Where Is The Best Pizza In New York City?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Few cities in the world are as inexorably linked to a particular food then New York City is to the pizza. Tokyo may be known for their sushi and ramen, Rome — Gelato; Edinburgh — haggis; Ho Chi Minh — pho, banh mi; Munich — bratwurst; Lima — ceviche; and countless others. But — minus the bagel or perhaps the pastrami sandwich — pizza is still forever linked to this city, at least for most travelers.

Need proof? Head to Grimaldi’s, DiFara Pizza, Lombardi’s or Artichoke, and I guarantee you will encounter a line, most of which is likely made up of visitors to the city (to the chagrin of nearby locals). Tell a friend you were just in New York, and one of the first questions they’re likely to ask is whether you tried the pizza. Also, watch “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” This highly accurate, well-researched film clearly depicts the obsession that not only New Yorkers have, but also are mutant reptile brethren, have for pizza.

So the question remains: you’re visiting New York, you want to try the pizza, where’s the best place to go? Well, depends on who you ask, er, read.

Let’s start with the perennial favorites: Grimaldi’s and DiFara Pizza. These two restaurants have been operating for years, and they both happen to be in Brooklyn, which gives them plenty of street cred. The lines are notoriously long at these two institutions, more so at Grimaldi’s due to it’s location at the end of the tourist trail that is the Brooklyn Bridge.

Di Fara, deep in the heart of Brooklyn (even I had to look this one up on Google Maps), caters to the more adventurous of the travelers due to its location, but still packs crowds around its counter who are looking for a taste of what New York Magazine routinely names the pizza in New York.

Most lists also include Lombardi’s, in Nolita, and John’s Pizzeria, on Bleeker Street in Greenwich Village. Lombardi’s boasts to be the first pizzeria in the U.S. (opening shop in 1905), and John’s is almost as much of an institution, even making the cut in “1000 Places to See Before You Die.”

But this is the 21st century and, with our flying cars and moon colonies, we want a pizza to claim as our own for this century. Enter Motorino. A scrappy start-up with locations in the East Village and in East Williamsburg. This restaurant serves up smaller pies with a focus on high-quality ingredients, and soon after opening, quickly started garnering raves from everyone from Rachael Ray to Sam Sifton who, in a rare NY Times review of a pizza joint, awarded it a one-star, something seasoned chefs at far more pretentious establishments would give their left arm for.

[Photo of Mario Batali, Mark Ladner and Jimmy Fallon eating pizza by Konstantin Sergeyev/Flickr]

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