Letter From Camp NYC Pizza, Vol I

Posted in Home Slice in NYC by robhomeslice on September 24, 2013

Dearest Austin,

 

 

We landed at JFK tired, a little confused, and hungry. We were right on track following the steps of the Italian immigrant history of pizza, here in old New York City. It’s 28 of us, Austin. Some of us have gone every year for the last six; some of us have never been to New York before at all. Some of us worked until about three hours before the plane took off @7:00 AM yesterday. Some were too nervous too sleep. All of us, dear Austin, came here on our pilgrimage w/ a piece of Austin in our hearts. It is the graffiti we leave behind here in this concrete canyon, here is this tall city w/ small strips of sky. We come like the immigrants before us, with our native Texas soil in the crease of our shoes, to New York so that we can learn more than we know, test what we believe, and, unlike the immigrants, to return home to the soft and rolling hills, the clear and wide sky, the sweet and cool rivers and greenbelt, of the City that is our home, the place where our ovens burn.

mikeliv

Mike and Liv soaking in NYC.

We went straight to L&B Spumoni, in Gravesend, Brooklyn, just spitting distance from Bensonhurst. It is an aging Italian community and there, for 63 years, is this pizza shop: L&B. It has a wall of ovens, 3 triple stacks in a row, w/ a fourth in the corner, a pounding table between it and the long line of shiny, metal deck ovens. Out front there is a large patio, lined w/ long rows of bench tables. The locals outnumber the tourists 2:1, and tourists arrive in busses for the famous Sicilian Square pie.  The accents are amazing, Austin. They are sharp, and lyrical, and hard nosed. Everyone, it seemed, was talking about “Dis Guy” or “Dat Guy”. Everyone was advising the other: “fuggehdaboutit”. We could not fugghedabout their pie, their famous Sicilian. Its lift is something else, Austin – like pound cake. The sauce is sweet, not quite like cake icing but somehow not quite not like cake icing. The pizza men carried pie after pie out of their kitchens into the patio, to the waiting groups of families, and strangers who had become friends. I can’t lie, I think our Sicilian is different – crisper, lighter, less saucy, but saucier in attitude. Confident and sexy. Just like you, Austin.

lucali

The whole gang getting Lucali all to ourselves.

We later went to Lucali, in Carroll Gardens. This little shop is just over seven years old (remind you of any other pizza shops you might know?). The owner and pizza maker, Mark Ionoco, is a neighborhood guy who made good and took over a failing candy store and converted it into a shop which is, in its own way, an homage to Dom DiMarco @ DiFara’s Pizza. Mark is cooking in a 900° wood fired oven. He hangs his kitchen mandolin on the parmesan grinder mounted on the corner of the thick marble slab where he hunches and stretches his dough. His pies cook in just under three minutes, with minimalist but bona fide ingredients. Oh, Austin, I wish you could meet Mark. We’re trying to convince him to come visit. He’s dying to do so. He’s heard so much about you. Mark opened his shop to us, and talked pizza w/ us. He was kind of stunned at what we knew, and that there were so many of us. It is simply him and an apprentice, in his shop, with three very, very pretty women working the front of house and lavishing us w/ hospitality. We shook hands when we left, pleased to meet a brother in arms, and friend in a strange place.

Today we took pizzas from Ben’s, pizzas from Prince Street Pizza, Italian, Meatball, and Eggplant subs from Faccio’s (est. 1932) and carried the entire picnic across the island of Manhattan to the piers on the West Side, with the beautiful Statue of Liberty directly South of us, and New Jersey to the West. We stared West, past that industrial skyline, and knew you were past that horizon, Austin. We ate slices, sharing bites. We fed each other sandwiches, careful of the messy and downright sexy marinara sauce on the meatball and eggplant parms. Their Italian Assorted was brilliant in the contrast of the spices in the cured Italian meats, and the zing of the vinegar dressing the lettuce and tomatoes. The picked peppers are an amazing touch. The bread, so soft and deep in texture and flavor, is dusty w/ flour, and split up the side like a taco.

spencekev

Spencer and Kevin hogging all the leftovers.

There are no Breakfast Tacos here, Austin. It is hard to believe.  It’s most hard to believe in the morning, when you really want a taco.

We leave in a couple of hours for Staten Island, to Denino’s Pizzeria. It’s a home grown, family shop now run by ex-fireman Mike. Mike’s great grandfather John (American born and Sicilian Immigrant’s son) opened the shop in 1937Mike also has a room full of ovens, like L&B, satisfying the community that grew up eating that pie for special occasions of celebration, or simple occasions of families joining for food. Their pie is special, Austin. Crisp and perfectly cooked. Served w/ a kind of Staten Island sass that warms your heart, and tickles your ribs.

keegjeffjackie

Keegan, Jeff and Jackie ready for more food. Bring it!

We are two days in, Austin, w/ two more to go. There is so much to see, so much to try to learn. So many great cooks and pizza makers.  And, I have to tell the truth: the people here are really, really nice. New York has been kind and loving to us.

But we look forward to coming home, Austin. To be with you, day and night. To feed you the pie we make with love, in the town that is our home. We are immigrants no more, Austin. And in two days, we will be home.

-Philly

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Sicilian Pie Is Here!!

Posted in Sicilian Pizza! by robhomeslice on May 28, 2013

Get Hip to the Square! 

sicilian

Thick, airy, saucy and complete with a crisp, oil-fried bottom, the legit Sicilian slice you’ve been craving is now available at Home Slice! A staple of most NY slice places, Sicilian-style pizza has always intrigued us, and this past spring we started developing our own recipe in earnestNow that it’s perfected, we’re serving it on Mondays only – by the slice or the whole pie — until we run out. Please come try it out and tell us what you think!

The Home Slice Sicilian is

  • A square slice, with 9 slices in one pie.
  • Made with an artisan dough that takes longer to rise
  • Similar to focaccia, airy and has body.
  • Is soft with a crisp, olive oil fried bottom.
  • Worth the wait; it cooks longer than a normal pizza – 13 minutes in the pan and two minutes out of the pan, directly on the pizza stone.
  • The plain is topped with Home Slice house sauce, provolone, thinly sliced mozzarella, Romano and oregano – and in true Sicilian style the cheese is underneath the sauce! And the pepperoni has all that and…well… loads of our delicious pepperoni.
  • $3.50/slice plain; $3.75/slice pepperoni; $22 for a whole plain pie and 24.50 for a whole pepperoni pie.
  • Like all Home Slice Pizza, made with love

Our poetic kitchen manager, Phil, rolls his sleeves up yet again to share how our Sicilian slice fits into an illustrious history:

Sicily.

This craggy bit of rock sticking out of the Mediterranean, flaunting the smoking tip of Mt. Etna, is on the other side of the Italy, separated by the Straits of Messina where mermaids were first sighted.  Sicily has been consistently invaded and abandoned, every hundred years or so, since about the 4th century BC. The population, generation after generation, became stronger and stronger, more and more reliable upon themselves, cherishing their independence and freedom as only an occupied people can.

Then they came to America. Italian Grocers began putting ovens in the back of their shops. Locals stopped in for food from the old country, community in the new neighborhood, and for this new thing they were making: pizza.

When the Atomic Age hit, pizza became undeniably American with the advent of Industrial Ovens using gas instead of coal, made of steel instead of stone. The old school Italians, of course, kept using stone to cook on. Pizzas went from being Neapolitan, small and puffy, to New York Style – Large, crisp, and divided into slices. This meant that what had been a food designed for one person became food designed for one family.

It was in the 50s and 60s that the Sicilian Pizza was born. The Sicilian, so named for that romantic bit of rock in between Africa and Italy. The Sicilian, the left-handed cousin. Luka Brasi was from Sicily. That huge, loyal, dependable killer: Sicilian.

The Sicilian Pizza is a different dough from New York Style. While the New York style is strong and springy the Sicilian is soft and lush. While each goes through a 48-hour proofing period, the proof for the Sicilian is mostly at room temperature, while the New York Style is cold fermented the majority of the time. While New York Style is round, the Sicilian is square – dependable in its right angles and geometry.

Sicilian Pizza is called everything from “Sicilian” to “Square Pie” to “Upside Down Pie” to “The Grandma Slice”. It carries all these different monikers because each time it was conceived it was brought about by someone’s personal affection. These were Italian Americans who had moved to Brooklyn and Staten Island from the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Italians who had settled in Jersey. Each shop began making its own version of the square pie, invoking the Grandmother for luck. “The Grandma Slice” says it all. The Grandma is the one who can make use of everything extra in the kitchen. The Grandma is the one who will find a way to take dough that is old, and make it useful. The Grandma is the one who will take sauce, which is the most loved and cared for of all recipes in an Italian kitchen, and bring it to the forefront of attention by making it the centerpiece of the Upside Down Pie, the Square Pie, the Sicilian Pie.

We started working on our Sicilian Pie about a year ago. We researched the authentic methods. We spoke to the Maestro, Dom DiMarco at DiFaras in Brooklyn. We spoke to Tony Gemignani on the West Coast. We contacted pizza makers in Boston, in Nashville, and back home here in Austin. Each shop, each pizza maker, was free and giving when it came to sharing information about how they go about making this pie, and why. What was similar for each was this: do it with love.

So we did.

We worked w/ a dough recipe until it became unfailing and delicious.

We worked on topping it so that it would be balanced and beautiful.

And then we hit upon this thing that doesn’t exist here in Austin, doesn’t really exist anywhere close to us. It’s similar to the Maestro’s. It’s similar to the beautiful Sicilians Gemignani makes in North Beach, San Francisco. But ours is definitely our own. Our own homage to those pizza makers in the 50s who originated this pie. Our own homage to Italian Americans who make the best out of everything, and in that way make everything better. Our own gift to our neighborhood, our community.

Home Slice’s Guide to Eats and Fun in NYC

Posted in Home Slice in NYC by Tara Bouley on August 4, 2009

New York, NY. No business can survive in such a dense and vibrant city without being at least pretty good. You can walk into a tiny corner store with a little buffet and be pleasantly surprised by the fare. Constant discovery is one of the great things about NYC, for visitors and locals alike. We go there each September and a few of us have lived there. We have compiled a list of places we love, and are still adding to it. And please, please share with us some of your favorite NYC destinations!

Below is a list of the place’s we’ve been as a group:

Lombardi’s
32 Spring St.
(212) 941-7994‎

Lombardi’s was the first pizzeria in the United States, founded in 1905 in Little Italy, Manhattan. It is alway’s our first dinner and continues to be the overall staff favorite. I haven’t had Pepe’s clam pie, but I think I can safely say that Lombardi’s is one of the best.

Grimaldi’s
19 Old Fulton Street
Brooklyn
718-858-4300

One of the last pizzeria’s to still have a coal fired oven, which burns at 800 degrees, Grimaldi’s has some of the most amazing crust in all of NYC. There is usually a line around the block, but don’t be discouraged at the sight of it, pizzas cook so fast, and the service is quick with no frills, they getcha in and getcha out with a belly full of great pizza.

John’s
302 E 12th St.
(212) 475-9531

Open for over 100 years, this place does the classics and does them right. Huge portions, a million candles, wine. And you’re off!

Katz’s
205 E Houston

Only a deli started in 1888 can be this huge! It’s kind of chaotic. You get a ticket and are shuffled down the line, you confusedly order from the wrong person, who is flabbergasted the you didn’t know you were supposed to order the waffle from that guy down there, and end up miraculously sitting at a formica table with your food. And don’t even think of losing that little ticket. They have bouncers and they won’t let you leave without it. You probably should sew it on your skin. But, dang girl, that pastrami just made your day.

Max
51 Ave B

Beautifully tender handmade gnocchi and squid ink pasta. Absolutely delicious food. Great, rustic but classy, yet not too classy, atmosphere.

Mike’s Deli
2344 Arthur Ave.
The Bronx

Located in the last true Little Italy of NYC, this place is the real fricking deal. A group of old men up front smoking cigars and playing dominos. Men yelling to each other behind the deli counter in Italian. Sopressata and mozzarella and baby-sized sandwiches. Not sandwiches for babies, sandwiches the size of a baby. You get to the front of the line and hear “Whaddaya want?! You better figure it quick out because these people behind ya look hungry!” You can go to the cafe across the street to get an espresso and Mike’s mom will sing opera while you sip. If you’re looking for the true Italian American experience and you don’t go here, you’re burnin’ money.

Bamonte’s
32 Withers St
Brooklyn

Like Mike’s Deli, it’s so old school Italian you keep thinking you see Tony Soprano out of the corner of your eye. No kidding, the guy in the corner looks like Tony Soprano. It’s the place with massive gilt mirrors, a million brass chandeliers, mauve walls, and huge, round family-sized tables with old men with napkins tucked into their collars.The appetizer for one of the eggplant rollatini is enough to feed a whole Californian family. And you know what? They’ve never tasted anything that good.

L&B Spumoni Gardens
2725 86th St.
Brooklyn

Spumoni Gardens was founded by Ludovico Barbati in 1939 and has been family owned and operated from the beginning. Generations later… the Italian Ices and Spumoni Grandpa sold off his horse drawn wagon are still the same. They serve great Sicilian slices and wonderful subs. Picnic tables under a red, white and green awning. It’s a great place to stop before heading to the boardwalk.

Patsy’s
2287 1st Ave

Located in East Harlem. As much as I’d love to comment on the food at Patsy’s, the espresso drinking contest between Jess and Adrian(Jess won with 7 double shots in under an hour) and the drunken race around the block for a dollar has eclipsed my memory of this place. Sorry.

Frankies Spuntino
457 Court Street
Brooklyn

Remember when you were a kid, and you had tons of flying dreams? Adults rarely have them. If you do you’re lucky. Even if you haven’t had one in 30 years, you remember what they feel like. This meal felt like that. We were at two long tables with our own dedicated bartender and server in a private brick building with one glass wall facing the tree-lined courtyard sparkling with lights. The food, the service, and the atmosphere were dreamy.

Check out some other places we’ve checked out individually and love!:

Coney Island
Amusment Park and beach
1208 Surf Ave, Brooklyn
(718)372-5159

Words can’t begin to describe the coolness of Coney Island. A very unique place. You have to go yourself. Guaranteed great time! Sadly the rides are only open on weekends in September. Take the D, Q N or F train to Stillwell Avenue (last stop). This takes about 45 minutes from midtown Manhattan. Coney Island has been bought out by shady developers, so historic Astroland Park will become condos, still there are plenty of reasons still to visit.

Bergen Bagel
Bagel Shop
473 Bergen St, Brooklyn
(718)789-7600

Best Bagel in the World according to Philly Phil.

Koassar’s Bialy’s
Bagel Shop
367 Grand St
(877)4-BIALYS

“Are you fucking kidding me?” says Phil Korshak. Accodring to Zagats, “Kossar’s Bialys, (is) a place customers call a Lower East Side landmark. If you’ve never tried a bialy, you should try these when you’re ready to graduate from bagels. People say this so-called “must stop” shop is unchanged by modern technology. And customers add that Kossar’s epitomizes what New York used to be about – a store doing one thing and doing it best. On a scale from 1 to 30, Kossar’s gets a 28 for quality and taste…”

Economy Candy
Candy Shop
108 Rivington St
(212) 254-1531

Economy Candy is pure over-the-top New York, a font of variety and abundance that would leave Willy Wonka weeping in his cocoa. Open Mon-Fri,Sun 9am-6pm

Classic Coffee Shop
Diner
56 Hester St
(212) 941-0643

Family owned for 30 years. Everything here is under $5. Try a real NY Egg Cream because we’re about to get a soda fountain on South Congress and Home Slice would like to serve them.

Bemelmans Bar
Bar
35 E. 76th St
212-744-1600

Nowhere is the discreet charm of the bourgeoisie more palpable than in this bastion of old-fashioned romance. Whether you’re falling in love or getting over it, settle into a leather banquette, order something strong and simple and let the piano player do the work. Murals of frolicking animals painted by bar namesake and former Carlyle Hotel resident Ludwig Bemelmans offer a whimsical counterpoint to what might otherwise be suffocating sophistication (and they repay a close viewing—can you spot the armed rabbit stalking its brethren?).

Cozy Soup and Burger
Diner
739 Broadway
(212)477-5566

So many places in Texas call themselves a “diner”, but this is what a diner is in NY. Notice the huge menu where you can get eggs burgers, fried shrimp and spaghetti. The split pea soup was the bomb when we lived here. Jen was blacklisted from getting delivery…ask her why.

The Doughnut Plant
Donut Shop
379 Grand
(212)505-3700

All natural ingredients. Touted as the best doughnuts ever by people like Martha Stewart, New York Magazine, Time-Out Magazine and Emeril Lagasse.

Il Laboratoria Del Gelato
Gelato
95 Orchard St
(212)343-9922

150 irresistible gelatos and sorbets, all handmade on the premises, in small batches, from locally sourced seasonal ingredients. A small café with a blue tiled floor and white banquettes offers a place to sit and watch the whole operation—or just indulge.

Gray’s Papaya
Hot Dogs
402 Sixth Ave
212-260-3532

Legendary Hot Dogs and cheap too! The best of the Papaya Posse, Gray’s, griddles the tastiest, snappiest $1.25 dog in town. No less a connoisseur of scrap meats than Mario Batali is a fan. The jury is out, though, on the mysterious Papaya drink.

Nathan’s famous Hot Dogs
Hot Dogs
Corner of Surf Ave and Stillwell Ave, Brooklyn

You can’t call yourself a hot Dog aficionado without having eaten a Nathans hot dog at coney island.

Faicco’s Pork Store
Italian Grocer
260 Bleeker
(212)243-1974

Faicco’s is a real butcher shop. The sausage, pork shoulder, tripe, and pig skin are here cut the old-fashioned way, by hand from whole pigs. The sausage – hot or sweet, with or without garlic, cheese, fennel or parsley.

Ferdinando’s Focacceria
Italian Grocer
151 Union St, Brooklyn
(718) 855-1545

Nearly a century old, this antique focacceria is proof that Sicilians landed in Brooklyn at the same time as Neapolitans.

Di Paolo’s
Italian Grocer
200 Grand St
(212)226-1033

You know those old Italian ladies that make such great food…this is their secret. This is where they get their ingredients for those delectable dishes. Di Palo’s has the most fabulous selection of Italian cheeses, meats (salami, prosciutto, and sausage heaven), olive oil, pasta, sauces, and olives. It’s still a family owned business and the service is friendly and top-notch.

Joes Dairy
Italian Grocer
156 Sullivan St
(212) 677-8780

Joe’s Dairy is one of those places that transports you back in time when you walk in. A true neighborhood institution, Joe’s has been run for the past twenty five years or so by Anthony Campanelli, who took over the business from Joe Aiello. During that time, Joe’s has been making what is arguably some of the city’s best mozzarella by hand.

Guss’s Pickles
Italian Grocer
85-87 Orchard St
(212)334-3616

The inspiration behind the lead character in “Crossing Delancey.” An old world Pickle shop. Only NY would have a pickle shop.

Veniero’s Italian bakery
Italian Grocer
342 E 11th St
(212) 674-7070

East Village “Italian pastry heaven” old world italian bakery. Open Mon-Thu,Sun 8am-12am

Staton Island Ferry
Landmark
Take the downtown 1 train (red line) to South Ferry Exit and follow the signs.

A must do. The Ferry leaves every half hour. It’s a 25 minute (50 min rt) ride & provides spectacular views of the Statue of Liberty & Lower Manhattan. Fare for pedestrians is free. It runs 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Whitehall Terminal is within a short walking distance from the 1, 9, 4, 5, N, R subway lines.

Reading Room of the New York Public Library
Landmark
Fifth Ave and 42nd St
(212) 930-0830

Humanities and Social Sciences Library. A landmark with unbelievable architecture and prominence. Amazing gift shop too. You have to go to the reading room to get the points.

Roosevelt Island Tram
Landmark
59th Street and Second Ave

Roosevelt Island, formerly known as Welfare Island, is a narrow island in the East River of New York City . I’m sure the island itself is cool but the Tram is really the cool part. It is $2.

Empire State Building
Landmark
350 Fifth Ave

The Empire State Building is a 102-story sky scraper. It stood as the world’s tallest building for more than forty years, from its completion in until the construction of the World Trade Center. It is now once again the tallest building in New York, after the destruction of the World Trade Center.

MoMA
Museum
44 W 53rd St
(212) 767-1050

Museum of Modern Art. If you ever need inspiration this is one place you will find it. Beware, you can spend hours and hours and not even know it.

The Lower East Side Tenement Museum
Museum
108 Orchard St
(212)431-0233

Reservations recommended 11-5:30pm. The heart of the Lower East Side Tenement Museum is its landmark tenement building, home to 7,000 people from 20 nations between 1863 and 1935. Visitors to the Museum tour the cramped living spaces and learn about the lives of past residents: a German Jewish family (1870s), an Eastern European Orthodox Jewish family (1918), and an Italian Catholic family (1930s). The Tenement building can only be viewed by guided tour ($9 for adults, $7 for students/seniors). For tours and times, visit http://www.tenement.org/tours.html.

Central Park
Park
Between 59th st. and 110th st. (N and S)
and Between 5th ave Central Park west (E and W)

843 acres or 6% of Manhattan’s total acreage, including: 150 acres in 7 waterbodies, 250 acres of lawns, 136 acres of woodlands, 26,000 trees including 1,700 American Elms. BEAUTIFUL! Also, Modonna jogs here when she’s not in England.

Patsy’s Pizzeria
Restaurant
2287-91 First Ave
(212)534-9783

East Harlem lost its best Italian restaurant, Andy’s Colonial, last year. Not uncoincidentally, Patsy’s expanded its menu to include such southern Italian soul food as eggplant rolatini, cavatelli with broccoli rabe, and an unusually good pasta fagioli soup. Dine in the afternoon and see burly locals run in and out, their trucks idling outside, in your own private episode of The Sopranos.

Babbo
Restaurant
110 Waverly Pl
(212)777-0303

Terri’s favorite restaurant. Right around the corner from one of the places Terri and Jen lived. Another Mario Batali restaurant. You do need a reservation.

Franny’s
Restaurant
295 Flatbush Ave, Brooklyn
(718)230-0221

Another Mom and Pop, neighborhood joint. This hopping little Italian restaurant has the vibe of Home Slice. It too subscibes to the philosophy; Simple is the best. Less is more. This brooklyn gem is also environmentally responsible, supporting only sustainable, local and/or organic producers. Great Pizza, Pasta, Wines and more.

Freeman’s
Restaurant
at the end of Freeman’s Alley, off Rivington

Our second year, I was sitting on the balcony of my room talking on the phone with a friend, who was a New Yorker, and asked him what his favorite restaurant in all the city was. Freeman’s, he said, and my empty phone gaze was quite literally trained on the place itself. It is exactly at the end of the alley directly across from the hotel we stay at. If that’s not Santa de Comida knocking with a battering ram! I hung up, an went directly there. This place is masculine and timeless. Not for those sensitive to the plight of furry things, the high ceilinged walls of cracked and stained plaster are peppered with taxidermy. One of the best burgers I have ever had, hands down. They serve rustic, simply prepared dishes like a lamb stew with root vegetables and potato-herb dumplings.

Gino’s Italiana Cuisine
Restaurant
780 Lexington Ave # 1
(212)758-4466

Weird cash only place just north of Bloomingdales, kind of old school fancy and some famous clientele.  Any pasta with Gino’s sauce and a great Gino’s chopped salad.

Lupa
Restaurant
170 Thompson St
212.982.5089

Down-home Roman trattoria and not just for Mario Batali’s celebration of odd animal parts and Italian delicatessen, or for partner Joe Bastianich’s bid to bring depth and finesse to a casual Village joint’s wine service.

Umberto’s
Restaurant
386 Broome Street
(212)431-7545

Where mafioso, Crazy Joe Gallo, was gunned to his death on April 7, 1972. Apparently the only place anyone should really eat in little Italy anymore. Known for fresh seafood dishes. Frequented by celebrities such as Robert DeNiro, Martin Scorcese, Michael Douglass and Bette Midler open 11;00-4:00am 7 days a week.

Totonno’s
Restaurant
1524 Neptune Ave, Brooklyn
(718)372-8606

“Only God Makes Better Pizza,” Zagat. Still standing, Totonno’s is the oldest continuously operating pizzeria in the U.S. Run by the same family. They still use the finest tomatoes imported from Italy, handmade mozzarella cheese, and dough which is made daily.

Peasant
Restaurant
194 Elizabeth St
(212)965-9511

Late-night haunt for food scholars seeking the essence of roasted eggplant, say, or perfectly oval pizza bianca, or crackly, wood-cooked sardines. The food is served at crowded oak tables, in piping hot terra-cotta pots, and the feeling you always get, late in the evening, when the ovens are roaring, is of taking part in a communal, mildly bacchanalian, gourmet event. http://www.peasantnyc.com

Emilio’s Balotto
Restaurant
55 East Houston St
(212)274-8881

If Little Italy had good restaurants, they’d be like this. Though the front room has been romantically renovated, the kitchen still cooks up the same congenial mix of northern and southern food as before. Go senatorial with a roast rack of lamb, or dine like a plebeian on broccoli rabe and sausages.

Juniors
Restaurant
386 Flatbush Avenue Extension at Dekalb Avenue, Brooklyn
(718)852-5257

In 1950, restaurant Founder Harry Rosen and Master Baker Eigel Peterson, created and produced what is now known as the World’s second Most Fabulous Cheesecake (next to Home Slice’s). The recipe has been part of the Rosen family for three generations.

John’s Pizzeria
Restaurant
278 Bleeker St
(212)243-1680

Don’t even think of going to any of the other Johnny-come-lately branches of this august Greenwich Village institution—only the original turns out superlative thin-crust pies. Order the voluminous salad, dressed with red-wine vinaigrette, and ponder why the menu insists on listing every possible combination of pizza toppings.

Mama Louisa’s Hero Shop
Restaurant
609 New York Avenue, Brooklyn
(718)773-7785

This anomaly two blocks north of Kings County Hospital is a serious Italian kitchen embedded in a rural general store. Over the counter vault such delights as a roast-beef hero bathed in mushroom gravy, rigatoni bolognese, rock lobster marinara, and artichoke Parmesan, among other culinary phenomena.

Una Pizza Napoletana
Restaurant
349 E 12th St
(212)477-9950

Una Pizza is a completely unusual place run by a guy, Anthony Mangieri, who, depending on your point of view, is either a pizza visionary or a crazy man. He makes pizza in the Neapolitan fashion, and that’s all he serves. Only 4 choices–the Marina, Margherita, Bianca and Filetti– The pizzas are served in only one size, a 12-inch diameter, and they are not cut. Mangieri also uses only the best ingredients: San Marzano tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, pure flour, EV olive oil, Sicilian sea salt, fresh chopped garlic.

Ecco
Restaurant
124 Chambers St
(212)227-7074

Becomes a piano bar on weekend nights. A little bit fancier old school atmosphere than Bamontes. “Old-world charm, an excellent seasonal antipasto, and classically prepared pastas, veal chops, Italian bouillabaisse, and osso buco. Very cozy narrow booths line the east wall, and tile floors take you back to the Gilded Age….”

Brick Oven Gallery
Restaurant
33 Havemeyer Street, Brooklyn
(718)963-0200

Voted best pizza by the NY Press, this brick oven joint boasts that its brick oven is 112 years old. Maybe this is true, but to be honest all we really care about is the pizza and it is pretty darn good. Atmosphere is classic Brooklyn, wood paneling and all, and perfect for a cozy dinner. Italian entrees with often homemade pasta are a nice added bonus. David Wofford says THIS is the best Pizza in N.Y.

H & M
Shopping
558 Broadway, to name one

All over the city. Ladies…worth the stop. Imagine a better “Forever 21” (Men’s clothes too). Please don’t go to an Old Navy in NY unless you lose your flip flops.

Barney’s
Shopping
660 Madison Avenue

Raymond can tell you all about Barney’s

Ben’s Pizza
Slice
177 Spring St
(212) 966-4494

Ben’s is famous for its terrific Sicilian-style pizza (in big squares with lots of sweet tomato sauce and cheese). They have a killer neopolitan slice too.

Driggs Pizza
Slice
558 Driggs ave.
(718)782-4826

In Williamsburg is excellent classic NY pizza.

House of Pizza and Calzone
Slice
132 Union St, Brooklyn
(718)624-9107

Everything starts with the crisp, perfectly browned crust, because the pizza wranglers are experts at this half-century-old Red Hook institution. And the closing of the latticini just down the street has not diminished the slice’s splendor. Or go wild with the unusual deep-fried calzone, oozing ham and ricotta.

DiFara
Slice
1424 Ave J, Brooklyn
(718)258-1367

Domenico DeMarco has been elevated to sainthood by the city’s favorite foodie website (chowhound.com), and devotees dote on his every move as he fiddles with each pie, shaking on cheeses and artistically arranging the elements, shredding fresh mozzarella and cutting fresh basil onto each pie. Sometimes his artichoke slice is “on,” sometimes not, but the enjoyment of watching him work is reason enough to make a Midwood sojourn.

Famous Ray’s on 11th
Slice
465 E 11th St
(212)243-2253

Famous corner N.Y. Slice place. Sarah Ulfik’s favorite. Open until 3:00am mondays then 4:00 am tu-th, then 5:00am. In college, Jen had a job across the street at public school P.S. 41. If you ever think Home Slice has crowded working conditions, ask to use the bathroom at this place and take a picture.

Rosario’s
Slice
173 Orchard St
(212)777-9813

Classic, delicious, corner slice place. Phil says, “best slice in the city…try the eggplant.”

Joe’s Pizza
Slice
7 Carmine Street
(212)366-1182

Killer Slice.