A few weekends ago, I cashed in my Delta trip voucher to go visit my old roommate in New Jersey! But really, that meant New York. And if there’s one thing I know about New York is that it’s the home of some good pizza. Rather than spend time and money doing touristy things (full disclosure, I did see a show on Broadway) I wanted to spend my days eating pizza.
It was a trip that took an emotional and physical toll on me. I spent a lot of money on transportation and a good amount of money on food. I also walked about 20 miles in two days in 90 degree New York heat. By the end of the first day, I was literally limping. There was also the matter of 4 pizza places in two days. Mind you there was only one place that offered pizza by the slice. Most of the time I ate 4 pieces of pizza! But, I persisted.
The first day was a little shop called Joe’s Pizza on Carmine & Bleeker near Washington Square Park. This was the classic New York Pizza – thin crust, big slice, cash only divey place. Here are my notes from my phone:
- Stop 1 – Joe’s Pizza. Classic New York slice. Really hot, served on a paper plate. Cash only place in West Village. Decent, doesn’t crack my personal top 5. Crust is a bit too hard and not as chewy as I’d like. The cheese fell off, which loses some points for me.
I have to explain, sometimes cheese falling off is a good thing. However, this pizza wasn’t the margherita style pizza (which is normally wet because of the heaps of olive oil). Therefore, I expected the cheese to stay on. Some photos:
After walking around for probably ten years and taking an air conditioned break in the form of Aladdin on Broadway. My original plan was to go to Brooklyn for the night, but silly old me didn’t know how freakin’ big New York was. So in an effort to make our train back to New Jersey for the night we had to detour into Hoboken. This time, we stopped at Grimaldi’s. It’s an old school pizza family in New York. As far as I can tell, the New Jersey locations are original to the Grimaldi’s. The Brooklyn locations were licensed to some guy who took the name. I’ll explain more about that with the next location. Anyways, here are the notes from my phone:
- Grimaldi’s in Hoboken, NJ. This pizza is pretty good, coal fired like [a local spot in Minneapolis] and the whole pie is HUGE. Crust could be crispier or softer to make it better. It is kind of in between which makes the crush meh. Cheese is really good, though. Overall, not bad. It gets cold pretty easily, but to be fair you’d have to eat like a monster to eat it before it all gets cold. I also didn’t like how the cheese came all the way up to the lip of the crust.
Coal fired is pretty darn good. So far, the trip wasn’t letting me down! Some photos:
I’m not a food photographer and the low lighting didn’t do me any favors. And I forgot to get the Grimaldi’s storefront. Oops. Total slices eaten day one: 4 big ones.
The next day, we headed back into the city for some fun. First up was DUMBO in Brooklyn. We went to a place called Juliana’s. This is run by Patsy Grimaldi, the patriarch of the Grimaldi family. He came out of retirement to open Juliana’s, because the man that the Grimaldi name was sold to moved across the street into a new place. Patsy opened his shop in the old Grimaldi space, which brought a new level of rivalry. You can read about it more in depth here. The pizza itself was quite delicious – and it should be noted that I usually only ever get cheese pizza at restaurants. My theory is that if they can’t do a cheese/margherita pizza well then I am less inclined to believe they can do other “fancier” pizzas well. Some notes from my phone:
- Stop 3 – Juliana’s in DUMBO. Coal fired pizza with SUPER FRESH mozzarella!! Decent amount of olive oil – not too much to make it soggy but enough to add to the taste. The crust is perfectly crisp. It’s not too soggy, which is refreshing for a margherita. I think this is coming in at a strong 4 or 5 on my top 5 list. The third slice was a bit cold but still tasted really fresh.
I’m glad this dude came out of retirement. Some photos (I split the pizzas with my friend, as they are legitimately very large):
We unfortunately had no air conditioning break today, unless you count the Subway. We did go to Coney Island which was actually really fun. I guess I did do a tourist-y thing by riding the giant ferris wheel. Again, it was hot so we didn’t do much besides walk around and drink water. After our little jaunt down to the ocean we headed back up to Brooklyn for the final pizza stop of the trip. This time, it was Lucali in Brooklyn (Carroll Gardens Neighborhood). We arrived at 5:30, because the restaurant opened around then. Little did we know there was already a 2 hour wait for a table. Must be good, right? According to my research, Beyonce and JAY-Z went to Lucali a few years ago instead of going to the Grammy’s. If it’s good enough for Bey, it’s good enough for me.
This was made worse by the fact that there was a loud block party going on outside. Literally there was a DJ on a residential block? Playing rap music definitely not suitable for kids under 12?? Call me old, but that music was loud. The restaurant had tables outside if you wanted them but obviously we did not. The weird thing was nobody else seemed to mind. They just thought this was a normal occurrence?? It was really annoying, especially because we weren’t able to wait around the restaurant in case there was an earlier table because it was just so loud. We ended up going into a weird Brooklyn hipster coffee shop that also served food. I am not a New Yorker, but that’s what I definitely assumed Brooklyn would be like before I visited.
The cool thing about Lucali is that it is BYOB. But at that point if I had any liquor I probably would have died because of the dehydration in the heat, so water it was for me. We finally were seated around 7:30-7:45 and I was starving. But don’t worry – it was worth the wait. Some notes:
- Stop 4 – Lucali in Carroll Gardens. 10 or so table place, one is pretty big for parties of 6. It’s very loud inside, not so ideal for conversation. At this point I’m too hungry to eat so who cares whether or not I talk. [Rant about how loud the DJ is]. The ingredients are truly amazing. My only critique is that the crust is a little bit thin. If it had a bit thicker, fluffier crust this would be a surefire winner. Comes in at a strong 2-3 on my list of top 5. YUM.
Some photos (it was literally like candlelit in this place, and I didn’t want to be obnoxious with the flash):
It should be noted that when I “review” pizzas, I’m just going for taste. I don’t care how it’s served; I don’t care how long the wait is. If your pizza is good, then you can do whatever you want. Also, I just like pizza. I don’t know anything about the techniques to making it or any of the terminology that goes with it. In general I like fresh ingredients, the ability to stay warm for a long time, and the crust. The crust needs to have a decent hole structure that is fluffy and not too dense.
My official rankings for this trip are as follows: Lucali, Juliana’s, Grimaldi’s, and Joe’s. We saved the best for last! And if you’re wondering, my all time top favorite pizza is Pizzeria Beddia.
Where should I go next?