DJ Bubbles Wishes You a Happy New Year

Isabella's Oven (by Slice)

Isabella's Oven, 365 Grand Street, New York NY 10002 (near Essex Street; map); 212-529-5206

20070814bubblesbug.jpgIt's been a while since the Bubbster has had much to say about anything on this fair weblog. I've been astray for some time now, but I've found my way home. Although, I must say, it doesn't feel much like home in recent weeks. Isabella's Oven causing such an uproar on the site because of a recent dip in quality certainly isn't music to my ears. And who wants to respond to comments in CAPS from Jeff B when he suggests that Two Boots is on point. Isabella's on its worst day would take Two Boots to special ed. That's almost as bad as Prairie condemning Pizza 33 without trying it but instead passing judgment based on a picture of its Margherita on Flickr. Say what you will about 33, but just say it after you've tried it!

The last time I was at Isabella's, Luigi was there, too. I had brought a friend to share in the magic, and Luigi didn't disappoint—he never did. It pains me to think that the joint is now among the chain Patsy's of this city. Isabella's was much more than that. I feel like I'm writing an obituary right now, but let's not get carried away—Isabella's management may take notice and set things straight.

Alright, enough of the hijinx. Sliceheads, just because I've been incommunicado of late does not mean I haven't been pounding the pavement (and the Zantac, for that matter) making sure that I'm staying on top of all things NY-PIE!

Lucali's (by Slice)

Lucali's, 575 Henry Street, Brooklyn NY 11231 (b/n Carroll Street and First Place; map)

For starters, it may have already been said on this website—and I'm sure many of you out there have also noticed—but the 2008 Zagat restaurant guide came out a month ago and they flubbed up their own Number One pizza pick. Yes, Di Fara was a 27 out of 30 in quality but Lucali's was, as well. When a new Zagat comes out, I always turn to the front of the guide to check their Top 5 pie ratings for the year, and guess who was listed, ALONE, at the top? Di Fara. Spots 2 through 5 were Denino's and Grimaldi's (tie for No. 2), Lombardi's and Nick's (tie for No. 4), and Adrienne's alone at No. 5 (these ratings deserve a DJB Drive By just to set the record straight). But nowhere was Lucali's to be found in the Top 5 despite its 27 quality rating. Zagat, man—some real amateurs.

No matter, though, as I recently paid Mr. Iacono and Co. a visit and they are certainly not hurting for business. And for good reason—this place is the real deal. I'll go into more detail in my next post, but Lucali's has got it right at the moment! I went on a recent rainy Wednesday night and waited 20 minutes for a table—my pie (half plain–half pepperoni) was worth the wait. As a garlic lover, I must mention that the sauce had a nice garlic aftertaste that was truly unique without being too powerful or overbearing. I wondered to myself how they managed to blend in such an authentic garlic flavor when the answer hit me right in the mouth—I had just chomped down on a full clove of garlic. Yowzer! Again, as a garlic aficionado, the grossout factor was minimal and I'm not holding it against them. But, I must say, it was a first for this piehound, and it took me by surprise.

Oh, before I signoff, I do have one Slice Obit to write…and it brings me great sadness that the children of New York pizza virtuoso, Domenico DeMarco, have closed the slice joint bearing their father's namesake. Poor DeMarco's! Should we chalk this one up to its proximity to the West Village Triumvirate (Joe's, John's, No. 28)? It's hard to say. Dom's progeny never did consistently churn out pies with the same balance and overall quality that the Master did, but I gotta say, I feel like we let go of a good thing by not patronizing DeMarco's enough. Business is business, don't get me wrong, but after all that happened to (and at) this joint—it is a shame, isn't it?

I don't want to end on a low note, but maybe I don't have to. Perhaps we should all pause for a second and reflect on the good times, and great pies, we have had as we begin the new year. I, for one, am eternally grateful that I don't have to order Little Caesar's or Domino's anymore when I want a delivery pie like I did back in Michigan!

What about you guys? We may not have DeMarco's anymore or an Isabella's that is hitting on all cylinders but, as pizza-loving New Yorkers, we do have it pretty good. What is it that you're thankful for as a NYPie-head in this new year?

More Dispatches from the Bubbster

A Sunday Night Slice Walk
Vezzo, the DJ Bubbles Drive-By
Isabella's Oven, The DJ Bubbles Drive-By
The Best Grandma Slice in New York?
The Syracuse Pizza Manifesto
From the Mailbag: 'The Definitive Top 10 List'