About a month ago, Slice received an e-mail from a mysterious gentleman going by the nom de blog of "Lonesome Hero." "You might be interested in the Pizza World Tour I recently went on," he wrote. We were interested, but Slice HQ was busy, too busy to make mention of LH's ambitious tour of the five boroughs in search of the best pizza in each one. Shamefully, the e-mail went unanswered until we were reminded about it when we met the Lonesome Hero at a foodblog event. It's time for us to correct that oversight.
Lonesome Hero publishes A Year in Food, a blog "Documenting 365 days of dining out (minus the many meals I eat at work because let's face it, the Financial District is a wasteland and it'd be way too depressing to read or write about)." Why just one year in food? We don't know. He's mysterious like that.
In his own words:
When my parents set sail from Russia to the United States, it was ostensibly for a taste of democracy and the American dream. But, between you and me, I think it had to do more with getting better pizza. Why else would they have settled in New York, arguably the pizza capital of the world? And really, who wouldn’t get tired of eating slab-gray slices topped with beets, herring or beef stew?
On Sunday, I set sail for my own pizza quest, leaving my apartment at a painfully early 10:45 a.m. I wouldn’t return home until 1:05 the next morning, having ridden the Q, Q, G, E, F, 4, Bx19, 2, 1, Staten Island Ferry, x44, x44, Staten Island Ferry, and the R, and having sampled pizza in all five of New York’s esteemed boroughs in one day. And just like my parents like to rehash their journey across the choppy Atlantic, I’ll share with you the multifaceted adventure that was the Pizza World Tour.
Lonesome hero visited Di Fara (Brooklyn), Nick's (Queens), Full Moon (The Bronx), John's of Bleecker Street (Manhattan), and Denino's (Staten Island). Having attempted a five-borough pizza tour ourselves, we admire his pluck. We'll just excerpt some bits here and urge you to go read the full report at his site.
On Di Fara: "The slightly vinegary mushrooms and the liberal pour of olive oil melded beautifully. The cheese was a great blend, the sauce had just a hint of tanginess, and the dough was crispy but soft. If I had any complaint, it was that the slice could’ve been a little bigger for the price."
Nick's: "The fact that pies this good could come from a gas oven was a surprising rebuke to conventional wisdom. But, between its location, its toppings and its décor, it was yet one more distinction that keeps Nick’s Pizza in a class all its own."
Full Moon: "Full Moon’s humility was a nice break from the more hyped spots we were hitting. We had gone in with no expectations, no Zagat’s cheerleading and no unachievable superlatives. All we were looking for was a refuge from the rain and a quality slice, which they happily provided. And though it’s not a destination restaurant, it was more than worth the trip."
John's: "On the other hand, John's had its limitations too. The mushrooms and pepperoni were both good toppings but they were also decidedly ordinary. I found the charred crust too dry. Also, while I really liked the pizza's flavor, it didn't seem as distinct and singular as, say, a Grimaldi's or DiFara creation. Still, taken on its own merits, John's was a solid effort and an enjoyable, laidback environment to spend an hour. It was only when holding it up to New York's top tier that it fell slightly short."
Denino's: "This was a pizza with soul and complexity, not polished like Nick's, but authentic and honest. The sauce and the cheese were both great and the dough was expertly cooked. The plain half was also excellent, exhibiting many of the same qualities, but the Italian sausage was too good to ignore."
Slice doesn't know about the "lonesome" part of that moniker, but the "hero" part sure is apt. This guy's journey reminds us of ourselves before we got fat and lazy. The trek he and his assorted companions went on is inspiring and has Slice thinking of emulating itmaybe in late summer or early fall, when it cools down a bit.