Sunday, January 31, 2010

What's in this post?! What's in this post?! What's in this post?! FIL-LER!

I had to leave my apartment suddenly for a few days to attend to an emergency situation of the Majorly Shitty kind and I left my pizza journal at home, so there will be no updates until Tuesday or Wednesday. However, in the meantime, please enjoy these pizza-related film clips:

Friday, January 29, 2010

Pizzcafe: "This is some of the worst pizza I've ever had in my entire life."

Pizzcafe. Woof. This is like, really a horrible place. Like totally shitty and not worth it. Erick said, and had a point, "there's something you gotta love about a place this shitty." But then they handed me my slice and I said, "not this place, Erick."

When we got this slice it was fucking Cold. Not warm, not lukewarm, fucking cold. It was horrible. To a certain degree, I have an immense amount of respect for how much the people that work here obviously don't give a fuck about their jobs. It's admirable, for sure.

This one time when I was like, 20, I was walking down 4th Ave from Union Square enjoying an uncharacteristically warm autumnal evening when I noticed an ice cream truck parked facing southwest, on the northeast corner of 4th and 10th. For those who don't live in NY, that means the truck was facing against traffic in two directions and totally protruding into the street. I was curious, and it was warm, so I decided to get a cone. I walked up to the truck and there was nobody at the window, so I knocked. Like a scene from Half Baked, this 16 year old kid poked his head up with a blunt roach dangling out of his mouth and his eyes half closed and gave me the "1 Minute" hand sign before ducking back down. Buddy popped up an instant later and was all, "waddaya neeed?"
And I was like, "lemme get a chocolate cone with chocolate sprinkles."
So this kid goes over to the soft serve machine, picks up a cup, pours some ice cream into it, adds a little milk and mixes it up on the shake stirrer. So I'm like, "whatever, this kid is awesome, he can give me a milkshake if he wants." But then buddy totally puts a straw in the shake and starts Drinking It! And he comes up to me all, "Oh, uuuhhh... what'd you want again?"

But yeah, point is, I am a lover of anyone with a shitty job and a bad work ethic, because honestly, fuck the boss AND fuck the customers. But despite my solidarity with slackers worldwide, my dedication to Bringing You The Real Scoop on Pizza in NYC precludes any allegiances I might have otherwise and forces me to sell out some of my oafish brethren.

When I folded this slice over, the cheese totally separated from the dough, leaving that weird, sanguine layer of sauce. Erick looked at me and was like, "this slice reminds me of that Slayer song 'Dead Skin Mask'"


Frank O'Hara had this to say:

in the rancid nourishment of this mountainous island
they are coming and we holy ones must go

1107 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10075

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Don Filippo: "When you're here, you're family."

Don Filippo
looks like an Olive Garden. It looks like the Rustic Italian aisle at Target, if such a think exists. There was corny music playing, and the lady beyond the counter had a shmata on and a smock over her skirt. "It's like we're in Italy!" Erick said very sarcastically when we walked in. The atmosphere is really horrid, I guess is the point I'm trying to make. They have decent coffee, though.

This slice is orange. Orange like suburban boys who lift weights and go to clubs and make that kissy face in photos. An unnatural kind of orange. It comes from cheap cheese, I think. Luckily, despite being orange, this slice didn't taste especially orange. It was cooked really perfectly and the ratios were good, but there was just generally something not quite up to par about this slice.

Frank O'Hara had this to say:

instant coffee with slightly sour cream
in it, and a phone call to the beyond

Don Filippo - $2.45
1133 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10075

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Italian Village: "This place has the same name as the pizzeria I went to as a little kid."

Yesterday I shared a few slices with my esteemed friend Erick Lyle, who is not only my friend but also a total zine hero. I think Scam 5 1/2, The Epicenter of Crime: The Hunt's Donut Story, might be my favorite single issue of any zine ever written. If you quote me on that make sure you include the "might" because I'm not married to that statement (duh, marriage is for squares), but I do totally love that zine. It is contained in its entirety in Erick's book On The Lower Frequencies, which is a pretty great book, though since there's been so many more books than zines it's nowhere near my favorite book ever written. The God of Small Things is nowhere near my favorite book ever written either, though, and that shit rules. In fact, my favorite book is actually Mystery On The Docks if you want to contextualize.

We met up at the corner of 86th and Lex where I made a kind of weird kombucha handoff with a stranger who had contacted me through the World Kombucha Exchange, after which we trooped over to Italian Village Pizzeria and settled down for a slice. Though it bears noting that on the way we skipped a Pintaile's and a Pizza Nova because the former is nasty and I've already had their crap pizza, and the latter, it turns out, is a Canadian chain.

I forgot to take a picture of my slice at this place, so I took one of the slice pie waiting to be served. It was totally fantastic, if a little too cheesy, kind of in the vein of Tom's Delicious. Much like Tom's this place had top quality ingredients, although the slice here was a little thicker towards the heel, and a little less crunchy all around. Because the front end had a brittle crunch to it but the back end wasn't stable. This slice flapped around like a huge, floppy cock. And because of the lack of overall firmness, it was difficult to maneuver into my mouth. But once I did I was sure in for a treat!

As we were finishing up, Erick pulled out a copy of Lunch Poems by Frank O'Hara and said, "You know, I figured maybe he was in this neighborhood when he wrote some of these poems, so I was thinking we could use them to describe each slice of pizza." So what does Frank O'Hara have to say about Italian Village?

where is the summit where all aims are clear
the pinpoint light upon a fear of lust

Thanks, Frank.

Italian Village Pizzeria - $2.25
1526 1 Avenue
New York, NY 10075

Friday, January 22, 2010

Abitino Pizzeria: "Everything in this place looks synthetic."

After our experience at Gino's our bullshit detectors were pretty perfectly aligned with our chakras and there was no way we were falling for any fakers. And Abitino Pizzeria seems like a realm of false authenticity. The inside is decorated with fake brick and everything is too big and clean. The place looks really synthetic, and it's no surprise, because according to the website they're a small local chain. I'll find out as I get further downtown, but I bet all the Abitino's locations look the same.

The pizza? Not so great. The whole slice is way too orange, which tells me they are using cheap cheese. And it tastes crappy too. The sauce is totally unexceptional. The crust/dough, however, is stellar, which makes it even more of a shame that the cheese sucks and the sauce is a bore.

The pizzamen here, though, are genuine mooks and totally gregarious and loud. We couldn't find any oregano, so Phoebe very politely asked a guy walking by if he knew where we could locate some. He turned toward the kitchen and shouted, "Vinny where's the oregano? This lady wants oregano."
Vinny shouted back, "Someone five-fingered the oregano again."
"Yeah, someone five-fingered the oregano again."
Then our dude turned to Phoebe, "Sorry lady, someone five-fingered the oregano."
And Phoebe turned to me, "I don't know if you heard the news yet, Colin, but..."
I felt like I was in the 3 Stooges, it ruled.

Abitino's - $2.75
1592 1st Ave
New York, NY 10028


As the month comes to a close, I'd like to remind anyone who hasn't ever donated or hasn't donated in a while that it certainly wouldn't hurt. Top right corner of the page. And if you donate I'll send you a zine gratis. (Don't worry prior donaters, you'll all get zines in the mail, too.) While we're talking internet 2.0 stuff, don't forget to join the Slice Harvester Facebook Page which I'm honestly unsure of the purpose of, but it totally makes me feel awesome whenever it gets more "fans." Also, subscribe to the Twitter Feed to get Twitter-exclusive updates about things like where to get a good Tamale and what public restroom I'm currently using.

And speaking of the zine, it's all done and I'm just working out some kinks in printing the cover, but I'll be having a Zine Release Party on Friday February 12th from 8-10pm at Book Thug Nation, the best used bookstore in New York City. The zine will not be available before then, but after that I'll put up a paypal link as well as a list of stores where it can be purchased. It looks beautiful, thanks to the incredible Joe Porter who illustrated it magnificently. Here is a sample page:

Oh, and since I've managed to forget to do this for the past few days, thanks to Put This On for the big up the other day when they linked the photo of my grandfather. PTO is one of two blogs that I actually read, the other being Bike Snob. In fact, let this be the beginning of what will probably be many months of public entreaties to get the Bike Snob to ride around and eat pizza with me. Aside from writing one of the two blogs I actually read, he is also one of the two people I started Slice Harvester partially as an excuse to fabricate a means to hang out with. Woah, that last sentence, it's terrible. The other person is Tom Scharpling from the Best Show, but I am pretty sure he is a vegan.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Gino's: "What a fucking pleasure."

Our hearts were heavy with sadness and lard as the four of us slunk away from the horrors of Fat Sal's. We turned onto 83rd cautiously, like abused animals who had finally fled our masters, terrified that our relationship with every pizzeria would be as painful as the one we'd had previously. Little did we know, fate was bringing us to the warm, cradling embrace of Gino's.

Here's something Gino's has that isn't mandatory, but is appreciated: gobs of fucking class. And class without pomp or ritz, at that. You walk into Gino's, it looks nice, there's wine, they're playing some Old Blue Eyes, it's not a shithole. But everything isn't shiny and you're not afraid to speak above a whisper. There's this picture of my Great Uncle Joe and my Grandpa Tom that I have hanging on my wall that was taken, I wanna say in the 30's, my mother can correct me. They're standing on Astoria Blvd, dressed to the nines in 3 piece suits and top coats, and they look like fucking mobsters or movie stars to me when they're actually just a couple of poor, Irish shmucks in Queens. But they look dignified and respectable, without looking like ostentatious fancy-pantses. (And we all know the Official Slice Harvester Stance on Fancy-Pantses) The inside of Gino's looks like how my grandfather and his brother are dressed in that picture. That's what I'm trying to say. This is classic New York City.

This slice. Crisp and charred on the bottom, cheesy on top, with a delicate sauce that you don't notice is there but would certainly miss if it were gone. Phoebe, who grew up on the UES, says that Gino's has been around forever and they have had a consistently good slice for as long as she's known the place. Pizzerias like this are what make Slice Harvesting worth it. I don't think I ever would've come here otherwise, as I have no cause to ever be in this neighborhood, but I will certainly make the trip back. There is a lot of love in Gino's pizza, years of practice, and you can taste it in the slice. I'd like to come back one night dressed like a champ and have a pretend-fancy dinner here. I bet their pastas are unbelievable, and the atmosphere alone is worth the trip.


Gino's Pizza - $2.95
345 East 83rd Street
New York, NY 10028

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Fat Sal's
is a nice looking place. "Nice looking" is actually probably the least apt phrase for it, to be honest. What I mean is that I'm comfortable with it, it's kind of a shithole but not super filthy and it has enough character to satisfy me. That said, they are slinging some horrifying pizza in this joint.

The slice, it doesn't look so bad. In fact, for most of the time we were eating it, I was fairly okay with it. The cheese tasted decent, the dough was good. Phoebe thought it had the texture of a pizza that was ordered at the beginning of a children's birthday party but then consumed at the end, luke warm, when it had been sitting in the box for a few hours, and Caroline pointed out that the sauce tasted kind of like Shrimp Ramen.

All of this was fine. Not a good slice, but totally inoffensive. And then I absentmindedly dipped my finger into a small puddle of grease on my plate and it DENTED and retained a relief of my fingerprint. It kind of felt like I was pressing my finger into half congealed candelwax, like the kind on your body when you're at the dentist and she lights a candle and drips it onto your thighs. Anyway, I showed everyone else what was going on and they were appalled. One by one, Caroline, Greta and Phoebe each dipped their finger into a small puddle of grease on their plates and drew it back aghast. "This is happening inside our bodies," I said, very gravely, "we're all gonna die."
"Wait a minute," Phoebe chimed in, "it's the wax paper that slice came on!" And we all breathed a sigh of relief.
But Caroline was skeptical. "I don't know, I've had a lot of pizza on wax paper before and I've never seen anything like this in my life."
I noticed a small grease bit on my paper plate and trepidatiously reached my hand forward to touch it, hoping it was regular liquid grease. But sure enough, I mushed my finger into it and came away with a dry finger, and a dented pile on my plate. "It's not the wax paper," I reported.
I was starting to feel like I was in that movie The Stuff.

Phoebe was unsatisfied with our guessing game and decided to go get some answers. She strode confidently over to the counter while Greta and Caroline and I discussed what she could possibly be doing. She came back a few minutes later smirking to herself. "I went over to the counter and I said to the guy, 'I just really liked the slice here, do you think I could take a look at where you guys make it?' And he took me back behind the counter and there were just tubs and tubs of lard. I bet that's what it is, lard." We were all relieved we hadn't ingested a brain-eating, alien food substance, but we still weren't happy with our experience. Upon leaving Greta pointed out this sign that was an unintentional warning:

Look at the texture of the cheese on that clip art pizza, it's so foreboding, like it's trying to warn us about the horrors that await within Fat Sal's.


Fat Sal's Pizza - $2.50
1603 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10028

Monday, January 18, 2010

UES Pizza Double Feature: Pisa Pizza & Bagels / Two Boots

Pisa Pizza & Bagels - $2.50
1461 3 Avenue
New York, NY 10028

I had an immediate affinity for this place because it shares a name with the pizzeria in Chattanooga that my friend Heather works at, and I've spent many hours there eating pizza and huge salads and playing Elvira pinball. However, unlike Pisa in Chattanooga, TN, this place totally sucks and has no redeeming qualities at all.

This dough didn't seem to have any salt at all, it had way too much cornmeal. Phoebe said it tasted like "airport pizza," which I wouldn't know about because I always bring snacks to the airport, but I will take her word for it, she seems trustworthy. And what am I talking about "always" bring snacks to the airport? I have flown in a plane like, six times in my adult life, although I guess that could be considered a lot. ANYWAY! This slice was totally shitty and the cooks here decided to pair their shitty slice with an utterly miserable crust. The Worst. Ugh, I am getting mad just thinking about it.

Check out what happened to Greta's slice after she folded it, once again it is one of those instances where your slice of pizza looks like someone getting the skin on their face peeled off in a Ren and Stimpy cartoon.


Two Boots UES - $2.50 - Good Slice!
1617 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10028

A few years ago I used to eat quite a bit of free Two Boots pizza from their East Village location. Between dumpstering and knowing people that worked there, I probably ate a Two Boots slice once a week for a year. However, in all that time, I don't think I ever bothered to try their plain slice because they have all those rad, wild combos. Like, I'm pretty sure they have a slice with sausage, broccoli rabe and banana peppers. Maybe I'm thinking of somewhere else, though. Either way, I got a regular slice this time.

Like I said, I've always had a fondness for Two Boots pizza and so it was a pleasure to finally try their plain slice. And I'll say this: it wasn't a let down. All the ingredients are great quality. It was cooked perfectly, rendering it just crisp enough and just warm enough to really satisfy me. The thing is, I'm not sure what it is, maybe the ingredients are TOO GOOD, but this doesn't really taste like a New York slice to me. This tastes like when you are out of town, say in Athens, Ga, and your friends say, "Come try this pizza place, it's really good!" And you think, "Bullshit, no way can it be good." But then you get there, and the pizza is delicious, but totally different from a New York slice, though that's obviously what it's based on. Did that make sense? I will eat at the various Two Bootses for time immemorial, but if I have a friend in from outta town who wants to try a New York slice we'll skip this place.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Famous Ray Bono Pizza: "...And I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For."

You wanna know one of the recipes to make me complain? Take something I dislike already and combine it with something else that I think sucks. "Famous Ray" + "Bono" = F this whole endeavor. And it's not poor Ray's fault that his last name is the same as the first name of the smuggest fucking guy on the planet, but it is unfortunately all I could think of approaching this place. And skiing accidents.

This slice was a fucking mess. The dough was flat and dense like kosher pizza. The overly sweet sauce was more than plentiful, rendering it a total Pizza In A Cup. Phoebe said the sauce reminded her of Domino's. She also said she was hopeful that the slice was good, "because they've been around for awhile."
"Yeah," Greta chimed in, "and look at the ceiling!" And pointed up at the beautiful wood ceiling that's probably been on that building since the 1800s. Sadly the pizza is totally bunk.

Famous Ray Bono Pizza - $2.75
1215 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10028


This entry is short and sweet, and should've been here yesterday, but I've spent the last 30 hours working tirelessly on the damn issue 1 of Slice Harvester, the zine and couldn't slow my roll to update Slice Harvester, the blog. I've just gotta finish up the front cover and then we're DONE! It'll probably be out by the end of the month, but obviously, I'll keep the internet posted.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

EuroPan: "I have been deliberating about how to write this all week."

Last Friday I had the pleasure of pizza-eating with Famous American Babe (of the 80's) Phoebe Cates, and her really smart and totally charming daughter Greta. How this came about is kind of a long story, but basically, not too long ago Greta emailed me and expressed interest in coming along for some slice harvesting with her mother. It was a totally great time and they are both super awesome, but not knowing that in advance, I invited my trusted friend and colleague Caroline Paquita along, in case things got weird, which they never really did, thank the stars. I am one of the most neurotic people I know, so I was just thinking of all kinds of ways it might be totally awkward.

Anyway, I've been feeling really self-conscious about how out of touch I am with today's Young People, mostly because as a teenage punk (see Figure 1) I totally thought I would be "doing it for the kids" or what have you until my death. Those fantasies all came crashing down a year or two ago when a brash youngster wearing multiple Bad Brains garments and drinking a Steel Reserve 40oz asked me, after seeing an old band of mine play in Tompkins Square Park, whether or not I had ever heard of Black Flag, and then suggested that perhaps if I listened to their music I would stop making "such gay emo songs." Oy vey. Point being, I was looking forward to spending a day hanging out with someone in High School. And let me just say, that after hanging out with Greta, I can only hope that the bulk of kids today are as quick-witted and with it as she is, though I have my doubts that that's possible.

Figure 1: My Grandmother and me at the World Bank Protests. Seattle, 1999.

What was I saying? You'll have to forgive me for my rambling tone. After what now seems like an Eternity of Darkness and Doubt, I am once again genuflecting at the altar of that Bitterest Bean, Madame Coffee, and I fear my prose may have gotten a little bit too Stream of Consciousness as a result. Such is life. Moving on: I also am genuinely befuddled about how to discuss eating pizza with FAB(ot80's) Phoebe Cates, because on the one hand I totally want to milk this for all the kitsch factor and the general weirdness that This Is What My Life Has Turned Into. But then on the other hand, she was this really nice lady who seems to have to deal with constantly deflecting the unwarranted attention of Weird Dudes who feel even more entitlement to bother her than a Regular Civilian Woman because she's Famous. Yikes. You are here to read about pizza, I know, but if you've been following this blog for more than a week, you know that you'll have to let me rant about the Patriarchy a little every now and again because in our Sick Fucking Society that is a real problem for a large swath of the population. In short, I am simply dealing with my befuddlement by discussing it's basis and hopefully that is good enough. (And Phoebes, dahling, if anything I've said is not to your liking, have your people call my people and we can talk it out over a slice.) But enough of this nonsense! On to the pizza.

We all met up on the corner of 86th and Lex, right outside EuroPan Pizza, which you may recall my dear friend Nate and I decided to forgo a few days earlier because it didn't look too great. Greta and Phoebe, however, are much braver than me and Nate, and they persuaded me and Caroline to go in anyway.

First impressions were still the same, this looked like a mediocre yuppie shithole. However, I noticed this time, and realized that last time as well, the place was PACKED. There was nowhere to sit. Phoebe, Greta, Caroline and I had to stand around awkwardly and eat our slices at the ordering counter because there just wasn't any room. All the tables were taken up by folks who seems to be genuinely enjoying their food. As soon as we walked in, Phoebe started talking to the lady working the cash register, because she recognized her from working at another pizzeria in the neighborhood as well, and I thought, "here is a woman who cares about pizza!" She ordered us some slices and we hunkered down as best we could to dig in.

This slice crackled really nicely when I folded it. The dough has a nice crunch on the bottom while still being pretty fluffy on top. The cheese tasted good if not AMAZING, and the sauce wasn't super spiced and in your face. The ratios were fantastic as well, and it was cooked perfectly. This is a total sleeper slice. The place facade and atmosphere in the place tell me STAY AWAY, but the slice is beckoning me to return. I would totally eat a slice here again, this shit was pretty good.

EuroPan Pizza Cafe - $2.75
1276 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10028