Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Pizza 33: "The beginning sucked, the middle was okay, the end kind of sucked."

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

Bella Napoli: "Wow, okay!"

Last week two of my favorite men came to visit New York at the same time. One of them hails from some little shit island off the coast of Portland or something, lived in New York for ages and was one of my best friends until he moved to Pittsburgh to be unemployed and broke my heart. Sadly, he didn't make it out for pizza with me. Perhaps he is still in town and we can go tomorrow?

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.


Bella Napoli - $2.25
130 Madison Ave (30th & 31st)
New York, NY 10016

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Not about pizza, but about the band The John Candy's.

Here is a really bad picture of the cover of the John Candy's tape.

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 & Restaurant: "wut?"

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

Empire Pizza: "COME WITH IT NOW!"

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.


Empire Pizza - $2.50
314 5th Ave (31st & 32nd)
New York, NY 10016

Friday, August 20, 2010

Tutta Bella

What you are about to read is the first ever Slice Harvester review by anyone other than myself! This is a momentous day. It's a little over a year since I started this project and I already have my first national correspondent. He is a dear friend of mine, an excellent writer, and a pizzaman at the only good slice joint in the entire Northwest, so his credentials are spotless. And besides, he's qualified because I say he's qualified, I'm piloting this ship, goddammit and I'll make the decisions around here.
-The Slice Harvester


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

K! Pizzacone: "Shame the original pizza in a cup guy went out of business."

Now I know, what you're thinking, "I thought this was Slice Harvester, not Cone Harvester. Where does he get off?" Because that's pretty much what Paulie said to me when I told him and the gang we were going to head into K! Pizzacone. In fact, everybody thought it was a bad idea except Peter, who understood my morbid curiosity about such a fascinating culinary anomaly; and who I realized right then that I knew from the week that I spent sleeping on a hammock in the woods next to Megan's house two or three years ago, because he was living in a tent in those same woods and we had drank some beers together. And not a bullshit tent, mind you, like a really sturdy canvas tent that was pitched atop a wooden platform and looked like something from a WWII movie and was probably the size of my apartment in Brooklyn. Anyway, since I am really the only person involved with S.H. who has any actual decision-making power, (besides Nate Stark, I guess), consensus was a non-issue and we ventured in.

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.

When the thing was done, she filled it with cheese and sauce that she scooped out of little trays like they have in Subway, and then sprayed a bottle of what turned out to be some kind of "butter spread"-type substance into the recesses of the cone. Then she placed it in the oven one more time.

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.

When they handed me my pizzacone, I was a little disappointed it wasn't less grand, but then again, I did just order the margherita. I took my first bite and chewed contemplatively, eying the expressions on my comrade's faces as they were presented with the pizzacone and weighed whether or not they would take a bite. It tasted like "butter," which is to say, it tasted like fake butter, there was absolutely no sauce in my bite, and the cheese was incredibly weird and synthetic. In short, I loved it. As everyone passed the pizza pon the left hand side (bom biddilee bom biddilee bom bom bom biddilee bom biddilee), the comments started to roll in:
"Too much cheese."
"I wish there was more sauce."
"This tastes like butter."
"This is amazing."
"Tastes like I'm eating a bowl of pizza hut."
As the cone made it's second trip around the cipher, everyone seemed to grow tired. The whole thing was almost done, and I was the only one that was still excited about this weird thing, although my enthusiasm quickly waned when I began chewing my third bite. This thing was probably the most disgusting food object I have ever eaten. When I was unable to pawn the cone off on anyone else, I simply threw the remnants into the garbage. As we were leaving, Peter said, very succinctly, "Well, I definitely feel grosser than before I ate that."

While the rating system is usually on a scale of 8, that didn't seem like enough for this horror show, so K! Pizzacone gets 0 out of 20 slices.

K! Pizzacone - $3.60
325 5th Avenue (32nd & 33rd)
New York, NY 10016