The "Old Fashioned" pizza at Adrienne's Pizzabar. It's got elements of the grandma pie, of New York–Neapolitan, of pan pizza, even a little Detroit style—but whatever you call it, it's awesome. There's a sweet, uncooked sauce of high-quality Italian canned tomatoes; a little whole-milk mozzarella, plus Parmesan and pecorino. But what really makes it excellent is the airy, puffy dough with crisp, oily edges.
Nonna's Lower East Side Pizzeria
L & B Spumoni Gardens
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, 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.
Pizza Cotta Bene
The grandma slice has a significant chew and a shatteringly crunchy bottom; the sfincione (pictured here), an oily, crisp base topped with plenty of onions and breadcrumbs flavored with olive oil and grated cheese. The mozzarella added here isn't really traditional, but it's so tasty that we don't care a bit.
Pizza Cotta Bene: 291 3rd Avenue, Brooklyn, NY (map); 718-722-7200
Artichoke Basille's Grandma Slice, On A Good Day
Forget the sloppy, gloppy, artichoke-dip-on-a-crust signature slice from Artichoke Basille's—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.
NY Pizza Suprema
A longtime favorite at Serious Eats. Suprema calls this an "upside down pizza," but it's essentially a Sicilian slice that goes crust, cheese, sauce instead of crust, sauce, cheese. If you're down with sweetish sauce—or you want a great slice near the culinary wasteland of Penn Station—this is your pizza.
NY Pizza Suprema: 413 Eighth Avenue, New York NY 10001 (at 31st Street; map); 212-594-8939
Famous Ben's of Soho
The body of the Palermo is in the breadcrumb-thickened sauce. Laced with traces of roasted garlic and herbs, and lots of translucent, diced onions, it has a depth of flavor matched only by its textural depth. All resting on a pillow of dough with a lightly pan-fried bottom crust, the sfinicione at Ben's makes a good case for "just one more slice".
Famous Ben's of Soho: 177 Spring Street, New York, NY (map); 212-966-4494
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.
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.
Di Fara Pizza
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 so many others aspire to.
Here is everything you need to know about Di Fara
Prince Street Pizza
Billing itself as the "Home of the Soho Square," with three Sicilians and a grandma, Prince Street does both styles well. Like at L&B Spumoni Gardens, the cheese at Prince Street—fresh mozzarella—is layered directly on the dough and under the sauce. This makes for a unique overall texture, with a crisp bottom and a soft, squishy middle, all beneath a thick, chunky flavorful tomato sauce. We liked the classic and the spicy pepperoni with a fra diavolo sauce.
Rose and Joe's Italian Bakery
In the back of this Italian bakery is a small counter where you can get a slice or two of "Italian bakery pizza"—as they define it. Rose & Joe's square slices are hefty, with lots of sauce and cheese. Sauce first, cheese on top. Here, an abundant amount of melty low-moisture mozzarella blankets a thick, tangy sauce, with spots of cheese crisped ever so nicely into just-slightly-chewy territory.
Rose and Joe's Italian Bakery: 22-40 31st Street, Astoria NY 11105 (map); 718-721-9422
This Brooklyn pizzeria serves decidedly New York–style pizzas — a "Classic New York Round" pie (that in truth nods more toward the New York–Neapolitan style of pizza) and an "Old Fashioned Grandma Style Square" pizza. The latter is the pie to get. The crust is light, airy enough, and takes a nice burnishing from the oiled pan, becoming crisp-fried-chewy in spots while remaining soft and moist (but not underdone) in others.
Out in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, Valentino's just looks like it'd make a good slice, and this grandma didn't disappoint. The crust has an impossibly crisp, cracker-like bottom and a thin layer of wonderful softness where the dough met the sauce; the sauce is fresh and tangy, the cheese mild and sparingly applied.
Valentino's Pizza: 1702 86th St., Brooklyn, NY 11214 (map); 718-837-3800
While the round New York–style pizza is very good, the Sicilian is even better—a thin plank of pie brimming with molten cheese that spilled over the edges of the slice. As the cheese elongated, little holes appeared on the surface and geysers of the sweet, tangy sauce squirted through them. The dough was light and impossibly airy, spongy and soft, yet with a good crunch on the bottom.
Grandaisy Bakery is a fine destination for thin squares of pizza; we love the we love the Cavolfiore, cauliflower and Gruyere. Laid out on the nicely oily, crisp-edged base are cauliflower bits almost creamy in their tenderness, but browned on the top, soft and nutty-tasting at once.