Corner Slice: Southwest Corner of Washington Square Park
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.
With so many students, inexpensive bars, late night hangouts, and neo-hippie park-goers doing what they do best, the Southwest corner of Washington Square Park is a haven for lovers of falafel and slices alike. Here are the slices to keep an eye out for.
The Best: Artichoke Basille ($4)
This NYU-area outpost of the mini chain serves the same signature artichoke and crab pies which frankly, I'm not really a fan of. They taste far too much like dip on bread. The Margherita slices, on the other hand, I've grown to love quite a bit.
Thicker and sturdier than a traditional New York slice, the pizzas at Artichoke are baked with a substantial layer of deeply charred undercarriage and a crumb that's a good 1/4-inch tall; About twice as thick as a normal NY slice. They're topped with a layer of bubbled and browned mozzarella cheese, plenty of fresh-tasting tomato sauce, and a final sprinkling or coarsely grated Romano and basil leaves. The overall impression is pretty similar to the charred, double-cheesed pies at DiFara, though you get a lot more bang for your buck (these are monster slices).
Even better is their Grandma slice, with a crisp, oily, almost fried undercarriage and a crazy layer of char around the edges of the cheese. Some call it burnt*, I call it delicious.
Artichoke Basille's Pizza
If You're Starving: Ben's Pizzeria ($2.75)
The regular slices are nothing to write home about, but the Sicilian slices are about as massive as they come. Baked 1-inch thick on a rimmed baking sheet, each slice is a full 1/6th of a sheet pan's worth of pizza. It's almost enough for two normal sized people to make a meal out of. Flavorwise, it's pretty lacking, with bland cheese and a sauce that tastes more like jarred marinara than pizza sauce. Somehow I don't think the clientele here is in it for the flavor though.
123 Macdougal St (map)
Decent Grandma, Skip the Plain: Francesco's Pizza ($2.75/$2.50)
While service is friendly and it's got a nice old school feel to it, the plain slice at Francesco's is, well, strange. Baked on a screen instead of the oven bottom, the undercarriage fails to char properly. The sauce is heavy on herbs and garlic, and the cheese, well, frankly, I don't think it's mozzarella. It has the distinct tang of Jack or Cheddar, making the whole pie taste more like a Tex-Mex quesadilla than a pizza.
The grandma slice, on the other hand, is quite decent. Less cheese and a sauce with tons of deeply roasted garlic make for a tasty, if non-traditional slice.
Skip It: Amore's Pizza ($2.75)
A huge slick of bland, greasy, barely melted cheese, candy sweet tomato sauce, and an anemic crust combined to make this one of the worst slices I've had in recent memory. Avoid at all costs!
319 Avenue of the Americas; map)