New York City Pizza Tour
Read on to hear about Erol's pizza-packed tour of New York with his buddy David. They fully filled their bellies and discovered the best pizza slice in the city.
I recently took a trip to New York to catch up with some friends and enjoy the buzz of the greatest city on earth. Being a pizza geek, I couldn't miss the opportunity to test out some of the city’s best pizza spots.
I was blown away by the sheer variety of pizza options available, from classic Neapolitan-style pies to more innovative creations.
The plan was to compare and contrast. But first we needed to set some rules.
Rule 1. Slices Only
New York is famous for the New York Slice, a simple but tasty and popular way to eat pizza. Their pizza gets its distinguishing crust from the high gluten bread flour with which it is made. Minerals present in New York City's tap water supply are also credited with giving the dough in metro area pies its characteristic texture and flavour.
Rule 2. Simple Toppings
New York style pizza is traditionally hand tossed, consisting in its basic form of a light layer of tomato sauce sprinkled with dry, grated, full-fat mozzarella cheese.
Which pizza restaurants to visit?
I ran a quick Google search and discovered there are about 32,000 pizza shops and restaurants in New York! A bit much for even my appetite, so I knew I had to compose a list. I figured we could eat 7-8 slices of pizza on the tour, so aimed to target 6 venues (got to allow for specials ha!)
I spent a lot of time watching YouTube and reading reviews, but the best advice came from a waiter in The Grill restaurant. He was a bit of a pizza enthusiast himself, and so after 20 minutes of great chat we had a list:
First Stop - Sacco Pizza
Sacco’s is a small unassuming pizza slice shop located near Central Park. Their pizza is simple but delicious, with a thin, crispy crust and high quality toppings. I was hungry so I guess any pizza slice would have tasted delicious (don’t worry, this was taken into consideration when landing in a score). The cheese to sauce ratio was spot on, with the half inch crust perfectly sized. Cheese covered all of the sauce and I had it eaten in less than a minute.
Score for Sacco Pizza
Erol 9/10, David 9/10, Total 18/20.
An amazing start to the tour.
Stop Two - Bleecker Street Pizza
The rest of the pizza shops were in lower Manhattan so I took an Uber straight to Bleecker Street. There is another famous restaurant on the same street called Johns of Bleecker Street but as it only sold full pies, I chose Bleecker Street Pizza.
Bleecker Street Pizza is another classic spot that's been around for over 50 years. Their pizza base is thicker than Sacco's but would still be considered 'thin' and crispy by New York standards. The tomato sauce left a half inch crust and a generous layer of cheese covered all of the sauce. The overall flavour was rich and buttery, however they do use a lot of semolina on the base which I'm not a fan of. The garlic knots looked amazing so I grabbed one of those to try, but although it looked soft and fluffy the dough had a chewiness.
Score for Bleecker Street Pizza
Erol 7/10, David 7/10, Total 14/20.
Very tasty pizza but I've already had better.
Third Stop - Joe's Pizza
Joe's Pizza is a New York institution that's been serving up delicious pies since 1975. With several shops across Manhattan and some even spreading across the world, I first came across Joe's in 2004 when Peter Parker took a job as a pizza delivery boy in SpiderMan 2. Here I was on Carmine Street ordering a slice from the very same shop. Although busy when we arrived, the staff were super fast and efficient and I had a New York slice in hand within a few minutes.
Their pizza base is crispy but softer than the previous two, no semolina. The crust was a bit thicker with a perfect balance of sauce and cheese. That being said, the real winner at Joe's is the sauce; tangy but sweet. I could easily have eaten another slice without cheese or even taken a spoon to the sauce.
Score for Joe's Pizza
Erol 8/10, David 9/10, Total 17/20.
Stop Four - Rubirosa
Rubirosa is a family owned pizzeria that's been serving up classic pies since 2010. Their pizza is thin and crispy, with a variety of creative toppings to choose from. Their vodka pizza is a standout, with a creamy sauce and crispy bacon. Their tie-dye pizza is also a fun option, with different colours of dough and creative toppings. Unfortunately, they don't do slices, so with regret, I had to leave the restaurant empty handed (damn rules). But I will be back.
No score for Rubirosa.
Stop Five - Prince Street Pizza
Prince Street Pizza is a few blocks away and as I turned the corner it was clear this is a favourite in Soho. The queue was huge, maybe 100 people. The shop was tiny, room for 6 or 7 people at a time. It took about 30 minutes to get to the front of the queue, by which time I'm convinced the queue had doubled. I wanted to stick to my strategy of New York slice only, but I could see that everyone was buying their special 'Naughty Slice' so I had to submit. Afterall, I had queued for a long time.
The slice was superb; a lovely crispy, thin base, good sauce to cheese ratio. An excellent New York pizza slice. The 'Naughty Slice', however, was on another level. It's a Sicilian-style slice, packed with spicy pepperoni and a special vodka sauce. This pizza is world class and one to travel to New York just to try.
Score for Prince Street Pizza
Erol 8/10, David 8/10, Total 16/20 for the New York slice.
(Special Naughty slice gets 19/20).
Last Stop - Scarr's Pizza
Scarr's Pizza would be my final pizza shop of the tour. Feeling incredibly full, it was a pleasurable 15 minute walk to Lower East Side. Again, as with Prince Street Pizza, the queue was huge with maybe 80 people and an incredibly small shop with room for only 2 or 3 people, so it took nearly 45 minutes to get to the front. Time passed easily though, the weather was amazing and I spotted a couple of celebs from Succession.
Scarr’s have been serving up their delicious pizza since 2016 and are incredibly popular. As this was my last stop of the tour, I chose a New York Slice and a jalapeño slice which the pizzaiolo kindly added some pepperoni to. That’s where they became a bit unstuck. The slice was reheated but not long enough for the pepperoni to crisp. In fact the pizza slices were not as hot as they should have been (points deducted). The sauce, cheese and base were all tasty and I'm sure I'd have enjoyed a better experience at another time so will be back.
Score for Scarr's Pizza
Erol 6/10, David 7/10, Total 13/20.
So, the final positions are:
1. Sacco Pizza - 18/20
2. Joe's Pizza - 17/20
3. Prince Street Pizza - 16/20
4. Bleecker Street Pizza - 14/20
5. Scarr's Pizza - 13/20
But...without doubt, the best pizza of the day was the Naughty Slice from Prince Street Pizza!
Overall, my pizza tour of New York was a pizza lover's dream come true. Whether you're a fan of classic pizza or go for more adventurous flavours, there's something for everyone in the Big Apple.