Okay, we’re not leaving today, but soon. (We will be closed Monday, September the 7th through Thursday September the 10th, opening as usual Friday, September 11th.) When it comes to the craft of hand tossed, NY style pizzamaking, Home Slice’s owners are just serious enough, or crazy enough, that they take 25+ employees to NYC each September. Why? To experience for themselves the community and passion of Italian American cooking, a ubiquitous part of the New York City landscape for over a hundred years.
No amount of literary skill or sheer enthusiasm could impart the minutiae, in the anarchy of the experience it is to eat at DiFara, that makes the pizza so magical. And, dare I say, a majority of New Yorkers consider it the best pizza in NYC. I don’t know if it’s despite of or because of the hour it takes to get to the front of the line to order, or the other hour it takes to get your pie, or the fluorescent lighting, or the yellowing putrid aqua paint, or the smoke, or the 30 people packed into the tiny space mad-dogging anyone sitting in the 8 chairs for a place to sit, or that your pizza comes out half on fire (quite literally), or the piece of plastic from the tie on the basil bunch freshly cut onto your pizza. But when you take that first bite that’s molten and soupy on top of a crispy cracker thin crust, nothing at all, not one damn thing in your life matters. Not your bills, love life, lack-there-of, cellulite, or the hairy mofo hovering over you announcing to everyone in earshot that your seat is his.
There isn’t a real analogue in Texas to this experience. You can get a no frills, homegrown and handmade experience at a family owned Mexican restaurant that’s steeped in tradition, but not with pizza. Which is why the owners of Home Slice feel that it is so imperative that they take their employees to the original source, New York City, where pizza places are on every corner and everyone, pizzaioli to patrons, is particular and passionate about their pizza. For many of our employees, this will be their first time in NYC, and their first time in a city with such a large Italian American population. It’s hard to imagine this country without the contribution of Italian culture, but it was a hard road for Italian immigrants and their families for a very long time, and the thing that has always stayed central to Italian families is fresh, home grown, handmade, comforting food. Food was and still is a unifying and essential part of Italian American life.
This year, our group of 26 strong will be eating more bread and cheese than frankly should be legal, at pizzerias and Italian eateries all over Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx. The goal is to eat at a variety of corner pizzerias and mom-and-pop sit down Italian restaurants. We will be sending the staff on a scavenger hunt and we will be playing a game called Slices Roulette where everyone grabs a slice from all around the city and brings them to a central location where we all try each slice and rate it. There will be no rest for the wicked. So far, our only confirmed stop is Lombardi’s, which we go to every year and is considered the first pizzeria in NYC located in Manhattan’s old Little Italy neighborhood.
Check back soon for updates on our trip and here’s a link to a list of all the great places we’ve gone the previous two years!