It's all well and good to know where the best pizza in the city is—if you've got the time to travel there—but what if you need a decent slice right now? Slice'rs know that every street-corner slice in NYC is not created equal, so we decided to explore the possibilities literally block by block.
This week we go up to one of my old regular neighborhoods: The upper-upper West Side on Broadway. My go-to slice joint used to be around here (that'd be Pizza Town, now sadly closed), as were a few of my never-gonna-set-foot-in-them-again slice joints (those'd be Famous Famiglia and Cheesy Pizza, now sadly still open). At least, in those days I thought I'd never have to set foot in them again, but that was back when I still wanted to be a fireman because I thought they went around starting fires.
While Sal of Sal & Carmine's on 101st and Broadway passed away a couple years ago (see Ed's account here), the sliceria still has one of the best reputations in the neighborhood. How would it stack up to the other two options in a one block radius? Dumpling and I went on a mini pizza-crawl to find out.
Still The Best: Sal & Carmine's ($3)
Their slices are large, a little salty, and well-crisped. Don't expect any deep charring on the undercarriage or around the rim, just a good, high-quality, slightly irregularly-shaped, moderately greasy New York Slice. They go thin and tender on the crust with a faint crisp bite, and have a light hand with their aged mozzarella, with a slightly sweet, tangy sauce.
As for that crust, Ed put it best, so let me just quote him:
Sal's slightly bready crust was crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. Therein lies the magic about Sal and Carmine's crust: It never gets hard, no matter how long it's been out of the oven.
Sal's brother Carmine is still there, manning the takeout window.
And yes, there's Dumpling, looking on in awe.
Sal & Carmine's
Best If You're Really Drunk And Starving: Cheesy Pizza ($2.75)
This is not good pizza by any means. Limp-crusted with bland mozzarella and a very sloppily applied thick layer of canned-tasting tomato sauce. That said, it's certainly one of the best bang-for-your-buck deals in town as far as weight is concerned. If your only mission is to fill up on hot, gooey grease—and let's face it, there are times in life when that's the only mission at hand—then this is the slice for you.
Skip it: Broadway Pizza ($2.50)
At first glance their pies might seem smallish, but you get a full 1/6th of a pie per slice rather than the usual 1/8th. That said, where these slices are large in size, they are small in flavor. The crust is barely crisp, with a slight leatheriness to it and the cheese is passably tasty and well applied. It's the sauce that kills it—it's got the metallic, watery quality of poor canned tomatoes with no salt or other seasonings to cover them up.