Is It a 'Plain' Slice, a 'Regular' Slice, or Something Else Entirely?

Dear Slice

Slice mail answered.

I received this interesting query a couple weeks ago and thought I'd share it with you. It involves word nerdery, which is a small interest of mine. Also--sorry for the slowness here this week. I've been on vacation this week. I'm in Wildwood, New Jersey. Haven't eaten much pizza--just did Sam's Pizza a couple times. OK. Back to the show. --The Mgmt.

Sabella Pizzeria: Plain Slice

From Sabella Pizza in Park Slope.

Dear Slice, Letters From Our ReadersAdam,
Barry Popik ( referred me to you after I sent him this inquiry:

> Any sense of what the more common [term] is in the NYC area to describe a slice of pizza with no toppings (other than cheese): a "regular" slice or a "plain" slice? I checked the 4 relevant take-out menus I have, and saw two uses of each.

Mr. Popik's replied:

> PLAIN SLICE + PIZZA--13,300 Google hits > REGULAR SLICE + PIZZA--7.060 Google hits > CHEESE SLICE + PIZZA--25,200 Google hits > PLAIN SLICE + PIZZA + BROOKLYN--710 Google hits > REGULAR SLICE + PIZZA + BROOKLYN--864 Google hits > CHEESE SLICE + PIZZA + BROOKLYN--1,101 Google hits > ... > I haven't studied this. Maybe you should ask the guy at the "Slice" pizza blog ( > ... > "Slice" (or "cheese slice") implies a plain/regular slice. That's what most people say. > ... > I prefer saying "plain" over "regular" -- "regular" is for the size of a pizza pie (regular, large, extra large). However, many restaurants use the word "regular" instead of "plain" because "plain" sounds drab for a slice. For a whole pie, "Pizza Margherita" is substituted for "plain pie."

Note: I thought I was leaning towards "plain slice" -- but now, after thinking too much, I'm not sure.

Any thoughts appreciated -- because, surely, this is important stuff.

--David D. Williamsburg, Bkln

Ray's Slice

From the original Ray's Pizza at 27 Prince Street in Manhattan.

------------------------------------------------------------ Dear David,

Interesting question. I've only lived here in NYC since 2000, but I picked up "plain slice" pretty soon after moving here.

Definitely not "cheese slice," as I think Barry's dead on--"plain slice" or "regular slice" or just plain "slice" implies crust-sauce-cheese.

I've never thought about "regular" as a modifier for the size of the pizza. I've heard it used most often when someone is ordering a square (Sicilian) slice and *then* a "regular" triangular-shaped slice--most often at places that are renown for squares:

"Yeah, lemme get two a those squares--corners--and ... a couple regular slices."

In that case, the "regular" refers to the round pie--the more commonly consumed type--and the assumption is that those "regular" slices are "plain slices."

If you will allow me further musings on language in ordering food in New York City, I've noticed that native New Yorkers often use the phrase "Lemme get XYZ."

Granted, I never really paid attention to ordering lingo while growing up in Kansas City or when I lived in the Northwest for a few years, but I had always learned to use phrases that were a bit more soft--"Yes, I'd like XYZ, please." Then again, I also use "Could I get XYZ"--but even that is a bit softer than "Lemme get...."

David, may I ask why you're researching this? Are you writing something about it or just curious?

If you'd like additional insight, with your permission I'd like to publish your query on Slice as a "Dear Slice" letter. Maybe the pizza gallery would have something interesting to say. But if you're working on some sort of article on it, I can sit on it.

Hasta la pizza, Adam ------------------------------------------------------------

Tomato & Basil Pizza

From Tomato & Basil in Park Slope.

Hi again, Adam,

I beg your pardon for this very belated reply!

Not research for a book, rather a blog about rhyming-nyc-things, including lots of NY food items...

Wasn't sure it would happen, but it just went up: ...and I just posted "plain slice/Italian ice" and thought of you.

Myself, I'm also a "plain slice" guy, which is why I used that term in my post. But please feel free to inquire further to see what folks say. (For the purposes of my blog, I do rather care what is the more common usage.)

Also, I totally agree re: that expression "lemme get a" that NY'ers (and now I) use in stores... I have occasionally found myself using that expression when I'm home in my native St Louis, MO and it always sounds harsh!

(But I reckon a lot of my Missouri-flavored utterances sound quaint to NY'ers... e.g., an African cabbie once scolded me for calling him "sir"--he seemed to think it was a *colonial* thing! -- not that that will stop me from saying "yes ma'am", "yes sir", "please" and "thank you" like my parents taught me to do!)

Best wishes & thanks for the reply--as I said, pardon the delay, wasn't sure I had a reason to be asking my pizza question!

--David D.