I don’t crave pizza often, but within the past few months I’ve eaten couple slices worth writing about. I suppose I’ve been generally disappointed by New York pizza because the random pieces I’ll eat on occasion never live up to the hype. Also, for me, the power of pizza is far less than the power of Mexican food or ice cream. Thus, while I’ll drive 45 minutes for a lick of Christina’s, I’m far too unmotivated to trek to DiFara to try its acclaimed pie.
But! When good pizza comes my way, I do not object. In Massachusetts, my favorite pizza is from Papa Gino’s, an east coast chain with two locations five minutes away from my home. It’s my go-to place for an everyday slice. My brother, cousin and I agree that Papa Gino’s has perfected the ratio of cheese to sauce to thin but not glaringly crispy crust. It’s dependably satisfying, which is usually what I desire when it comes to pizza.
Back in the New York area, the first satisfying slice I had was when Waq took me to his hometown favorite, Pompei Pizza in Bayonne, NJ. For the past couple years, I had been listening to him praise Pompei. Of course I trusted his sense of taste- we had eaten many a meal together- but I was never in Bayonne long enough to try Pompeii for myself until one overcast Saturday this past February, when that Pompei slice, thin, cheesy, and fresh, brightened my day with its pleasing proportionality. Below, Waqas’s description of the pizza:
Waqas: “Well, the thinness is perfect; it’s thin enough to be crispy but the pizza never falls or droops, which thin pizzas often do. And the crust is light and fluffy without being doughy or overly chewy. They put a generous amount of cheese on it and the sauce is just slightly sweet/tart and has a great herby spiciness to it. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this pizza, plus, the smell of the place billows out onto Broadway.”
The second noteworthy slice I had was with work folks on a balmy evening a couple weeks back at a Ray’s on Prince Street- yes, Ray’s, that pizza store that sits on the corner of every block in Manhattan. Although Kim said that it was the first Ray’s in the city* and swore that the pizza was beyond average, I still had my doubts. We ordered a pie, half vegetarian and half pepperoni. I usually prefer thin crust pizza but Ray’s thicker crust was pillowy and aromatic and topped with soft ricotta, thin rounds of tomato, sliced garlic and basil. The superior quality of fresh ingredients used in the pizza made it memory worthy- I’ve been yearning for that slice of summer ever since.
*According to Wikipedia, the Ray’s on Prince is the first Ray’s in the city and all the Ray’s pizza places are not connected as one big chain but, for the most part, are independent restaurants that share the same name.
Pompei Pizza, 480 Broadway, Bayonne, NJ. (201) 437-5408
Ray’s Pizza, 27 Prince Street, New York, NY. (212) 966-1960