"I don't particularly care to walk in to a place and watch a guy past his prime "whip" up pizza and (what seemed like the case the last time I was there) who looks bored and careless as to what he was doing. As I mentioned earlier, consistency is something I look for, and the only thing I find consistent about his pizza is that he doesn't make them all the same. ;) " Nicky M., on Di Fara
How's it going, Slice?
I will give you a little history on myself, and offer up my recommendation. My grandfather had two Italian restaurant/coal-oven pizza places in the city and appeared on the radio making pizza to music, or Musical Pizza. I myself, have been making pizza for seven years, most notably working at Villa Bay, which Arthur Schwartz praised for having great food and pizza. Due to having a poor location and terrible parking, my friend Jack had to close the place down.
One thing I found interesting, and really is the way that I came across your website, was your article of Famous Famiglia at Yankee Stadium. I actually worked for Famiglia for two years, and want to note two things.
One, the product has definitely changed over the course of expansion, mostly to protect their brand and recipe. What really hurt them, in my opinion, is when they went for a sauce prepackaged in a sense, as opposed to being made and mixed on the spot. The second thing, though I can't say it's actually true at the present date, but six months ago, I was at the original Famiglia's on 96th and Amsterdam and will say that it is one of the better slices I have gotten in New York City. (Please note I am talking about slices as opposed to pies.)
The biggest problems I have with pizzerias are that:
1. They generally don't know how to keep the pies fresh on the counter
2. The pizza men are inconsistent with how they prepare the pizza (i.e., equal amounts of sauce, cheese, dough kneading, etc.).
As far as my recommendation, I would say stop over at Original's or their sister store, My Little Pizzeria, on Court Street in Brooklyn. They probably have the best "buy by slice" (in Brooklyn) in my opinion and usually are very consistent.
A few notes on other places that I have been to, as well: Luzzo's (having been the most recent after having read Jeff Varasano's Famous Pizza Page), Di Fara and Una Pizza Napoletana (Also a quick note on Spumoni Gardens). I must say, Luzzo's has one of the best tasting pies I have ever had. I have been to Totonno's, John's and Grimaldi's, and it tops the cake for me. John's is basically crap, if you ask me, and I would like to know who he's paying off to get rated as the top pizza in New York. Grimaldi's is tasty but does not go down as smooth as Luzzo's does. Totonno's is pretty good if you are feeling a little crisp and toast in your dough, but otherwise a little too much for me. Personally, I have always been about the sauce and how it complements the cheese.
As far as Di Fara, the guy has a great taste, but on a hot summer night when you're in the mood to just grab and go, this is NOT the place you want to be. In my opinion, though many reviewers will disagree, the time it takes to actually go in and get a pie really takes away from the experience of enjoying the pizza itself. I don't particularly care to walk in to a place and watch a guy past his prime "whip" up pizza and (what seemed like the case the last time I was there) who looks bored and careless as to what he was doing. As I mentioned earlier, consistency is something I look for, and the only thing I find consistent about his pizza is that he doesn't make them all the same. ;)
As far as Una Pizza Napoletana, the pizza had absolutely no flavor and was not worth the price for what you get. The only reason why his pizza has any taste at all is because of his freehand use of sea salt. Maybe the true style of pizza from Naples is "little sauce, extra oil," though if that's the case, I will bring my own pizza to Naples.
As a quick note, visit my myspace page to view an article written about my grandfather's restaurant. Thanks for the time in reading this, and keep on being the best pizza page on the net!
Your friend and pizza-maker, Nicky M.