New York, NY 10032
After the last couple of places, I was not expecting much when I saw this awning and storefront.
It looks like "pizzeria restaurant" was kind of an afterthought. Tommy was opening up his dream business one day in 1982, Tommy's Grill, because then Deborah 'Deedee' Mandolfino, who he'd had a crush on since the 7th Grade dance at Maria Teresa Middle School, would ditch that rat bastard Johnny Madden. Just because Johnny owns a bar she thinks he's respectable, but Johnny cheats behind Deedee's back and it breaks Tommy's heart every time he sees it happen. So Tommy's like, "Yeah, all right, I'll start a business, she'll see that I'm not just some shmuck. And a bar's no place for kids, so when she see's I got a Grill, a real place for everyone, we can start a family!"
And things are moving along pretty well, the business opens, it's slow, but that's to be expected for the first year, right? Everyone's supportive, but it just never picks up. And so Tommy is despondent. He's like, "I make the best damn burgers in the Heights! Where's all my customers at?" His friend Joey, a tall, mumbly motherfucker who seems like a goober but is actually quite smart, sees Tommy whining and he's like, "Listen, Tommy, just add pizza. People want pizza, they'll come for the pizza, they'll stay for the other stuff. Trust me. And I'll make you some fresh squeezed lemonaide. It's the best."
And Tommy listened. Eventually, he was the proprietor of a thriving local business. But he was never happy, because he never won Deedee's love. See, when Johnny caught wind of Tommy's plan, he used some of his immense amounts of money to build a kitchen on to his bar, creating the first ever Bar & Grill. He got out of all that soon and became a cop, though. They made a biopic about him called Bad Lieutenant. (Which, by the way, I can't believe these assholes in Hollywood have the gumption to remake with Nicholas Cage.) Tommy ended up killing himself, sadly, but this nice kid from the neighborhood Marky, who wasn't the brightest bulb but seemed to have an aptitude for it, took over running things. Marky went to jail in 1983 on false charges and his cousin Richie ran Tommy's until DNA evidence cleared Marky's name in 1987. When asked what people thought of the success of Tommy's Grill, Marky was quoted as saying, "Joey loved it, but Johnny was real mad."
But yeah, Tommy's Grill (and pizzeria). Me and Eric both walked in and were like, "this doesn't even look like a pizza place." But the lone plain pie in sight looked decent, so we ordered up some slices and sat down to try it out.
This picture doesn't really do justice to how decent this slice looked. The bright orange walls in the place and the crappy camera on my phone were working in collusion to sabotage Tommy's, they were probably paid off by Johnny Madden, is my suspicion. Here's what Eric said, which I thought was pretty right on, "it's not really a great slice, but compared to the last couple of places it's amazing." Overall, the slice was a little on the sweet side for me, and the cheese tasted a little burnt, but otherwise it was pretty spot on. Nice, thin but not too thin crust, perfect ratios of cheese:sauce:bread. Eric added salt to the last half of his slice and said that it made it much better.
But apparently, you shouldn't come to Tommy's for the pizza, you should come for the Fresh Squeezed Lemonaide, which is allegedly the best on Earth.
You can check out my sister's blog Juice Harvester, if you want to see the run down, but she drank a glass of lemonaide everywhere in the world that it gets made, which includes inside this volcanic crater in Borneo, and she determined that Tommy's Grill and Pizzeria in Washington Heights actually is the best.
I Love NY Pizza - $2.25
900 Saint Nicholas Ave
New York, NY 10032
As we were walking here, I kept thinking to myself, "I know I love New York pizza, but will I love I Love New York Pizza?" When I got here, I was pretty confident, because the place looked incredible.
"Please be good please be good please be good!!" was running through my head like a mantra as I crossed the street. Eric and I walked in and ordered our slices and the first thing we noted was how shiny they were!
Grease! Of course! The key factor missing from all of the prior slices. What are the four elements of pizza? Bread, Sauce, Cheese and Grease. And the last handful of pizzerias had three-part slices, they were veritably greaseless.
So, this slice: the dough/crust was slightly on the undercooked side, but it was PERFECT otherwise. If you took the crust from Tommy's and added everything else from this place to it, it would be the ultimate best slice of pizza in the universe. Seriously, so good. The cheese was a perfect consistency where it had some give, and was stringy and sometimes soft, but not runny, there was a perfect amount of sauce, and the sauce was excellent, and everything was coated in a nice sheen of delicious grease.
You wanna know what's so awesome about putting spices on your slices, by the way? When you get a nice greasy slice like this, you can turn it over and drip it onto your plate after you've folded it, allowing a small puddle of grease and pepper and oregano to leak out. Then, when you get to the crust, tear it open, so the warm bread inside is exposed, and DIP THAT SHIT! Seriously, just shmear grease all over the crust's doughy interior. Do it from now on if you don't already.
Anyway, this place was fucking phenomenal, and the first of all the pizzerias I've been to thus far that had a bulletproof window around the counter, which reminds me again of what Sweet Tooth said back at Palace Pizza, "sometimes fear is a key ingredient in the perfect slice."