325 Fifth Avenue, New York NY 10016 (32nd/33rd; map); 646-823-9318
Getting there: 6 train to 33rd Street; B/D/F/N/Q/R/V/W to 34th Street
Pizza style: Pizza cone
Oven type: Electric commercial convection
The skinny: Pizza in a muthafrakkin' cone, y'all. Pizza in a muthafrakkin' cone. A novelty and a pricey one.
Price: $4.90/$5.90 small/large. 1 extra filing, 50¢ surcharge; 2 or more extra fillings, $1 surcharge no matter how many fillings
So the big deal in NYC pizzaland today was that K! Pizzacones finally opened. Midtown Lunch has been tracking the arrival of this place for what seems like ages. But nobody has been waiting for pizza cones longer than I have.
I detail my obsession with these things here and here. Short story long: I first read about them in 2004 and had been hoping they'd make their way to New York City sooner rather than later. (At one point in early 2008, I got to try a non-retail version.)
Six years later, they've arrived with the opening of K! Pizzacones today. I made my way down there at lunchtime, tweeting about it as I went about my visit.
K! Pizzacones is a narrow, narrow take-out space on Fifth Avenue between 32nd and 33rd streets. It was mobbed today at lunchtime. Word had spread, with people citing word of mouth and the Daily News as their tip-off to the opening.
To Know Before You Go
There are two cone sizes on the menu: K! ($4.90) is essentially a small cone and K!! is a large ($5.90). I know, weird right? Why they just didn't say Small and Large is beyond me, as it gets confusing whether the exclamation marks mean cone size, number of cones, or number of toppings (or, in this case, fillings). As I said, the exclamation marks designates size.
Filling prices: There are a number of standard cones (Mozzarella & Tomato, Pepperoni, Four Cheese, Vegetarian (Broccoli, Mushroom) that are all priced at the base price of $4.90/$5.90. To those you can add additional toppings. It's 50¢ extra for your first additional topping and then $1 extra for two or more toppings after that — whether you get two additional toppings or four or more; it's still $1 extra.
You get a choice of tomato sauce or pesto sauce. I went with tomato sauce in all three cones for the purposes of this review. I don't do pesto sauce on my slices, so why would I do it in my pizza cone?
It takes a while. Each parbaked cone is filled and baked to order. According to the Daily News, baking takes at least 5 minutes, which I can confirm having watched several orders fulfilled while waiting in the store.
It's kinda pricey for what it is. At $4.90 for a small and $5.90 for a large, you could basically get two plain slices elsewhere without the wait.*
*The wait: Granted it was their first day and I'm sure things will get faster as they iron things out, but if you have to wait 5 minutes for a cone even if you're the only customer, that's still slower than a busy slice joint, where ordering a slice from a fresh-from-the-oven slice pie might take you 3 minutes or less.
There are several fillings to choose from, including breakfast cone and dessert cone fillings. I was intrigued by the artichoke offering and had it in my mind to order it. Unfortunately, pepperoni came out of my mouth when I reached the front of the line.
The cones are baked in metal caddy and then packaged in a cardboard sleeve that fits into a little box. Ten, twenty years ago we probably wouldn't have blinked at this, but today you can't help but think how wasteful that much packaging is. Granted, it's probably no more wasteful than a paper plate slipped into a bag (OK, still a bit more wasteful), but if you minus the bag and take your slice to go on just the plate, you're probably an ecological footprint or two ahead of the K! Pizzacone packaging as is.
Anyway, I've got some gratuitous pizza cone porn in the gallery above — complete with the weirdest PIZZA AUTOPSY shots you will ever see. Peep it, folks, peep it!
OK. I'm adding this section in response to DustinM in the comments below and some folks on Twitter asking, "Great, but how'd it taste?"
Well, just sort of think about it. It's a parbaked pastrylike cone stuffed with ingredients and finished off in a commercial convection oven. What's that sound like to you? Real pizza? No. It's basically a pizza-flavored product, not unlike what you might find in your grocer's freezer aisle. It's considerable fresher and tastier than something from the grocery, but it has a convenience-snack item texture, feel, and flavor.
The cheese, as I mention in the gallery above, seems to contain a bit of cheddar in it as well, even though it's listed a mozzarella on the menu. ("Mozzarella" and "fresh mozzarella" are options -- like this is Patsy's East Harlem or something!) Why do I say that? Because the cheese in the "plain" cone I got was sharp and tangy and showed more oiliness on meltage than most mozzarellas I've encountered.
There's not much sauce in these puppies, so if you want a good balance, see if they'll give you an extra squirt. The pepperoni and sausage/onion cones were fine. The pepperoni was a decent quality -- thick rectangles rather than thin slices -- though there wasn't much of it.
It's great for novelty, but I don't know if I'd lay down the scratch all that often for the $4.90/$5.90 a pop that it costs. It's probably a good thing it's near the Empire State Building, because it seems like it could attract tourists who might not have it back home.