Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Best Pizza in New York

The claim of Best Pizza in New York is not one easily won. When I googled 'best pizza in new york', over 13 million websites claimed to know something about it. I, however, have taken to scouring NY Magazine, a much more complex (and confusing) version of The Age's Epicure, Yelp, Time Out magazine and Chowhound to guide me in locating delicious and usually (preferably) cheap food.

As we all know, New York, and indeed America itself, is a mish-mash of every single kind of culture, religion, peoples, races, languages that you can find. Much like Australia, the cuisine has evolved hugely, such that the only thing we can really think of as being "real" American food is probably deep fried and originating from the deep South. New York, however, was very much influenced by the Italians and pasta, sub sandwiches and of course, pizza, has become a main staple food. Seriously, impossible to find anyone who can say they dislike pizza. And who would? Really, who?

On the subject of famous pizza joints, New York certainly has a lot to contribute. I stumbled onto this website, which, while may be a bit dated on the subject of 'best' pizza, certainly lists many of the now famous worldwide pizza places that have become must-see tourist destinations. I myself have certainly had my fair share of pizza since I arrived in New York. Boy I Am Seeing, otherwise known as Yank, lives in New Jersey in a college town, which generally means that dinner tends to involve pizza, fat sandwiches (more on that later), sub sandwiches, hot dogs and other guilty type (albeit delicious) foods. Time honoured tradition dictates that since pizza = cheap, college/university kids therefore must = pizza. Though perfectly acceptable for a meal, whether this be dinner time or 3am, college-town pizza usually doesn't equate to 'best'.

The first time Yank and I blundered into Brooklyn, we were going to a bar where a friend was playing a gig. We headed over from Manhattan a couple of hours early, thinking we might find somewhere to eat before going to the show. My little NY guidebook pointed us to Grimaldi's, which coincided with the website, which made me happy, so off we went. After walking around for an hour (always look up directions before leaving the house), we finally found our way there.

Grimaldi's is located just on the waterfront, right under the Brooklyn Bridge, which makes for a very scenic environment indeed. However, unfortunately for us in March, just by the water tends to be a bit chilly. But no matter. When we got there at 7.30pmish, the lines were - literally - 100 people waiting outside. I forgot to take a photo of the queue, unfortunately, but it was quite amazing. After waiting for about 10 minutes, we decided it wasn't worth it given our time constraints and went somewhere else.

Last Friday, I got out of work super early and Yank suggested a repeat of Grimaldi's, mmm. We arrived at quarter to 5ish and despite that, there was still a queue of about 10 people, which, hello, significant improvement. 15 minutes later, we were seated. Grimaldi's has tables packed together inside, which makes for a quite loud meal and also doesn't allow you to get up much during your meal, as you will probably be forced to make 2-3 people get up as you inch your way out.

Famous Grimaldi's in Brooklyn

We were told it would be a 30-40 minute wait for the pizza, as even at 5pm, it was completely packed with people. Which, okay, fine. Mental dock of 10 points. We ordered a plain whole pie (no slices at all, whole pies only - this is a bit of a phenomenon in the States, as you can buy slices pretty much anywhere) with anchovies and mushrooms. It came steaming hot and delicious after I went slightly crazy waiting for it while watching everyone else's pizzas come out before ours.

So this photo doesn't really do it justice (it was dim and something's wrong with my camera flash), but seriously.
Best. Pizza. Ever.
The crust, OMG, was slightly salted, but crunchy and crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, cooked to perfection, and superthin. Toppings were good, though I've been told the pepperoni is amazing so I must try that next time. Very hot, very smoking and very very delicious. Worth the $20 plus taxes. Must be the coal oven. There is literally nothing wrong with this pizza (except perhaps that the slight sogginess of the tip of pizza slice.. minor) The crust reigns supreme and I eat it all. Nom nom nom.

So for those of you who might be visiting, small pie is $12, large is $14 (just get the large, take the leftovers home and eat it cold, still delicious). Unfortunately, no slices, no reservations, no delivery, no credit cards, take-out only if you wait in line with all the rest of everyone else. Boo. But I really cannot recommend it enough, if you also have a spare 2 hours somewhere and nothing to do.

And just to top it off, afterwards, you can mosey along next door to the
Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, like everyone else does, for a $3.50 per scoop of a possible 6 flavours: vanilla chocolate chunk; chocolate chocolate chunk; butter pecan; strawberry; peaches & cream and coffee. Add $1 for obligatory hot fudge that is made with 72% cacao content chocolate and possibly best richest hot fudge I have ever tasted.

Take the above, and add below and a walk along the Brooklyn Bridge - what do you get? The perfect New York afternoon.

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