words and photos by adam k. .::. Taking advantage of what may well have been one of the last halfway decent weekends of the year, Slice roving reporter E-Rock and I took a ferry ride two Saturdays ago to Staten Island to visit Joe & Pat's, one of that borough's respected pizzerias.
Location: 1758 Victory Blvd., Staten Island
Getting there: If you're a Staten Islander, you already know how to get there, I'm sure. For everyone else, take the ferry to S.I. and then the bus. Go to the ferry terminal's Ramp A, and hop on the S61, S62, S91, or S92. Take it to the Manor Road stop. It's about a 20-minute trip; watch the building numbers as you ride.
The skinny: Skinny is right. This is some seriously thin crust. If it's crisp you like, you'll get it here. Sometimes veers toward "crunch." Perfect balance of crust, sauce, cheese.
Despite having employed three modes of public transport that day, it was relatively easy to get to the place, thanks to some simple directions from one of E-Rock's coworkers. We started on the R train, which we took to the WhitehallSouth Ferry Station at the tip of Manhattan. From there, we boarded a ferry to make a fogbound crossing.
The Staten Island Ferry is one of the best deals in the city: It's free. E-Rock and I remarked that we wished we had more reasons to make the trip. Despite the ongoing renovations threatening to slickify both the Staten Island Ferry terminal in Manhattan and the Saint George terminal on Shaolin, the boats themselves remain quaint reminders of a bygone New York. Wooden benches burnished from countless commuter asses (below left) and PT-boat-era lifejackets overhead only reinforce the feeling that you've boarded a floating time machine of sorts.
By the time E-Rock quaffed his can o' beer, the boat had docked. We disembarked and made our way to the bus ramps, looking for the S61, S62, S91, or S92. Our veteran ferry-commuting readers probably know that these bus lines depart from Ramp A of the Saint George Terminal. E-Rock and I did not, and so we missed the first round of buses into the interior of the mist-shrouded isle. No worries. We killed time watching a gentleman of the street chase intruderscars, pigeons, busesfrom his little corner of the ramp.
We debused just past Manor Road and backtracked a half block to the place. Walking in, we immediately spied a just-out-of-the-oven pie going into a take-out box. It was as thin as the devil is evil and exhibited signs of being properly balanced in terms of crust-sauce-cheese, as there were little islands of caramelized mozzarella floating among a splash of deep-red sauce.
For component balance, our plain pie matched the to-go one we had seen upon walking in. This augured well, we thought, because our one recurring complaint with too many pizzas in the city is that they're often overloaded with cheese. As you can see in the large photo at top, the cheese on Joe & Pat's plain pie was carefully applied, which left opportunity to actually taste the sauce. Not only that, but this distribution makes it easy for pizza tasters to take carefully tailored bites, sampling bits with just sauce or with sauce and cheese.
According to food writer Ed Levine, Joe & Pat's uses a sauce made with California-grown tomatoes that come from seeds of Italian San Marzano tomatoes. Though some swear by the Italian variety, we found Joe & Pat's sauce fresh-tasting, sweet, and sufficiently tomatoey.
Even with that complaint, I thought Joe & Pat's was worth the trip that day and could understand why E-Rock's coworker liked it so much, claiming she ate there at least once a week. Her praise was seconded by a Staten Island&3150;native freelance editor at my job; this gentleman lives near Joe & Pat's, eats there as often as he can and has an undying affection for it, too.
Next time, however, I won't skate on the thin ice of overindulgence.
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