Our on-going Safari to find the best Pizza "by the slice" in NYC continued with Phase Two in mid December. We're posting the Manhattan results here and the Queens results on the Outer Borough Boards....
The locations chosen were all based on recommendations from Chowhound and other "rating / review" type sites.
The benchmark slice tasted at each location is the "basic slice" or "plain slice"...dough, sauce and cheese. Our theory being that since this is the "foundation" of all pizza, the places with the best foundation stand the best chance of having the best "complex" slices as well.
One other note about Pizza Slice Tasting that I'll place here because many won't read this whole rant...IMHO it's best to ask for the slice "warm" not "hot". A hot slice, particularly if there's quite a bit of cheese will be too runny & gooey. Better to just warm it thoroughly and go from there.
The results of the Phase-2 Mega Crawl were as follows:
Starting in North Manhattan this time:
1) Patsy's. 1st Ave at 117th. Might be interesting for a "mild style" slice. Folds with medium snap. Light grease. Mild taste. Chewy cheese. Nothing bad / nothing remarkable. We wouldn't go all the way uptown just for this slice.
2) John and Tony's 1097 1st Ave at 60th. Medium-light grease. Folds with medium cracker style. Medium thickness. More "zing" in the flavor than Patsy's. Clumpy "curdly" cheese. Make that full medium grease. Basically uninteresting
3) Ultimate in Pizza 401 E. 57th. Folds medium-soft. Very low grease. Nice "appearance" of the small slice shop. Unusual "sweetness" to the taste - perhaps some honey in the sauce? Generous cheese. Medium "zing" to the flavor. A GREAT CONTENDER for the "mild flavor" category. Nice all-around if a bit mild. Definitely a Quarter-Finalist in the upcoming Taste-Off. Note: the "memory" of this place lingers...always a positive sign.
4) Paradise Pizza 70 W. 45th. Generous cheese Low grease to medium grease. Folds very soft. Reasonably tasty cheese but little sauce. Close but no cigar.
5) Little Italy 72 W. 45th. "Zagat Rated" pizza. Thick cheese topping. Medium+ Grease level. Huge glob of chewy, tasteless cheese. Very little sauce. 3 bites and it was time to end my suffering.
6) L'Allegria 44th St & 9th Ave. Brick Oven. A "classy" tiny slice place. I WANT TO LIKE THIS PIZZA! Low grease, folds soft. Pleasant, delicate aftertaste. Questionable mix of cheeses - cheddar in this mix ? Very little sauce. A burnt taste. Just not that interesting
After a brief stop at Manhattan's greatest microbrew pub, the Ginger Man, for a Stone Pale Ale (on draft no less), the crawl continues....
7) Imperial 3rd Ave S. of 35th St., Murray Hill. Thick slice, folds medium cracker. Light+ grease. Immediate "zippy" taste. Glommmy, stringy cheese. The cheese just overwhelms the meager sauce. Very close to making the quarter-finals, but not quite.
8) Pizza 33...still in Murray Hill, around 33 & 3rd. This is a Beautiful Looking Slice. If you want a "picture" of NY thin pizza, this is it in my book. Nice delicate flavor. Folds with mild crack. Perfect veneer of cheese. Very low grease. Probably a great slice for those looking for a "mild" style. Sauce doesn't really come through much. Delicious but on the mild side...a Quarter Finalist.
9) LA Pizzeria 442 3rd Ave. at 30th. Folds soft. Very low grease. Interesting "tangy" taste. Waaaay too salty (and I'm salt-tolerant). Nice chewiness to the cheese. Zippy but potentially "strange" backnotes...like anchovy? Stale oil? Would have to reduce the salt significantly to be considered for the finals.
At the end, the memorable slices of this crawl were clearly Ultimate In Pizza and Pizza 33.
The previous Phase One crawl thread from Oct. 29th is no longer on the board. In Phase One we tasted: Rays (25 Prince), Two Boots, Rays (E. Houston), Ben's and Joe's (7 and 233 Carmine). Phase One Quarter-Finalists include: Ben's and Joe's at 233 Carmine though from our notes we weren't wild about either.