Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Pizza Italia: "This could've been better but it was pretty good."

A while ago I ate pizza with this guy Paul Lukas. Hopefully in a few months or years I can say, "my friend Paul Lukas," but for now we are just people who know each other and maybe there is reciprocal admiration, but maybe I just admire him and that's fine. Let me tell you about my future friend Paul. See, way back in the hinteryears of the mid-90s there used to be this store on E 7th St call See Hear and it only sold zines. And they would sell ANY zine ever. I bought my first issues of Cometbus and Punk Planet there (I bought my first issue of MRR at Tower Records, though). I looked at my first (and only) NAMBLA bulletin there at the ripe old age of 14. I was constantly befuddled by the black man who would come in and buy all the Neo-Nazi newspapers that were for sale. Later I almost got arrested right outside for drinking a 40 in the middle of the 7th St but the cop seemed more concerned with the fact that my handrolled cigarette might have been weed than with the fact that I was underage drinking in public. Go figure!

Among the many zines I devoured as a teenager in the 90s, one of my consistent favorites was this zine called Beer Frame, which I never actually bought at See Hear and would buy at St. Marks Books, now that I think of it. I'm not sure why that is. ANYWAY. In Beer Frame, subtitled "The Journal of Inconspicuous Consumption," Paul set out to review any and every product available both domestically and internationally. From Beverly Bulk Sausage With Natural Juices, 10.5 oz can to the Brannock Device (that thing they use at shoe stores to measure you foot), Paul would review ANYTHING. And he did so with a degree of insight and stylistic panache that I still aspire to today. For over a decade, every time I've seen one of those weird tiny plastic tables they put in the middle of your pizza I've thought about Paul's thoughts about that object in an issue of Beer Frame.

That three-legged doohickey is called a lid support. It may not look like much, and it probably cost your pizzeria less than a penny, but it's saved many a pizza... from an unhappy fate. The lid support is so innocuous, and its functional utility so efficiently matter-of-fact, that it's become the perfect example of a product too simple for its own good: Everyone knows what it is but nobody outside the pizza biz knows what it's called, and most people just take it for granted. Hiding in plain sight, it has become classically inconspicuous--a stealth element in our consumer culture. 

He then goes on to provide a detailed and presumably accurate history of Lid Supports! What? If there's anything I pretty much indiscriminately love it's when people indulge their desire to be totally obsessive about something totally arbitrary and really go all out in executing it. See also, Dishwasher Pete.

I met Paul when we were both doing one minute interviews on 7 Second Delay's "60 Most Important New Yorkers in 60 Minutes" radio show. He is currently working on a ton of rad projects, but that day he was getting interviewed about Uni-Watch, his website about sports uniforms. (He also works for ESPN and like, writes cool shit all the time and is just generally a great dude.) We eventually re-met at the City Reliquary and I found out he did Beer Frame and I was really excited and asked him to come eat pizza with me, and he agreed. Then I texted his land line for like, 10 months before I figured out what was going on and we finally made plans and we met outside Pizza Italia on a blustery Autumn day.

Pizza Italia is a real proper pizzeria, which is a rarity for the Financial District, which seems to be mostly full of places that are Investment Opportunities or Business Plans instead of Pizza Parlors or Restaurants. But Pizza Italia feels honest, and honesty is really important to me. When Paul and I got there, it was super slammed with the Soulless Business Dude Lunch Rush. It was totally chaos in there, but I noticed the pizzaman check on my slices a couple of times before handing them to me. Which is to say, he didn't just pull them out once they were hot, he made sure they were cooked well, and that's a degree of care and consideration under pressure that is rare these days.

I know I usually share slices, but me and Paul were hungry and this place looked non-shitty.
This slice had a good crunch and expert ratios, but the the cheese texture was a little mealy. And it felt cheap, which is a shame. If they hadn't cheaped out on the cheese, this slice would've been pretty amazing. They certainly gave it adequate care, there was a perfect amount of grease, and the crust and sauce were phenomenal! Paul said, "it's not like, world class, but it's a perfectly solid, legitimate slice." And I tend to agree with that assessment. But it WOULD be world class if they had better cheese!


Pizza Italia - $2.75
11 Stone St (Whitehall & Bond)
New York, NY 10004


  1. He's back!

    Missed you, schmuck from Brooklyn. Great review, excellent story. Keep it going.

  2. Thomas, thanks, as always.

    Officer, I suggest you refrain from reading the rest of this website, because I've certainly said much worse things about cops than "go figure."

  3. The lady who runs the place calls you "hun," but they serve a really great grandma slice.

  4. Place also makes a mean cannoli.

  5. I too LOVED Beer Frame back in the day!

  6. Pizza Italia's Grandma round slice and Buffalo Chicken slices are some of the best pizza I've ever eaten. The regular cheese is pretty ordinary by NY standards, but I really recommend going back and trying those other two.

  7. This pizza looks very delicious. Next week I am going to New York. I will definitely visit Pizza Italia's and try their pizza.