Every October we say, “October is National Pizza Month – celebrate accordingly.” This year we’re letting our imaginations run free – if we could spend October traveling anywhere and eating pizza every day – where would we go?
So now we present 31 Days of National Pizza Month – 31 Pizzerias we’d visit if we could! Most we’ve been to, some are goal destinations. Here’s the list and why we chose them! By the way, they’re listed in a loose travel order, not a rating system.
- Frank Pepe’s – New Haven CT – We did a New Haven tour years ago, and haven’t had a chance to go back. Whenever we hear that someone we meet is from New Haven, we ask “Pepe’s or Sally’s?” They’re the two classic New Haven coal-fired originals. Cary likes Sally’s best. Lillian likes Modern Apizza. So we’d compromise and go to Pepe’s. Then maybe Sally’s afterwards – it’s just down the block. 157 Wooster St, New Haven, CT 06511
- Louie & Ernie’s – Bronx, NY – Every time Cary has been in the Throgs Neck section of the Bronx, he either has to stop at this quintessential Bronx slice joint, or he whines. A transcendental sausage and onion slice, or just the plain slice. Bronx neighborhood atmosphere, and very good homemade Italian ices just a couple of doors down the block. 1300 Crosby Ave, Bronx, NY 10461
- The Original Umberto’s – New Hyde Park, NY – This was our go-to pizzeria for all the decades we lived on Long Island – and we miss it. Their Sicilian is the best on Long Island and they invented the Grandma pizza; nobody does that better than Umberto’s. 633 Jericho Turnpike New Hyde Park NY 11040
New Park Pizza, Howard Beach, Queens, NY – Hands down, our favorite slice joint in the five boroughs. We’re not sure what’s going on in those ovens. Cary would swear he saw coal burning in the back of one of them, we’ve heard that they salt the oven floor… Whatever it is, it’s a great well-done slice. Close to JFK airport, so ask the Uber driver to stop there. Buy him or her a slice. Here’s our original review. 156-71 Cross Bay Blvd, Howard Beach, NY 11414
- Patsy’s Pizza, East Harlem, NY – It’s been there since 1933. Like Totonno Pero and others, Patsy Lancieri learned his trade from Gennaro Lombardi who opened the first licensed pizzeria in New York. This place is not only a major part of New York pizza history, they still turn out some of the finest coal-fired pizza in town. We may be mistaken, but we think they’re the only one of the old-school coal oven places that actually sell slices. Get a whole pie anyway. And sit under the life-size oil portrait of Sinatra if you can. NOTE: This is the only Patsy’s we recommend. 2287 First Avenue, New York NY 10035.
- Joe’s Pizza, Greenwich Village, NY – Is it the best slice place in Manhattan? Let’s put it this way – if we were on the subway anywhere near the West 4th St Station, we’d get off for a slice at Joe’s. It’s a perfect New York slice, one of very few left in Manhattan, and worth traveling for. Yes, it’s patronized by the famous and the near-famous, but don’t let that stop you. 7 Carmine Street New York, NY.
- Paulie Gee’s, Greenpoint, Brooklyn, NY – First, the full disclosure: We consider Paulie Gee our friend and a pizza-making mentor. Also, Cary spent two nights at Paulie Gee’s learning to stretch dough (and whatever other knowledge he could pick up). Now that we’ve stated that, we can state that we love the wood-fired pizzas (and the atmosphere) at Paulie Gee’s, we enjoy his topping combinations and the names he comes up for his pies, we’d go there anytime, and the only other reason we’d go to Greenpoint is to try Paulie’s new slice shop around the corner. 60 Greenpoint Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11222 and Paulie Gee’s Slice Shop, 110 Franklin Street, Brooklyn, NY 11222.
- Best Pizza, Williamsburgh, Brooklyn, NY – Haven’t been there yet, but we keep hearing things from other pizza aficionados. And we keep seeing owner Frank Pinello on our TV, visiting other pizzerias with respect (he hosts The Pizza Show on cable), and we are eager to try his wares. 33 Havemeyer St, Brooklyn, NY 11211
- L&B Spumoni Gardens, Brooklyn, NY – Cary is fond of saying, “My brothers and I grew up at Spumoni Gardens!” He says it because it is largely true, although they did go to Nathan’s from time to time. L&B is a Brooklyn classic and the Sicilian pizza is sui generis (the only Latin phrase we know – ‘of its own kind’). This is what we’ve said before: “Spumoni Gardens is more than just great and unique Sicilian pizza – it’s a journey into a working class Italian-American Brooklyn that most Americans haven’t seen outside the movies. If you visit Brooklyn and you haven’t been to L & B, go for the pizza, the spumoni (a delicious ice milk dessert) and for the overheard conversations! Just don’t listen too closely, capisce?” 2725 86th St, Brooklyn, NY 11223
Margot’s Pizza, Brooklyn, NY – It’s not a pizzeria. We haven’t been there yet. But knowing that Adam Kuban, the founder of Slice and pizza enthusiast extraordinaire does a bar pie popup every month makes our mouth water. What’s a bar pie (or bar pizza)? Here’s what Adam says: “very thin crusted, decidedly crisp, well-done but not to the point of being burned, large enough to share but small enough you could house one yourself.” In order to get in on this, you have to visit the website, buy tickets in advance (they sell out fast), and get to Clinton Hill on the appropriate night. If we had a bucket list, Margot’s would be on it. margotspizza.com.
More of National Pizza Month to come next week!