Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Famous Ray's: "Not a Famous Original Ray's, nor the original Ray's, but perhaps the original Famous Ray's?"

I will head into the city one day this week and re-photograph some of these places!
In keeping with my opinion of Famous Original Ray's pizza, the original Famous Ray's totally blows chunks. This place does look pretty cool, though! There are these great checkered tiles along the counter and these pretty cool tables for standing at,  and the place is really spacious and quiet and a little unsettling in a pretty cool way. Too bad the pizza sucks!

This slice had too much cheese and was super nasty. Like it was totally disgusting. Ugh. The slice was really thick, and not crunchy at all. It wasn't soggy, but it was floppy. I kind of felt like I was eating a yoga mat. Yusuke said, "I can't taste sauce so much," and I have to agree with him, so I can't comment on how the sauce is. Mostly this slice is just a disappointing bummer, although Yusuke said, "this slice like Cheesy Bread, and I like cheesy stuff, so it's good." I have to disagree with him that there is anything redeemable about this slice, but who cares. If you like things that are shitty, maybe you will like this slice.


Famous Ray's Pizza - $2.75
465 Ave of the Americas (at 11th)
New York, NY 10014

Monday, November 29, 2010

99¢ Fresh Pizza: "Best dollar slice so far!"

This 99¢ Fresh Pizza location on Avenue of the Americas is the best dollar slice of pizza I've had so far. Hands down. Me and Yusuke both agreed that it was leagues better than Cafe Amore. And in my very informed opinion, it's the highest quality dollar slice I have eaten in the past 15 and a half months.

Even though it looks nearly identical to almost every other 99¢ Fresh slice, this one was GOOD! Objectively, not just on the Dollar Scale! Decent cheese, non-weird, even good sauce, nice and greasy, this slice had it all. Or, almost had it all, as the dough left something to be desired in a big way. But even though the dough was 'meh,' the crust was 'yeah!,' which is to say, it was excitingly good. Yusuke said this slice tasted exactly like the Sbarro in Tokyo, which is new, and is apparently the best pizza place in that city. I am not usually a proponent of Sbarro, but I will say that in a city that only has chain pizza shops, the chain that comes from New York better be the best one, although I have a personal affinity for Famous Famiglia over Sbarro. Whatever, blah blah blah yakkety yak.


Dollar Scale:

99¢ Fresh Pizza - $1.00
368 Ave of the Americas (8th & Waverly)
New York, NY 10014

Thursday, November 25, 2010


When I went into Cafe Amore I thought it was totally empty. That's because I didn't see the huge Daedalian labyrinth in the back in which me and Yusuke discovered a number of poor lost souls clutching their trays and trembling. I went up to the counter and asked them to charge me for a slice and a coke, but to put the coke into the cup I already had. The lady was like, "we don't do refills."
And so I was all, "No, I'll pay for it, I just don't want to waste another cup."
And she was like, "well aren't you a Good Samaritan?" in this total 'I'm so over it' voice.
Then this West Village Gremlin came in, rubbing his dirty paws together and hissing like Gollum, "buy me a slice, mister? Can you buy me a slice mister? I'm really hungry mister."
And I was like "And gimme a slice for this guy." And the lady behind the counter gave me such a high brow and was like, "another good deed from Mother Theresa."
And buying the Gremlin a pizza ended up being a fortuitous decision because he showed us how to escape the labyrinth! I think that's why it irritated the lady behind the counter, because they find the people stuck in the maze and then work them to death and then after they die they make pepperonis out of them. Real talk.

This slice totally sucked. It was cooked enough for the crust to be crunchy, but the cheese was awful and so was the sauce. Yusuke said, "it's like... the cheese... it's like a... it's not like cheese. The texture is different. I ate frozen pizza in Austin long time ago, this is like that. It tastes like pizza from other town, other state, but not like New York." Basically this slice was nasty. The cheese was the cheapest crap imaginable and didn't melt all the way, probably because it is made from ground up human bones or whatever. The sauce was saccharine sweet and grotesque. The crust was fine but considering the rest of the slice, who really cares if the crust was okay? To quote my man Corey Eastwood, this is nihilist food.


Cafe Amore - $2.75
319 Ave of the Americas (Carmine & W 4th)
New York, NY 10014

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Phil's Pizza: "Joe's pizza, then Phil's pizza, next will be Eliza's pizza and then Alex's pizza..."

Phil's Pizza is awesome! When we walked in, the tv was playing some totally scandalous shit on Judge Judy and there was this guy in a union jacket yapping away at the pizzaman all, "and so I says to her, 'dat's right I put the chain on the door.' Dat ain't my kid walking around smokin joints in the hallways keepin' me up at night. Let him keep YOU up at night foronceinyagoddamnlife...'" And it looked like a shithole in the best way but smelled SO GOOD.

Phil's Pizza is totally comparable to Famous Joe's in style. It is super thin crust, to the point that it can't bear it's own weight and flops around, but it is totally delicious anyway. The sauce here was slightly sweet in a way that Yusuke and me didn't really like, but it wasn't too sweet, and the slice was otherwise pretty bangin'. Great quality cheese and great dough. This slice is on the less saucy side of the perfect ratio spectrum, but still totally great! The crust was a little bit brittle, if it had been cooked a moment longer it would've been bad, but as it was it, tasted perfect. Yusuke said this place had "good atmosphere, very good atmosphere."


Phil's Pizza - $2.50
226 Varick St (Carmine & Downing)
New York, NY 10014

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Famous Joe's Pizza: "You all know this place is good already."

Yesterday I went pizza eating with famous Tokyo punk Yusuke Okada. I have known Yusuke for a few years now, and it seems like everyone else knows him too. No matter where I go or who I talk to, if I am amongst punks, someone has had the pleasure of his company, whether it was hosting him or his band in the States or hanging out with him in Japan on tour or traveling. Yusuke is a totally rad man, and I have been talking about him incessantly to my girlfriend since he got into town. What a guy!

The clerk at the store where he bought his hat told Yusuke, "this hat is for old women or confident men."

Our first stop was Famous Joe's Pizza, which is different from other pizzerias with the word "Famous" in the name because, 1. Famous Joe's is actually famous, and 2. they serve a great slice.

Sorry this photo is so weird! I shattered the screen on my future phone and can't really see what any of the pictures I take look like anymore!

This slice is totally, solidly awesome. It is on the saucier side of perfect ratios, which is still absolutely phenomenal. The cheese is DELICIOUS and fresh, the sauce is tangy and flavorful, and the dough tastes phenomenal. The slice is a little small for $2.75, though. And it is a bit floppy, but believe it or not, it is floppy without being soggy, and it has this certain fresh chewiness that I find totally appealing. The crust tastes like fresh sourdough bread from the bakery and has enough salt and is the perfect texture, even if the "floor" of the slice flopped around too much. All in all, I wish it was a bit bigger, but this is a great slice. And that shouldn't be news to anyone, Joe's has been serving great pizza forever.


Famous Joe's Pizza - $2.75
7 Carmine St (Bleeker & Ave of the Americas)
New York, NY 10014

Monday, November 22, 2010

Bleeker Street Pizza: "More like 'Blah-ker Street Poopza.'"

After the weird times at Z Pizza, I was expecting Bleeker Street Pizza to be good, because it looked like a real pizza shop! The guys behind the counter were total dicks in a way that I was super into, and they were listening to some awesomely terrible music, and some old lady thought I had a bad attitude and was mean to me, so overall it was a wonderful experience, but then I got my slice.

I am always theoretically fond of an employment situation where the workers don't give a flying fuck about me as a customer. I have worked in many such a situation and there is something very rewarding about the freedom afforded by not caring at all. However, in this instance that translated to these guys handing me a slice of totally cold pizza! It seemed like it had been refrigerated and was totally gross. A few bites in I asked them "would you mind fucking cooking my pizza a little, buddy?" and they heated it a bit. It was way better, but still not stand out great or worth the effort it took me to slog through the employee malaise and make this slice decent. Heave ho!


Bleeker Street Pizza - $2.50
69 7th Ave (Bleeker & Barrow)
New York, NY 10014


Also! I wanted to say Happy Birthday to Linda Sparhawk and give a shout out to all the ladies at Miami Children's Hospital who read Slice Harvester!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Z Pizza: "I should not have eaten here!"

Z Pizza is such a weird place! It turns out that it's also a national chain and thus falls outside of the Slice Harvester scope, but fuck it, I ate here, so I'll tell you about it. I kind of had a feeling this was some kind of weird franchise situation. And it still boggles my mind that these kind of places open up in New York City, but I guess as a town we are not nearly as tough on outsiders as we used to be.

This slice looked like toy food, was totally tiny and tasted like some kind of salted meat. Laszlo said, "the aftertaste tastes like a burp." Eric said, "the crust is the texture of fried salami." I say, "don't eat here."


Z Pizza - $2.00
298 Bleeker St (Barrow & Grove)
New York, NY 10014

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Rivoli Pizza II: "Larry is dead."

I remember the name Rivoli Pizza from my notes and I just spent the past ten minutes researching on a popular search engine for information on Rivoli Pizza I. It wasn't until I consulted my trusty companion, Il Pizza Journal that I saw that I had, in fact, attempted to visit the Original Rivoli, and it is, in fact, no longer there. Having now eaten at Rivoli Pizza II, it is no surprise that its predecessor has gone the way of the microraptor, the primary differences between the two being that Rivoli Pizza was a probably mediocre pizza shop, and the microraptor is a dinosaur that looks like it could've lived in an Ursula LeGuinn novel and has four wings.

At least, in juxtaposition with what I ate before it, this is actually pizza. However, this is mediocre pizza at best, and kind of bad pizza at worst. The dough was crumbly, like soggy sheetrock, the cheese was cheap and had what Laszlo characterizes as "the bad grease," and the sauce, Eric pointed out, "tastes like it's about to turn." You know when you dumpster pizza in the summer from those places down by Wall Street that close when it's still light out, and they've been sitting out in the sun baking in garbage bags for a few hours by the time you get there, and you take a bite and you realize the sauce is a pinch of yeast away from becoming some kind of disgusting Tomato Wine? It was like that. Sort of rancid.


Rivoli Pizza II - $2.50
125 Christopher St (Hudson & Bedford)
New York, NY 10014

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Slice, the perfect food: "A terrifying glimpse into our dystopian future."

Slice: the perfect food is one of the creepiest places I've ever been. Their logo seems to be an inverted Tri-Force. Never has a symbol of such incredible good been flipped over and used for something so evil since the Catholic Church turned the Upsidedown Cross logo on its head! This place is not just selling "pizza," (in fact, they're not selling pizza at all, but more on that soon), they are selling a lifestyle of smug superiority. This is the culinary equivalent of that piano guy on NPR who used to sing songs that sounded like the beginning of Frasier and were essentially about how working class people are stupid.

Let me just quote this text for you in case you can't read it in the photo:
Slice is a wonderful invention. It is one of the greatest inventions of all time. It is the perfect food. The perfect food is much better than the perfect painting because you can eat the perfect food, and it tastes good. The perfect painting never tastes good. The perfect painting tastes like canvas and oil, which tastes horrible. 
 The perfect food is also much healthier than the perfect painting. The perfect food is natural and organic while the perfect painting is toxic. If you eat the perfect food you will come away feeling giddy, and jubilant. If you eat the perfect painting, you will come away feeling poisoned.
Slice, the perfect food is something like a pizza. If you look at it, it appears to be a pizza. As you eat it, it sits on your tongue much as a pizza would sit. But in fact, the perfect food is vastly superior to pizza, so enjoy.
It's really like they did a focus group based on everything that I hate and invented this place just to irritate me. We ordered one plain slice, which was charmingly called "the Simpleton" on the menu, at 2:21:26, according to our receipt. 27 minutes and 52 seconds later, after a lengthy conversation about that weird propaganda they had stenciled on their wall, a game of yahtzee and a game of chess, we were handed this thing:

For now let's briefly overlook the fact that it took them almost half an hour to defrost a supermarket pizza, cut it into a triangle, and throw a sloppy handful of parsley on it. Instead let's revisit some of their rhetoric before we even begin to discuss this shitshow they are calling food. The entire tone of is so whimsical and self-satisfied I want to find whoever was responsible for writing that copy and shake him down for his bus tokens. This is some seriously sanctimonious bullshit! These people must be, in the words of my amazing friend Meredith Gaydosh, so fucking delighted with themselves. And it is sickening. I am getting so mad thinking about this shit, just do me a favor and go back and read it all over again in "come to Butthead" voice.

Now let's talk about the fact that this is "vastly superior" to pizza. Apparently, in whatever fantasyland the copy writers for Slice, the perfect food live, "vastly superior" means smaller, more expensive, and less delicious. It also means that there is no longer any crust but there is an enormous, sloppy pile of parsley. As we were eating this... thing, Eric looked contemplative and said, "I think this is what the normal characters in A Clockwork Orange eat." Laszlo looked at both of us really excited and was all, "I was just thinking that this is what the pizza is like in Logan's Run!"


Slice, the perfect food - $3.82
535 Hudson St (Perry & Charles)
New York, NY 10014

Monday, November 15, 2010

Village Pizza: "Too bad."

For a hot minute I was working as a fancy waiter at a fancy restaurant in the Meatpacking District. My friend who got me the job said it was easy money, but I have never really felt more dehumanized in my life. Like, there is this thing, I think, where the mega-rich pay the people who serve them to not be people anymore, and that's fair if it's something they are comfortable with, but I don't like it. After one particularly horrible brunch shift surrounded by entitled dickbags and their bratty children I was kvetching to a friend of mine about it and she was like, "yeah, I have done like, so much sex work, and high end waitering is definitely the most demeaning job I've ever had."

Anyway, every time I went to that shitty place, (which was honestly only like, 7 times, I quit after a week) I would walk by Village Pizza and think, "Goddamn, this place looks good! I can't wait until I get down here with Slice Harvester!" But on further investigation, I think it doesn't look good, so much as it looks old and kind of ratty, which is obviously something I am fond of.

This slice looked like a not wonderful, but hopefully alright slice. And the inside of the shop was awesome! When I was in there, the three totally butch dudes behind the counter and these two construction workers were singing along with Holiday by Madonna! It was like a scene from Querelle or the beginning of a Tom of Finland cartoon about what happens when you move to the Village. So Rad!

Anyway, the pizza was not so good. "It's maybe just a tad saucy," said Eric, upon his first bite. On his second he said, "that's very mediocre." Laszlo pointed out that the cheese was really terrible quality and added an absolutely horrendous flavor to the slice, which was totally true. The crust was REALLY good, and the sauce tasted alright, even if there was too much of it. Ultimately, if they could get their ratios down better and would spring for some decent cheese, this slice might be a total stud, but right now it's a total dud.


Village Pizza - $2.50
65 8th Ave (13th & 14th)
New York, NY 10014

Friday, November 12, 2010

Gaslight Pizzeria: "I'm a superstar in a superstar machine."

I recently made plans to eat pizza with my buddy Laszlo Toth, who is the awesomest guy. He is the former Mayor of Kansas City and one of the funniest people I know. I was really excited about that, and then I got a text message from my friend Eric Day, who is a rad old friend of mine who has left town long ago, saying he was around for a couple of days and what was I doing? So then he came and ate pizza too! Eric was a bike messenger when I was a "bike messenger" and he was willing to be friends with me anyway despite the rigid social structures of the messenger community that penalize Poserdom.

Laszlo and Eric are two of America's handsomest men.
Our first stop was Gaslight Pizzeria, which is apparently some kind of arm of the Gaslight Lounge, a horrible seeming yuppie nightclub that we almost walked into by accident. The Meatpacking District is a weird shitty place these days, and is a far cry from the weird wild zone it was when I used to go visit my uncle in that neighborhood when I was a kid. I guess I've heard about this before, but I have no cause to ever really be in the neighborhood. But it really is as bad as everyone says! Like, only Bummer Yuppies and Bridge and Tunnel Goons with Tribal Tats and Bloomin' Onion haircuts. And Gaslight fits right in!

I don't really trust a pizzeria that has "Salmon Crudo" or "Pan Seared Sesame Tuna" as the first two items on the "APPETIZERS" list. Fuck. Not to mention, this slice is $3.00 and is terrible.

This pizza sucks. Laszlo said, "just by looking at this, I know it's gonna give me heartburn." The whole slice was undercooked and the sauce tasted like it came from a jar. The cheese was okay, but couldn't save this crappy slice from sucking total shit. Eric said it tasted like Junior High School lunchroom pizza, or Stoeffer's. I think Stoeffer's is way better. This place is a fucking bummer. And $3.00? Fuck You. For $3.00 I want organic tomatoes and breastmilk cheese.


Gaslight Pizzeria - $3.00
400 W 14th St (Greenwich & Washington)
New York, NY 10014

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Johnny's Pizza and Pasta: "So forgettable, I forgot I ate here."

Not much to talk about here. Me and Dan both agreed that this is pretty much worthless as a pizzeria, although I wish more pizza shops in New York still looked like this. That is probably just unhealthy sentimentality and nostalgia. One time my dad came over to drink coffee at my apartment, which is in this ancient building from like 1865 or something. They were building this hideous condo building across the street and I was like, "God, this shit is hideous."
"No worse than those," my dad said, pointing at some of the nearly identical, vinyl-sided row houses, probably put up in the 60s or 70s, flanking the rest of the block.
"What do you mean?" I asked, "Those buildings are great."
My father pointed at my building, "This building is great. Look at the stone detailing on every floor. It's beautiful. Those buildings across the street are just more cookie cutter crap, no better or worse than the condo, they're just older."

And I'm sure my (currently non-existent) nephews and nieces or my nephews' and nieces' nephews and nieces will look at some of the yuppie shithole pizzerias that I hate the decor of and they will have seen them since they were little kids and they will have an affinity for that stuff and whatever the spaceage new shit that comes out when they are teenagers will be stupid to them or whatever, but it's actually, ultimately all the same crap.

And this pizza is also the same crap. It's actually really disappointing, to tell you plain and true. The cheese is good, it's cooked well, got decent crust and fine ratios. But the sauce! The sauce is so vile and disgusting it ruins everything else. It tasted curdled. It tasted rancid. It was horrible. We didn't finish this slice, but if the sauce had been edible it might've been good.


Johnny's Pizza and Pasta - $2.50
261 1st Ave (15th & 16th)
New York, NY 10003