Thursday, March 31, 2011

Lombardi's: "Eatin' Good in the Neighborhood"

Last week I ate pizza with my esteemed friend Martin Munroe, older brother to my esteemed friend Rudi Munroe, younger brother to my esteemed friend Tanya Munroe, and pretend older brother or cool or cousin or something to me. The night before we were set to meet up, he texted me and said, "I'm really excited about this. Wanna dress up like it's a date?" I agreed and the next day I dicked around in my apartment reading bell hooks until too late, took a shower and then didn't have enough time to get a proper date outfit together, so I changed clothes 4 times and finally settled on black jeans, black t shirt, black leather jacket, black cap and black sneakers. I turned out to be way under-dressed for the weather. Martin got into the same train car as me going into the city. He was wearing a suit, and suddenly I felt like I was under-dressed for the weather and the occasion. He presented me with a Sam Cooke tape, and said, "This tape is unlistenable. Right now my tape deck is hooked up to my DVD player and I have to play CDs through there and there is a buzz that I can't seem to get rid of." He then produced two CDs from his bag, "But you can just remake the tape for yourself."

We got off the train and went to Lombardi's, which was the first pizzeria in America and is now an Applebee's. Maybe it's a TGIFriday's. It could even be a Chili's for all I know. One thing is for sure: Lombardi's is not the Ground Round. What am I trying to say in all this rambling? This in a nutshell: Lombardi's is a bummer tourist trap hell hole and if you want a decent pizza and a real New York experience go to John's or something instead. However if you want a polished and scrubbed "New York Experience" that is actually as close to a New York Experience as having a drink at the Coyote Ugly in the New York, New York Hotel in Las Vegas. What a bummer. They were playing an early Frank Sinatra record over the stereo system and Martin looked at me, looked around and remarked, "Sinatra sounds kind of corny right now, huh?" Which sort of says it all.

And this pizza was a bummer. The dough was good, but that's it. The sauce was too red and tasted like cans, the cheese was like lumps of flavorless plasticy rubber. And it was $15.50! What a rip! Ugh, I am getting mad just thinking about this bullshit. Fuck. Anyway, we took a couple of bites and both agreed that we could not possibly finish this thing. Martin seemed troubled and offered to go outside and pretend he got a really frantic phonecall and fake that we had to leave urgently. That seemed over complicated to me, so I just told the waitress I was having a crisis without leaving the table, and asked her to box up the remaining pizza. Martin was like, "BUT WHAT ARE WE GONNA DO WITH IT THEN?!" and I was all, "I don't know, we could give it to someone who looks hungry or something." And then we paid our exorbitant bill and left, totally unsatisfied. Martin carried the bag of leftover pizza around with him all afternoon and I think I even managed to ditch him with it when I left the city. He probably still has it.

 UPDATE: Frequent contributor and general pizza knowitall Ron Wasserman left this informative little tidbit in the comments, but I felt like it should be present in the main review as well:

"Slice Harvester, you forgot to point out that this place has only a tangential relationship with the "first pizza place in America." The original Lombardi's closed down several decades ago. This one has only been open 10 or 15 years? Or maybe less.

The tangential relationship is that the owners perhaps are semi-distant relatives of the original Lombardi, or at least they say so. Who's really going to check! And of course, it is a given that they got absolutely no piazza making instruction from the late-great man."


Lombardi's - $15.50
32 Spring St (Mott and Mulberry)
New York, NY 10012

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Rocket Joe's Pizza: "It's lonely out in space on such a timeless slice."

Rocket Joe's is a place I have deliberately avoided for so many years now that I have lost count. For a while I biked down Delancey almost every day going to work, and I would always pass this place and bemoan the fates of the poor fools that were suckered by their pretend 1950s awning and neon lights. How corny! How dare they?!

But the place isn't that bad! The pizzaman looked like a Polish Jason Newsted with a labrett piercing, and he was really nice. Something about him just screamed, "after I get out of work I am either going to work out listening to Godsmack or go to a Deftones concert" and that made me really happy!

This slice was surprisingly good. The cheese had a good cheese flavor, the crust had a good crunch and there was enough grease and salt. The sauce had a decent tomato tang but was a little sweeter than is ideal, and there was a little too much of it. This slice was kind of too wet. At times I felt like I was eating an enchilada. And the crust was good and crunchy, but there were sesame seeds on it! I am still so shocked when I see them that I don't know how to feel, although you all know how Slice Harvester feels about change or deviation from pizza conventions. But sometimes it takes a buddy to frame things in a way that makes me see their beauty, and so it was when Sam took a bite of the crust and said, "it's like all of a sudden I'm eating a bagel." I love bagels!


Rocket Joe's - $2.00
61 Delancey St (Eldridge & Allen)
New York, NY 10002

Friday, March 25, 2011

Photos from the City Reliquary are in!

Pictured above, me and my beautiful wife, Mrs. Cha Cha Harvester.
The folks at the City Reliquary posted some pictures on their blog from the other night! Take a look.

And here are the few that I took, or that were taken on my camera:

With Pa Harvester, husband to Ma Harvester and father to me. He is surprisingly proud of his disreputable progeny.
My Two Bills: Cashman and Scanga. Wonderful Men, the both of them.
Martin Munroe, my big brother from another mother.
More surrogate siblings: Danskin and Mr. Milo
Former/future boss and fast friend Eric The Red owner of Second Chance Saloon, patron to the arts.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Ciao Bella Pizzeria: "This place sucks!"

Ciao Bella is a funny place. It's really cutesy on the inside in this way that is vaguely charming but simultaneously totally insipid. Kind of reminds me of spots in the West Village in the 90s when I would go visit my Aunt and Uncle on Hudson St. It's remarkably like Hell's Kitchen Pizza, actually, except Rev. Horton Heat runs this place instead of Rob Zombie. If you're unfamiliar with Rev Horton Heat, he is like an even worse Mike Ness. Anyway, think more Tiki Bar Hot Rod Convention and less Hot Topic Hot Rod Convention. I accidentally wrote "Hot Rob Convention" back there for one of those, but I think if someone actually hosted that contest, we'd have to just give the prize to a young Robert Zombie. What a babe he was!

This slice was nasty. Nyasty, even. Everyone was pretty excited for some reason. I don't know why, but it there was this air of expectation and hope, despite everything. Like when you've been stuck at the side of the highway for days trying to catch a ride somewhere but you're with someone you enjoy spending time with and sure, maybe you guys are fighting about cigarettes or something, and there's no rides and the cops have hassled you twice, but you know you're gonna make it to Kansas City in time to run into Black Rainbow on tour and see all your friends. That was the kind of hope we felt in this place, lord only knows why. And you know what this slice was like, this slice was like waking up that next day, after the day of hope against hope, and realizing that you're gonna have to spend your last money on a bus ticket because there are no rides EVER AGAIN and your friend is a worthless scumbag who would sell you out for a half pack of Top Menthol. This slice was tiny, tasted like corn syrup, and had the stingiest, practically nonexistent crust. It had a decent crunch, but that was ALL it had going for it. Maybe the cheese or dough tasted good, but all I could taste was the shitty saccharine sauce. Stay away from here.


Ciao Bella Pizzeria - $2.45
125 Allen St (Delancey and Rivington)
New York, NY 10002

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Famous Original Ray's: "ENOUGH ALREADY!"

This FOR location is, fingers-crossed, the last Famous Original Ray's I will have to eat pizza at. And if that's the case, it would not be a sad day for me. I haven't had a very good run at these places. I've been to this one before. Usually I skip over it when I'm hungry on Houston and go to that Mediterranean place next door and get a falafel or a doner. Because I've never really like the pizza here!

This place on this day was feeling pretty promising. They were playing Hot 97 a little too loud, the kid working behind the counter looked like the red herring trouble making teenager in every Law & Order episode. I was ready to enjoy myself here, despite everything! But the pizza, like all other Famous Original Ray'ses, was on the better side of mediocre and boring.

This slice had the telltale signs of an FOR slice. There was sauce of such a synthetically bold and bright hue poking through the holes in the unmelted cheese-like substance they call mozzarella. The dough was a little too thick and was loafy and crummy. The taste was off--the sauce too sweet, the cheese bizarre. But the slice did have a decent crunch! And the crust was a lot less bland than most other FORs. Ultimately, I am not so fond of a slice like this, and nor were Scotty or his cousin Sam who met us here. But Sam insisted that this slice's shortcomings actually make it the perfect drunk pizza. Its flavors are too strong for the normal, sober palate, it's dough too thick and crappy. But to the drunk it is perhaps the perfect mix of heavy-handedness and bodily fulfillment. Like they said in those tootsie pop commercials, "the world may never know."


Famous Original Ray's - $2.56
195 E Houston St (Ludlow & Orchard)
New York, NY 10002

Monday, March 21, 2011

Video From My City Reliquary Reading!

Thanks to Bill Scanga and all the volunteers at the City Reliquary for all their hard work. And thanks to everyone who came out. And thanks to my dad for taping this.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Slice Harvester Photo Exhibition this Friday at City Reliquary!

This Friday, March 18th, 7-10pm
370 Metropolitan Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Of the exhibition, the folks at The City Reliquary had these kind words:
"These aren’t just any old pictures – no, they’re one man’s personal mission. One man’s documentation of slices consumed and conquered; of pizzerias attacked and left behind; of entire neighborhoods in Manhattan scratched off his master list. Some call him crazy, some call him obsessed, some call him unhealthy. We at the City Reliquary call him the Slice Harvester. And the City Reliquary is proud to display Slice Harvester’s photo-documentation of Manhattan pizza slices eaten and pizzerias ranked for our next temporary installation."

They will be serving pizza from many of the fine pizza parlors in their fine neighborhood, as well as Brooklyn Brewery beers. And I will be reading from the NEW ISSUE OF SLICE HARVESTER QUARTERLY!

Yep! New zine! Issue 4, 42nd-59th Streets. It'll be available on the streets for the first time this Friday. If for some tragic reason you can't make the event (you work Friday night, you have to study for a midterm, you live somewhere other than New York), the zine will be available through the usual channels some time after Friday. I will make the appropriate announcements at the appropriate times. 

But the real news is that there is a party this Friday, and if you are not there, then no one will ever love you again. While we're at it, if you don't "like" Slice Harvester on facebook or follow me on Twitter, you won't ever enjoy a slice of pizza ever again, a fate that is possibly worse than never being loved.

As for regular updates, they will return when I stop being super swamped with the zine. I've got 3 left to write from when I went pizza eating with Scotty, and then I'm gonna try and head out and do some more by the beginning of next week.

Friday, March 11, 2011


So, recently my friend Scotty came to visit. Him and me and Cory and Johnny, both of whom you should know if you've been reading Slice Harvester, used to play in a band together some time ago. It was a fun band, even though I accidentally read in Cory's diary once that he hated being in a band with me. Oh, and we also used to be roommates, back when my apartment had no doors and there were only sheets hanging in the doorways. For a while he was into squatting on top of the toilet seat whenever he took a dump because "that's how the cavemen did it," which presumably referred to the squatting posture and not to perching atop a toilet, because cavemen didn't have toilets. We were not really in the habit of having any privacy when we lived together and once I came home with some company and, it bears noting here that the bathroom is directly across from the front door, I opened up the door and there was Scotty wearing a striped polo shirt, no pants and a pair of running shoes, squatting on the pot just letting it all slide out like The Great Pizzaola intended. Hopefully he doesn't mind that I just shared that story!

Anyway, it was really good to see him and I made plans to try my damnedest to get him out eating pizza with me, which happened, luckily. We stopped briefly at Economy Candy and I bought my special ladyfriend some candy cigarettes. And then we went to Rosario's, which I was excited about because I've always liked that place.

This place is great! They have all these weird pictures on the walls, and the pizza man was so nice and they had classic rock radio playing, which is totally not ideal, but there's something about a pizzeria with classic rock on the radio. And there's a lot of windows and it's nice and sunny and I was there with my friend Scotty and it was a nice day and the sun was out and I was in a really good mood and everything seemed to be alright in the world.

This slice looks a lot more orange than it actually did in real life. I am sure there is some color correcting I could do if I were so inclined, or had any knack for that sort of thing. But anyway! Rosario's! Always a quality slice. Such a pleasure to eat here. My notes say, "delicious!" three times and "great quality ingredients!" twice, because I kept writing the same things over and over because I was so enraptured by this pizza and by the great company I had. This slice has perfect cheese elasticity, hearty crunch, and a kindly, gentle sauce. Perfect ratios mean these ingredients work in the most harmonious symbiosis, creating a heroic explosion of flavors all up in your mouthpiece. Kudos to you, Rosario's! You are the best slice in your neighborhood, by a longshot!


Rosario's - $2.50
173 Orchard St (at Stanton)
New York, NY 10002