As a pizza making fanatic, I love visiting well-regarded pizzerias to observe and sample their handiwork, learn some tips, and gather inspiration. During my recent travels to New York City, I set out on a pilgrimage to eat at some of the top pizza on this side of the Atlantic.
My pizza safari focused primarily on Neapolitan pizza, a style that I absolutely fell in love with during a visit to Naples in 2003. A blazing hot wood fired oven cooks the pizza in 2-3 minutes (sometimes faster), leaving a slightly charred edge and bottom, but springy and chewy in the middle of the crust. For ease of comparison (and personal preference), I stuck to the basic and classic “marinara” style: sauce, basil, garlic.
In seven days I visited six pizzerias. There are many NY spots still on my list, including Di Fara, Luzzo, Lucali, Totonnos (Coney Island, closed for renovation – I unknowingly tried to go there), Roberta’s, Salvatore’s (Staten Island), among others.
The most surprising discovery on my trip is that while the wood-fired oven is a staple for good pizza, it is not the only fuel found. Some of the top rated spots in NY use coal burning, oil burning, or even electric ovens. Secondly, the reputation of the location’s oven doesn’t always correspond with the outcome of the pizza. You’ll see this in my notes below. And, the locations that touted their use of fresh, organic ingredients stood out for the richness of their pies.
I made a quick video for each spot, to preserve the memory, show the ambiance, and take a good look at the all-so-important pizza oven. Here are the six place I visited and some of my notes. Enjoy!
Motorino Manhattan (site): At the East Village old location of the legendary Una Pizza Napolitana, this is the second in the Motorino chain. The oven itself has been written up in NY magazine (an article I cut and taped to my refrigerator when it came out). Although I never got to try Anthony Mangieri’s pies, the new owners are still making some amazing pizza. All the places I tried were fantastic, but if someone said I could go back to just one before my flight home, it would have been here.
And good news for my San Francisco friends: word has it Mr. Mangieri is opening a new spot in SF.
Side note: the chef is a longtime San Franciscan, and knows some of my friends. Interesting discovery.
One downside: The name “Co” (or “company”) is very hard to Google. Remember this when you’re trying to find it: 9th Ave and 24th St.
I did eat the entire pizza though. And getting to see into their oven was a highlight. The worn brick floor and the low ceiling hight was a surprise, and the pizzas seemed to cook in 90 seconds.
(A very special thanks to Matt K. for sponsoring my visit and outings.)