New York’s Got Nothin’

In an engaging review of the new pizza place that has New York City food writers all agush, Gothamist’s Hungry Cabbie laments the sorry state of New York pizza. It’s not that he doesn’t like the pies at white-hot Lucali as much as the next guy—he does. “It is undeniably tasty pizza,” the HC writes. The problem, he says, is what all this love for Lucali says about the city’s ‘za scene:

A brand new place opens and within hours, there is a long wait just to get through the door. And every food writer in the city jumps on the story. This shouldn’t be a story. Lucali’s is good—very good—but I wish it had gotten a little lost in a crowd of great pizza places. However, there just isn’t much of a crowd of great pizza places.

He argues that “New York pizza” as a legendary foodstuff has gone way downhill, to the point that it has nothing on other cities’ best-known specialties:

Go to Grenada and every falafel you find will be absolutely amazing. Go to Chicago and every hot dog you eat will make your heart skip a beat (or stop beating entirely). Go to Napoli and every pizza will be perfect.

Is he right? Do these kinds of well-worn cliches about cities and their food really hold true? I live in New York and definitely understand where the HC is coming from on the pizza front, but I don’t know if I believe that the legendary foods in any city are uniformly good (my one hot dog experience in Chicago wasn’t very memorable, anyway). Where there’s legend there are tourists, and where there are tourists there’s a breeding ground for mediocre food at exorbitant prices, no?

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