New Yorkers know that if you’re in a rush and feeling hungry, you simply grab a $3 slice. The perfect symphony of chewy, floured crust, sweet and tangy tomato sauce and blistered, stringy mozzarella has become a symbol of the city that’s just as recognizable as the big apple. For years, nothing about the NYC slice has changed much beyond the price – which, many New Yorkers joke, rises along with the price of a subway ride.
But if you’ve done the corner slice in every borough and tried classic sit-down Italian joints like Grimaldi’s and Lombardi’s, we have some unique eateries to seek out on your quest for the best pizza in New York. Their inventive chefs are redefining what pizza means, and many of them have origins far from Italy.
Italian Flair: Hybrid Pizza
If you’re not sure whether to get a takeaway slice or a more serious sit-down pie, the tiny Upper West Side shop Mama’s TOO! is the perfect compromise. That’s because the owner/chef puts the same skill, reverence and great ingredients into his pies as any of his old-school competitors.
You can get a typical slice here, but go for the squares instead, which offer a hefty, chewy crust that’s almost caramelized on the bottom, creating a cross between Sicilian and Chicago deep-dish. The House Square is classic tomatoes and cheese, but you can find unique flavor combinations in the Angry Nonna Pie, topped with hot Soppressata, mozzarella, Calabrian chili oil and hot honey, if you’re feeling more adventurous. With this inventive combo, you’re sure to find a pie that satisfies your taste buds.
Meat Lover’s: Brisket and Pastrami Pizza
Pizza in New York is so revered it’s almost like a religion — but another religion has shaped the food of this city like no other. Jewish cuisine pops up all over town, from the bagels on every corner to the delis serving hefty sandwiches you can barely get your hands around.
The only pizzeria in town that thought to combine them, however, is Paulie Gee’s, a sit-down, no-takeout restaurant in Greenpoint (which now has a next-door slice shop). This is the place to go for a New York deli pizza complete with unusual toppings and cheeky names. There’s the Brisket Five-0, with brisket from Hometown Bar-B-Que in Red Hook, and the Pastrami Reuben, with pastrami from Greenpoint’s retro deli, Frankel’s.
Asian Fusion: Vietnamese Pizza
With its bright, high-ceilinged interior strewn with plants, Di An Di is an Instagrammer’s dream, as well as one of the city’s best places for creative Vietnamese grub. While many come for its pho soups, the restaurant also has something special listed among its selection of shareable dishes: a flatbread called bánh tráng nướng, loosely translated as “Vietnamese pizza.”
The delicacy is nothing new in South Vietnam, where street vendors make elaborate patterns on large rice crackers with their ingredients, but Di An Di elevates the dish to something that works quite well for the New York palate. One version has ground pork and shrimp floss, another is topped with littleneck clams and pork lardon, and a third is a vegan version with mung bean and eggplant.
Spice It Up: Turkish Pizza
The Turkish dish known as lahmacun isn’t exactly a new concept, but it’s blissfully easy to locate on the streets of the Big Apple. Dispense with everything you knew about pizza, as this is no stringy, melty amalgamation of tomato sauce and cheese. Instead, a crisp flatbread is layered with bits of ground meat (usually lamb) and veggies, easy to separate or fold as the toppings are melded firmly to the bottom.
Another version of Turkish pizza, the pide, is more like a calzone, with ingredients stuffed inside a pocket of bread and grilled. Two great places to get them in Midtown East are Anka Grill, which serves its pide stuffed with Turkish sausage, and Ali Baba, which offers a tasty mushroom option for vegetarians.
Sink your teeth into the full New York City experience by staying at one of Diamond’s members-only affiliate properties like the Park Central Hotel New York or WestHouse Hotel New York in Midtown. These luxe hotels offer a comfortable home away from home, right in the heart of this enigmatic and iconic city. Soak up the sensory experiences — and get your hands on a slice of iconic NY-style ‘za — just steps from your hotel room.
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