Slice of the city: touring the pizza capital

With PMQ’s New York Pizza Show right around the corner on March 9 to 11, New Yorkwas the obvious choice for our first Slice of the City, a new department that explores pizzeriasacross the country. Our goal was to hit all five of New York’s boroughs in one day, visiting onepizzeria in each near major tourist attractions and in notable neighborhoods. Mission accomplished!

Read on for all of the slice-by-slice details.

9:47am

When you’re in the city that never sleeps, you can have pizza anytime. Forbreakfast, we stepped out of our hotel and into Little Italy Pizza (www.littleitalypizzany.com) on 45th St. in Manhattan, picking up two slices—onecheese and one pepperoni. Even at this early hour, owner Dino and his employeeswere busily crafting pies in anticipation of the lunchtime rush. Warm slices in hand,we made our way through the winter cold and crowds of commuters to the center median inTimes Square, where we enjoyed our slices under the flashing marquees.

11:28am

We boarded the subway for the LittleItaly section of the Bronx, wherewe decided to take a poll of localsto find the area’s best pizza. Eachperson seemed to feel sure that he had the right answer,even though many had differing opinions. But when severalpeople pointed to Full Moon Pizzeria on Arthur Ave.,we had to taste for ourselves. After trying garlic knots,white pizza and a slice piled high with pepperoni, sausage,mushrooms and more,we had to agree withthe consensus. After all,Italians know their pizzaand have been comingto this neighborhoodfavorite for decades.

1:17pm

Rizzo’s Fine Pizza on Steinway St. in the famed Astoria sectionof Queens is known for its thin-crust Sicilian, but we couldn’tresist also trying the barbecue chicken pizza, garlic knots and a classic cheese slice. Inbusiness since 1959, the location displays vintage photos taken during the pizzeria’searly days and offers several booths for dine-in customers. Our schedule was tight, butwe refused to leave any food behind; Tracy stashed a leftover garlic knot in her pursefor the subway ride to our next stop.

3:39pm

The Staten Island Ferrytook us past the Statue ofLiberty to our next stop,located on Bay St. in Staten Island, and we arrivedat Daddy Doug’s Pizza (www.daddydougspizza.com) just in time: The owner, Doug Spinosa, wasclosing shop that very day. Spinosa once suppliedpizzas for many a Manhattan pizza truck and isknown for his Italian Knish pie. He had just runout of the famed pizza, but we were able to try hisgrandma pie, as well as a cheese slice and private-labelDaddy Doug’s sodas. We literally used hislast two plates and fi nished off the final pieces ofgrandma pie! But pizza’s a passion you don’t easilygive up, so Spinosa has promised to join us atPMQ’s New York Pizza Show to get ideas for hisnext venture.

5:42pm

The last stop on our five-boroughtour was Grimaldi’sPizzeria (www.grimaldis.com) underneath the BrooklynBridge on Old Fulton St. in Brooklyn. Known for its coalbrick oven Margherita pizza since 1933, Grimaldi’s hasoperated this location since 1990. The restaurant’s ownershave invested in a cheese company in Pennsylvania toensure the consistency of its special dry mozzarella andrecently purchased 10,000 cans of tomatoes for the samepurpose. Grimaldi’s further sets itself apart by roasting andmarinating its own red peppers daily and creating its ownsausage blend. The pizzeria is also expanding nationally,with new locations in Nevada, Arizona and Texas bringingtrue New York-style pizza to the masses.

Side Trips

With seemingly unlimited access to some of the best pizza in theworld, on our last day in New York, we had to fit in a few more slices….

There aren’t many people who haven’t heard of Lombardi’s (www.firstpizza.com), America’s oldest pizzeria, located on Spring St. inthe Little Italy section of Manhattan. Since 1905, the restaurant hasbeen turning out some of New York’s most acclaimed pizzas in itsoriginal coal oven. After savoring the bruschetta appetizer and Margheritapizza, we joined the pizzaiolos in the kitchen for an up-closelook at the pizza-making process. Sauce and toppings were generouslyapplied before the pies made their trip into the nearly 900°oven, where they were hand-turned with long-handled woodenpizza peels.

Housed in a former church originally built in 1888, John’sPizzeria www.johnspizzerianyc.com is the largest in the country,with four coal-fired pizza ovens and 500 seats on two floors. Inthe main dining room, guests can admire the original stainedglass ceiling and windows while eating a heavenly slice of pizzawith a plentiful portion of cheese. With three locations, the oldestopen since 1929, John’s has received numerous accolades fromnational publications and is known for its “No slices!” motto, goingso far as to print it on its employees’ T-shirts.

Formore information aboutPMQ’s New York Pizza Show,visitwww.newyorkpizzashow.com.

To see more photos, go towww.pmq.com/sliceofthecity.

Want us to visit your city?Contact us at editor@pmq.com.