Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Da Vinci Pizza: "And now the end is here, and so I face the final curtain..."

So this is it. I don't even know where to begin. Let me just say, that though this is the Last Official Manhattan Pizzeria Review, it will not be the last post on Slice Harvester. I still have plenty of recapping and decision-making to do, and plus I want to keep this thing going at least until the last zine comes out in February so there's that, too. Anyway, I might as well just start this thing. You should probably open up this link in a new tab and listen to that Green Day prom song while you read this review.

I met Christina Sparhawk a little less than two years ago, just shy of six months from starting this project. I was lonely and sad and needed someone to share my heart like the last slice so I went to a Witch-Matchmaker and she set us up. When we first met, Christina handed me a piece of paper with a phone number on it and said, "if you're in a bad mood, call this number and ask for Manoff. Take it out on him." I didn't know her too well at the time and thought maybe she was a dominatrix or something and he was one of her johns and this was part of their thing. Turns out she was working as a hostess at a Burger Restaurant and this guy Manoff had been consistently stiffing her delivery guy on tips and just generally being a dick on the phone and she felt he needed some vengeance. At this point, I knew I was in love.

It's easy to write about smashing the state or how much I hate bro-dog frat culture masculinity or offing pigs or whatever, but how do you write about being in love in a way that doesn't suck? Do I rhapsodize about my girlfriend's beauty? (She is the most beautiful woman in the world.) Do I talk about how awesome and tough she is? (The other day some dude in a suit winked at her on the sidewalk and she punched him.) Do we discuss how talented and creative she is? (At everything.) Do I mention the ways we care for each other? (I honestly think she saved my life.) I don't know. This stuff is harder to talk about than all the hard stuff I talk about.

So I'll leave it to the poets. Go ask Yeats or Richard Brautigan what it's like to be in love, because all I can tell you is that I am honestly happy for the first time in my life and I can attribute a huge portion of that happiness to the truth of caring and being cared for. The fact is that we live in such a Sick Fucking Society that the simple act of honestly loving and being loved is transcendent and radical. Like I said last week, people are so alienated from themselves, from their own emotions and from each other that forging genuine human connections is NOT the go to means of interacting.

The other day I was talking to my friend Jamel who panhandles outside the supermarket in my neighborhood. In the summer we eat King Kones and talk about vampires because we both love vampires, but there was something in the air on that humid, too-warm Autumn evening, standing on the street watching the sun set, and we got to talking about life. Jamel told me, "the other day, I saw a guy drop a $100 bill. I picked it up and handed it back to him and you know what? He didn't give me shit." I scowled. "And you know what else, Colin? I don't care. Maybe he just got paid, maybe he had to spend the whole hundred on Thanksgiving dinner for his family or Christmas gifts for his kids. For a few minutes I thought that maybe he only had the $100 and he was would come back and give me something after he made change, but he never did." I was shaking my head pretty vigorously at this point, rolling us cigarettes. "And I still don't regret giving him that money back, although I could obviously use a hundred dollars. Because I did the right thing, and if more people did the right thing more of the time, instead of doing the easy thing, or the selfish thing, the world would be in a lot less trouble than it is today." He asked me if Christina, whom he had met the week before, was my girlfriend, and when I told him she was he said, "you better make sure to hold on to her. She's a keeper."

So me and Christina ate at Da Vinci Pizza last week, for my final review. As we first approached, my heart seized up because I mistook Da Vinci for Pranzo Pizza, where I had eaten the prior week with awesome newspaperman Aaron Rutkoff. And I thought for a second that maybe I had fucked everything up and hadn't done my research and Da Vinci had closed and my girlfriend was gonna hate me and everything was fucked and oh my god oh my god oh my god. Well, I was wrong. The fronts of Da Vinci and Pranzo may look similar but their interiors and their pizza are worlds apart.

This place looked and felt like a real pizzeria (check out Rob Bennet's photos accompanying the WSJ article about me [what?!] for evidence). And the pizza here, unlike the pizza at Pranzo, was real delicious pizza.

I was a little bit turned off by the fact that this slice of pizza was sitting on a piece of aluminum foil. But I am open minded, right? And it looked and smelled good. I lifted the slice, and it drooped a little more than is ideal, but I still had a good feeling. And I wasn't wrong! This slice had delicious ingredients. The cheese tasted great, the sauce was on the sweeter side, but didn't taste synthetic and was totally delicious. The dough was expertly made, though perhaps not cooked as much as I would have liked, and the whole slice had GREAT ratios.

Tina said, "it's got that youth fair taste that I like," and called it "carnival pizza." Now, I wouldn't necessarily disagree with this assessment with a small distinction. Traditionally I have discussed a disgusting type of pizza I love, which I've always called "roller rink pizza" because it reminds me of this pizza I ate at this roller rink in Queens at my parents' best friends' kid's birthday party when I was like, 8 that for some reason I remember really vividly. That sort of pizza is objectively bad, but I admit to loving it anyway. This slice, while superficially similar to this sort of pizza, is neither disgusting, nor objectively bad. I think the similarities lie in a certain amount of fluffiness in the cheese and the dough. But this dough was soft and supple without being rubbery, and the cheese, while bountiful, was not over whelming.

All told, this slice was totally satisfying, although not mind-blowing. But it was good, and I am happy to end on a positive note. I wouldn't go out of my way for this slice, but I stand behind it. I will eat here next time I am planning on spending an afternoon reading a book and riding the ferry back and forth. As we finished eating Christina let out a huge belch, smiled and said, "that was a burp of satisfaction."


Da Vinci Pizza - $2.50
44 Water St (Hanover Sq & Cointies Slip)
New York, NY 10004


  1. your achievement will live in legend for all time.

  2. Well done. Hope you do a catch-up on the couple that you missed. And would love a "Finals" showdown where you rate just on the slice (not on the price).

    And, yes, please keep the writing coming. You've got what it takes.

  3. In real life, I hope we'd be friends but I'm not sure would be... On the internet, I love and respect you. Thanks for insightful, entertaining and awesome writing. I hope we can all hear more from you soon.

  4. Fucking congratulations, man. What a run. I'm happy you're still going to keep writing here at least for a couple months more.

    I've been enjoying the later posts and their longer, philosophical bent. I think you're absolutely right about society being broken and people being nasty and inhumane to each other. I just never thought I would read these sentiments on a pizza blog.

    I'm happy you ended the pizza-eating for this project on a positive note. Well-deserved story in the WSJ.

  5. please are all these slices "dough nachos". a true test of a good pie is garlic grated cheese and sauce. for a serious pie come to new haven circa 1989 sally's (and if line to long pepe's). the real pie was original
    Spot on Wooster Street yeasty crusty nice tomato not to much cheese.

  6. You are the realest dude on the internet.

  7. Congrats!! I've been reading your blog from almost the beginning. And while I didn't always agree with your comments regarding the places I am familiar with, I loved your writing and your honesty. I hope we'll hear more from you.

  8. Thank you for all the effort you've put in here! The fact that you spent so much time working on this with very little monetary potential is a testament to you, and I can tell you this blog has been one of things keeping my faith in NYC alive. We really need more people like you in this city, and fewer bankers in glass condos.

    I award you ten slices of good pizza karma. Use it wisely...

  9. Congratulations on a great accomplishment, although in the best of all possible worlds, I wish you would continue.

    A really good place opened up a few months ago on 71st and Broadway. Little Italy Pizza I think. You were way past the Upper West Side by the time it opened.

    Maybe you could continue with reviews of the other boroughs, but only go to the truly good, recommended places. Skip the junk, of which there is way too much.

    The Bronx alone has at least two outstanding places. Full Moon, or Two Moon or something on Arthur Avenue. Also, the place that gets a lot of writeups: Louie and Ernies.

    And will we never get the Slicy reviews of your home borough's stellar places? Di Fara for one? Personally, I don't want to wait in the line there, so I was hoping to live vicariously through you.

    And if I told you that the father of a dancer in the New York City Ballet just happened to own a pizza shop in Queens, wouldn't you just HAVE to go try it?

    The pizza is just endless. . .

    Thanks for the great work,

    The anonymous donor.

  10. Being an avid SLICE reader, I've come across your site a number of times but never commented.

    Just wanted to say you managed to make a post about some pizza I will never eat pretty damn engaging. Read every word. Enjoyed your outlook and I'm happy for you and your gal.

    Keep writing.

  11. Cheers! I'll miss reading your work, can't wait for what is next!

  12. thanks for the best food-related blogging i've ever read or am likely to read again.

  13. Not cool that your gf punches someone for *winking* at her.

  14. Hi! just followed your blog from ML/DL. I have been very happy buying happy hour slices from "It's a Pizza!" on John street.

    I get 4 wonderful slices for 5 bucks incl tax and tip. slightly sweet.. great "ratios" as you say. great crust incl chewy ends.

  15. Love this post -- so happy for you and your new love! It has been a treat reading your blog, and I agree with Rodzilla above -- you've managed to make every word engaging and honest. Hope the future is full of great things for you!