What, exactly, is New York pizza?
That's a charged question in a town where pizza partisansand that means everyonelove nothing more than arguing the merits of this crust, that cheese, or a sauce that's seen livelier days. And there's no easy answer. The sad truth, although it mostly goes unsaid, is that New York pizza isn't what it used to be. The great dynastic names live on, some deservedly, some not, in the coal-fired collective memory, generating long, nostalgic lines and self-perpetuating word-of-mouth, even as inconsistency and clandestine changes in ownership leave an increasingly bad taste in the connoisseur's mouth.
Which is why, instead of just canonizing the old, we should gleefully welcome the estimable new. New York pizza has historically meant John's, Patsy's, Totonno's, and Lombardi's, and soon, we boldly decree, it will come to mean Franny's, a newfangled Park Slope pizzeria [technically, Franny's is in Prospect Heights -- Slice ed.] where, even in its earliest days, the Underground Gourmet has glimpsed pizza greatness. It came on our third visit, when the crust, which early on was a tad dry, a bit brittle, and almost too thin, had settled into a tender, pliable, yet snappy groove, and the high-grade toppings coalesced. It was delicious, resilient, and light, Neapolitan in its simplicity and balance, and it came as a surprise: At Franny's, a pizza isn't just a pizza--it's a political statement, the vehicle for expressing a worldview shared by husband-and-wife owners Andrew Feinberg and Francine Stephens, veterans of Savoy and as committed to the Chez Panissean tenets of local, sustainable agriculture as they are to the venerable tradition of artisanal pizza-making.
Hey, we're all for praising new pizza joints, too. But damn if New York magazine isn't beatifying them faster than Pope John Paul II names saints. While we enjoyed Franny's when we went, we think it's a little premature to start naming it the best pizza in the city. Clearly the owners are dedicated to their art and are using some of the finest ingredients available. They've made their bones at Savoy. They cure their own meats on premises. And they've brought good pizza to the Park Slope area (thank you!). But they've only been open since April 13. Let's not get carried away.
[Thanks to Jen for hipping us to this item.]