Holy Basil: Totale Introduces the $5 Neapolitan Pie

Photo: TONY

Last week, Jay Cheshes praised Totale’s margherita pizza and said the $7 pies “may be New York’s most gently priced.” Well, get ready for some real sticker shock, because owner Eli Halali has quietly (and “indefinitely”) dropped the price of the margherita and marinara pies to $5. That’s right: five American doll-hairs for a 12” pie. He tells us it’s partly because St. Marks strollers were slow to adopt the place (“the area is very competitively priced,” and indeed the folks at May Chan have been handing out coupons for $1 mugs of Sapporo), and also because in about a week, he’ll offer the option of toppings priced from $1 to $3 (they’ll include artichoke, arugula, garlic, red onions, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, olives, green peppers; prosciutto, pepperoni, sausage; shredded Parmesan, pecorino Romano, goat cheese, extra mozzarella, etc.). But in the meantime, how are the $5 pies yielding a profit?

“Right now that’s not what we’re worried about,” says Halali, declining to talk dollars and cents. “We’re worried about introducing this pie to the people in the area.” He insists his pizzaiolo, former UPN oven-minder Gregory Ryzhkov, is using the same ingredients as you’d find in a $15 pie: San Marzano tomatoes, fresh buffalo mozzarella, basil, extra virgin olive oil, and Caputo flour. “Not even 2 Bros [his $1-a-slice joint] can compete with what you’re getting at that price.” Our recommendation: grab a box and take it across the street to the primo people-watching patio at Bull McCabe’s, where Rolling Rocks are three bucks.