Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Underground Pizza: "You believe in a pizza of crystal that can never be destroyed -- a pizza at which one will not be able to put out one's tongue or make a long nose on the sly."

I AM A SICK MAN.... I am a spiteful man. I am an unattractive man. I believe my liver is diseased. However, I know nothing at all about my disease, and do not know for certain what ails me. I don't consult a doctor for it, and never have, though I have a respect for medicine and doctors. My liver is bad, well -- let it get worse!

Some days ago I had the distinct misfortune of spending my afternoon repast attempting to nourish myself in a rather scurrilous establishment called Underground Pizza. Forgive me for my indiscretion, gentlemen, but a pox upon the fools who created this hellish place and a pox upon their ancestors.
Housed in a seemingly nondescript and innoffensive building on a seemingly nondescript and inoffensive block, this building and this block are both quite repugnant in fact, by virtue of their sheer banality. And the banality hides an odious truth: the food from this horrendously average establishment quite likely provides calories and energy to the most hideous of people, those who profiteer from misery and suffering: traders and brokers.
And surely their bodies have deteriorated in conjunction with their morals if this is the food upon which they eat. To call this food, why to call this slop "food" would be to call these parasitic ghouls "men"! As an exercise, walk to your rubbish heap, find a sullied sponge amongst the refuse, perhaps one with which you cleaned your toilet, and bite into it--this roughly approximates the experience of eating a slice at so-called Underground Pizza. As my close confidante Jennifer Shagawat said, "this place gives the underground a bad name."

Underground Pizza - $2.50
3 Hanover Sq
New York, NY 100014

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Miami, Fl: Pizza Cubano Head2Head SHOWDOWN!!!! The review is dedicated to all my homegirls reading Slice Harvester at Miami Children's Hospital.

Last month I spent a little under two weeks in Miami, Florida with Mi Ami, Cha Cha. We hung out with her mom and sisters in the morning, flexed on South Beach in the afternoon and went clubbing with Pitbull and Trick Daddy every night. It was a grand time of delightful gefilte fish breakfasts in the sand, midday wheatgrass smoothies on the boardwalk, fried chicken dinners delivered to fancy restaurants, and 30 hits of E for a midnight snack. Now I have a sweet tribal back piece, a twitch, and a few holes in my brain, but all in all I think I am better for the time spent.

But despite the fact that I was on vacation, I still found time to work. You see, a few years ago when I was in Miami for the first time, friend to Slice Harvester and Miami native, Cristy Road, enlightened me to the fact that her home city has an entire culinary sub-culture of Cuban pizza shops that serve Cuban Style Pizza!!! I am not usually into regional pizza variations, but I love Miami and I love Cuban food, so I thought that maybe it would be awesome. Also fuck it, I am totally into regional pizza variations. Who am I kidding?

Anyway, my special lady friend's sister Dita suggested a couple of Cuban pizza places and Cha Cha, her mother, and I visited two of them. Earlier tonight when I was talking to Cha Cha about what to include in this review, she mentioned that her mother saved her soda cup as a keepsake from our day of Slice Harvesting! I tried to save all my stool the following day, for similar reasons, but those nazis in the TSA wouldn't let me bring that shit on the plane. (Har har).

Our first stop was Montes De Oca, on SW 8th St and SW 52nd Ct. This place is really awesome! It is half indoor and half outdoor, like many things in Miami. The outdoor portion has cool stone seating, and the indoor portion feels warm and inviting like a good diner. Everybody that works at Montes De Oca is really nice. They don't really speak any English, and my Spanish was horrible, and Cha Cha who sprechen zie Spanish was outside smoking when I tried to order, so there was a lot of gesturing and hand waving and making up words. Ultimately it took a total of three waitresses to get an order out of me, which is totally shameful. I vow to learn Spanish better from here on out!

There were like, a ton of different kinds of pizza available on the menu, and I ultimately decided on the Pizza Mixta, which had like a thousand things on it--ham, pepperoni, picadillo, mushroom, onion, pepper, cheese and tomato sauce.

Now, the first thing I noticed about this pizza was that the "toppings" were not on top! That's one of the things that seems to distinguish Cuban pizza from regular pizza. They put the toppings under the cheese. It is perhaps less visually tantalizing, but far more effective in terms of being able to eat the thing without it falling to bits. Like, sometime about halfway through my childhood, I noticed that when my mother prepared her bagel and lox, she would put the cream cheese down, then the cucumber, tomato and onion, and then finally put the lox on top. I always thought she was doing things totally backwards, because I put my vegetables on top of my smoked salmon, because they clearly looked better there! But then I realized, and by "I realized" I mean "she pointed out to me," that my bagel would fall all over the place all the time and hers remained neatly in place.

Anyway, this pizza was AWESOME. Another characteristic of the cuban pizza, at least the personal size, (as opposed to the family size, which is what they call a regular pie) is that it comes on a thick, soft crust, a lot like I remember Boboli being. It didn't even occur to me when I was there, but I am starting to wonder if the bigger pie has a thinner dough! I guess I'll find out in a few months when I am in Miami again. ANYWAY, this pie was like the most awesome Boboli pizza your mom ever made you while you were stoned and she didn't know it. Totally rules! Cha Cha's mom said this pizza was "rustic and delicious."


Montes De Oca - Pizza Mixta - $7.95
5241 SW 8th St (at SW 52nd Ct)
Coral Gables, FL 33134

Our next stop, Rey's Pizza, was about 10 blocks West on SW 8th. Doing some amateur internet sleuthing, I learned that Rey's Pizza was, allegedly, the first ever Cuban Pizzeria, founded by two best friends. They had a falling out some time in the 80s or 90s (I don't remember! WHO CARES?!) and then the one dude split and opened Montes De Oca! There is nothing I love more than a good falling out. (Maybe a good blood feud?) And so I was slash am totally excited about participating and perhaps exacerbating this feud by eventually liking one of these places more than the other!!!!! OMG!

Rey's Pizza is shaped like a castle, which is awesome. I love most non-White Castle castle-shaped businesses. I wish I could go back in time and add that to the interests in my livejournal profile. "...cutting onions with a serrated knife, non-White Castle castle-shaped businesses, Wu-Tang grammatical errors..." It would've fit so well. I tried to take a picture of Rey's Pizza from the front, but walking in front of cars with an air of authority and snapping a quick picture of a business seems like it might get me murdered in Miami as opposed to just honked at like it does here in New York.

Rey's Pizza has an awesome costume mascot.

Rey's Pizza has no outdoor area, and the inside was brightly lit like a fast food joint. If any of my Miami readers want to write a scene report from Rey's Pizza at like 3am on a Saturday, I'd love to print it. This place seems like it would be totally awesome in the middle of the night. I'm not sure if I prefer the warmth of Montes De Oca to this place, I think it's situational. Like, I think depending on the circumstance I'd prefer both equally. The employees at Rey's Pizza were really nice, too. And they have their own brand of Meatless Spaghetti Sauce for Multipurpose Italian Specialties!

There was a little bit of deliberation, but for the sake of continuity I decided to get a Pizza Mixta here as well. I had the unfortunate experience of watching them cook my pizza here. They assembled the pizza on a countertop and then placed it in one of those weird conveyer belt ovens you imagine them having in prison kitchens. It was a real serious bummer for me to watch, but I figured, when in Rome or whatever. Anyway, they gave me my pizza eventually and I ate it eventually.

This pizza was WAY more well done then the last one and Mom remarked that they were more stingy with the ingredients than Montes De Oca. Cha Cha's initial assessment of this pie was that it would be better, because she likes her pizza burnt to a crisp apparently! JK. This pie was nicely just nicely browned, but after the altogether pretty pleasant experience I had with the last one, I had a hunch that Cuban pizza was not as good when cooked as thoroughly as a New York slice. And I dare say, I was right!

The crust was thinner and crunchier, but that didn't suit the style of pizza so well. The crust at Montes De Oca was thick and airy, and the cheese on top was viscous and warm without ever crisping. Generally all the flavors and textures of that pie were round and comforting. This pie, on the other hand was sharp and rough. And in general it just wasn't as good! I think even if it had been cooked "properly" (I don't even know if that's the word I am looking for), it wouldn't have been as good as Montes De Oca. If I were to describe this pie in two words, I would say "stingy and crisp," which pales in comparison to Mom's assessment of the last pie as "rustic and delicious." Ultimately, though, even if the other place was better, this was good food and I would eat it again!


Rey's Pizza - Pizza Mixta - $7.95
6340 SW 8th St (SW 63rd & 64th Aves)
West Miami, FL 33144

Friday, September 9, 2011

Cucina Bene Pizzeria: "Good kitchen? Bad pizza."

Cucina Bene Pizzeria's slice was just as bad, if not worse than Grotto, but the place lacked any of Grotto's weird, maniac charm. It was totally bland. Just a big room, painted horrible colors (bright blue/bright yellow), with a GIANT flatscreen. Like the giantest television I have ever seen. Imagine the most ostentatious Miami drug dealer you can think of and then think about how big his imaginary TV is and then like, times that by eleventy thousand. Because seriously, this thing was fucking SO BIG.

This slice also tasted like a battery. Jen thinks they must use the same distributor as Grotto. Whatever it is, this pizza gave me the same acid burn in the back of my throat. This slice was also too thin and totally insubstantial and I felt like I had been ripped off. The crust was totally stingy and what there was of it stunk. BOOOOO! Get off my phone!


Cucina Bene Pizzera - $2.50
41 Exchange Pl (Broad & William)
New York, NY 10005

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Grotto Pizzeria & Restaurant: "It can't rain all the time."

Oy vey! Yesterday was such a rainy day, and it is supposed to keep being a rainy day for the next FOREVER. I wish the rain would stop just once. I woke up at a reasonable hour and took the train into the city with my girlfriend Cha-Cha so I could drop her off at her tango lesson at noon. I had nothing to do for an hour and a half, because at 1:30 I had plans to meet up with my friend Jennifer Shagawat, who runs that awesome Starcleaner Records and is also one half of the band Shellshag. The thing about Shellshag is that they are like, the most hardworking band on Earth, and also the most fun band in the Universe. I don't remember the first time I saw Shellshag, and I couldn't even count how many times I've seen them since then. I am just constantly impressed by all kinds of stuff about them:
Songs are awesome
Hella good hair on both of them.
Excellent attitudes.
Live show, ta die faw.
S is for smoking weed.
Hard times? Shellshag will help you through them.
Apple orange grapefruit tangerine.
Groovin' hard, lookin' sharp, kickin' butt, SUMMAH.

So yeah, I originally drafted that list in glitter glue on a neon poster board, but I don't have a scanner big enough to scan it. (I don't have any scanner at all.) ANYWAY! I started writing this at work after eating pizza, BUT THEN it was busy at the diner and I drank too much coffee so I could multitask but it was still too busy to stop and write AND THEN after work I was gonna do it but I got home and me and Kevin hung out and I cleaned under my bed because I was super wired from the coffee AND THEN I was like, "I'll go to bed at a reasonable hour and I'll do it in the morning" BUT THEN I decided to watch the X-Files before bed and you know what they say about the X-Files "once you pop the fun don't stop" AND NOW it's like, almost 7am and I have been up all night watching the X-Files. OOPS! Anyway, here is a Slice Harvester now. And I am losing my mind.

So yeah, I met Jen way down on Broadway after walking a great distance in the rain. I was soaking wet and hungry and really excited because I had scoped out our first pizza place and it looked CRAZY!

WHAT?! The Grotto is like, not a pizza place from real life. This is a pizza place from Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. The front door just leads to a really claustrophobic staircase and then that just runs into an unnecessary seeming door that opens awkwardly and then you are in this weird basement space with the lowest ceilings ever and there everything is really bright colors and there are no windows and the people are all weirdos. AKA my dream come true.

Even though the environment was super cool this slice sucked and it tasted like I was eating a battery. The cheese was fine, and the dough was okay quality but spread so thin I ate the whole slice in like half a bite. And the sauce was the nastiest. Seriously, have you ever a eaten a battery? I haven't, but I imagine eating a battery would taste like this slice tastes.


Grotto Pizzeria & Restaurant - $2.50
69 New St (Exchange & Beaver)
New York, NY 10004