Pizza in New York is a lot like certain calculus problems (or that one scene in “Mean Girls”): The limit does not exist. We will never reach peak pizza, barring some pizza-related disaster. Which brings us to this year’s State of Pizza, my second annual update on the latest pizza goings-on across this big, beautiful, pepperoni-peppered city.
A New New York Slice
Last year around this time, I was singing the praises of the clam pizza from Andrew Bellucci’s Pizzeria in Astoria, Queens. So, I was heartbroken to learn of the sudden death of Mr. Bellucci, the restaurant’s co-owner, in May. He had a complicated past, but one thing was never in doubt: He knew how to make pizza, and he knew how to make it exceptionally well.
He was also generous with that knowledge, and showed the ropes to Chris Hansell, the pizzaiolo behind Chrissy’s Pizza. If you haven’t heard of Chrissy’s, prepare to hear about it nonstop once it opens to the public (hopefully) in late August. It started as a passion project in Mr. Hansell’s apartment in Bushwick, Brooklyn, and through word of mouth — and a co-sign from the rapper Action Bronson — it’s become New York City’s hardest-to-get pie.
That’s not on purpose, by the way: The three-person operation is now based in the shoebox-size space in the East Village that Superiority Burger used to occupy and can produce only about 60 pies a day. I tried one of Chrissy’s “test” pies just before pickup last week — the shop is currently in “beta” and fulfilling long-sold-out preorders. I think I blacked out. This is the pie for anyone who loves an extra crispy, well-done crust, the kind that was perfected in neighborhood pizza parlors, many of which Mr. Hansell frequented with his father, whose picture sits in two places in the restaurant. The tomato sauce is made fresh, never sitting in a fridge for hours on end, with just a smattering of cheese. You won’t get those legendary Ninja Turtle cheese pulls, but the pizza won’t last long enough for you to care.
And a New New Haven Slice
If Chrissy’s is repping the New York pie, then Lala’s in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn, is the Connecticut delegate. This city isn’t exactly head over heels for rival pizza styles, so it’s particularly brave of Grimm Artisanal Ales to give over its entire rooftop to apizza (the New Haven term for its local style). I’ve been a fan of Grimm for a long time — it was going hard on light-bodied sours during the New England I.P.A. arms race — and the lovely little restaurant its owners have put together is perfect for a group hang or a first date. Go for the tomato pie, a cracker-thin pizza with shaved garlic, or the cozy pie with chunks of potato. And if beer isn’t quite your thing, don’t fret: Grimm now makes and serves its own wine.
You want New York pizza? All right, it’s finally time for me to shout from the rooftops that one of the best and most underrated grandma pies in this city comes from Rocco Pizza, which advertises itself as “the last Italian family-owned pizza joint in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn.” For years now, I’ve been inviting friends over for drinks and Rocco, and there’s no greater pleasure than watching the surprise on their faces at just how good the crisp, buttery crust and cheesy interior are. I’ve held my silence long enough!
A Lightning Round of Impressive Pies and Super Slices
Scarr’s Pizza moved to a new, larger location across the street on the Lower East Side, and it’s serving slices until 11 p.m. or midnight. The new spot to be seen eating pizza with a Lambrusco spritz in hand is Manero’s of Mulberry. The most inventive pizza in the city isn’t being made in shops, it’s being baked in portable ovens by nomads like Happy Bull Pizza, Traze and Wizard Hat Pizza. Have you been craving bulgolgi or kimchi on your pie? Try Appas Pizza in the East Village, or the new Bushwick location of Nowon. The chef Wylie Dufresne got into the pizza game with Stretch Pizza, but it’s his appetizers that really shine, according to Pete Wells. If you’re deadly serious about natural wine and margherita pizza, Decades Pizza in Ridgewood, Queens, is the answer. And as the food writer Mahira Rivers reminded us a few months ago on Eater, take good care of your pizza elders. They won’t be around forever.
In Other News …
There’s no restaurant review this week, which means you can catch up on Pete Wells’s most recent reviews of the Peruvian restaurant Artesano, Potluck Club in Chinatown and Mischa, home of the $29 hot dog.AdvertisementAdvertisement
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