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May 9, 2014 11:33 AM

Patsy's East Harlem - slices or whole pie?

I am planning an itinerary for a week long trip next month - will share and ask for fine tuning soon. Right now, I am hoping to get some empirical data about Patsy's East Harlem. This is a non-negotiable place on the list - we are going there the first night. There seems to be some passionate dissent about which is better - Patsy's slices, or the whole pie. It is kind of important because I want the best Patsy's experience, but was hoping for slices so we could do half dinner at Patsy's, and half at Cuchifritos. We don't have much else going on in that part of town, so hoping to kill two birds with one meal.

So, would you guys mind weighing in on whether you prefer slices or a whole pie at Patsy's East Harlem? Hyperbolic descriptions encouraged. Thanks in advance!

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  1. Slices, hands down. Join with the locals by the coal fired oven and get a fresh slice (or better two) hot out of the oven. Enjoy that delicious slice while watching drivers double park to run in, grab a slice on their way home to Westchester and try not to get ticketed by the ever lurking enforcement officer. Still hungry? Get a third slice, I won't tell. Afterwards tell us your experience.

    2 Replies
    1. re: BluPlateSpec

      Sweet fancy moses. I better go to Cuchifritos first, so I don't spoil my PR food craving with that third slice. Mille grazie for the pic - I'm counting the hours. And I will absolutely report back.

      1. re: BluPlateSpec

        I'm still not clear on why you prefer slices? It's not like the dining room doesn't have atmosphere. And if I'm hungry, two slices ain't enough.

      2. There is a difference? Can't be so. They take it out of the oven, slice the pie and either put it in the window case or they walk around the back and drop it on your table. No difference in time or distance. Get the New York slice experience, it is after all the best slice in New York, and go to the slice area. Pick your slice, I always go for the burned ones, and order one more slice then you think you will want as they are light as air. Check out the one of a kind oven and sit in the window. They don't care when I bring my own Mexican coke from the bodega down the block. Which by the way is another New York experience.

        5 Replies
        1. re: stuartlafonda

          Hi - thanks for your response! I have enjoyed the NY slice experience, but not since the '80s - looking forward to it! I think the difference is that they sometimes (usually?) reheat the slices, so you wind up with some crispy cheesy bits, and twice-melted cheese. Also, I think some people find certain places make a structurally sound slice (foldable, but not limp), and others don't, although their whole pies (to sit and eat at a table) are worth seeking. In the comments section on this blog, some people whose opinions I trust debate this issue, with the blog author coming down firmly on the pie side:

          We have lots of Mexican coke here in Austin, which used to be Mexico - sounds like a perfect accompaniment to a Patsy's slice. So far, the slices have it.

          1. re: saticoy

            If you go for a slice just ask what's hot now or what's coming out of the oven next to avoid a reheated slice- people do that all the time.

          2. re: stuartlafonda

            I don't think there is much of a difference. I love the slice at Patsy's, too. I know some people think the atmosphere isn't as cool in the restaurant now as before they remodeled more than a decade ago, but for me, it's the people. I was in a booth once where there were criminals next to us on one side and cops on the other. It's fun and the waitresses are, in their own way, as fun as the guys at the slice area.

            1. re: Dave Feldman

              Sounds like the restaurant and slice nook are both cool scenes - thanks for the input! Can't tell if you are elevating one over the other. So far slices are winning....

              1. re: saticoy

                Nope, no real preference, except I'm not a fan of reheated slices.

          3. Why are you figuring to stop there only once? Plan a lunch or dinner at the restaurant-it's cheap and fun. As for the slice nook, you have to go there too, maybe days later to rescue an evening after a disappointing meal somewhere else, if only to watch the pies come out and life go by on the street while you inhale 3 or 4 slices-it's a separate experience.

            2 Replies
            1. re: addictedtolunch

              OK - so your vote is go twice - once for the whole pie in the restaurant, and once for the slices? I have a week, and an eating itinerary that is nigh-onto impossible...not to mention the other (admittedly secondary but still important) stuff we want to do in terms of museums, monuments, shopping, music, theater, and historical sites. Sadly, none of those are around Patsy's, so I'm thinking we will only make it there once, and that we will hit Cuchifritos in the same trip (either as half a dinner, or to go and reheat later at the apartment).

              So, if you had to choose one, which would it be?

            2. Slice all the way. Both options are delicious, but dining room isn't as fun. The slicer crowd is really cool.

              2 Replies
              1. re: villainx

                Slice vote, noted! Thanks for the input!

                1. re: saticoy

                  Depends what really cool means. Hanging out a window overlooking First Ave traffic is something I always enjoy, really, but the sit down area has its own nostalgic aura. Pie is the same.

              2. Thanks for the input, everyone. I'm afraid Patsy's is eluding a clear empirical choice. Ideally, I would go twice, but that is not in the cards.

                So, slices it is. I will ask what is just coming out of the oven, but I'm all about a plain slice, and I have been known to enjoyed reheated pizza in the past.....gonna let go, and let it happen....will report back, for sure!

                8 Replies
                1. re: saticoy

                  A million visits at all hours and days of the week, never seen a reheat. Go slice and enjoy. As for nothing else for a tourist to do in the area, The Museum Of The City Of New York is a great, interesting visit. Followed by a walk in Central Park, you could do worse.

                  1. re: stuartlafonda

                    Or a stroll drinking in the vibrant working class life along 1st, 2nd, and 3rd avenues. Except that the language now is Spanish, it gives a feel of a world when the streets were the same, but the language was Italian.

                    1. re: bob96

                      Which gets me thinking, is there a dessert and coffee place to walk to nearby? There was a place on 116 between First and Pleasant that was unsatisfying to me, anything else?

                      1. re: stuartlafonda

                        There is a place nearby where they have dessert, if you can get it, Rao's. But unless you're connected to the mayor, police commissioner or his counterpart on the other side of the law, FUGETABOUTIT!

                        1. re: stuartlafonda

                          Will follow replies to this query with great interest! My Papi had a bar on 110 and Lex back in the day....

                        2. re: bob96

                          My paternal grandfather immigrated from Italy, my maternal grandparents immigrated from Puerto Rico. My father and mother grew up, working class, in NY. Sounds like my kind of stroll...

                        3. re: stuartlafonda

                          Thanks stuartlafonda! Some others seems to have experienced the reheated slice at Patsy's, and other places. Check the comments section of the linked blog (a well-respected blog, I believe) for the impetus behind my request.

                          The Museum of the City of New York is on my second tier list, along with others, including the Hamilton Grange, the Morris- Jumel, the Merchants House, the NY Historical society, El Museo del Barrio, and the National Jazz Museum of Harlem - some would be second visits. Sure, I could do worse, but I plan to do the best I can. First tier in a 3 day trip with a 9 year old, includes Ellis Island, LES, AMNH, and an ambitious food itinerary that I hope to get some feedback on soon! The remaining 3 days (for me, glorious me) include research at the Centro Puertoriqueno - Hunter College, the jazz archives at Rutgers, and the Met.

                          Will report back on the state of Patsy's slices!

                          1. re: saticoy

                            Sounds like a wonderful trip, like many New Yorker's we sometimes forget how many interesting, under the radar place there are to visit. When you go to the LES, consider a combo of Il Laboratorio del Gelato and Katz's, across the street from each other and two fantastic places to eat.