Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Pizza 33 is not worth your time. The place is kind of yuppie looking inside, really sterile and Pier 1 furnished. The employees were really nice, though! Like, it looked like the kind of place where two dudes might get a sideways glance for trying to share one slice. Not the same kind of sideways glance you get from some of the mook pizzamen who are like, "you want me to cut that in half, then?" and I say, "no thanks," pretty nonchalantly, and then they're all "ooooooookay," and give me the high brow. There is like, really important Man Behavior that men are supposed to regulate in each other and that is their attempt at them trying to shame me because how could two dudes possibly share a slice of pizza together? But I will not be swayed!
Bah! Anyway, the way I expected to be made uncomfortable here was more of a snobby, looking down the nose, "these riff raff can't even afford their own pizza?" thing. But no, The dudes behind the counter were super nice! There was also this real bummer yuppie who looked like Kevin Spacey, wearing like, a pink polo shirt and some khaki shorts and a little sweater tied around his shoulders, just BERATING this woman he was with who looked like his mother. There is something a little wild about when people are willing to be totally aggro in public. This guy kept saying stuff like, "well if it looks like a duck and it quacks like a duck, I'm gonna call it a duck!" and "we got bigger fish to fry!" in this really angry voice. It was totally shitty. If you are that guy, and you are reading this, you are a dickhead.
This pizza was REALLY orange and it tasted really orange. The first bites were too thin, didn't really have any sauce, and the cheese was cheapish, not horrible, but not good. Towards the middle the ratios got decent, like the crust thickened up a bit and there started being enough sauce, which was totally middle of the road. But then at the end it got thin again, and the crust was the texture of matzoh. Ultimately this slice just isn't worth it.
Pizza 33 - $2.75
489 3rd Ave (@ 33rd)
New York, NY 10016
Monday, August 30, 2010
The other lad, who did make it out for a pizza excursion, is my friend Clancy, from Lawn Guyland, a huge shitty island off the coast of Queens. But he lives in Athens, GA now and plays drums in the awesome band Witches who I went on tour with in May or whenever that was. Me and Clancy never really knew each other when he was living in New York, but at either the first or the third Do Ya Hear We in Chattanooga, we spent one entire day making furtive eye contact on Heather's porch while we kept overhearing each other talk about Rancid or Murphy's Law, and then we spent the next however many days hanging out and becoming best friends. Clancy is amongst the solidest of dudes and anyone who says otherwise can take it up with my knowledge of Karate.
I originally went to Bella Napoli with the Chattanoogans, where I had a totally weird experience and hated being in the place, although the pizza was really good. I will be the first to admit that maybe I was just in a funny mood, and the universe seemed to think I should give Bella Napoli another shot because I somehow forgot to photograph both the restaurant and the slice! There was no documentation! I had to go back!
So I returned with Clancy. The first time around, the place had this really weird fancy restaurant vibe and I felt uncomfortable in there. Maybe that's partially because I was there with like, 7 people total and we only ordered one slice of pizza. New rule: I am no longer being accommodating to my friends who want to bring along an entourage. 4 people, including me, is the maximum on any pizza expedition from here on out. I get too distracted and stressed out if there's more and the reviews suffer! I have noticed that almost every time I've forgotten to photograph a place or a slice, I've been with some unwieldily large gang of buffoons. Nevermore!
Oy! Anyway, when me and Clancy came back here, the experience was totally different. The demeanor of the employees was totally sweet and Clancy ended up ordering his own slice last minute because mine looked so good and we were both so hungry.
This slice was superb. Like, really really good. Clancy said, "I wanna bring this slice to my friend who thinks that California pizza is the best in the world and show him how wrong he is." The first bite of this slice was amazing. I mostly tasted delicious dough and high quality cheese, and then like some kind of delayed reaction the sauce kicked in and kicked my ass. The sauce tasted fresh and delicious, and the slice was cooked so that it mingled with the cheese in a really great way. The crust was phenomenal and was obviously made by a Master Crustographer. The cheese had a strong flavor and aroma and was generally just super fucking good. Bella Napoli is far superior to it's cousin Ciao! Bella Napoli on 7th Ave, but I will definitely try that place again if I am in that hood because this slice was so good.
The slice that I ate at this pizzeria was definitely like, a 7 or 7.5, but because of my undeniably weird first experience, and because Clancy's slice was too cheesy, I'm giving the place a 6.5, which is still a high rating that I rarely bestow on any pizzeria.
130 Madison Ave (30th & 31st)
New York, NY 10016
Thursday, August 26, 2010
I have been kind of blue the past couple of days, and it has been a big bummer, but just now taking a shower, I listened to the whole John Candy's demo for the first time in ages and remembered why I love being alive. This band existed in Autumn 2006, and was mostly the result of Good Kid Paulie, who I just got done writing about eating pizza with, living in the big room on the first floor at the Fort (RIP) with the entire Mexican punk band Polka Madre.
The band featured Paulie playing guitar, Marina and Raymundo from PM playing accordion and drums, respectively, Carolina (from Bad Blood) playing bass for the first time ever, and the famous Joe Porter, who any Slice Harvester Quarterly readers know as SHQ's premier illustrator, singing. The songs are really good. There's an urgency that comes from a bedroom punk band, but the musicians had enough collective experience to put a decent song together. For me the real icing on the cake is Joe Porter's vocals. The way the melodies he writes interact with the guitar and accordion is phenomenal, and the lyrics make me feel heartsick and wistful.
I recorded this on a 4-track in Paulie and Polka Madre's bedroom on a rainy November day. It also marks the day I learned that Chuck had moved here to stay from Chattanooga and vowed to make him my best friend. I'll tell you that story when he finally comes to eat pizza with me. The point is, any problems you have with the sound, take them up with me, take them up with the 3 or 4 Ballantine 40s I drank that day, take them up with anyone but the band. They were just trying to get their shit on tape before Marina and Raymundo had to leave for tour.
Joe is in a new band right now called Marvin Berry & the New Sound. They have a 7" out, but I don't know how you're supposed to get one without Joe Porter just handing it to you outside BBC's 31st birthday party.
Anyway, here is a link to download that John Candy's tape: http://www.mediafire.com/?9ywavil985fdrfh
If anyone in the band has problems with me posting that, tough cookies, I recorded it.
Bambino's Pizza and Restaurant is as lifeless and boring as it looks, and there is really no reason to ever go there. Right across the street is a pretty cool Indian Grocery, that is slightly overpriced (Manhattan priced?) but has totally rad stuff like tons of fresh medicinal herbs in bulk bins and ginger candy. Not worth going out of your way for, but if you are ever in the Gramercy area and need some Lemon Balm or Passion Flower ASAP, this is the place to go. This whole strip is actually swarmed with pretty great smelling Indian restaurants. I don't know if this has always been an Indian food district, but 10 years ago when I still had friends that could afford to live in this neighborhood, or 8 years ago when I was messengering, I don't really remember any of these places existing. Although I may have just been such a broke ass at that point that the only places that even registered on my radar were dumpster spots. Anyone care to enlighten me?
The pizza he was overdone. It's texture was horrible. The flavors were alright, I guess, but it was just so boring. And the place was boring too. Like, totally super dullsville, pal. Maybe I am crazy, but it seems to me like there is no reason to come here when there are at least a dozen Indian restaurants within a block, one of which has to be good. Like, if you want pizza go somewhere else.
Bambino's Pizza & Restaurant - $2.50
126 Lexington Ave (28th & 29th)
New York, NY 10016
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Before we really get in to what exactly is going on over here at Empire Pizza, can we pause for a moment to do like Paulie in the above photo and check out their stunning logo:
I really like everything that's going on there. It is always pleasant when a food store takes a picture of the food they sell and puts a crown on it for their logo. Although I have to admit, I wish the logo looked a little more evil. I am pretty much the worst artist ever, but I am imagining something a little more like this:
There could be some kind of Robin Hood pizza good guy or something. Or maybe it's like a play on those Pizza Hut commercials from the early 90s where the pizza slice puppet was always partying and then the pizza slicer puppet would show up and fuck him up. Except this time, the pizza slicer is Robin Hood and he keeps trying to capture the evil Pizza Emperor and cut him up and redistribute him to the hungry villagers. Speaking of Pizza Hut commercials of yesteryear starring weird puppets, remember this one where Rush Limbaugh talks about stuffed crust pizza?
If there really is an evil Pizza Emperor, maybe they should just make this the logo:
They could get Rage Against The Machine back together to write a jingle. But anyway, the pizza!
This slice was sloppy in a way that I really appreciate, although it wasn't exactly all that good. The first bite was AMAZING, but somewhere around the middle the slice got to have too much cheese and became super soggy and NASTY, at which point I angrily scrawled, "this would be better if it was a cone" in my notes. Towards the end it got better again, though it was never as good as the first bite. Overall, this slice was TOO fluffy and too cheesy, but the sauce was good.
314 5th Ave (31st & 32nd)
New York, NY 10016
Friday, August 20, 2010
2200 Westlake Ave in Seattle, Washington
Pizza Today is a trade magazine that focuses on the financial end of the pizza business, never actually writing about the taste of anything. They’re about cutting costs, building a pizzeria’s brand, and addressing issues like whether or not managers should hire people with facial piercing and neck tattoos.
Pizza Today named Tutta Bella as 2010’s Independent Pizzeria of the Year. There are four locations in the Seattle area, and collectively they will top $10 million in sales this year. Tutta Bella is approved by the VPN (“Verace Pizza Napoletana, a group that certifies Neapolitan pizzerias throughout the world and verifies the authenticity of their products” says Pizza Today.) Tutta Bella also serves high end coffee drinks, specially imported wine and beer, and fancy desserts.
Anyway, their pizza totally sucks. Tutta Bella doesn’t serve slices. The equivalent of a cheese slice is a personal pizza “Margherita,” which is a small pie that’s mostly sauce with three or four mozzarella globs and a couple basil leaves floating around in it. The sauce tasted like Cambell’s soup, but sweeter. It would maybe be good if you dipped your grilled cheese sandwich in it. The cheese slumped around, actually really didn’t taste much like anything and when slurped up, slides down your throat like a raw oyster. The crust was the best part and it was still bland as hell. Buying this pizza for dinner is $11! What a rip off!
Tutta Bella is like eating pizza at Starbucks. (Which make sense because owner, Joe Fugere, was an executive at Starbucks before he quit to open Tutta Bella in 2004) It’s made to look like high end bohemia, but comes off culturally void and boring. The location we ate at sits atop a Whole Foods (they totally have better pizza) in the “up and coming” neighborhood of South Lake Union. The building is ugly and new, and had these big white statues in front of it that everybody I was with hugged affectionately. We could see the space needle from our table, which is kind of neat, because I love the space needle, and our server was great. But don’t go. Nobody should eat here.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
We ordered a 'Small, Margherita Pizzacone' (to split 5 ways) and immediately began to feel nervous. The proprietress of the establishment opened up a crazy looking deep freeze unit that emitted that wild "cold steam" or whatever like they had coming off the dry ice beakers in the horror movie tv show that was on channel 9 when I was a kid. She removed a premade, frozen "bread cone" from within the depths of this sci-fi meatlocker and placed in on some kind of stand in a convection/microwave "quick cooker." There was already way too much technology involved in this food and it had barely even been prepared.
While it was cooking, we watched in horror as an informational video about pizzacones played on two televisions, just a few seconds apart. It made everything look so disgusting.