It was getting a little later as we left Nova and headed over to Pizza Palace and like most summer nights in the city, the teenage boys were out in droves puffing out their chests and doing their elaborate homosocial courtship rituals. I looked across the street at our destination and there's a 19 year old Dominican kid with Bone-Thugz pigtails giving dap to a 30-something Italian guy who looks like John Turtorro, looked up and noticed that the awning of the place read "Pizza Heroes." The extraneous E in the word "Heros" didn't escape Sweet Tooth or myself because we turned to each other as we crossed the road and both said, "Those guys are my Pizza Heroes."
We walked into the damn place, and it was so alive compared to all the empty shitholes I had been in all evening (barring Grandpas). It reminded me of when I was a kid. Three generations of Italian dudes, from old-guy, to 30-something, to greasy-teen, standing behind a counter serving at least as many generations of the multi-ethnic clientelle that have been haunting pizza establishments since Bill and Ted brought the first ever pizza to the first ever Time Travel Olympics on Pangea, and ate it with Shaka Zulu, Ghengis Khan and Arnold Schwartzenegger, which technically happens after now, but in a time before now. WRAP YOUR BRAIN AROUND THAT ONE, SMARTASS!
Oh, but anyway, the slice. I ordered a slice. It was a tidy $2.25. The 30-something took my order while the greasy-teen took my money. I handed him a crisp $10 bill and said, "Hold on, I got a quarter," while digging in my pockets for the coin I knew I had. He started to count me out change when John Turturro, overhearing that I had a quarter and then overhearing that the kid's counting coins shouts, "'E SAYS 'E'S GOT A KWATA!" and slaps the kid in the back of the head, real mean-friendly and hands me my slice without even putting it in the oven.
So, they are obviously confident their pizza is good because that thing looks sloppy as fuck, AND they didn't even reheat it. This slice had thicker dough and more cheese than I generally prefer in a slice, but they were perfectly balanced so that every bite was a delight. And the dough, while thicker, was airy and fluffy, not dense and horrid. This really comes through in the crust, which, though it was thick and pale, two signs that it might be undercooked and crappy, it had a nice crispness to it, and the inside was fluffy enough that it never felt overwhelming or heavy.
As I was eating the slice I remarked to Tooth, "I like this place because I'm afraid to criticize the pizza out loud while we're sitting here. Like, I'm actually scared someone that works here will get offended and try to kick my ass. And you know what that tells me, these people take pride their pizza." Sweet Tooth, always astute, simply said, "Sometimes fear is a key ingredient in a perfect slice."
121 Dyckman Street
New York, NY 10034
This is the most amazing blog of all time. Also, I have a friend who got his life threatened by mafioso for mentioning Gino's in front of Ralph's Italian Ice on Graham Ave. Or maybe it was the other way around. Anyway you should definitely remain anonymous here or who knows... folks be sensitive.ReplyDelete
This blog makes me so hungry for a New York slice, which I cannot get in Chicago (or Illinois).ReplyDelete
Too bad I'm in Bavaria right now. I just put a frozen Pizza in the oven and cry a little over it. Piiiiizza!ReplyDelete
we LOVE pizza.ReplyDelete
visit our pizza blog.
post more, this is dopeReplyDelete
How about posting addresses? I'm glad you're trying out pizza joints, but where the fug are they? I might want to try them out too!ReplyDelete
Ive been eating Pizza at this place since it cost .75 cents. Everyone is actually super friendly,and the guys who work there know EVERYYYONNNEEEEE. The pizza is THE BEST my mom wont eat it from anywhere else... most people from the area refer to it as Johns or Johnnys pizza.ReplyDelete
Like the poster above I grew up eating at this place. It's a neighborhood institution and people who return to the old neighborhood will have a slice before seeing their own families!ReplyDelete
I think your description of the slice is pretty accurate. The basic slice is the pizza equivalent of comfort food.
As I recall, the nickname of the shop is Johnny's because one of the former owners used to refer to every boy who ate there as "Johnny" regardless of nationality and the name stuck.
"I like this place because I'm afraid to criticize the pizza out loud while we're sitting here. Like, I'm actually scared someone that works here will get offended and try to kick my ass. And you know what that tells me, these people take pride their pizza."ReplyDelete
they're not italians - they're greeksReplyDelete
I don't understand why you would refer to "heroes" as containing an extraneous e. That is how the word is properly spelled; extraneous means not vital.ReplyDelete
Aww! I just found the blog. I love it! You make it all very entertaining to read (which totally makes sense because...i could listen to your ramblings for days no matter how many tangents you f*cking delve into).ReplyDelete
Anyways, silly boy, i'm addicted!
The plural of hero is heroes. There is no "extraneous e".ReplyDelete
he's talking about hero sandwiches dudesReplyDelete
*THE GUYS BEHIND THE COUNTER ARE GREEK NOT ITALIAN*ReplyDelete
JOHNNY AND THEM ARE GREEK!
these guys are not italian. they are greek. i've known them my entire life. the owner's from a small island town with like 3,000 people in it.ReplyDelete
Grew up on this pretty good shit, the slice you got doesnt look as good as it can. i guess ask for it a little "crispy" it's code at hood pizza places for cook it a little more so it isnt that sloppyReplyDelete
great stuff. they've been there since 1945. that's a long time.ReplyDelete
I miss Johnny's pizza! I grew up on that sfuff and nobody makes a better pizza!!!ReplyDelete
I lived right around the corner from this place 5 summers ago when I first moved to NYC. I ate here ALL the time. Great pizza! I normally like toppings on my pizza, but this place was the exception. Their plain slices and Sicilian slices are both huge, covered in cheese, and decently priced. I agree that this is probably the best place for a single slice. I guess I got lucky when I first moved here to NYC. Now I live in Brooklyn and there is not one single decent pizza place in my neighborhood. It's all junk. Now if I want a decent slice I have to either eat while I'm out or make a special trip on the subway.ReplyDelete