A staple in the West Village since the 1970’s, “Pasticceria Rocco” has been passing down old-world traditions into their baked goods for decades before that. This family-owned Italian bakery/ cafe still fills cannolis with their sweet ricotta cream per order, and outputs hundreds of cookies and cakes on a daily basis. Admittedly, I had not set foot into this place in a long time for no better reason than I was getting high and mighty on all of the other more trendy places in the area. It’s a rough area to be an old school Italian bakery in.
I did manage to walk into the place, and had planned on doing a review of some multi-colored biscotti that sat by the front counter, but then something else caught my eye.
Suspended in mid-air by a cooling rack was a long tray of freshly-made focaccia bread, glowing like a lighthouse in the dark. Don’t fret, trusty reader, I still bought those biscotti, but this review just turned into a focaccia story.
My love affair with the mistress called Pizza has been well-documented on this site, so my hunt for the finest in the city will be my never-ending quest. Lactose intolerance, be damned! The sheer amount of pizzerias in each of the five boroughs is daunting, but you have to take it one slice at a time. On this day, my journey stopped me at “Numero 28” in the West Village.
Named after their building number on Carmine Street, “Numero 28” serves freshly made pasta and pizza a few doors down from another Italian restaurant, which is across the street from several more pizzerias. To say it’s a packed area would not do justice to how many slices you could accumulate in a matter of steps. However, the one thing that this place has that the competition does not have is the rare gem of pizzas, the Pizza D.O.C.!
In the world of pizza, does size matter? Of course it does! Size is relative when it comes down to pizza pies, however, as some places do slices and others only do pies. I can’t say I have a preference, but I do love a comically large slice of pizza.
Francis Garcia and Sal Basille (who you may recognize from Cooking Channel’s awesome show, “Pizza Cuz”) opened their first “Artichoke” location in 2008, and have quickly expanded to a trio of pizzerias across downtown Manhattan. Enveloped in the world of pizza since they were children, working in their father’s “Basille’s” restaurant in Staten Island, “Artichoke” is the epitome of high-flavor bar pizza, without “bar-pizza” being an insult to the food.
It’s a no-nonsense pizzeria from the moment you step in to their MacDougal St. location, with a few stools on the side of the wall, and one gigantic brick oven in the center of the place. The surly waiter will take your order while you wait on the side and admire the lamp in the shape of a women’s leg in stockings from “A Christmas Story” (a Very Italian prop to have since it’s from the fra-ghee-lay region). Much like the lone server/ pizza-maker guarding the place, the slices from “Artichoke” do not mess around.
Dollar pizza places are as plentiful as pigeons in New York City. Even in the winter, when other birds migrate, you can still find stray pigeons wandering around the streets, and dollar pizza places are a perennial nibble for New Yorkers on the go. “St. Mark’s 2 Bros. Pizza”, more simply known as “2 Bros Pizza” by most since the St. Mark’s is so tiny in the logo, opened in 2007, making them one of the first (if not the original) dollar pizza places in the city.
Despite the title of this being “St. Mark’s”, I actually went to the pizzeria on 38th and 6th Avenue since I was passing by it. Call it a morbid fascination with mediocrity, but I am very interested in these dollar pizza places lately, and the majority of them in the city are “2 Bros.” restaurants. There must be a reason for this, and I decided to give them a try and see if I could figure out why they were so successful in this niche market.
“Pizza Mezzaluna” has just celebrated its fourth anniversary of being in business on Houston Street in New York City. Located conveniently next to an Italian butcher shop, this quaint Neopolitan restaurant features a brick-oven in the front of the store for the most authentic pizzeria experience possible. Augmented by a selection of fresh pastas, owners (and husband and wife) Francesco Vitale and Lili Chu have created an experience that feels equally as authentic as their food.
With a marble-top bar by the ovens and a small but cozy seating arrangements, highlighted by actual “mezza luna” cutters hanging all over the walls, “Pizza Mezzaluna” has been reviewed by others as flying under the radar. I can attest to this, as I have come back many times after this review (spoiler alert) and have never seen the place too crowded. This is a tragedy, as you will read, since this might be one of the area’s best kept secrets in such a busy restaurant area.
Dollar pizza joints have been popping up since the recession first hit New York in 2009, and have become a very popular and seemingly successful business venture since then. By its nature, pizza is a food meant for peasants – bread, cheese, and some sauce. Thanks to evil geniuses like Wolfgang Puck, the traditional pizza has been elevated to different levels throughout the years, and the price has elevated too.
There is an actual correlation between the cost of subway fare and a slice of pizza in NY (seriously, look it up if you don’t believe me), but for cheapo’s like me who want to eat on the run, we don’t have time or money to waste on fancy pies. Enter “Percy’s Pizza”, and their beckoning claim of a slice of Italy for a single buck.