My last slice harvesting expedition, I set out on an overwhelmingly hot Saturday afternoon with my friends Eliza and BBC. Eliza is a total champion of a human. She draws these incredible fliers, is like, a wildly amazing cook, and years ago she made these homemade choco tacos that I probably still talk about like, four times a year because they were so awesome. Eliza is a really wonderful and caring person and I am super thrilled that she is a part of my life. And she also just walked into the bar, where I am sitting in the AC, drinking a seltzer, writing this review, and told me that she just biked to Maspeth and back just to get one of her favorite slices, so you know she's DEDICATED to the cause.
BBC, who's name stands for Big Brother Chris and not British Broadcasting System, is a mysterious and handsome gentleman. For years, I would see him around at shows and think, "who is that tall, dashing, greasy-haired man?" Then I saw him singing for his old band Tender Wizards and thought "woah, so this beautiful, beatific greaseball is also an incredible performer and songsmith?" And then I found out he is also a scientist working on a particle collider and I realized that he is not only ruggedly handsome and talented but also a genius.
Well, they met me at my house and we embarked on what should have been a very short trip up to 34th Street but ended up being a veritable Odyssey of Transit Tribulations. But unlike Odysseus, who's travails were the fault of bad luck and the whims of fickle, petty deities, our obstacles were purely the result of our own incompetence at navigating a transit system we have all been familiar with, all of us for At Least well over a decade, if not our whole lives. It might be easy to point fingers at the MTA, to say that we were unwitting victims of service cuts which were the results of a blundering, inept and unwieldy bureaucracy, but that would be too easy, and too false. For we all know, the Metropolitan Transit Authority is in charge of the most incredible system of buses and trains known to mankind past, present or future, and they are free of blemishes on their record of public service. It's the ungrateful public to blame for not properly respecting their intricate system of information dispersal in the form of posters with difficult sentence structure placed on obscure parts of the train platform, a system that has worked wonderfully thus far, so WHY CHANGE IT?
But we did finally arrive, after about two hours of standing on platforms waiting for trains that never came and riding ones that didn't quite go where we expected them to. When we finally stepped out of the underground into the blazing afternoon sun at Herald Square, we all felt a little bit of comfort knowing that we were at least not alone in our mistake, that we had f'ed up, if you will, together.
As we approached 8th Ave, and our first destination, NY Pizza Suprema, the first thing we noticed was the huge banner above the awning of that says, among other things, "Awarded One of the 10 BEST PIZZAS IN N.Y.C." and it immediately made me want to hate the place. I am certainly distrustful of such brazen boastfulness, and the last time I went to a place that made any claims towards pizza supremacy was Presidential Pizza, which was obviously a "your textbook is full of lies" situation. Point being, I was immediately skeptical.
And when the pizzaman handed me my slice right off the tray with little fanfare, I figured I had assessed correctly. What kind of Top 10 BEST PIZZAS IN NYC just comes right off the tray and doesn't get thrown back in the oven for a sec to put a little heat on? But this slice just didn't need it. Even straight out of the oven, the slice at Suprema had that crisp crunch one expects from a good slice. The ratios on this slice were superb, there was ample grease, and the whole thing was moist without being sloppy. The sauce, which BBC thought might be the best part (though none of us could consense on a BEST part of this delectable slice), was integrated very nicely with the cheese, (which was absolutely delish), so that they were slightly discernible from one and other in flavor, but still totally enmeshed, creating a wonderful texture atop the crispness of the crust. And the crust's flavor, it was unstoppable!
The slice was so good, that we decided to get a second, which is a first in Slice Harvester History. For our second slice, since we had already rated a regular, we decided to venture out from plain territory, although stay close to traditional pizza fare and we got a pepperoni slice which was also phenomenal, though not quite as mindblowing as the plain.
It's no wonder that the slice is so good, looking at the website, where they have a short essay about Suprema's history that is charming, rather than cloying and insipid, that doesn't seem to try too hard, rather than grasping desperately at any notion of false pizza authenticity they can garner. Opened in 1964 by Salvatore Riggio, according to the website, "from 1964 and all the way up to 1988, Sal only served plain cheese slices." Because, according to Sal, you gotta "do one thing and do it better than anyone else." The place is now run by Sal's son, who has apparently been making pizza since he was ten years old. And he is obviously upholding his father's legacy, despite having bowed to the public's desire for toppings, because this place is still incredible.
I hope it doesn't sound like I'm buying into some kind of hype, here. The truth is, like I said, I was so skeptical of this place to start, and I didn't know any of this history when I walked in the door with my two friends. But the place really just won me over so well that the charming history just accents my initially positive experience. Either way, this slice is GREAT and if you are a connoisseur of simple street pizza, it is worth going out of your way to try it out.
7.30 Update: I ran into Eliza at BBC's birthday party last night and we both talked about how good this slice was, and about how badly we wanted to go back there. And I decided to bump it up to an 8 from a 7.5, which makes it the first slice to get a perfect 8 review, since I instituted the 8-Slice Rating System.
NY Pizza Suprema - $2.50
413 8th Ave (30th & 31st)
New York, NY 10001