Monday, January 31, 2011

Stromboli: "This place has bummed me out for like 15 years now."

Stromboli Pizza has been disappointing me for like, a dozen years now, although since they remodeled it's easier to discern that the place has no credibility. It used to look like this really legit greasy corner spot:

But since the renovations it looks like the below-average establishment that it is. It doesn't look like a pizzeria anymore inside either. Inside it looks like one of those yuppie-rustic restaurants that look like an airplane hangar. There was a giant flatscreen playing a Spanish overdub of The Tuxedo, though, so that was cool.

This slice is deceptive because it looks okay! And the sauce and cheese are totally fine but the dough is just SO BAD it brings the whole thing down into the shit. The ratios are even good! If they would just get their crust game a little tighter this place would be an A+. Firstly, the dough is sweet. That's no good. Pizza dough should be slightly salty and yeasty, but never sweet. Sweet dough is for dessert. Secondly it is a terrible consistency. I'm thinking this is because they don't let it rise adequately, because the dough is really brittle and has the texture of corrugated cardboard.

Thirdly, this is a total screen crust, as it is imprinted with that mark of the most unprofessional pizza makers. And Stromboli has been on that corner for ages, so they have no excuse for not having learned how to make a decent slice yet. Finally, the crust is tacked on and there was this weird uncooked strip between the slice and the crust that looked like a 90s pornstar tan line. Ultimately, this place is a huge YUCK.

Hopefully Cory will post a comment about the time he freaked out on mushrooms in the bathroom when he was a teenager, because if I remember, that was a funny story.


Stromboli Pizza - $2.75
83 St. Marks Place (at 1st)
New York, NY 10003

Thursday, January 27, 2011

East Village Pizza: "Maybe if you are a whiny yuppie with stupid facial hair this is the pizza place for you."

East Village Pizza had these three really pushy yuppies sitting inside when we went in. Two sort of conventionally attractive women and a dude wearing a nazi overcoat with Mitch Miller facial hair, who possessed a sense of entitlement to behave aggressively to the staff in the way that only people who have never worked a service job in their lives are capable of. It was a total bummer and I really wanted to side with the pizza guy and write them a great review because of the shit they must have to deal with from all the Rudes and Cheaps in this neighborhood, but then they gave us our pizza and it was just kind of shitty so I guess I don't get to do that.

This pizza was kind of a bummer. It was way overcooked, so the cheese was burnt and the bottom was brittle-crunchy, but there was still a whole layer of totally uncooked dough that left the whole thing feeling like a mealy apple in my mouth. Kevin said it reminded him of Papa John's, which reminded me of the only time I even ate Papa John's. I had just helped Kevin move into a house he used to live in, and to celebrate me and him and our friend Dustin drank an entire bottle of Jameson we found while we were moving. By 6pm or so, we were all pretty much blacked out, kicking a soccerball around on the street in Bed Stuy when Kevin remembered that the moving truck he rented came with a Papa John's giftcard. We ordered the pizza entirely over the internet and never spoke to a real human through the entire process. I remember doing a lot of really drunk pontificating about man's estrangement from man and how that is embodied by our ability to drunkenly order a pizza on the computer. I don't really remember much after that but I do remember coming to next to Dustin and Kevin, all of us fully dressed, covered in "butter sauce" and feeling an acute sense of shame.


East Village Pizza - $2.50
145 1st Ave (at 9th)
New York, NY 10003

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

2 Bros. Pizza: "New best dollar slice!"

I have discussed this 2 Bros. at length with my friend, sometimes adversary, and long-overdue future pizza companion Andy Folk, in our ongoing debate about pizza and specifically regarding the 2 Bros. v. 99¢ Fresh feud. He always mentions this 2 Bros and I always say, "I dunno, Andy, I've never eaten at that one, but every other one sucks." I think I have to concede defeat, because this is the best dollar slice I've ever had, though it's far from Objectively Good Pizza.

Kevin Mahon of Famous Local Rock Band THE FORGOTTEN, who is my roommate and has already been a Pizza Companion, and Steve Powerballs of Infamous Local Rock Bands TURBOSLUDGE and SOMEONE AND THE EVERYONES, had joined me on this fine afternoon of moderate pizza consumption. "This feels like a fucking dish sponge," said Kevin as he lifted the slice to his drooling maw. "Yeah, but it smells pretty good," said Steve, who is vegan and thus was only smelling and not tasting. As it happens, Steve's nose is a more trustworthy judge of a slice's character than Kevin's hands, because this slice was actually alright. My notes say, verbatim, "This is pretty good! I am surprised!"

But it was a little too thick, though ultimately it was just middling and never quite crappy. This is totally okay for a dollar. I feel like I got my one dollar's worth. Because seriously, this wasn't so bad. So I have to give it to Andy. Although rereading our correspondence back then, I feel compelled to reprint something he wrote as proof to my family and loved ones that I am not the only person in the world who Can't Enjoy Anything:
i remember once i approached such a transcendental experience you describe... the pizza at 2 Bros that day was so good i was thinking this must be the best in new york, and two slices only cost me $2, i was feeling pretty good.

then i noticed st marks with its noodle shops, headshops, punk stores, and collusion of high and low culture looked a lot like the urban environment from blade runner! suddenly the pizza changed into the food-substance from a sci-fi dystopia, something with a dual nature with one aspect satisfaction of the bodily necessities of the masses and the other a sinister pacification of their desires to break free.
Luckily St. Marks Place provides the answers to the questions it poses, because as soon as I start trembling in fear of the oppressive dystopian future, I just strap on my bong gasmask and take a few tokes of The Mean Green and suddenly I am surfing on a pizza box windsurfer with a slice sail in a sea of marinara.

What bodacious times. Watch out for the garlic knot reef and there are hungry pepperoni rolls out today and they can smell your blood so be careful, brodog!


Dollar Slice Rating:

2 Bros. Pizza - $1.00
32 St Marks Place (2nd & 3rd)
New York, NY 10003

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Bagel Cafe Ray's Pizza: "This is the perfect food to soak up 40-120 ounces of Ballentine Ale."

Bagel Cafe Ray's Pizza! What a place! I have probably been here literally 1000 times in my life. Maybe less, actually. As a teenager, I definitely ate bagels here like, at least 2 or 3 times many weeks. Here is what I would order: everything bagel with vegetable cream cheese. Here is what I would not order: pizza. But that's just because St. Marks Pizza was just across the street and a MILLION TIMES better. There was also that bodega on that corner that would sell me cigarettes when I was like 13! What a lawless world St Marks Place seemed to be back then.

And upon walking into the back of Ray's, I realized that, although Freaks and Coney Island High might be gone, and even if the old rehab church is a Japanese clothing store and a Chipotle, that block is still an epicenter of weirdness and grime. Sitting in the backroom along with me and my friends were: these two latino bikers (dude 1: super tight segmented ponytail/handlebar mustache, dude 2: shaved bald, Dimebag Darryl goatee) and their biker chick companion (ponytail, fishnets, pushing 60), two methed out party and play dudes of different races and very disparate ages fawning over each other and stroking each other's cheeks, some doofus college kids talking about "titties" and "fingerblasting" girls, and a lady who was just totally passed out at 2:30 in the afternoon with her face in a salad. That's 1 slot away from a St Marks Bingo, which is when 5 of any number of types of people are all in one place. Other squares on the St Marks Bingo Board are Dyed Black Hair Rock'n'Roll Couple, Teenage Skinhead, Thugged Out Entire Family, Raver on Rollerblades, Jesse Camp. I don't really know. I'm making this up right now, but it sounds like a fun game!

The pizza was okay. I remember at least feigning like it was HORRIBLE when I was a kid because I was so appalled anyone would pass up a slice from St. Marks Pizza. But to be honest, this slice wasn't BAD. I wasn't GOOD either, that's for sure, but I thought it was gonna be awful. This slice was a little floppy, but it was still somehow crunchy on the very bottom. And while this exact situation often means there is a layer of pasty, uncooked dough below the sauce and cheese, this slice was cooked all the way through. There was definitely a screen imprint on the bottom, and the sauce was pretty can-ny and crappy. But the cheese was good enough and there was enough grease to make me happy, and there is just something really comforting and pleasant about this slice. It's intangible, but it's there and it's why this place has stayed open so long. Plus it's 24 hours, which rules if you are hungry late night and don't feel like going to 7A or Yaffa  like I used to do at 6am after going Goth Dancing as a youngster!


Bagel Cafe Ray's Pizza - $2.75
2 St. Marks Place (at 3rd)
New York, NY 10003