Saturday, September 12, 2009

King's Pizza of Harlem: "So close, and yet so far."

This week's pizza mission was especially exciting to me, because it involved my triumphant reunion with the inimitable Josh Ferguson, who I hadn't seen since last July when he went West out of Montreal and me and Good Kid Paulie went South. I knew Josh was a stand up guy a couple years ago when I first met him. The cops showed up to a house he was living at to arrest my bandmate, and everyone in the house bolted up the doors and hid under their beds. Fair enough. If I lived in a house that already had a tenuous relationship with local law enforcement, I wouldn't be too happy that some jerkoffs from Brooklyn had just attracted the pigs to the crib AGAIN, and I certainly wouldn't go out of my way to help those jerks out. But that's because I'm not Josh. That guy sat outside with me on the porch while we waited for homeboy to talk his way out of trouble, (which my bandmate did with a grace and charm that is unparalleled). Suffice to say, when the occasion to travel with Josh arose last summer, I jumped at it and it's a decision I don't regret. Since then, we've managed to just barely miss each other all over the country over and over again, so I sure as shit was super excited to be seeing that bastard after not having run into him for a little over a year.

My pal Meredith, front person of the most excellent Passive Aggressor, bartender at Second Chance Saloon, and one of my best friends, was my planned pizza partner for the day, and suggested, when she found out that Josh was in town, that we invite him along with us. Which was an excellent idea, because Josh was on his way back from working some weird kitchen job at a resort in Maine (q: was it like Dirty Dancing?! a: yeah, sorta, I guess...) with his friend Thunderbolt, who also worked the job, and the two of them had some fantastic insights and excellent appetites having been deprived of pizza for a few months.

After a track fire held us up in the subway, (which was obviously the work of hooligans, and which I assured our out of town pals was definitely no reflection on Our City's Fine Public Transit System, a curse on you if you besmirch it's name), we arrived in Harlem and practically stumbled out of the subway entrance to the first pizza place, King's Pizza of Harlem.

And this place, oh boy! We got there right after school let out, which would've been hell for me if I was in a bad mood, but I was reunited with an old pal, hanging with a best friend, making a new friend and eating pizza, so nothing could steal my sunshine, if you will. Instead, the packs of kids in uniforms shouting and horsing around just endeared the pizzeria to me. Plus, as soon as I walked in the guy behind the counter was like, "Get a good picture?" in a that ambiguous way that older New York guys talk that makes it impossible to distinguish whether it is friendly or threatening.

I ordered my slice, forked over my $2.25, and nearly plotzed. I don't know what the literary equivalent is of leaning over and telling you something mundane under my breath in a way that makes it seem like I'm letting you in on some big secret, but this fuckin slice seemed PERFECT.

Seriously, so good looking. Generally on pizza missions we share slices, in order to maximize the number of pizzerias we can hit in one day, but truth be told, I wanted this slice all to myself, so I told everyone, "listen, if we're all gonna get our own slice anywhere, this just might be the place." Josh got up and ordered slices for himself and Thunderbolt, but Meredith didn't buy it. "I'll see what you say when you take your first bite." So I dug in. And before I could even weigh in with my assessment, she was like, "Oh! The Crunch! I heard it!" and ran over to the counter to order her own.

The bummer thing is that the slice wasn't all as good as the crust, which was perfect, by the way. It took a little while to figure out what was wrong, because the slice was like, 75% totally right on, in general. The sauce was a little too sweet for my tastes, though no one else complained about that, but there was a funny aftertaste that no one could put their hands on for a while until I was like, "it tastes like really cheap cheese," and everyone concurred. If King's is skimping on the cheese, I can understand, these are tough economic times, and all, and the slice is still totally decent and above average overall. But if this cheese wasn't so crummy, King's would have a perfect slice.

King's Pizza of Harlem - $2.25
110 W 145th St
New York, NY 10039


  1. i just totally pictured Meredith saying "the crunch! i heard it!" and running. totally bug eyed and yelling. you know you owe me royalties one day, right?
    retsevraH gerG