Saturday, July 30, 2011

Steve's Pizza: "Boston style pizza."

Steve's Pizza is a horrid and sad place, however, everyone in there seemed happy despite that fact. There is a huge banner on the outside of Steve's, which is attached to a place called Charly's, which sells "Burgers Philly Steaks Burritos Grilled Chicken," proclaiming that they serve "The Finest NYC Pizza" or something like that. It's places like this that give the banner outside Pizza Suprema a negative connotation. Because the pizza here, it totally blows! They had a pretty cool statue of an ugly pizzaman, though.

After getting our slice, we looked around for some seating until we realized that if we walked through Charly's, there was a staircase, and it led to another floor, full of cafeteria style seating. I actually helped some Midwestern Cornbread Dad carry his baby stroller up the steps while his other 40 kids ran in circles around his ankles. When we got upstairs it was more of the same. Cornbread Tourist Families just slobbing pizza down their throats before they wait in line to look at the Ground Zero Rubble so they can tear up while they hum the Star Spangled Banner and their kids swat flies and have no idea what the significance of that moment is because they weren't even born yet in 2001. I don't even know where I'm going with this.

This slice was the biggest piece of garbage. It's like gas station/roller rink/bowling alley/birthday party pizza, but it's missing any of the sentimental umph. There was just nothing going for it. Ross, who is a Boston native, called this slice "Boston style pizza." For those that don't know, Boston is famous for it's Greek Pizza, which is famous for being brittle and having poorly spiced sauce, both of which were exhibited in this slice. Ross said, "Greeks have contributed a lot of things to modern society. Pizza is not one of them." This slice was a fucking bummer. Whatever, just don't go here.


Steve's Pizza - $2.50
110 Cedar St (at Trinity)
New York, NY 10006

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Pronto Pizza: "I don't wanna waaaaste myyyyy tiiiiiime become another casualty of society."

Pronto Pizza. This place is the pits. This whole chain is the pits! Or, I don't know, maybe they're not related, maybe there is just a coincidental thing where all the owners of shitty pizzerias are inspired by the Great Pizzaola to name their stores Pronto Pizza as a benevolent act on her part, to warn the true believers of the world that they should stay away.

The slice they sell here is about the thickness of a piece of chewing gum and "tastes like a punishment," according to Ross, who had even more to say. "This pizza is making a mockery out of something I love. It's like Good Charlotte or Sum 41." When we finally got to the crust, which rose up from the meager base of the slice, Ross commented, "the inequity of thickness of the slice to the crust provides an apt metaphor for the distribution of wealth in America." Way to go, Ross! I love that shit.


Pronto Pizza - $3.00
114 Liberty St (Trinity & Greenwich)
New York, NY 10006

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

More Pizza Reviews Forthcoming. For Now Events and Press and Friends Doing Cool Stuff!

1. I am having another pizza party at The City Reliquary! This time, to celebrate the release of Issue 5 of Slice Harvester Quarterly! This issue covers all the pizza from 23rd to 42nd, has the top quality illustrations you've come to expect from Brooklyn's own Joe Porter, and features a back cover by talented Brooklyn native cum Oakland raider Aminah Slor! I have been neck deep in zine hell for days now and this issue promises to be THE BOMB.

Event details:
8-10pm, this Saturday, July 23rd, at the City Reliquary Museum (370 Metropolitan Ave, BK, NY)
Reading by Me!
Beers from Brooklyn Brewery!
Pizza from I don't know where, but hopefully it's Grandma Rose's and Best Pizza again because both of those places are awesome!
I am hoping my grandfather will be there, so bring your grandfather!
In fact, I will give a free set of every issue of Slice Harvester Quarterly that's out so far to anyone who shows up with a Grandparent. It doesn't matter if it's your grandparent. If you know someone who has grandchildren or is just generally grandparent age, bring them and I will give you free stuff!

Do me a favor and RSVP on Facebook. Do it even if you aren't coming because it makes me feel good to check that thing and see a ton of people on there.

2. It seems I have been profiled in New York Press! Read the article! It is really nice. Check out other stuff the author Jon Reiss wrote because he seems to be a pretty good writer and he is also a total sweetheart and when I met him he looked like a young George Tabb, who also wrote for the New York Press, but he hasn't looked like that again any time I've seen him since, so he's also a shapeshifter or something!

3. And finally! My good friend and Slice Harvester's #1 most frequent Pizza Adventurer, Caroline Paquita, is starting an Independent Publishing Venture called Pegacorn Press! This is very exciting news, because Caroline is not just a talented artist, she is also an incredibly diligent worker, unflinching in the face of adversity, and if she sets her mind to something, she will make it happen.

She is currently involved in some internet fundraising, so if you've got five bucks to spare, go over to IndieGoGo and email homegirl some money! Everyone who donates gets a present in the mail! If you can't spare five bucks, you can at least "like" her project on Facebook and then tell everyone you know to donate and you can just pretend you are one of the anonymous donors, and no one will know and the only real tangible repercussion will be a lingering feeling of disappointment in yourself that you will carry with you your whole life for not forking over FIVE FUCKING DOLLARS for something awesome.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Majestic Pizza & Calzone: "Don't judge a book by it's cover."

Majestic Pizza & Calzone is like, the best looking pizza shop anywhere near here. It seriously has the most picturesque awning I've ever seen and the inside has like, the perfect amount of wear and tear. Like well worn jeans. The even sheen of grease staining the price board a perfect yellow looks great without looking decrepit or untended. Seriously, seems to live permanently in that few month grace period where your jeans are the softest and fit the best, but before you blow out the crotch a million times from your bike seat. The place looks loved and cared for! I am inherently distrustful of sterile and pristine things. I am also distrustful of "distressed denim" and all the distressed denim aesthetic elsewhere in the world, which is partially about me being fussy about authenticity, which I am sort of unnerved by because I think desire for authenticity can be really damaging! Didn't Theodor Adorno say something about "the quest for authenticity is the death of many revolutionary movements" or something? Am I making this up?

I don't really know where I'm going with all this. Not enough coffee yet, today. Maybe I'll touch on some of this stuff later on, but I can't imagine anyone actually cares about what I think. Back to Majestic Pizza, while this place looked really good, it FELT horrible in the heat. The doors were open and there were like, the saddest two ceiling fans drawing out the slowest circles above our heads. As I was handed my slice, I wiped the sweat from my forehead for the millionth time in the five minutes I'd been inside and Ross said "it feels like a fucking opium den in here!"

This slice, while it wasn't bad, was not the mind-boggling, perfect piece of pie I was expecting. It definitely wasn't BAD, though. But It's a Pizza a few doors down may have a better slice? Judging from the fronts of the places, Majestic should be blowing that ugly duckling outta the water. But this slice, while it had good ratios and quality ingredients, wasn't cooked so well and was, to be honest, a little bland. Maybe I was expecting too much, but I felt totally let down.


Majestic Pizza & Calzone - $2.50
8 Cortlandt St (Broadway & Trinity)
New York, NY 10007

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

It's a Pizza: "Don't judge a book by it's cover."

Last week I ate pizza with my friend Ross Noyes. Ross is a punk kid from Boston, and when I had first met him many years ago, I thought his last name was like, "Noise" or "Noize" or something and it was an unfortunate remnant of his teenage punk band. But it turns out his real actual last name is just a homophone. Who knew?

One time Ross walked into the diner while I was working, on a moderately busy evening. I made eye contact with him, but didn't say anything because I had armloads of food and was bringing them to a table. When he shouted, "APPARENTLY I'M FUCKIN' INVISIBLE ALLOVASUDDEN!" a few seconds later, I thought he was talking to me and quickly rushed over to quiet him down. "Hey man, sorry, I see you there, I'm just busy." I blurted out.
He looked surprised and was like, "what? You thought I was talking to you? Come outside for a second, lemme show you something."

We walked out front and he showed me his bike. One side of the handlebars was flush with the frame, like a two dimensional drawing, and the wheels were totally fucked. I looked at him shocked and he said, "I just got dragged under a truck for two blocks."

I took him inside, gave him coffee and a whiskey, and asked how the hell he was still walking. He looked me in the eyes and said, "Cause I'm fuckin' Wolverine. I don't get hurt." When I saw him the next day, he was walking with a cane. Ross is a person who, while I don't necessarily think he's got everything figured out, I never worry about him making it in the world, because he seems like he can really take care of himself and he seems like he's at peace with who he is.

A little while ago I started therapy for the first time in my life. It's been really helpful in learning and growing as a person, and in unpacking a lot of the baggage I've accrued in the time I've been alive. When I first started seeing the doc, there was a voice inside me telling me that it was a bourgeois extravagance, like it was weakness on my part that led to my needing therapy in the first place. I knew that was bullshit but I also couldn't shut the voice up. And oftentimes, it would come back to me and it would say, "look at Ross. He deals with his shit. Why can't you just deal with your shit?"

One day I was waiting at the halal truck near my doctor's office for a chicken on pita, and Ross walked by. We noticed each other and the first thing out of his mouth was a surprised and amicable, "what the hell are you doing in this neighborhood?"

For a split second I was frozen. Here was this guy standing in front of me who, in a lot of ways, seems to embody many of the of the more admirable qualities of American masculinity--strength, self-reliance, confidence--without replicating most of the bad ones. For a moment, I felt a sense of self-imposed shame about my need for help. But I knew that at heart, Ross wouldn't think any less of me for seeking out assistance, and more importantly, I knew that if he did, it was his problem, not mine. So with some trepidation that I'm sure went unnoticed, I said to him, "I'm just getting lunch on the way to see the shrink."

Without a second thought, Ross looked at me and said, "I wish I was in therapy. Good for you." And suddenly all these illusions I was harboring about both of us were shattered. It's always interesting, and oftentimes potentially disastrous, when the image you've created for someone comes face to face with their actual humanity. This is why so many people are disappointed when they meet celebrities, for instance. But we don't just create personas for strangers, we create them for everyone in our lives. Our friends, our coworkers, our neighbors, our family. And people create them about us too. There's nothing wrong with it. I will never understand the entirety of another human being, so I have to surmise and imply what I can't know. But it's always heartening to realize that maybe you've oversimplified someone. That maybe there's a lot more to them than you let yourself believe.

I was a few minutes early meeting Ross last week, and so I had plenty of time to stand around in front of It's a Pizza and ponder their hideous facade. I thought for sure I was looking at some heartless business endeavor, malevolent tumor of capitalism blighting the face of a city street. When Ross arrived, I nodded towards the awning and he said, "I am not looking forward to this."

Inside the place was decorated horribly. There was fake brick on the walls, and an array of weird mirrors hanging "artistically." The chalkboard pricelist had those fake painted food pictures at the bottom that look like they're out of a terrifying comic book. But it was bustling as hell in there, it smelled good, and there was a pretty authentic looking (and sounding) pizza man behind the counter taking orders and yelling at customers.

When our slice came out of the oven it looked pretty good. And it was good! The sauce was a little too sweet, and tasted more like the sauce on a chicken parm than on a slice, but there was just the right amount of it. The cheese was good quality and the dough was cooked to perfection. The crust, while skimpy, was absolutely delicious. Ross said, "If this place was in a different city, like Athens or Duluth or something, you'd be like, 'this pizza place fuckin' rules!' and there'd be only punks working here."

And suddenly, eating this good slice, and looking back at the guy behind the counter, who by all signs looked to be some moderately shlubby New York native and not the "business savvy" Wall Street shark I assumed would own the places based on the exterior, everything took on a different connotation. The aesthetic qualities I found distasteful about the place at first suddenly seemed charming, like when someone makes a benign and well-intentioned bad decision. The fact that the place looked like it would totally suck and it didn't made it seem almost better than if it had looked cool. Because that would've been unremarkable. "This pizza place that looks like a pizza place is a pizza place and they sell pretty good pizza." But because the place looked like a miserable outpost of the Capitalist Death Culture, but turned out to be a decent pizza shop, there was something triumphant about the whole experience.

I also noticed on the sign out front that they offer a 99¢ slice "happy hour" from 4-6pm. If the slice they serve then is the same as the one I ate, then this is clearly the best slice of pizza you can get for a dollar anywhere in the city.


It's a Pizza - $2.25
20 John St (Nassau & Broadway)
New York, NY 10038

Monday, July 11, 2011

Friendly Gourmet Pizza: "No part of the name of this place has any resemblance to actual real life."

The other day I had the most post-internet experience I've ever had in my life. More post-internet than the handful of OKCupid dates I went on a few years ago (that's right, I'll own up to it)! I recently became aware of Internets Celebrities, a duo of native New Yorkers who make thought-provoking, oftentimes hilariously insightful videos about a variety of topics, most relating to New York City. Their most recent work, ostensibly about the rumored correlation between the price of a slice and the price of a single subway fare, but actually a biting commentary on the lack of services provided by the MTA despite consistent price increases. Their succinct findings: "The MTA is essentially charging us $2.50 for a $1 slice."

A week or two ago, Rafi Kam, one half of IC, twortled on twerter inviting strangers to meet him for lunch. I think I was the first and maybe only person to respond, and so a short few days later, we met up outside Friendly Gourmet Pizza to get a slice. Two strangers, joined by one common trait: an abundance of time on the internet. Would we butt heads, would a fast and enduring friendship form? My mind was full of questions as I made my way down the stairs of my building to unlock my bike and head to Nassau Street.

Sadly, when I got downstairs, someone had locked my brake cable into their u-lock! I was aghast and furious. In a hasty act of defiance, I took a permanent marker and wrote a note across their top tube that said "BE MORE CAREFUL NEXT TIME" and then got onto the J train, afraid that I might be late and miss out on meeting Rafi.

On the train, the reality of my situation began to set in: I had just deliberately vandalized a bike that my bike was still locked to. Ergo, I would likely return to Brooklyn to find my bike vandalized. There was no question that the party responsible for my misfortune got off easy. Locking up someone else's bike is an amateur mistake, and sharpie washes off easy enough. But I had set myself up to be the recipient of easy vengeance, and I was none too pleased with my own rash and amateurish behavior.

This picture was taken on a prior pizza mission, when I got to Friendly Gourmet too late and it was closing for the night.
By the time I got to Friendly Gourmet, I looked a mess, and I was feeling like a total greasy weirdo. I was positive this stranger would see me for the loathsome shitbreather I am and would turn around in disgust at the very sight of me, but I held my ground and stood around outside the pizza parlor, which was tiny and cute, with a constantly moving line out the door. There was no seating to speak of, just a hastily assembled "countertop jutting out of the side of the building. As I waiting for Rafi, I was transfixed watching the flow of people moving in and out of the tiny storefront, the line out front ebbing and flowing like the tide. The place was cute as hell and they seemed to be running a pretty professional operation. I was getting excited to try the slice, and pretty soon all my concerns melted away. By the time Rafi strolled over I was cool as a cucumber and we stepped inside to get our slices.

I got a plain slice and Rafi got a grandma slice (not pictured). Mine smelled good and looked like it could be anywhere from passably decent to absolutely great, but I knew it wouldn't be bad. This slice had too much sauce, but otherwise, it was totally good. The sauce taste was a little overwhelming, but I think in a more moderate quantity it could definitely be a more subtle component in the complex flavor of a good slice, as opposed to the edible equivalent your hamfisted, slightly drunk uncle who is nice when he's sober, but who, after his fifth beer, talks too loud about uncomfortable subjects on Thanksgiving. But even with the sauce acting like a dickhead, the quality of the rest of the slice shined through! The cheese, while nothing to write home about was actually decent. That shouldn't carry the weight that it does, but it seems that these days most pizza places are using pretty crummy ingredients. The dough was crunchy and maintained it's integrity. The crust was crunchy enough without being brittle, and salty enough, which is really all you can ask for.

Rafi didn't seem too awed by this piece of pizza, but he hasn't been in the trenches like I have. (No offense, dude!) Compared to most of the shit they are slinging in this town, this slice is incredible. I know I've said this a million times, but in my dreamworld Crimethinc Utopia ruled by a kindly wizard, a slice this good would be the worst pizza around. However, in our sick fucking society (SFS), where everything is so backwards that "progressive" media outlets discredit sexual assault survivors and support defense contractors, and in Oakland the BART cops seem to kill someone every time there's a holiday, there is obviously no justice or sanity, so most pizza sucks and this pizza, which is by all accounts totally good, just not great, stands out as a shining beacon of hope amidst the shit.

Fuck the world.


Friendly Gourmet Pizza - $2.50
59 Nassau St (at John)
New York, NY 10038

I got so worked up being angry about the pervasive rape culture and systematic violent oppression in this country, I forgot to talk about what happened to my bike! Are you ready for this? Take a deep breath...

Nothing. Nothing happened. My guess is that whoever was unobservant enough to lock my brake cables was also unobservant enough not to notice that I had written across their top tube in permanent marker! I was thinking on the bus ride home from my girlfriend's house that night that if I saw them, I would offer to wash off my graffito if they paid me the $9 I had to spend in public transit costs because my bike was stuck to a pole all day.

Also, while I'm talking about the pervasive rape culture:
Attn: All Male-Bodied Dudes! Every time your cousin or your coworker or your best friend from high school or your neighbor who you are having a beer with on the stoop makes a rape joke and you don't say shit, YOU are personally responsible for creating a climate in which survivors are not taken seriously. Don't forget that.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Liberatos Pizza: "More than a feeling."

Liberatos Pizza is on a weird street in a weird building. There are other restaurants on the block, but it seems like somewhere I wouldn't want to go to find food. The buildings are too tall and the street is too narrow. There's a pervasive Dickensian gloom. I wouldn't mind if my tailor or cobbler was on this block. Or if I was going to like, a meeting of the Hermetic Order. But it just doesn't seem like there should be food here.

On the inside, the place is gigantic, and when I was there, empty. There were weird hair metal power ballads playing on the radio, it was super hot, and there were just WEIRD VIBES, MAN. Everything just felt awkward. Suddenly the three of us couldn't really make much of a conversation and everyone was just sort of looking around.

This slice was the only one we ate our whole day together that was adequately cooked and served hot enough. This circumstance created the illusion that the slice itself was better than all the previous slice, when in fact it was just warmer. The slice had too much cheese, and the dough and sauce made it taste like Stoeffer's. I would say that no one should really bother with this pizzera, but it's not TERRIBLE. Try the weird falafel place down the block that looks like it's from the Jetsons.


Liberatos Pizza - $2.75
17 Cedar St (Pearl & William)
New York, NY 10038