Pizza, pickles, and idiocy pretty much sums up our Sunday evening trip to Pinch: Pizza by the Inch.
The pizza part of the evening, obviously, began at Pinch (416 Park Avenue South), which has gotten a couple writeups recently in the local papers. First impressions were good. Nice, big clean space (it opened two weeks ago) and friendly staff. E-Rock and I received a hearty greeting at the door by one of the owners, who then escorted us to a table. Table service is the norm here; you'll have a server, which means you'll have to tipso plan accordingly if you've only got a few bucks on you and just want a quick slice.
As the name should make clear, you order the pizza by the inch. They bake it in four-inch widths and you specify the length, in four-inch increments. Minimum order is four inches. That'll cost you $2 for plain. For one additional topping, it's $0.15 an inch; two for $0.25; three for $0.30. All the stand-bys are there, next to some atypical toppers like chiles in oil, roasted squash, and pancetta. [Pinch menu] According to the Times and Daily News stories, Pinch lightly coats the dough with sauce and then bakes it. Then, when you order, they top it with more sauce, a blend of three cheeses, and your toppings.
We went in expecting the gimmick to overshadow the food. But the pizza was good, and it was fun to get a long, sub sandwichlike slice. The crust was very thin, which is just how I like it. Not exactly cracker-thin, like Patsy's in East Harlem or Lento's in Bay Ridge, but thinner than a typical New York slice. It was crisp, too, and pliant, with the nicely charred edges that the Daily News review mentions. The sauce was fresh and bright. I thought it was a tiny bit too sweet, but E-Rock liked it as is. I also thought there was too much sauce, but the menu does say "We can hold the sauce. Or the cheese. Ask your server about 'just crust.'" I'd like to try it again with just the schmear of sauce they put on initially.
We ordered twenty-four inches: four inches each of plain, plain with basil, sweet sausage and roasted peppers, extra mozzarella, pesto, and roasted mushrooms with garlic. Toppings were all fresh and up to snuff. Service was excellent; we had a friendly and knowledgeable server who knows how to sell up (she sold us on twenty-four inches instead of the eight we initially planned).
One of the few things we found to complain about was the convoluted ordering scheme. The price seems pretty inexpensive until you start adding various toppings willy-nilly. We spent about $16 for twenty-four inches. (Bar tab and tip brought us up to $40.) When you consider that $2 or $2.60 (four inches plain; four inches w/one topping) buys you the equivalent of one slice elsewhere but then only see a four-inch square before you here, you start to think twice.
That said, it was much tastier than average, and I'd prefer to eat a slightly smaller "slice" here than a giant slice of sludgey stuff elsewhere. If I lived in the neighborhood, Pinch would be a top contender for my pizza dollar. We give it a Six-Slice rating out of a possible eight.
Oh! You're wondering about the pickles. After Pinch, we visited Just Pickles (1 East 28th Street, between Fifth and Madison), as it's on the way back to the R Train for us. We're not qualified to review pickles as we don't know much about them (heck, we're barely qualified to discuss pizza, either), but these specimens seemed very good. Especially the sweet gherkins. Mmm. We bought a pint of assorted pickles ($5) and then the aforementioned idiocy ensued when I dropped the container on the sidewalk and the plastic, brittle from the cold, shattered. Tragic.