Dear Slice: No Love for Patsy's?

Dear Slice

Slice mail answered.

Reaching into the Slice mailbag ...

Dear Slice, Letters From Our Readers

Thanks to you and others at Slice for updates on the world's greatest food--pizza Napoletana Margherita. As a frequent visitor to New York City, I have come to love this simple, delicious combination of crust, sauce, cheese and a little basil and olive oil.

I have visited almost all of the noteworthy pizzerias in the five boroughs (see my top five listed below) and am puzzled by the lack of recognition for the original Patsy's on First Avenue between 118th and 119th in East Harlem. I have never been disappointed in a Patsy's pizza, as the coal oven produces the best smoky, crispy, chewy crust and a great balance between flavorful sauce, creamy fresh mozz, and basil on top.

Unlike several other New York pizzerias, Patsy's is still offering a great pizza at a very reasonable price, and I urge all Slice readers to patronize this gem and offer comments about a low Zagat rating of 20 for Patsy's compared to much higher ratings of 25 to 27 for Di Fara, Lucali's, Una Pizza, and others. New York residents are very fortunate to have Patsy's in their midst, as $20 can buy a world-class pie and beverages--something that cannot be duplicated at more expensive pie joints. As I savored a recent Patsy's Margherita, I commented to an associate that it can't get much better, even if you shelled out $100 or more at Peter Luger, Daniel, or any other expensive New York restaurant. Listed below is my top five in NYC:

  1. Patsy's in East Harlem
  2. Difara's in Brooklyn
  3. Grimaldi's in Brooklyn
  4. Una Pizza Napoletana in Manhattan
  5. Lucali's in Brooklyn

--The Real Slim Shady

Dear Slim Shady, Outside of Di Fara, no other pizzeria has been as trumpeted on Slice over the years as Patsy's in East Harlem. I've gone so far in the past as to have said it was my favorite pizzeria. And I will give you the fact that when it's on, it's sublime pizza--the best I've had.

But that's a huge qualifier these days--"when it's on."

The last four times I've been, I've gotten a sloppy, overcheesed, oversauced slice that had no discernible crispness to it whatsoever. I don't know if it has anything to do with the fact that Patsy's has had an "Experienced Pizzaman Wanted" sign in the window for ages, but that can't be a good thing.

It used to be that the conventional wisdom was to go during the day, when the reportedly good pizzaiolo was on duty. But I've gone during the day--on weekdays and weekends--to check, and got the same old limp slices--in pie form and in single-slice form.

I'm with you on all your other choices, but at this point, Patsy's has dropped from my top 5.

Hasta la pizza, Adam