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.
The interior was quite spacious. Plenty of accommodations for people willing to stand around, as there was a lot of dead space on the floor. I am not sure if there were supposed to be tables or benches or some sort of structure for people to sit on in the middle of the room, but at this location on this day, it seems you either get lucky and get a seat on the walls or you stand and hover. Luckily, the register and oven are right up front so you can get in and out, especially since the chef also takes the money, making for one extremely efficient ordering system.
Behold, the mighty pepperoni slice! Each of these costs $1.50, as the dollar slice is strictly for cheese. I went with this option due to freshness, as this pie had just come out of the oven, while the cheese pie looked like it had been sitting on the counter for awhile. It’s a big slice for that price, but as we all know, size does not matter. This is something I would constantly tell my ex-girlfriends, but then again, there might be a reason why they are exes.
The crust tastes like dough. A very doughy dough. Imagine a frozen pizza like DiGiornio’s, but with less flavor and more doughiness, and that is the best way to describe this sub-par slice. You would think that the concept of dollar pizza would mean skimping on ingredients, and therefore less dough, but it seems to be quite the opposite here. There is no char on the bottom of the slice, just an even shade of brown across the bottom, although it barely reaches the outer-most crust, which is evident by the just barely-ochre hue of it from the picture above. The cheese had some nice bubbling action on top, although it was not much in the taste department, just tasting heavy and oily with little flavor. The pepperoni was definitely the best part of the pizza, and was pretty good, but to keep the cost down, its sliced thinner than what you would get at your average corner pizzeria.
The tomato sauce is mostly sweet, with little tomato taste to it. It’s like someone reduced a V-8, then tossed more sugar and water in it, and that’s the sauce. This sweet red liquid gets the job done, though, but only when you luck out to have some gravy on the pizza. The slice on the right had a smattering of sauce, while the one on the left tasted like it had none on it. Being lactose intolerant, I have gotten into the habit of removing the cheese off the second slice (after reaping the benefits of the cheese on the first one), and I can confirm that there was zero sauce on that piece, neither stuck to the cheese or on the dough.
You might be wondering why someone doing serious food reviews is going around checking out dollar pizza places when they could be hitting up some fancy joints instead. In the case of this dollar pizza trend, it makes sense in this abysmal economy. I am sure I speak not just for myself when I say that there is some curiosity among foodies on how this type of restaurant not only stays in business but flourishes while others drop like flies. As we saw in my first review of dollar pizza places, some of them are quite good, while others are not. As a foodie, I may as well spread the word as to which of these eateries are edible, and which ones are trying to pass off play-doh as real food.
“2 Bros. Pizza” is fine for the following reasons. First, if you are in a rush and need something quick since the pizzas are constantly coming out and kept warm until they are gone. Second, if you have that serious craving for pizza that must be quenched at all costs, but don’t feel like spending big money on it. Third, if you really don’t care about tasting it. It was not the worst slice I have had, it was just bland and doughy. Gooey tasteless cheese combined with a lack of sauce spread on dough that is cooked just enough to qualify as “done”, if you are in a super rush, you can suffer the price for the reward of a full stomach, but there are better dollar pizza places to be had.
“St. Mark’s 2 Bros. Pizza” has eight locations throughout the city, including the original at 23 St. Mark’s Place, NY.