Dear Slice: 'Barring Di Fara, Where Should I Go for Pizza on My NYC Visit?'
Clicking in to the Slice inbox today, another question regarding an upcoming NYC pizza itinerary. I love these questions! --The Mgmt.
I will be making my first visit to New York City in a few weeks, and I don't think it would be a proper visit if I left without trying some New York pizza. With that said, I have looked over your reviews and suggestions in the past, and with my limited time and rather packed schedule I just don't think I will be able to make Di Fara work with its seemingly rather high level of time commitment.
I have narrowed it down to Motorino, Co., and Lomardi's for the Naples-style pie that I traditionally like. But I can't really seem to make a decision. Any suggestions out of those three that would best sum up New York pizza?
Thanks and keep up the great work,
Wow. That's a tough one. First off, those are three very different pies. Motorino is really the only "Naples-style" pie among them. Co. Company offers something closer to a Neapolitan pie than does Lombardi's, but even that pizza is a world apart from the more traditional Naples-style pies you'll find at Motorino. Co. Company's crust is more dense, chewy, and breadlike, whereas Motorino's is puffy, airy, and soft — and is at times a "wetter" pie than Co. Company's.
Lombardi's (above) is what I'd call a New York–Neapolitan or a Neapolitan-American pizza. It has the Neapolitan-Italian DNA (fresh mozzarella, San Marzano tomato sauce, a focus on simplicity and balance), but like many of the old-time coal-oven pizzerias of NYC, the pie has been upsized to suit American tastes, and the crust is crisper than Motorino's. (Co. Company's crust can often be as crisp as Lombardi's, but it's a crapshoot because the pizza there can be inconsistent.
Personally, I love Motorino's pizza (I'm currently in love with the brussels sprouts–pancetta pie and the hot soppressata pie), but, depending on where you're from, you can find examples of the more traditional Neapolitan style in many larger U.S. cities. So it's not like you can't get a similar product elsewhere. (That said, it's far better than many of the Neapolitan-style pizzas I've had elsewhere.)
Co. Company and Lombardi's are pizza styles that would be difficult to get elsewhere. Co.'s is more of an "artisanal" pizza, whereas Lombardi's, if I were pressed to say it, probably represents a more traditional type of New York pizza. (Granted, one that is far removed from a typical greasy corner slice joint.)
As you can see, I've probably introduced more gray area here than you wanted, but I am obsessed with the pizza, and it's very difficult for me to make a black-and-white decision.
What do you all think out there? Where would you send Josh? (Again, not Di Fara.)