Hello everyone. Christian Hunter here with a "heads up" on upper east side pizza. I live within an avenue block of both Candido and Totonno on the upper east side, and have had plenty of experience with both.
Gripe number one: Both of these joints have a questionable policy regarding the price of toppings. My girlfriend likes onion on her pizza, and I usually prefer sausage. Some places(like John's on Bleeker) gladly accomodate and charge correctly, for one topping. No such luck at Totonno and Candido; their policy regarding toppings is "same price half or whole". I welcome any explanation as to the origin of this meanspirited and expensive policy. That they charge DOUBLE for a half and half pie, to my mind, is downright larceny.
Gripe number two: Both these joints skimp on cheese, and it is not a luxury, but an outright necessity that one order extra cheese, just to bring the pie to it's proper proportions. In fact, even then with the extra cheese, these pizzas could still use more, bringing to my mind the prospect of ordering one with "extra-extra cheese", which at two dollars per, plus two dollars each for onion and sausage, would bring the price of a large pie to 22 dollars plus tax. That's a lot of money for what started as a 14 dollar basic cheese pie.
Which is better? It depends on your own prediliction. Candido makes the tastier pie, hands down. Their sauce is more flavorful, the herbs sprinkled on top are delicious, and the crust is thin and yet pliable. But that taste comes at a price. Candido makes a VERY minimalistic pie, truly a less-is-more philosophy that can leave you wanting more, not necessarily a bad thing. Oh and their sausage is MUCH better than Tononno. Joe Candido is a real stand up guy. One day when my parents were in town, We sat down to a couple of pies and noted to the waitress that one of them did not appear to be sporting the requisite extra cheese we had ordered, and she insisted that it did. A few minutes later, Joe Candido came over and told us that the order had been confused, and that he wanted to make us an additional pizza with the extra cheese, on the house. When it arrived, it was beautiful, a real testamony to what can happen when somebody gives a damn, and it was the best pizza of the three, by far, they we had there all night.
Having said that, if I had kids, I would bring them to Totonno. Their pie, though not nearly as tasty, is FAR MORE FILLING, owing to the thicker, doughier crust and the somewhat more liberal use of cheese and toppings, though those ingredients are in no way superior to Candido. One more thing: You can die of starvation, if not old age waiting for Candido to deliver to your apartment. Totonno's has the delivery schtick down way better than Candido, they arrive in like half the time. Go figure.