The city's finest pies.
Tue Apr 14 2009
Sullivan Street Bakery owner Jim Lahey applies his bread-baking skills to the pizza trade. Individual, minimalist pies include the "flamb" (bchamel, Parmiggiano, buffalo mozzarella, caramelized onions and lardons). 230 Ninth Ave at 24th St (212-243-1105). Average pie: $14.
Denino's Pizzeria Tavern
The scent of something sweetly baking sweeps away any hesitation that you're on the wrong corner. The unmistakable smell of charred pies has been wafting out of the same building since 1951. Carlo Denino's thin-crust pizzas have become a Staten Island staple, along with cheap beer ($8 a pitcher) and ruby-colored sangria ($15 a pitcher). The sturdy but slim pizza is especially good when graced with fresh clams, garlic and parsley; or soft meatballs, thick slices of onion and clouds of ricotta. 524 Port Richmond Ave between Hooker Pl and Walker St, Staten Island (718-442-9401). Average pizza: $11. Cash only.
For more than 40 years, Italian-born Domenico De Marco has eaten a slice of his own pizza every day—a one-man quality-control outfit. You know he's doing something right. His painstakingly crafted Neapolitan pies—cracker-thin crust with a pleasing char and a subtle Parmesan zing—are widely considered to be among the city's best. Herbs growing in the window boxes flavor the sauce, and the dough is made fresh several times a day. 1424 Ave J at 15th St, Midwood, Brooklyn (718-258-1367). Large plain pizza: $20. Cash only.
If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself—and in the case of chef Michael Ayoub's restaurant, Fornino, that means growing his own pizza toppings. Ayoub is sprinkling his wood-fired brick-oven pies with herbs and vegetables grown in the restaurant's greenhouse. He'll combine freshly picked rosemary, for example, with Gorgonzola, mozzarella and caramelized onions. 187 Bedford Ave between North 6th and 7th Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-384-6004). Average pizza: $10.
The brainchild of husband-and-wife team Francine Stephens and Andrew Feinberg, this progressive pizzeria draws a mix of hip moms, peckish young urbanites, and cute couples from neighboring Park Slope and Prospect Heights. This is socially responsible pie, made with hormone-free meats and local produce. Try the tomato and mozzarella pizza topped with house-made sausage, or a pasta—like the caccio e pepe, bursting with pecorino. 295 Flatbush Ave between Prospect Pl and St. Marks Ave, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn (718-230-0221). Average main course: $15.
The tourist hordes haven't ruined Grimaldi's, whose pedigree--going back to Patsy Grimaldi's first job at his uncle's pizzeria in 1941--assures it guidebook coverage. The jukebox still honors Sinatra, the waitstaff is surly, and the salami-mozzarella-and-roasted pepper antipasto ($10) remains as disappointing as a handshake after a date. But oh, the pizza: a thin crust covered with a mozzarella-to-sauce ratio that achieves the Platonic ideal. 19 Old Fulton St between Front and Water Sts, Dumbo, Brooklyn (718-858-4300). Average pizza: $16. Cash only.
Pizza maven Mark Iacono bakes thin-crust pies—made with house-made sauce and imported mozzarella—and calzones to crispy perfection in his wood-burning oven. Must-tries include an artichoke and garlic pizza, and a five-cheese calzone that is big enough for two. 575 Henry St between Carroll St and 1st Pl, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn (718-858-4086). Average pizza: $24. Cash only.
Neapolitan pizzeria Motorino's "DOC" version of the Margherita—the classic combination of tomato sauce, mozzarella and basil—comes with melted islands of buffalo-milk mozzarella on a thin layer of sweet sauce. The crust meets two critical standards, with both properly blistered char and a wonderful elasticity. 319 Graham Ave between Ainslie and Devoe Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-599-8899). Average pizza: $12.
Otto Enoteca Pizzeria
At Mario Batali's inspired pizza place, expectant diners are assigned a city, then must wait for it to be posted on a board imported from an Italian train station. It's a cute idea, but the centerpiece here is the selection of individual-sized pizzas. Toppings such as shell-on clams or lardo-thin slices of luscious pork fat, are terrific and come on a pitch-perfect crust. 1 Fifth Ave at 8th St (212-995-9559). Average individual pizza: $12.
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