The neapolitan pizza craze was just the beginning. This year, New York has seen the intriguing debuts of the square-cut St. Louis-style pizza, a defiantly non-droopy Wisconsin-
New York hybrid, avant-garde vegan pizza with a French pedigree, and, most happily for cheap eaters, a new and improved dollar slice. Contrary to what you might expect, some of the weirdest developments have come from the unlikeliest quarter: the highly codified ranks of our top Neapolitan pizzaioli, who wantonly tossed their precious dough into the Fryolator, stuffed it with porchetta, and even sculpted it into the shape of a tennis racquet. Here, a few of the current pizza moments not-so-regular slices.
This story appeared in the July 16, 2012 issue of New York Magazine.
$10 Maimonide of Brooklyn; 525 Atlantic Ave., nr. Third Ave., Boerum Hill; 718-797-2555
M.O.B. is both the abbreviated name of this art-project-cum-pizzeria, and its featured attraction: vegan whole-grain flatbreads baked in molds shaped like the arches of the Brooklyn Bridge. (Dom DeMarco, avert your eyes.)
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$23 Don Antonio by Starita, 309 W. 50th St., nr. Eighth Ave.; 646-719-1043
Whoever said Neapolitan pizza-makers were no fun has not studied the menu at Don Antonio. It’s a sprawling 54-pizza-strong document that occasionally makes you wonder whether it’s been hacked by some prankster over at Pizza Hut. Among the Margheritas and the marinaras, there’s a stuffed pizza, a half-pizza-half-calzone, and this delicious, vegetarian-friendly invention shaped (rather interpretively) like a tennis racquet with a ricotta-and-mushroom-filled “handle.” If Novak Djokovic ate gluten, you could stick a candle in it and serve it to him on his birthday.
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The Dressed-Up Dollar Slice
$1 Percy’s Pizza; 190 Bleecker St., nr. Macdougal St.; no phone
When the owner of South Brooklyn Pizza couldn’t move $4 slices in the pizza-saturated NYU zone, he downgraded the cheese and entered the recession-driven dollar-slice market. Granted, there’s very little variation at that price point, but recent side-by-sides give the edge to Percy’s for a brighter sauce, crisper and more flavorful crust, and superior character overall.
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$16 to $21 Nicoletta, 160 Second Ave., at 10th St.; 212-432-1600
No one—least of all Mike White—knows what to call his sturdy-crusted, toppings-forward, non-Neapolitan pizza. We’re going with Wiscopolitan (Wisconsin plus cosmopolitan). A teenage White spent time in a Wisconsin pizzeria called Domenico’s, the home of the Meatza pizza (sausage, pepperoni, ham, bacon, ground beef, and mozzarella). Nicoletta’s Calabrese is like that—a more refined Meatza minus the ham, bacon, and ground beef.
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The Pizza-Dough Sandwich
$7 to $9 San Matteo Panuozzo & Espresso Bar; 127 St. Marks Pl., nr. Ave. A; 212-979-8000
In a city obsessed with sandwiches and pizza, the panuozzo’s a no-brainer. Loaf-shaped pizza dough is split in half, stuffed with fillings, then crisped in the oven. After garnering a following at Yorkville’s San Matteo pizzeria, the panuozzo has made its way downtown, to an East Village storefront of its own.
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The Saint Louie
$16 Speedy Romeo, 376 Classon Ave., at Greene Ave., Clinton Hill; 718-230-0061
They top it with sausage, pepperoni, house-pickled peppers, and a Velveeta-like substance called Provel (a blend of Cheddar, Swiss, and provolone). Then they slice this sinister concoction into little squares—what the fun-loving citizens of St. Louis call a “party cut.” Why would anyone want to smuggle Provel into a mozzarella town like New York? Truth be told, it’s not bad on a pizza. Oh, all right, we admit it, it’s absolutely delicious.
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$10 Forcella, 334 Bowery, nr. Bond St.; 212-466-3300
If you keep up with Neapolitan pizza-making in New York, you know that the hottest thing going right now is the montanara, essentially a pizza Margherita that, like an eighties Patti LaBelle, has suddenly developed a shocking new attitude. To make a montanara, you flash-fry a round of dough, top it, then finish it off in the wood-burning oven. The result is a jaw-dropper. Everything is heightened a bit—the crispness around the edges, the contrasts of sweet-tangy flavor, and the exquisitely springy texture.
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The Pizzelle di Nonna
Two deep-fried puffs of dough with a splash of tomato, a grate of Parmesan, and a finishing-touch basil leaf—pizza as hors d'oeuvre.
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The Gourmet Stoner
$14 to $19 PeteZaaz, 766 Classon Ave., nr. Sterling Pl., Prospect Heights; 718-230-9229
A few things you might find atop your pie here: garlic-chip béchamel, fried chicken, creamed corn, pickled jalapeños, and pulverized Cheez-Its. The relatively subdued signature has purple Peruvian potatoes, crème fraîche, bacon, Cheddar, and green onion. There was a time when a plain old pizza could cure a case of the munchies. Times have changed. Now there is PeteZaaz pizza.
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The Porchetta-Pizza Sandwich
$10 La Montanara, 168 Ludlow St., nr. Stanton St.; 646-657-0730
A juicy slab of porchetta (plus smoked and regular mozzarella) meets the montanara (see slide 7). Let’s call it what it is: the Neapolitan answer to the Krispy Kreme cheeseburger.