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Best pizza in Little Italy?

jackiechow Feb 6, 2014 12:10 PM

Out-of-towners visiting me who would enjoy Little Italy, and have expressed desire for excellent pizza. Suggestions?

  1. p
    pravit Feb 7, 2014 07:56 PM

    On the corner of Mulberry and Hester on the 2nd floor of 180 Hester is/was a "speakeasy" pizza restaurant. I only tried it once, but I remember their pizza being Neapolitan-style and pretty good for being in the middle of Little Italy. Looks like their website is down so I don't know if the restaurant is still open. It's in the same building as Caffe Napoli but a separate entrance with an elevator.

    15 Replies
    1. re: pravit
      stuartlafonda Feb 7, 2014 08:21 PM

      Yeah that place was mentioned here on Chowhound last year, I think. It is just the upstairs of the restaurant on the ground floor. Took the elevator from the hallway only to walk down the staircase in the corner of the restaurant. No way they make their own mozzarella. Not bad, but I never went back and I think it is out of business now. I'll check and report next week.

      1. re: stuartlafonda
        foodwhisperer Feb 10, 2014 05:34 AM

        I don't know if making your own mozzarella makes a pie good. Most good places concentrate on making the pizza and purchase the mozzarella from those that concentrate on mozzarella. Anyway, Telepan Local in Tribeca has Pizzetti ( about size of a slice of square pizza) and they have 3 varieties and they make their own mozzarella,
        Gran Daisy has great pizza and they don't use mozzarella. I particularly like the potato pizza. ( same as Sullivan St.)

        1. re: foodwhisperer
          jackiechow Feb 10, 2014 08:39 AM

          Glad to hear Gran Daisy is good - they have a branch near me on the UWS

          1. re: foodwhisperer
            stuartlafonda Feb 10, 2014 09:58 AM

            Just trying to clear up some possible confusion. Sugartoof thought the mystery place made its own and I was clearing up the fact that if it is the place Pravit mentioned, and I was at, they don't make their own. I agree with you, a lot more goes into the making of a great pie. If that was the answer every joint within a few blocks of Alleva and DiPalo would make great pizza, and by the very existence of this thread we know that is not the situation.
            I love Grandaisy (the one in Tribeca) but not the potato pie. Just doesn't do it for me, but I can see how it would for many.

            1. re: stuartlafonda
              Motosport Feb 10, 2014 10:32 AM

              If I am not mistaken, Keste makes their own mozzarella cheese.

              1. re: Motosport
                tex.s.toast Feb 10, 2014 10:34 AM

                what counts as "making" ones own mozzarella? does buying preparred curds but reheating/pulling/balling them yourself count, or must the curds and whey be separated on site?

                1. re: tex.s.toast
                  Motosport Feb 10, 2014 11:15 AM

                  .......or milking the water buffaloes!!!!!!!!!!

                  1. re: tex.s.toast
                    bob96 Feb 10, 2014 12:10 PM

                    As far as I know, virtually every place that "makes" its mozzarella buys prepared curds, mostly, as I also hear, form a small handful of suppliers. Doesn't make the end product any less valuable or delicious.

                    1. re: bob96
                      tex.s.toast Feb 10, 2014 01:31 PM

                      How can you say that? if (virtually) every place uses pre-prepared curds how can you say using genuinely home made ones wouldnt be better?

                      its totally counter intuitive that some hot salty water and stretching is unique to the place, but that changing the supplier of the ONLY ingredient (the milk) would be insignificant.

                      1. re: tex.s.toast
                        sugartoof Feb 10, 2014 01:51 PM

                        Using the packaged curds is just the standard. Is there anyone doing the process in the city from start to finish in house?

                        Using Polly-O brand is a common preference even for the specialists. The point is to pull and shape it fresh. Makes a huge difference. The milk itself obviously does play a part, in consistency and taste.

                2. re: stuartlafonda
                  sugartoof Feb 10, 2014 01:53 PM

                  Right, but making it fresh is indication they use better ingredients, or heck, even use real stuff. A second rate pie with fresh mozz is better than a second rate one without it.

                  1. re: sugartoof
                    foodwhisperer Feb 10, 2014 07:44 PM

                    A friend of mine is in the fresh mozzarella business in the Metro area. He also sells curds to many establishments, including Stew Leonard's. and many Italian Specialty stores and Italian restaurants. His curds make good mozzarella. PollyO , well thats a different animal by a "long stretch" literally.

                    1. re: foodwhisperer
                      sugartoof Feb 10, 2014 09:54 PM

                      "PollyO , well thats a different animal by a "long stretch" literally."

                      No idea what you mean by that. It's a commonly used and respected product, despite our associations with it.

                      1. re: sugartoof
                        foodwhisperer Feb 11, 2014 08:19 PM

                        Ummmmm it Stretches where fresh mozzarella doesn't stretch. And it is far inferior to fresh made mozzarella. However, I wish I made the money they make. It is very commonly used, and sales are huge.

                        1. re: foodwhisperer
                          sugartoof Feb 11, 2014 08:50 PM

                          " It is very commonly used,"

                          That's all I'm saying.

                          I've never made it myself, I just know a lot of beloved NY providers use it, and some claim it's about the same. Freshness is a weird topic where cheese curds are concerned, but I don't doubt a hand crafted locally sourced product would win out.

          2. j
            jackiechow Feb 7, 2014 04:39 PM

            Thanks for all the recommendations - looks like I'll be eating a lot of pizza!

            1. b
              Barcelonian Feb 7, 2014 09:50 AM

              I agree with most opinions on here already:
              Rubirosa is great- I really love their vodka pizza and their meatballs.

              You can also head to Forcella or even better (though slightly further), Motorino.

              Keste is also a great option that's in walking distance from Little Italy

              1 Reply
              1. re: Barcelonian
                rrems Feb 7, 2014 11:32 AM

                As you can see from the widely differing opinions, "best" depends not only on quality, but on what style of pizza you prefer. I am a thin-crust fan, so Rubirosa is my favorite. I think their pizzas are the best of this type. I did not like Forcella at all, which is not to say it isn't good, just that I do not like a thick, doughy crust.

              2. m
                Mauimike Feb 7, 2014 07:54 AM

                Not far from Little Italy but far from the tourist hordes is the gem Emporio on Mott St. I love their Pizzas.

                1. a
                  alepenazzi Feb 7, 2014 06:11 AM

                  Forcella Bowery is not too far and in my opinion it's way better than anything in Little Italy..

                  1. Ziggy41 Feb 6, 2014 06:57 PM

                    And if you are near Times Square, try Capizzi or Don Antonio in Hell's Kitchen. +1 Rubirosa

                    As long as the guidebooks suggest it, Little Italy will always be there for the tourists.

                    1. b
                      bob96 Feb 6, 2014 06:31 PM

                      You can head a little north to Houston and Thompson Sts (but not as far as Keste or John's) to Arturo's. coal-oven pies that have been there forever. And a lot less crazy than Lombardi.http://slice.seriouseats.com/archives...

                      1. j
                        joisey al Feb 6, 2014 01:22 PM

                        Lombardi's, 23 Spring Street.

                        1. s
                          stuartlafonda Feb 6, 2014 01:18 PM

                          Rubirosa 235 Mulberry street.

                          1. k
                            kathryn Feb 6, 2014 01:18 PM

                            Can you do Nolita instead? Rubirosa, Peasant, L'asso?

                            Avoid Lombardi's. If you get dragged there ask for your pie well done, otherwise it is often a soggy mess.

                            10 Replies
                            1. re: kathryn
                              stuartlafonda Feb 6, 2014 01:29 PM

                              I don't tell people that Rubirosa is Nolita. I tell them it is Little Italy. Then I tell them about Gotti and the Ravenite Social club further up the block and they are satisfied it is Little Italy. And they love the pizza as well as the rest of the menu.

                              1. re: stuartlafonda
                                jackiechow Feb 6, 2014 01:32 PM


                                1. re: stuartlafonda
                                  kathryn Feb 6, 2014 01:34 PM

                                  Sounds like a plan!

                                  1. re: stuartlafonda
                                    Ttrockwood Feb 6, 2014 08:39 PM


                                  2. re: kathryn
                                    foodwhisperer Feb 6, 2014 02:59 PM

                                    Although Lombardi's is not what it once was. If you don't get too many items on the pizza, I don't find it soggy at all. I find it crisp. Not cripsy cracker-like Rubirosa. I think Lombardi would be a fine choice " in" Little Italy. It's so close to Little Italy it might as well be called Little Italy. I've never tried pizza at Peasant or Lasso. I did have the soggiest pie ever at Motorino, it was the Cremini mushroom pie. The margherita is always crispy, but this mushroom pie was a big disappointment and when I complained they told me the mushroom pie is always like that.

                                    1. re: foodwhisperer
                                      sugartoof Feb 7, 2014 12:12 AM

                                      I second this.

                                      I personally think the cracker stuff Rubirosa serves is sauce on cardboard, and pretty silly. It's a very taste specific place.

                                      Both locations were really Little Italy at one time. Scorsese grew up on Elizabeth, right by there, for example.

                                      I'm told there is actually a family run pizza place in the touristy streets of Little Italy, where they make their own fresh Mozz, and all that, but I never found out the name...I just know somewhere in there, a place exists, and it's supposed to be excellent.

                                      1. re: sugartoof
                                        stuartlafonda Feb 7, 2014 07:31 AM

                                        Well, what's a pizza post on Chowhound without a disagreement? Don't say silly, because that is generally defined as: foolish, stupid, unintelligent, idiotic, brainless, mindless, witless. All that matters is taste, and I very much enjoy the taste. Is it a different style, sure.As is the giant puffy crust and paper thin middle of a Motorino/Naples style pie.
                                        I know of no such secret pizza spot,probably just another urban myth. The two places in the area that make their own fresh mozzarella, Alleva and DiPalo do not make pizza. If anyone knows the secret, please share.

                                        1. re: stuartlafonda
                                          sugartoof Feb 7, 2014 10:44 AM

                                          I haven't cracked the riddle but I know the place exists because a former employer vouched for it.

                                          I do find the Rubirosa pizza silly. Doesn't mean I think you're silly for liking it. I've enjoyed similar pizza over the years but this lacked flavor and represented a bad rendition of this style. I tried the vodka, and one other.

                                    2. re: kathryn
                                      c oliver Feb 10, 2014 11:10 AM

                                      We had a super pizza at Rubirosa today for lunch. And I told them this story :) They enjoyed it. Will post more later.

                                      1. re: c oliver
                                        c oliver Feb 11, 2014 04:45 PM

                                        Really, really like this pizza. And just had reheated leftovers. Super thin crust but not as described by someone. We had the supreme which is tomato, mozzarella, pepperoni, mini-meatballs and roasted garlic. I highly recommend them and I think you CHs SO much for the rec.

                                    3. t
                                      thegforceny Feb 6, 2014 01:14 PM

                                      No one 'enjoys' Little Italy. They tolerate it when tourists request it.

                                      1. Motosport Feb 6, 2014 12:50 PM

                                        In my experience the "best" pizza is not in Little Italy.
                                        That's not to say you can't get good pizza there.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: Motosport
                                          jackiechow Feb 6, 2014 01:48 PM

                                          Where do you like, for pizza?

                                          1. re: jackiechow
                                            Motosport Feb 6, 2014 01:50 PM

                                            John's on Bleecker
                                            All different, all fabulous!!
                                            In Brooklyn Lucali but be prepared to wait.

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