While models strut down New York's streets in their shortest shorts and skirts, we'll be sampling the city's best pizza. Fathom contributor Devorah Klein Lev-Tov has spent the past six years editing non-fiction books and eating pizza. When it comes to pies, as well as books, she's looking for the real deal.
NEW YORK -- Trying to narrow down the best pizza in NYC is like trying to select the best apples from an orchard during U-pick season. The options are limitless. That said, I have sampled my fair share of NYC slices and have come to a few conclusions. There's a different pizza for every mood and appetite.
If you're visiting the city and don't have time to sample around, these top five slice joints, classy restaurants, and old-school institutions will do the trick.
1. Di Fara
Lay of the Land: You do not go to Di Fara for ambiance or speedy service. You go because it's an institution. Beret-clad pie-master Dom DeMarco has been obsessively manning the oven for 40 years, and he's the only one who touches the pie — hence the sometimes excruciating wait. Go as a party of two so that you can keep each other company and split a whole, drizzled with top-notch olive oil and finished with fresh basil. You can order slices, but they cost five bucks these days, and, trust me, you're going to want one more than one.
Overall Vibe: Wood paneling, bare tables, and oven smoke clog the small room, but you can entertain yourself by reading the articles plastering the walls.
Square or Round: It's a draw. Both are excellent, although the square tends to come out with a blacker crust.
Good to Know: It's cash only.
Find It: 1424 Avenue J, Brooklyn, NY 11230, +1-718-258-1367
2. L&B Spumoni Gardens
Lay of the Land: This is a 72-year-old classic neighborhood joint in residential Gravesend, Brooklyn, close to Coney Island. It's packed most evenings and epecially Sunday nights when Italian families are supping with nonna. The real charm is inside, but on nice nights you can grab a slice and catch the patio action. Aside from the addictive Sicilian pies (in which sauce is ladled over the cheese), roasted artichokes and garlic bread make great sides.
Overall Vibe: This is a classic red-sauce Italian joint, so bring the attitude and your Jersey Shore-loving friends.
Square or Round: Square Sicilian is their specialty.
Good to Know: The only way to finish the night is with a spumoni ice.
Find It: 2725 86th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11223, +1-718-449-1230
Review: Slice Blog
Lay of the Land: This spot won the hearts and taste buds of many, including The New York Times' Sam Sifton, who declared it to be the city's very best pizza. It is perfectly cooked and perfectly proportioned (the crust to sauce to cheese ratio is flawless), and they've got a host of inventive toppings (from Brussels sprouts to clams). They inherited Una Pizza Napolitana's famous oven, which seems to be working out beautifully.
Overall Vibe: Clean, East Village cool.
Square or Round: You'll only find round.
Good to Know: Motorino is open for brunch, and the fantastic pizza al'uovo — with eggs, pancetta, pecorino, fior di latte, basil, and chili oil — is sure to cure any hangover. Also, the tiramisu is pretty damn authentic.
Find It: 349 East 12th Street, New York, NY 10003, +1-212-777-2644
Lay of the Land: It's packed. The good news is a host will take your phone number and call when your table's ready. Inspired by Di Fara, Lucali's pies are meticulously made using the freshest ingredients.
Overall Vibe: Unlike Di Fara, this place has farmhouse coziness — you can watch the wood-burning oven from the open kitchen. You'd never believe all those mafia rumors by the looks of the place, but it does add another layer of authenticity.
Square or Round: There is not a square in sight, but they do have out-of-this-world calzones.
Good to Know: Call ahead to save a place in line. Just be nearby with a bottle of wine — it's BYOB -- when your table is ready.
Find It: 575 Henry Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231, +1-718-858-4086
5. Artichoke Basille's
Lay of the Land: This place has its cult followers and its detractors, but I'm all about the tiny storefront's Sicilian slice. Their specialty is the namesake artichoke pizza, but I think it's way too heavy -- it essentially swaps tomato sauce for a creamy spinach/artichoke dip. But their Sicilian squares will do you no wrong. They've opened outposts in Chelsea and the West Village with more menu offerings and are also selling frozen pizzas in supermarkets, but I vouch for the original 14th Street location.
Overall Vibe: Big sloppy portions in a little in-and-out spot. Eat on a bench outside. Bring napkins.
Square or Round: Square all the way.
Good to Know: They serve beer!
Find It: 28 East 14th Street, New York, NY 10003, +1-212-228-2004
Review: NY Mag