Patsy's (East Harlem)

A PATSY'S BIRTHDAY

There's been some talk about the East Harlem Patsy's lately in the Simply the Best section over to the right. Some people (me) have raved about it, while others (Greg, C. Mike) have reported that it has gone downhill. Looking to kill two birds on Sunday, Patsy's became both the subject of a (quick) Slice review and the site of my thirtieth birthday dinner.

We don't know if it had something to do with the fact that the venerable institution is looking for a "pizzaman" (hello, EEOC!), but the first two pies to arrive at table were cause for concern among the assembled members of the Slice staff.

The plain pie (above right, foreground), which we ordered with regular mozzarella (some people believe the fresh mozzarella sogs down the light superthin crust), was only a few notches above what you'd get at a regular slice joint. Seltzerboy, E-Rock, and I exchanged worried looks as we got halfway through underdone, barely charred slices laden with too much sauce and too much cheese. The mushroom pie (above right, background) was saved only by the presence of the incredibly fresh high-quality fungi topping it.

After going through just two pies among five people (the crust is so thin that it's hard to fill up quickly), we were still hungry but waited for a sixth companion to show up before ordering more. The second round of pies consisted of a fresh-mozzarella-and-basil pizza and one with regular mozz topped with peppers and onions (sorry about the onions, LW!).

Oddly enough, something happened between the first round and the second round, with José (who was working the oven that night) making the save. The fresh mozz pie had a perfectly crisp yet airy and flexible crust—and just the right amount of telltale charring—with none of the sogginess that often comes about from the fresh cheese's moisture. Now, this was the stuff that makes Patsy's such a transcendent pizza experience. And pepper-and-onion pie was none too bad, either.

We can't explain what would make for the difference, though we have a theory. At the beginning of the evening (6:30 p.m. or so), there was only one other table of diners. But as we ate our first two pizzas, the place started to hop. By the time we ordered our second two pies, most of the other tables had been served. We think that the oven might have been allowed to cool down during the day but was then fired up during the dinner rush. Who can say?

Because Patsy's has long been one of our favorites and has rarely let us down, we'd like to think the first two pies were a fluke and that the best thing to do is order around 7:30 or 8 p.m. But maybe there's some truth to the rumors going around. What can anyone else tell us about Patsy's?

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