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New York Style Pizza


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I have sat on the sidelines of the DC pizza debate for a while. But I'm in New Yok City a lot lately, and, while I was waiting for a train, I finally had a pizza at Lombardi's. It was a revelation. It was not only the most delicious pizza I've ever had (with only four ingredients atop the crust: San Marzano tomatoes, Parmesan Reggiano, fresh mozzarella, and a chiffonade of basil), it was as crispy at the center as it was at the crust. I understand from what I've read that nobody makes a pizza like that here. But what is close? And why can't you get a pizza like that here?

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I have sat on the sidelines of the DC pizza debate for a while. But I'm in New Yok City a lot lately, and, while I was waiting for a train, I finally had a pizza at Lombardi's. It was a revelation. It was not only the most delicious pizza I've ever had (with only four ingredients atop the crust: San Marzano tomatoes, Parmesan Reggiano, fresh mozzarella, and a chiffonade of basil), it was as crispy at the center as it was at the crust. I understand from what I've read that nobody makes a pizza like that here. But what is close? And why can't you get a pizza like that here?

Nothing is close here. Enjoy it while you are in NYC. Anytime i'm up there, its NY-style pizza and deli for me - two things that are not available here. There really isn't any NY style pizza in DC that i've found and I have been searching for a long while. The closest i've found is the Mama Lucias chain which has pretty good pizza of somewhat a NY style.

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I've been to a number of the "best" pizza places in NYC and, as with some of the spots in New Haven, I think their reputation is somewhat inflated by myth and by New Yorkers' endless need to loudly and incessantly declare everything in their home town "the best." I at at Lombardi's myself on Sunday and, while I quite enjoyed it, it was far from a "revelation" (of course, it wasn't my first time there, either).

That being said, some of it's pretty damn good and it is indeed a different style from that available here in Washington. Some credit the coal-burning ovens as providing unique crustage and browning properties, though I've had soggy, nasty crusts from some of the classic coal-burning joints (I'm looking at you, Patsy's). Others credit the New York City water in the crust. The debate rages on endlessly among the pizza cognoscenti, and will likely never be resolved. I actually think that Comet comes relatively close to New York style, within the framework of their idiosyncrasies, and maybe Pete's, which makes sense given that they are "New Haven" inspired and New Haven seems to be first cousin to New York in the pizza family tree.

Next time you get up to New York I'd suggest walking across the Brooklyn Bridge (just for fun) and circling beneath it to sample Grimaldi's; Catching the train out to Coney Island (while it's still Coney Island) and walking over to Totonno's (my favorite) or spending the day in SoHo or the Village and crashing Arturo's. As always, planning your arrival at an off hour will enhabce your dining experience.

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it was as crispy at the center as it was at the crust.

There really isn't any NY style pizza in DC that i've found and I have been searching for a long while.

Honestly, that doesn't really sound like NY style pizza to me - it sounds like something all its own. From what I know of NY style pizza, it doesn't make any attempt to be as crispy in the center as it is at the crust - instead, the slices are actually rather floppy due to their size and the thinness of the crust, and as a result it can be folded.

I've never had Lombardi's, and I can't think of a single place in DC that makes a pie like what you've described. Traditional Neapolitan pies are actually supposed to droop at their center, so 2 Amys and similar operations are obviously out, even though they offer pie options with the same sparse, yet high quality, ingredients. However, if you're looking for NY style pizza as I know it, Radius in Columbia Heights definitely fills that need. And, as an aside, when you reheat it, the entirety of the already sturdy slices actually become quite stiff and crispy.

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I agree with Gennaro in that a "NYC Slice" is big enough that I can fold it, with a thin crust that maintains some level of crisp-ness.

The only such pie I've encountered in the area is actually at Washington Deli. I don't know if its even still there as I no longer work on the K Street corridor but I believe it was at 20th and K, by the Washington Sports club. From what I remember, the family that owned the place (this was circa 2004-2005) was from Queens and was definitely making an attempt at creating what I thought of as NY style pizza. I used to love going there for a slice or two at lunch. If they're still up and running, I'd definitely recommend them.

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There was a fire at the Coney Island Totonno's in March and it hasn't reopened.

I would avoid Grimaldi's at all costs. It is not even as good as it was three years ago.

Totonno's is (and has been for months, according to web reports) scheduled to re-open "very soon." I figure by the time anyone wants to go to Coney Island, there's a good chance the coal will be fired up once again.

I had an excellent pie at Grimaldi's a couple of years back. Has ownership changed? Or we just in the "all pizza is subjective" zone?

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I am pretty confident that the vast majority of people would find Grimaldi's subjectively worse than it was a few years ago. There are rumors that the ownership has changed, it certainly appears to be run by Russians now.

A fair number of NYC restaurants have had "kitchen fires" in the recession and haven't reopened. It's not like they have to put the marble back in the dining room down there.

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A fair number of NYC restaurants have had "kitchen fires" in the recession and haven't reopened. It's not like they have to put the marble back in the dining room down there.

Are you saying that the New York Post is not a trustworthy source for hard news? :angry:

Note: the number in the article is "not in service," which suggests that The New York Post is not a trustworthy source for hard news.

Maybe they actually used the down time to do a little renovation. The only time I was there it looked as though it already suffered through some sort on minor disaster -- no marble flooring , indeed -- and it's my understanding that things like traditional coal ovens can be a bitch to rebuild.

At any rate, I suspect one difference between Totonno's and a swank Midtown spot with a kitchen fire is that the overhead approaches zero and the clientele is less inclined to follow fashion, making it a pretty sure profit generator.

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Next time you get up to New York I'd suggest walking across the Brooklyn Bridge (just for fun) and circling beneath it to sample Grimaldi's; Catching the train out to Coney Island (while it's still Coney Island) and walking over to Totonno's (my favorite) or spending the day in SoHo or the Village and crashing Arturo's. As always, planning your arrival at an off hour will enhabce your dining experience.

While you may like the fading fast Lombardi's, I can assure you that there is no off-hour at Arturo's. Well, Tuesday nights at 10:30, perhaps.

For the best of the new-wave Neapolitan pizze, try Keste on Bleecker St. or Motorino on E. 12th. Truly excellent pies, but not necessarily to everyone's liking.

The best slice is still, imo, Joe's on 6th Avenue.

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While you may like the fading fast Lombardi's, I can assure you that there is no off-hour at Arturo's. Well, Tuesday nights at 10:30, perhaps.

For the best of the new-wave Neapolitan pizze, try Keste on Bleecker St. or Motorino on E. 12th. Truly excellent pies, but not necessarily to everyone's liking.

The best slice is still, imo, Joe's on 6th Avenue.

I prefer Arturo's to Lombardi's but, on our last visit, stomachs were grumbling too early to head down to Houston St.

However, on our last trip to the Big Ap we timed the wandering, museums and booze to arrive at the 3PM opening bell -- perfect for Sunday dinner -- and had a choice of tables, a leisurely service and, when the kitchen screwed up a pizza, a do-over without attitude or stress. We even had the option of dining al fresco. The great thing about being a tourist is that 3 o'clock on a Sunday afternoon or 10 PM on a Tuesday night are both as easy to do as 7PM on a Friday.

And what's not to like about Lombardi's? A second choice, no doubt, but reasonable consolation prize even if the expansion has diluted its charm somewhat.

Joe's is now on The List.

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I prefer Arturo's to Lombardi's but, on our last visit, stomachs were grumbling too early to head down to Houston St. However, on our last trip to the Big Ap we timed the wandering, museums and booze to arrive at the 3PM Sunday opening bell -- perfect for Sunday dinner -- and had a choice of tables, a leisurely pace and, when the kitchen screwed up a pizza, a do-over without attitude or stress. We even had a choice of inside or outside. The great thing about being a tourist is that 3 o'clock on a Sunday afternoon or 10 PM on a Tuesday night are both as easy to do as 7PM on a Thursday.

And what's not to like about Lombardi's? A second choice, no doubt, but reasonable consolation prize even if the expansion has diluted its charm.

Joe's is now on The List.

[Please understand that I'll split the non-DC stuff into the New York thread in the Intrepid Traveler forum.]

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