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Manhattan Pizza Slice Crawl: Chicago Hound Reports

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Manhattan Pizza Slice Crawl: Chicago Hound Reports

Chicago Mike | Oct 29, 2003 12:04 AM

Hello Hounds: Well last weekend I was able to conduct Phase One of my New York - Chicago Pizza Tasting Survey. This Phase consisted of "Mid-Lower Manhattan" (i.e. Village / Little Italy)slices, not whole pies. All the places visited were garnered from previous Hound reports. This was part of a larger crawl which included desserts (chocolate cake, cannoli, cheesecake, and sfogatelle) reported elsewhere on this board and the Outer Boro Board.

All tastings are of the standard "plain cheese slice" with my thinking being that if the plain cheese isn't outstanding, since many "added ingredient" pies are built on top of the plain slice, that they wouldn't be that good either. Of course, thats an oversimplification, also the crawl doesn't take into account sicilian slices, etc. Just the plain thin crust cheese slice. so....

The slice crawl began on a rainy Monday, Oct. 27 at Lombardi's. Unfortunately I discovered it's a whole pie place so crawled up one block to

A) Rays at 25 Prince. The slice was tasty with a distinctive zing to the sauce. Reasonably generous amount of sauce and cheese topping. Folds with med. crunchiness, minor grease visible w/ very little grease "run-off". Cheese not particularly tasty. Bottom line: tasty but probably not a finalist when all the smoke clears on all phases of this Tasting. Nothing really not to like, just not outstanding. They did have many interesting specialty slices displayed. Not sure if this is part of a larger chain I see all over the village. On to the next stop....

B) Two Boots Pizza at 44 Ave A. These are the "pizza pioneers" with many innovative-sounding varieties. I immediately noticed a distinct "smoky" or "burnt" taste to the sauce...might it contain some sundried tomatoes or "roasted something" ? Pleasant, crunchy dough. Low grease. In the end the smokiness just seems strange. Not craving another slice but will say the taste is unique.

Onward south on Ave. A in the drizzly rain.....

C) Rays...E. Houston W. of Ave. A. (near Katz's Deli)...this definitely looks like a chain. Folds nicely...low to med. grease. Some cheddar in the cheese perhaps ? Tastes sharper and has more "yellow" appearance. In the end, nothing interesting. More taste from the cheese than the pasty sauce. No hurry to return....now bearing Westward on Houston...

D) Arturo's, 106 W. Houston. Another pie only place which, like Lombardi's, prominently displays "Coal Fired Oven" on the awning signage. Very actively patronized, as was Lombardi's if that's an indication of anything....onward north on MacDougal...nightfall is setting in....

E) Bens, S.W. corner 3rd and MacDougal. I realized I'd "dined" here before...you can't miss this place. In some way it's the Village slice equivalent of the Wiener's Circle hot dog stand in Chicago. Immediately apparent is the thickness of the slice. Just more cheese and sauce if you like more contents rather than the "paper thin" style. Folds nicely. Bottom line: may want to return for 1) the generous cheese which is mildly seasoned, chewy, and "goopy and stringy". Not overwhelmingly good but enough to "dine" there again. Bring your own windex to cut through the grease on the scattered unmatched tables....heading westward with distinctively growing waistline...Looking for "Joe's at the Corner of Carmine and Bleecker" and come to.....

F) Joes, 7 Carmine St...this must be the place. The slice was the very thin variety with a med-crunchy crust when folded. Sharper and more distinctive sauce than most. Not bad but for a plain slice jones I'd still go with Bens at this point in the crawl...walking out in the darkening drizzle what would you expect but....another Joes !

G) Joes, 233 Carmine at Bleecker Okay, maybe THIS is the Joes...seems strange as it's only 4 doors away from the other Joes...are both Joes owned by the same Joe ? Only in New York. Brighter sauce taste. Somehow I think I prefer this to the 7 Carmine Joes but still wonder if it's really the same slice from the same place. But they don't look connected in any way. I'd want to taste this slice head-to-head with Ben's....if anyone's out there that would do this tasting and report back that would be great.

Bottom lines: 1) Slight Nod to Ben's then Joes at 233 Carmine. 2) Not really crazy about either, however but they go for a "slice fix" fairly well. 3) My favorite "benchmark slice" still remains D'Aleo's in Woodhaven Queens on Jamaica Blvd. just west of Woodhaven Blvd.

Phase One -B, Two, Three and beyond will be reviewed in the coming weeks....At this time still accepting suggestions for slices and pies to try anywhere in Greater NYC.

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