When I moved to New York I did not know anyone, and I had 2 weeks before my job started, so I journeyed around the city trying pizza. I went to many of the celebrated pizzerias and had excellent pizza.
But you know what? Most pizza in New York is adequate at best. The myth of the great New York slice is just that - a myth. Deep down we all long for that corner slice place that serves humble, excellent slices. But so often you grab a slice from a random place and your heart sinks as you realize the pizza is just not very good. Damn it!
Sal & Carmine's is a fantastic example of a slice place that actually is awesome. Grumpy Italian men (one whom passed years ago, the other who is not able to do much pizza making any more, now being operated by the grandson); neon lights, tangy, cheesy slices. This is what you want all slice places to be like and you imagine that a long time ago they were, but not now, not in this day and age when New York is not as great as it used to be.
'Twas a mild and foggy late January day and I decided to throw caution to the wind and try a new slice place! It's called Pranzo Pizza downtown, near the Staten Island ferry. I entered the shop and walked to the counter, where I could see the pre-made pies sadly waiting to be heated back up. No pride; no artisanship. Just drab, utilitarian pizza waiting to be bought by the next willing customer.
I ordered two plain slices and the pizzaiola happily tossed them into the oven. "Anything to drink?" he said with a stupid smile on his face. "Fuck you!" I said. When the pizza was ready and brought before me I took a look and became frustrated. Just as I suspected! The cheese had a terrible wettish consistency, the result of using sub-standard cheese and the re-heating process. The flavor was edible but boring and minimal. The sauce? I won't even go there.
The stupid pizzaiola kept smiling. "This is the best slice in New York!" he said. I walked over to him and mercilessly beat him, pounding his head into the pizza oven. He'll be all right....eventually.
Water Street, New York