Motorino's Brussels Sprouts and Pancetta Pie
Mathieu Palombino's regular pies at Motorino are shockingly good. His meatball pies are shockingly good. His clam pies are shockingly good. On their own, the smoky, porky chunks of pancetta, creamy fior di latte, dusting of Parmigiano Reggiano, and thin slices of garlic on his Brussels Sprouts pies would be shockingly good. Add in the nutty, charred leaves from the just kissed by the fire of a 1,000°F oven, and you enter the realm of transcendent.
We dream of this pizza.
p.s.: Learn how to make it yourself here.
Di Fara's Sicilian
The lines are long, the slices are $5, and you risk getting a pie that's overly, well, "artfully charred" let's just say. But it's worth it. Between the regular slice and the Sicilian, we're hard pressed to decide which is better, but if forced, we'd go with the square pie. With plenty of heft, a crisp, fried bottom, fresh tomato sauce oozing over the edges and wonderfully crisp bits of cheese around the sides, this is the square pie that all others aspire to.
Here is everything you need to know about Di Fara
Paulie Gee's Anise and Anephew
We're proud of Paulie Gee here at Slice. After all, over the years we've watched him progress from mild-mannered backyard-pizza aficionado to the owner and pizzaiolo of one of the greatest new pizzerias in the city. Of the dozens of pies available at Paulie Gee's (not counting dozens more you can get for brunch), our favorite is the Anise and Anephew (see how he makes it here).
Sweet braised fennel works amazingly well with salty guanciale, with an anisette cream drizzled on top to emphasize the fennel's licorice-like flavor. Congratulations, Paulie, and keep them pies coming!
Pier 76's Vodka Pie
Pier 76, the newish pizza joint on Staten Island may be kissing cousins with Joe & Pat's down the island, and indeed both are excellent. What sets Pier 76 apart? Their Vodka pie. Made with a sauce infused with pancetta, Parmesan, and vodka (the alcohol helps transport more of the aromas from the tomato to your nose), it brings an undefinably savory quality to their thin, crunchy bar style pies. This is perfect pizza to eat while you're downing some brews and shooting the breeze with some friends.
Totonno's Coal-Fired Pizza
Opened in 1924 by Anthony (Totonno) Pero—a disciple of the original Lombardi's (America's first pizzeria)—Totonno Pizzeria Napoletana has been serving up traditional coal-fired New York pies to hungry crowds at Coney Island. Don't expect crazy toppings or frills here, just a perfectly charred, thin, crisp crust that bubbles and buckles in the heat of the coal oven, topped with bright tomato sauce, and sparingly applied dabs of creamy fresh mozzarella.
Totonno's: 1524 Neptune Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11224 (b/n West 15th and West 16th streets; map); 718-372-8606
Sal and Carmine's Slice
One of the great classic New York slices. Sal's slightly bready crust is crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. Therein lies the magic about Sal and Carmine's crust: It never gets hard, no matter how long it's been out of the oven. The slices are large, a little salty, and moderately greasy in that great New York slice kinda way. The aged mozzarella is flavorful and sparingly applied (as it should be), and the sauce is sweet and tangy. These are the corner slices of our youth. This is the way New York pizza is supposed to taste.
L&B Spumoni Gardens' Sicilian Slice
With a 72 year history, many stories have been made and told under the neon glow of the signs at Brooklyn's L&B Spumoni Gardens. Made with a crisp crust, thick crust that has no ambitions of airiness, the bottom and edges are deeply burnished. They reverse the standard tomato-cheese order, placing the mozzarella directly on the dough and the sweet/tart sauce on top, along with a handful of grated Pecorino and generous drizzles of good olive oil.
For many Brooklynites, a Sicilian slice at L&B is as much a rite of passage as that first awkward teenage kiss.
Best Pizza's Pickled Vegetable Pie
When you're ballsy enough to call your pizzeria Best Pizza, you've really gotta walk the walk. Best pizza does. A newcomer in the field (it hasn't even hit it's first birthday as of this writing), it epitomizes the crisp chew that a perfect New York slice needs, adding in a bit of light sponginess that hints at New Haven-style pizza crust. The tomatoes are simply salted and milled, and the mozzarella is made and shredded in-house.
It might be one of the best regular slices in the city, but it's the pickled vegetable slice that haunts our dreams. Onions, fennel, broccoli, sprouts, cauliflower—they all get the brine treatment before being generously deposited on top of the excellent pies. It's unusual, and unusually good.
You can make your own by following these instructions.
Artichoke Basille's Grandma Slice, On A Good Day
Forget the sloppy, gloppy, artichoke-dip-on-a-crust signature slice from Artichoke Basille's. Forget, even, their excellent-if-too-thick regular slices. It's the square pie that has us going back for more. Oily, crisp, and nearly deep-fried on the bottom with a triple play of cheese—a layer of Polly-O aged mozz on the bottom, dots of fresh mozzarella on top, and a dusting of Pecorino Romano after they leave the oven—they're cooked to a deep char with fresh tomato sauce and plenty of basil, garlic, and olive oil.
On a good day, they're sublime. On a bad day, they can border on too greasy and crisp without enough chew, but are still worth a bite. Ask for a corner slice to get an extra helping of the crisp, nearly blackened shreds of cheese that come in contact with the edges of the pan.
Patsy's Coal-Fired Slices
Dating back to 1933, Patsy's is one of the original coal-fired pizzerias, another descendent of the original Lombardi's. It's also one of the only ones where you can actually get single slices—they serve'em out of the kiosk next door to the restaurant. Unlike regular New York slices designed for portability with a crisp, medium-thin crust, Patsy's slices harken back to the earliest days of New York pizza. The crust here gets stretched so thin that it can barely support the vibrant tomato sauce and melted cheese, even though it's sparingly applied. Like the Neapolitan pies it was born from, the dough gets moist, almost soupy in the center. This is not a fault.
Patsy's slices are the missing link of pizza. The clear middle ground between the old world Neapolitan pies and the modern New York slice. They are quite literally little slices of history.
Patsy's Pizza: 2287 First Avenue, New York NY 10035 (117/118; map); 212-534-9783