many reserves they've got, and time of day.

                            1. re: sugartoof

                              Most places I go to make a whole new pie. If that is not the case where you go, then to get around that ask for extra sauce or a little sauce, something that will have to make them create a whole new pie. Don't settle for less when ordering your own pie.

                              1. re: michele cindy

                                one other technique - order the pie extra thin.

                            2. re: demifast

                              Demi, Yes, that's one way, but in that scenario, you go to John's Pizza, where they don't even do slices. The slice game is a whole other game from the pie game in NYC. Many of the slice oriented places are not very conducive to sitting. Even Bleecker Street, which has tables, is pretty sparse and inhospitable. Sadly, it's also sometimes clogged with tour groups.

                            3. on the flip side, I prefer reheated to underdone, and I hate when a busy pizzeria will give me a slice that isn't sufficiently bubbly because it wasn't baked long enough