A Pizza My Mind: On Planning a Pizza Crawl
Editor's note: In honor of National Pizza Month (aka October), the Serious Eats editors, staff, and Slice writers will top off our regular content with their deepest thoughts on all things cheesy, saucy, and crusty.
My brother came to visit me in NYC this past summer. A month prior to his arrival, he sent me an email that simply stated, "I would love to do a pizza crawl, since you are apparently an expert now. It would be fun to start early and go to a lot of different places. I never get food fatigue."
When planning a tour of a city's best pizza offerings, there is a delicate balance between having your participants enjoy themselves—and not actually need to throw up—yet feel as though they have sampled a wide spectrum of the local offerings.
Ultimately, pizza crawls are about feeling accomplished when it's all said and done. And that requires eating a ton of pizza. When you think about it, the logical solution to maintaining your stamina is calling it quits mid-slice. But are you going to leave a slice from Di Fara's or a pie from Paulie Gee's unfinished? No, and I wouldn't either.
My first plan of attack was emailing Adam Kuban to confirm and validate my selections for the tour. I figured that limiting the geographical scope of the crawl would make it more manageable, so I decided the tour would be Brooklyn-specific. I would hit up Di Fara's (transcendental), L&B Spumoni Gardens (unique pizza and ambience), Best Pizza (nouveau Brooklyn), and, finally, Paulie Gee's (creative toppings, plus some of my favorite pizza in all five boroughs).
Nothing, and I mean nothing, could have prepared me for the mind-numbing, food coma-inducing pizza madness that ensued on the crawl.
We were doing alright after Best Pizza (our third leg of the tour), and then we made the trek to Greenpoint and met a few friends at Paulie Gee's. Upon arrival, owner Paulie Giannone asked where we had been previously, then seemed to immediately forget everything we told him. "How many pies are you guys gonna order? You got six people, you should order five pies. That'll be good," he said.
We ate every slice that was placed in front of us: sopressata picante with hot honey; Margherita; guanciale with leek; arugula and Parmigiano Reggiano; gorgonzola, cherry, prosciutto, and honey.
Did I feel both dizzy and comatose? Yes. Was my brother's glazed over expression one of deep satisfaction masked slightly by exhaustion and pain? Absolutely. But we did it. We ate it all. And although my brother told me he planned to return to LA and not consume anything, literally, for a couple days—he said he was slightly horrified by food at this point—we felt victorious.
Is there a moral to this story? Yes. Pizza crawls are awesome. You cannot do it all, so choose the spots you're going to hit up wisely. And even if you tell yourself you're not going to eat the whole slice, you probably are.
Where would you go on a pizza crawl of your city (knowing that your stomach can hold only so much sauce, bread and cheese)?
About the author: Originally from Los Angeles, Erin Mosbaugh writes Je Blague, where she captures her food adventures in NYC and beyond. Erin also writes dining and nightlife features for Robb Report New York City Insider.