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With everything going on in the world, it’s no surprise that a wave of nostalgia-suffused dishes has rolled onto the scene, offering a little comfort in this already high-strung city. (For proof, see our list of the best dishes and drinks we tried this year.) And what could be a better capstone to this food pyramid of solace than the mighty slice? We’re not talking about the lackluster dollar slices you devour with drunken fervor at 4am. This year, some real powerhouses stepped away from fancy pies and stuffy sit-down experiences in favor of individual servings in fast-casual settings.
“Our wood-burning place serves pizza that doesn’t travel well at all, so we had to stop doing takeout,” says Greenpoint pizza guru Paulie Gee, explaining why he decided to open his spin-off, Paulie Gee’s Slice Shop. An homage to the spots he grew up with, the parlor fully embraces the 1960s aesthetic, from the faux-wood Formica tables and letter-board menu to the red plastic trays and the paper plates on which each slice rests. The only difference is the updated menu, which features the Hellboy ($4.25), a pepperoni slice doused in chili-infused honey for a sweet-and-spicy twist.
Hot honey is just a taste of the unique toppings that make those lukewarm buffalo-chicken slices look even sadder. At Sauce Pizzeria, owner Adam Elzer found a loophole to dotting pizzas with the divisive pineapple: He cooks the fruit so that it disappears into a rich sauce, which is then adorned with slow-roasted pork for his Al Pastor slice ($5).
Meanwhile, it has never been so hip to be square. While Detroit-style pies have been snowballing in popularity in the past few years, the NYC institution Artichoke Pizza went in on the trend with Lions & Tigers & Squares, crafting the Classic ($5) and other petite individual squares that breathe new life into the personal pizza.
On the simpler side, the Tomato slice ($3.75) at the recently renovated Sullivan Street Bakery is a crisp love letter to tomato sauce, demonstrating that you don’t need a lot of flair (or cheese, for that matter) for a perfect portion. “I’m not a pizza fascist,” insists owner Jim Lahey. “Simplicity is best, with three, four or five ingredients, tops.”
Then there’s Frank Tuttolomondo of Mama’s Too. As he points out, “I mean, everyone loves cheese, everyone loves tomato sauce, and everyone loves bread. Like, who doesn’t love carbs?” Uptown, he’s dishing out his House slice ($3.50), which combines the eatability of a New York slice with the robust flavors and airy crust of a Neapolitan pie.
New York City has always been a town that runs on pizza, but this tasty trend proves there’s never been a better time to slice up your life.
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