New York City Pizza

In New York City, pizza can be a more contentious topic than politics. NYC is home to some of the greatest pizza geniuses of all time, so the competition for making the perfect pie is stiff. With delicious, creative options in seemingly every neighborhood, the pizza scene in New York City can be overwhelming, even to long time residents. But that isn’t a reason to resign yourself to less than extraordinary pizza. Here are some of my recommendations – aside from Lombardi’s, John’s of Bleecker Street, and Grimaldi’s, which I’m assuming you’re already familiar with.

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Di Fara
Original location:
1424 Ave J
Brooklyn, NY 11230
New Second Location:
109 N 3rd St
Brooklyn, NY 11249
Anthony Bourdain described Di Fara’s pizza as the best of the best, so it should come as no surprise that New York’s (arguably) best pizza costs $30 per pie. The Midwood location has been open since 1965, with Domenico DeMarco (the owner) making every pie and treating each one as an art form, a craft he and his family have mastered for years. All ingredients are fresh and flown in from Italy twice weekly. The new Williamsburg location in the North 3rd Street Market naturally lacks the authenticity of the original location, but being able to get this legendary pizza in Williamsburg is well worth the change of scene.

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Image courtesy of PQR on Instagram

1631 2nd Avenue
New York, NY 10028
PQR Pizza owner Angelo lezzi has been making pizza since he was 13, opened his first pizzeria in Rome 30 years ago, won The World’s Best Pizza by the Slice Championship in 1993, and is now the President of the Associazione Pizzerie Italiane. That is – he knows a thing or two about how to make the perfect slice. Through the years he experimented with the dough-making process and discovered a high-hydration, 96 hour, cold fermentation process that creates a fluffy crust with a crispy-bottom that is also easier to digest, lower in carbs, and higher in protein than standard pizza. PQR stands for Pizza Quadrata Romana and the restaurant just opened in March.

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Mani in Pasta
245 E. 14th Street
New York, NY 10003
Another Roman-style pizzeria owned by a world-champion pizza maker is Mani in Pasta, with an East 14th Street restaurant and a Midtown East take-out spot. Giuseppe Manco is the revered chef behind this joint and his pan pizza is what’s he’s earned championships for, but it’s not just the pizza that this chef does well; his entire Italian menu (meatballs, fritto misto, calamari, insalate, and much more) is a melt-in-your-mouth trip to the motherland.

Image Courtesy of Speedy Romeo’s

Speedy Romeo’s

63 Clinton Street at Rivington Street
New York, NY 10002
As one of the 126 NYC restaurants to be awarded a 2018 prestigious Michelin Bib Gourmand award, Speedy Romeo’s is the new gold standard for pizza. Its recipes are creative twists on classic Italian fare. House favorites include the Dangerfield, topped with béchamel, pork-veal meatballs, and ricotta; as well as the Anton Ego which features smoked eggplant, summer squash, and tomato concentrate.

Image Courtesy of  Houdini

Houdini Kitchen Laboratory
1563 Decatur Street at Wyckoff Avenue
Ridgewood, NY 11385
Located in a converted 19th-century brewery, this spot is effortlessly cool. Instead of overdosing on crazy toppings, Houdini’s wood-fired pizza features delicious, traditional flavors.

Image Courtesy of Patsy’s Pizzeria

Patsy’s Pizzeria
2287 1st Avenue at East 118th Street
New York, NY 10035
Pasty’s Pizzeria is the reason they coined the phrase “neighborhood institution.” Started in 1933, it became a 1970s hangout and inspiration for Francis Ford Coppola as he was dreaming up The Godfather. New Yorkers still venture there to feast on the coal-oven pizza topped with aged mozzarella.

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Loring Place
21 West 8th Street at Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10011
Pizza only comprises a small portion of this restaurant’s flavorful menu, but its been enough to earn the young chef Dan Kluger praise. Kluger’s joint won New York Magazine’s Best Pizza of 2018 for its whole-wheat baked crust topped with unexpected items like crab and fennel. Be sure to save room for the chocolate-orange cupcake.

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Joe & Pat’s
168 First Avenue b/t 10th and 11th Streets
New York, New York 10009
Up until last year, pizza-lovers had to haul all the way out to Staten Island to try the famous Pappalardo family’s thin-crust pizza, a staple of the neighborhood since 1960. Luckily for Manhattanites, the owners decided to bring their fresh ingredients and perfected menu to the East Village. It’s a more dressed-up vibe, with catching vintage signs and a dark wood bar, but underneath it all, you’ll get to enjoy the same mozzarella recipes that have made it a cult-favorite.


L’industrie Pizzeria
254 S 2nd Street b/t Roebling & Havemeyer Streets
Brooklyn, NY 11211
Chef Massimo Laveglia is a Florence native who envisioned L’Industrie as the perfect blend of Italian tradition and New York City authenticity. The menu items, all crafted from top-quality ingredients, range from the classic Margherita to a unique breakfast pie featuring egg, bacon, and mozzarella. You’ll want to save room for the house dessert, a Nutella pizza topped with strawberries.


New York City Summer Events

Summer is the season when the city really comes alive, with seemingly endless rosters of cultural and foodie events to enjoy. From checking out a film on the Hudson River or in Long Island City’s Socrates Sculpture Park, to sampling the city’s absolute best streetcar-food, you’re sure to find plenty to keep you busy during the summer months in NYC. Continue reading “New York City Summer Events”

Perfect Burger Search / Honolulu Edition

When you think about eating in Hawai‛i, the thought of a big, juicy hamburger may not be the first thing that crosses your mind, yet the 50th State has quite a few ‘hamburger joints’ that could compete against the best in any of the other 49 and beyond. To make your search easier when you get the craving to indulge in that All-American mainstay, here are my choices for the best burger restaurants on the island so far. I still have dozens more burger joints to try out. Being on a Pacific island, I think you’ll find some of the unique versions of the hamburger found in Honolulu to be superb.

Burgers and Things! (Image above)
1991 Pauoa Road, Honolulu
(808) 971-1946
Tuesday – Sunday: 11AM – 6PM; Closed on Mondays
You know you’ve found a winner when you ask locals where the best burgers in Honolulu are, and they tell you about Burgers and Things! Of course they have standard fare like the Juicy Burger braised in a house-made jus, and the Teri Burger dipped in their special teriyaki sauce. But they really shine with their Specialty Burgers, and the novelty names they give their burgers are good, too. The ‘I Came In Like a Butterball’ is a turkey burger with a tangy cranberry chipotle sauce. The ‘Wagyu Say?!’ is made from Wagyu beef, the Japanese-bred cattle that is known for intense marbling. The ‘Lamb Bam Thank Ewe Ma’am’ is made from Niihau lamb braised in a special jus with bacon, apple, and maple jam on honey pesto. All of their burgers are lightly charred to seal in the flavorful juices, and the meat is well-seasoned. With its fun comic book-themed dining room and playful customer service, this restaurant is a must-stop. The only negatives? Their dining room is often too small for crowds so you may have to order take-out or wait to be seated – and they close at 6:00 PM so it’s a lunch and early-dinner place only.

Chubbies Burgers
Ten Gallon Burger with Chub Fries. Photo courtesy Chubbies Burgers.

Chubbies Burgers
960 Auahi Street, Honolulu
Lunch truck in the parking lot (ocean side) near Starbucks/Jamba Juice
Open Tuesday – Sunday, Closed Monday
Lunch: 11 AM – 3 PM
Dinner: 5 PM – 9 PM
Chubbies Burgers is a no-frills lunch truck with plenty of seating outside and parking nearby. All they make here are angus beef hamburgers and fries, and that’s enough once you’ve tried them. They specialize in 50’s style hamburgers called ‘smash burgers’: cold beef is smashed down hard on a super hot griddle which forms a crust on one side locking in all of the juice and flavor. Their beef is from grass-fed cattle from Makaweli Ranch on Kaua‛i. All of their items are made-to-order so you know that your food is freshly made and not warming under a hot light. Their largest burger, the Ten Gallon, is packed with added bacon, grilled onion, cheddar cheese, and house barbecue sauce. Their signature crinkle fries are always crispy, and the Chub Fries are smothered with cheddar cheese, grilled onions, and a secret fry sauce. Any negatives? Yes, they’re closed on Mondays. Otherwise, they’re close to perfect for a hamburger lover. Not so much if you’re vegan or you’re into turkey burgers and other beef alternatives.

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Royal Burgers and Fries. Photo courtesy W & M Bar-B-Q Burger

W & M Bar-B-Q Burger
3104 Waialae Avenue, Honolulu
(808) 734-3350
Wednesday – Friday: 10 AM – 4:30 PM
Saturday and Sunday: 9 AM – 4:30PM; Closed Monday and Tuesday
This is another no-frills place where customers keep coming back for more. In fact, many people who grew up in this Kaimuki neighborhood return simply to buy the bar-b-q burgers they remembered from their childhood. The bar-b-q sauce recipe is so top-secret that the owner jokes that he was married for 5 years before he shared the recipe with his wife. The Royal Burger is their best seller with meat infused with the bar-b-q sauce. You can order the works with cheese, onion, tomato, and lettuce added. W & M’s fries are nice and crunchy, and there’s a popular Green River drink that’s non-carbonated and is the signature drink for hamburger lovers here. Negatives: there are only 5 parking spaces in their small lot, so many regular patrons park in the neighboring City Mill hardware store lot and dash over to get their burger fix. There’s also no place to eat on the premises, so customers order take-out, eat in their cars, and some die-hards eat on the sliver of a counter facing the wall in the corner – but W & M’s regulars will tell you that it’s all worth it.

Loco Moco Burger. photo by nathan k
Loco Moco Burger. Photo by Nathan K.

Mahaloha Burger – Waikiki
Royal Hawaiian Center, 2233 Kalakaua Avenue
(808) 926-6500
Open Every Day 9 AM – 10 PM
Located on the 2nd floor of the Food Court at the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center, this burger restaurant pumps out some good burgers and interesting items on their menu. The Loco Moco Burger is a twist on a local-style breakfast food, laying an over-easy fried egg onto the burger patty. The Avocado-Swiss, Bleu Cheese-Bacon, and Mushroom-Swiss all have patties that ooze out over the bun. Together with the house sauce, this can make for quite a messy and delicious experience. For non-beef eaters, Mahaloha offers a Chicken Katsu burger, a Mahi Mahi burger, a Veggie burger, and a Turkey burger. They also have a full assortment of hot dog varieties, and their Sweet Potato Fries make a nice partner to their burgers. Their service could be a little faster, but their food is made-to-order and they give customers a buzzer to carry with them if they want to order and continue shopping until their order is ready.