14th Street and Below: A DJ Bubbles Drive-By

Pizza Box: A new top-5 Manhattan slice contender? Find out below »

It's all good in the hood. I am happy to report that the state of the slice below 14th Street in Manhattan could be much worse. I know I haven't hollered at you in a minute, but I've been around town, and I'm about to break it down.

In recent weeks, I've traversed all three Villages, SoHo, and several other sub-14 neighborhoods--stopping at joints that haven't been hit by a DJB Drive By and checking in at some of my familiar spots. I've hit up Vinny Vincenz on two different occasions, took Una Pizza to school on a Sunday night, and housed random slices at random joints. Should I ease off the pie pedal to appease my Doc and go for the six pack? No, it's not gonna go down like that--I'm keeping it real and charging it back to the pie game! Here's a breakdown of some of the highlights (and disappointments) of my recent jaunts.

On Notice: Bleecker Street and Food Network

For starters, let me say this: The DJ is issuing a direct call out to the Food Network. Let me be clear: Bleecker Street is not New York City's top pie. The Food Network appears to think otherwise—the wack TV network has awarded the prize of New York's best pizza to BSP. Bleecker Street Pizza is not New York's top pie. Bleecker Street is not even the West Village's top pie. BSP has a decent nonna slice, but its plain slice is nothing more than overcooked, greasy slop coming out of a gas oven.

Even John's, a New York landmark that has declined in quality and sits just down the street from BSP, would take these hacks in a pie battle. Not to mention Joe's and No. 28. And if you want an All-City team, let me open up the game to players like Di Fara, Patsy's of East Harlem, Una Pizza Napoletana, and Totonno's. Let's get serious here, somebody is paying somebody to say something on national television, and it just isn't true. All you turistas planning on coming to this fair city of ours for a fun-time vacay, cash in your pie bucks at a joint that deserves it. Bleecker Street and Food Network: you've been dismissed!

Pizza Box: A Top 5 Slice

OK, who is sleeping right now? Who is taking a nap on a real pie joint right in the middle of Greenwich Village? The DJ was, and I have a feeling I'm not the only one. Who knew the unassuming Pizza Box is completely on point? I rolled through on a Saturday afternoon and had an amazing plain slice that left very little to complain about. Joe's may have a thinner crust with a slightly purer sauce, but I have no qualms recommending Pizza Box as an out-and-out winner—one of Manhattan's top five slice joints. I can't wait to hit it up again—I know I've been hot on places only to be disappointed on the second jaunt (Vinci's), but I have a feeling I won't be let down by the ol' PB (open since 1957, believe that!). You won't, either! 176 Bleecker Street, New York NY 10012 (Greenwich Village; map); 212-979-0823. Slice intel »

Ben's Pizzeria of SoHo: No Balance

Ben's Pizzeria of SoHo does not serve up an average NYC slice. It offers a heavier crust that, although not tough to bite into, is a bit overwhelming in volume. And it needs to be, considering the unnecessary load of cheese piled on. I'll never say I have a problem with the quality of Ben's ingredients, but the quantity is another issue. Balance has to be taken seriously. Aristotle would have told you that. (And his Greek brethren over at Nick's would say the same!) 69 Seventh Avenue South, New York NY 10014 (Greenwich Village; map); 212-924-4466; bleeckerstreetpizza.com. Slice intel »

Joe's: Always Hot, Always Fresh

Joe's Pizza (by Slice)

At the end of the weekend though, I ended up crashing Joe's on Saturday night after catching up with some old friends. Joe's was alive and kicking, pumping out pies like it was lunchtime, and I immediately asked for the remains of its slice pie—I'm not a one or two slice guy at 4 a.m.; I had them pack five bad boys up in a box. You know the DJ doesn't F around! By the time I finish paying, there's another slice pie on display, and the folks waiting behind me weren't as upset as they were when I bought their post-bar snack out from under them! Joe's doesn't heat up well the next day in the microwave, but when you're getting it fresh out of the oven (and since turnover is so high, that's almost always the case), it's tough to beat for a plain slice in Manhattan. 7 Carmine Street, New York NY 10014 (Greenwich Village; map); 212-255-3946; joespizza.com. Slice intel »

Buona Pizza: An Unworthy Successor

Not In this town, there's enough good pie to go around and, as a pie-crazy public, we all have the chance to let our voice be heard with the slices we buy to keep us stuffed and satisfied. I don't want to end things with a diss, but I'm not going to mince words when it comes to things near and dear to me. I really wanted DeMarco's on Houston to do well. With all that happened at the joint, I was pulling for them more than any pie house in the city.

The owners were the son and daughter of the king of kings, Dom DeMarco of Di Fara fame, and they put out a good product—especially the Sicilian slice. Ultimately, though, it didn't work, and it shut down ops in October 2007. In its place, another pie house, Buona Pizza, has since moved in, and these jokers have no idea what they're doing. For one, they have those bootleg beef patties on the menu. More pointedly, I have no problems calling Buona Pizza not only not Buona, but among the worst slices in the city. I'll spare you the details, but let's just say I only needed three bites of its plain slice before I knew where I was at—Amateur Hour! It was a shame DeMarco's closed, and it's even more so now, considering its replacement.

Here's to hoping the DeMarco family comes back strong to Manhattan (although we could do without the $4 slice price that Dom is charging out on Avenue J). 146 West Houston, New York NY 10012 (Greenwich Village; map). Slice intel »

Until next time,
Bubbles out!

Pizzerias Mentioned

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The Best Grandma Slice in New York?
The Syracuse Pizza Manifesto
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