Asking for the best pizza place in New York is a Zen mind puzzle — because the best pizza place is more of a state of being than a location where they simply combine dough, sauce, and cheese. And of course, absent some spices, that’s all you need on a pizza. Save your pineapple slices, artisanal whatever and crunchy kale for back home. This is New York.
1. Where is New York City’s best pizza, in your opinion?
The best pizza place in New York is some neighborhood joint you happen to stumble upon. It’ll seem too small and too hot inside, but that only means it will be a cozy place to exchange a few words with some other treasure hunters and it means the slice you order will be almost — almost — too hot to eat. The best place will allow you to convince yourself you alone know this gem, that even your favorite New York Tour1 tour guide doesn’t know. Sure, some people on the block will smile knowingly when they notice you, but you are the one who discovered the joint and you are the one who’ll go home with the secret.
2. If you had to recommend one pizza joint/location, which would it be and why?
If you need a nudge in the right direction, I recommend Italian Garden on the Upper East Side, 1526 1st Avenue #1, New York, NY 10075. They’ve been there, the same extended family, since 1970. The pizza cooks are all Italian, and someone’s grandmother is usually yelling at them in Italian, stopping only to take phone orders in English in between pies. The store also makes its own gelato, and has a full Italian menu.
If you insist on a second choice, then it’ll be Rosario’s, 173 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002. The same guy has owned it since … a really long time ago, and he dispenses wisdom, political thought, and will correct your opinions on which sports teams are the best this year at no extra charge. He doesn’t sell beer, but is happy to direct you to the convenience store down the block where you can buy a cold six pack to enjoy with your pie at his tables. This is New York with the dial turned up to 11!