I have moved to NYC for a 6 month project for work, and I am determined to eat as much of this city as I can while I am here. One aspect of this plan involves surveying the various pizza offerings. So far, I've gotten to Keste, Grimaldi's and Arturo's. I'll continue to update the thread as a I tick more off my list.
First up, Keste. I went here on a Thursday night. I arrived around 7:15, and was told there was a 15 minute wait. I was meeting a friend, and didn't think she would be there by 7:30, so I held off putting my name in. (I entertained myself by grabbing a fro yo appetizer at the place next door. If you are thinking about doing the same, don't bother. Not terrible, but not particularly good either.) Saw a line of alarming length start to form as I sat there, so at 7:35 I asked and was told the wait was 25 minutes, so I put my name in. Friend arrived at 7:55, at 8:15 we were seated. I didn't mind the extra wait. They brought out pizza samples to the waiting crowd around 7:45 (bummer for my friend!), so I munched on appetizer #2 while I waited. Once seated, we ordered very quickly and the pizza came out in what, no joke, felt like 4 minutes. We ordered the margherita and the pizza del re. Both were quite good. The crust had a great char on the edges. It was flimsy in the middle, but it wasn't soupy or soggy. I didn't mind the texture, but I don't think it's my favorite. Cheese was fresh and delicious on both, and the combo of prosciutto, truffle and olive oil on the del re was excellent. Both were swimming in a bit too much oil for me though, and the topping to crust ratio was off. All in all, I liked it very much, but I kept thinking ... wait, so THIS is the best pizza in NYC?
Week or two later went to Grimaldi's. Did the walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, so I worked up an appetite. Still ended up arriving way too early (thought they opened at 11:30 on Saturday, turns out it was 12). My brother and I consoled ourselves by splitting a pastry at Jacques Torres. At 11:45 we meandered back to Grimaldi's and got in line. There were only about 15 people in front of us. (I imagine the short line was a product of the torrential downpour we had experienced on our walk across the bridge. ) They brought us in a few minutes early to get people out of the still-dripping rain. We were seated near the door, which turns out to be a bad thing, because it appears as though they take orders and deliver pizzas from the back to the front. So people who were behind us in line, but had large enough parties to be seated at the larger tables in the back, got their orders in and their pizzas out significantly sooner than we did. I think we ended up waiting about 10 or 15 minutes before they took our order, and then at least 30 minutes if not more before the pizza arrived. (Good thing we shared that pastry). We ordered 1/2 cheese and 1/2 sausage, but when it arrived it was all sausage. That was a little annoying, but we were starving at this point, so we dug in. My number one impression was how fresh everything --from the tomatoes to the cheese to the sausage -- tasted. The flavors were clean and light, and there was no greasiness to any of it. The crust was chewy on the edges and uniformly cripsy on the bottom. As fresh as it was though, it also as pretty bland. Again, I thought... hmmm, very good, but the best?
This past Friday night was Arturo's. Not mentioned as often as Grimaldi's, Lombardi's or John's, but mentioned often enough and, more importantly for my purposes on Friday, it apparently often does not have a line. This held true for us: walking in at 8 pm on a Friday night my best friend and I were seated immediately. We shared an appetizer house salad and order of mussels. Feel free to skip both. For pizza, we went with the pepperoni. This pizza was excellent. Like Grimaldi's, the crust had a nice crispy, chewy edge, and was cooked perfectly throughout. Sauce was flavorful, with a little bit of sweetness and a little bit of spice. The spice could have been the pepperoni, which also was spicy and delicious. Proportion of sauce to cheese were perfect. Still dunno if this is the "best," but it definitely was my favorite of the three so far. Unlike the others, I had to force myself to stop eating once I was full, and I was craving it the next day. I would absolutely go back, except that there are still many, many more on my list to try.
Next up... maybe Co., maybe John's.... maybe Patsy's...