Tonight’s the biggest night of the year for NYC-area pizza lovers. We started Slice Out Hunger as an anniversary party for Scott’s Pizza Tours but it has become a beast of its own over the past six years. It all started when several pizzerias I work with on the tour offered to give me a few free pies for a launch party. Rather than just eat the pizza with my friends, I decided to charge a measly $1 per slice and send all the money to City Harvest. After a year of running the business, we were able to get even more pizza donated and I decided SPT would match every dollar going to City Harvest. The amount of pizza increases every year and as the event gets bigger we’re able to take on sponsors to assist with the donation matching. Last year we raised $20,000 for Food Bank For New York City and this year it’s looking like we’re going to crush that number.
I wanted to take a few minutes before I head out to set up the event space just to give a quick rundown of how the night works and what changed between this year and last.
Lots of people show up but we keep the flow as smooth as possible.
We always run out of pizza. That’s just how the event works. If we don’t run out of pizza we didn’t get the word out enough. In an effort to feed more people who show up and wait in the line, we decided to limit everyone to 10 slices. We have lots of other items that can be purchased with tickets (Brewla Bars, Boylan Sodas, Ferrarelle water, raffle tickets, my mom’s cookies, etc) but only 10 of them can be used for pizza. That being said, we do have 1,300 pizzas this year. That’s 500 MORE than last year. So yeah, there will be a TON of pizza!
My mom makes her famous chocolate chip cookies for this event and they go FAST!
How are we going to keep track of your 10 slices? We’re selling two different tickets this year: RED tickets and BLUE tickets. RED tickets can be used for anything. BLUE tickets cannot be used for pizza. So You can buy a total of 10 RED tickets and unlimited BLUE tickets. If you have leftover tickets at the end of the night, just visit our raffle table and we’ll set you up to win some killer prizes.
But what about the people who get in line super early??? Don’t worry, we’re not capping the number of slices for the first 20 people in line. So if you want to construct a monster pizza with a slice from all 51 pizzerias, just get there super early. We’re also limiting everyone to 1 slice per pizzeria, so you can’t drop $8 at Difara’s table and walk out with an entire pizza.
Last year a genius made labels for all his slices.
When do people start lining up? I’ve arrived at the church at 4pm to set up and folks have already been waiting in line. If you want your choice of pizza, get there early
What’s that? You don’t want to wait in a long line and you love donating to charity? There is a solution. Just head on over to our website, click the DONATE button and drop $100. That gets you and a friend directly to the front of the line without having to wait PLUS you get 10 pizza tickets to start. Buy whatever else you need for just $1 per ticket! Remember, ALL OF THE MONEY we raise goes directly to Food Bank For New York City.
Where are you going to store all those slices? Fear not, we’re giving you an entire pizza box to use for your slices. It’s a GreenBox, the amazing pizza box that breaks down into plates and a storage container for your leftover slices! After the event, you can either hang out and eat inside the venue (floor space only) or you can take your pizza to three bars who have partnered with us for the night. Blue Haven, Peculiar Pub and American Flatbread are allowing our pizza crew to bring our booty to their establishments and enjoy along with exclusive drink deals. Or you can just take your slices home and watch Ghostbusters or something.
Once you’re in the room, you get only one pass through the pizza tables. No going backwards in line because you missed something you wanted, we have to keep all traffic flowing in a single direction. So buy all your tickets when you get inside and grab slices as you pass them.
Here’s the room layout. Plot your SOH experience accordingly!
Will the pizza be warm? This year we have three MPUs (Mobile Pizza Units). Luzzo’s, Valducci’s and Neapolitan Express will each be setting up outside the venue and baking fresh pizzas to be served inside. Go to their tables if you want fresh pizza, but due to the nature of this event and the distances some of the pizza is traveling, it is unlikely the other slices will all be piping hot.
Who gets all the money from this event? Every cent we take in goes directly to Food Bank For New York City. This organization supplies food to shelters and programs around the city. Every dollar they take in results in 15 meals for New Yorkers in need. Here’s the real beauty of tonight’s event: we have a bunch of sponsors who have pledged to donate various amounts based on how much money we raise, so every dollar you spend will actually transform into $3 for Food Bank. That means every slice you eat tonight becomes 15 meals for people who have trouble affording food. Think about that.
Tumblr made an amazing banner for this event!
Who puts this thing together, anyway? There are about six of us who do most of the work for SOH. We’ve had meetings as far back as January of this year just for tonight’s event. This isn’t a job for us, we do it because we want to. There are 80+ volunteers who have attended training meetings and are giving up their time (and their ability to actually participate in the event itself) just to make it happen. St Anthony’s Church has donated their space for the past three years and we could not do this without them. Sponsors like Brewla Bars and GreenBox have been with us since we started and more sponsors like Tumblr (yes, you are reading this ON Tumblr AND they are a sponsor — crazy) and Boylan Bottling are joining this year.
Slice Out Hunger isn’t just about pizza and it isn’t just about charity, it’s about coming together as a community. The restaurant community is notoriously competitive and the pizza scene in NYC is absolutely part of that, yet they all come together to serve pizza side-by-side for one night only. Lucali is closing for the night so their whole staff can attend to help. This event is so incredibly special to me, it’s easily the most important thing I do all year. If you would like to volunteer next year please contact me and we’ll make it happen. If you have any event questions you can try emailing but I’ll be setting up all day so it’s probably best if you just come and ask one of our volunteers in person.
If you’ve come in the past, I hope to see you again tonight. If you’ve always wanted to come, tonight is the night! If you’ve never heard of our event, there is no better time than now to change your life for the better by attending. There’s such an amazing energy in the room beyond the deliciousness of the pizza. It is absolutely incredible. I’ll see you there.
Hey pizza buddies! Today is October 1 and that means it is officially NATIONAL PIZZA MONTH!!! My friend Liz wrote an amazing book about pizza history called Pizza: A Slice of American History and it just came out a couple weeks ago. I am in love with it. Liz and I have shared many slices of pizza, mostly during her tenure as Editor-in-Chief of PMQ’s Pizza Magazine. In honor of her book’s release and National Pizza Month, I invited her to write a guest post about her experience eating New York pizza. I’ll let her take it from here but PLEASE celebrate pizza month by eating pizza and by devouring Liz’s delicious book! I’ll let Liz take it from here.
In lieu of blubbering on and on about my delicious new pizza book, Pizza: A Slice of American History, Scott asked me to talk a little about my past experiences with New York pizza, being that I live in Oxford, Mississippi, which isn’t exactly the pizza capitol of the world.
The first time I traveled to New York was with my mom, brother and sister in July of 2006. I remember hitting all of the typical tourist attractions, dining at Tavern on the Green, and relaxing at a delightful eatery in Little Italy. What I don’t remember is eating a whole lot of pizza. You’ll have to forgive me, but at the time, I was living in Los Angeles before the pizza boom, and had no idea that just a year later I’d be moving to Oxford, Mississippi, where I’d land a job at PMQ, the No. 1 pizza trade magazine in America.
Suffice it to say, my next trip to New York, in October 2007—and every trip since—has been jam packed with pizza! Lucky for me, I’ve had people like Scott to help show me all of the places I may have otherwise missed. Scott and I have gone on some pizza-eating extravaganzas throughout New York that should not be attempted by the average pizza eater. I always walk away with a greater love for pizza and a longer list of pizzerias to visit the next time around.
Over the years, there are three important things I’ve learned about New York pizza:
Some of my favorite pizzerias in New York are Kesté Pizza & Vino, Motorino, John’s, Grimaldi’s, Don Antonio by Starita, Paulie Gee’s, Roberta’s, Di Fara, Totonno’s, L&B Spumoni Gardens, J&V Pizza, and I’m sure I’m missing some others. The point is, it’s time to go back, and I can’t wait!
In Pizza: A Slice of American History, I share some of my photos from various New York pizzeria stops over the years, along with photos and stories from around the country. It’s a book that was seven years in the making, when you count all of the pizzas I’ve eaten! Check it out at your favorite bookseller or during a tour with Scott; you’re sure to see a few familiar faces—or pizzas—in its pages.
—Liz Barrett, author
We start every Sunday NYC Pizza Bus tour at Lombardi’s in Soho. It’s a perfect launching point for about a million reasons, but it does hamper our ability to visit faraway lands. But there are some magical days in which New York’s epic traffic lets up just enough to make such fantastic jaunts possible. Labor Day weekend is one of those magical times in which this city empties and Big Yellow School Buses are free to cruise as they wish. We use this opportunity to venture to the often forgotten borough of Staten Island, a borough that I strongly feel has some of the best pizzeria in all of NYC.
Here we have Bus Driver Patrick showing that he’s not at all worried about our first dramatic encounter: an accident on the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. No problem, we made our way as planned and hit Staten Island Stop #1 - Joe and Pat’s Pizzeria. This place opened in 1960 and their pizza is iconic. It’s the perfect slice. Thin and crispy with the perfect cheese-to-sauce ratio (CSR).
Joe and Pat’s is such a great spot, Staten Island pizza obsessive Mikey Rodriguez decided to meet us there just before heading to his shift making pizza at Two Boots on Avenue A. Mikey’s sporting his Slice Out Hunger shirt, representing our annual $1 slice fundraiser for New Yorkers who have trouble affording food.
Next up was Nunzio’s on Hylan Blvd. This place originally opened in 1942, when it was located in South Beach. It was relocated in 1960 and enjoyed its new digs until Hurricane Sandy came in and destroyed most of the dining room and pizzeria equipment. Even without a dime from Uncle Sam, Nunzio’s managed to open just over a month after the storm.
A victorious spirit envelops the tour crew as the first beautiful pizza arrives. Another pie that isn’t smattered with cheese! Just enough to make its presence known, but not enough to obscure the deliciously herbaceous sauce.
Our final stop before heading back to Manhattan was International Pizza Challenge champion Goodfella’s Pizza. This place consistently wins pizza competitions — and I know first hand because I’m usually judging them! The place has a unique oven that rotates so the pizza maker doesn’t have to do it himself. These guys actually install the ovens in other pizzerias through their own oven company.
Goodfella’s has the unique distinction of being the pizzeria that hosted the controversial “Forkgate" incident. Mayor Bill Deblasio. Just to refresh your memory, newly minted NYC mayor Bill Deblasio used a fork to eat a slice of pizza and everybody freaked out. Who cares? Bored journalists care. I guess there’s just not that much to cover these days, right??? Anyway, they auctioned off the fork for charity but the winner gave it right back. The good folks at Goodfella’s framed it, police evidence bag and all!
Here’s pizza tour guest / pizza tour guide Cedric Sparkman posing with the infamous fork. What an end to an amazing pizza journey! We had so much fun, we decided to take a ridiculous selfie with the help of my new Selfie On A Stick!
Our Sunday bus tours begin and end in Soho with four pizzeria stops in Manhattan and at least one outer borough. Stops and boroughs change weekly, so get on the mailing list and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for updates on where we’re heading next. You can find tickets and info at www.ScottsPizzaTours.com.
Step 1: Buy lots of cheap pizza from a crappy $1 slice joint in the Village. Chill the pizza so it congeals.
(Step 1.5: Get the pizza home on the subway without anyone snatching it!)
Step 2: Dump slices into a bucket.
Step 3: Set up a camera so you can capture the beautiful moment. BONUS: Set up pizza boxes, including the empty pizza boxes from the crappy $1 pizza place.
Step 4: Make a video of yourself dumping the pizza on your head. Classy.
Step 5: Salvage the slices since you cleverly used a plastic tablecloth to cover your gross apartment floor.
NOTE: I found a couple other folks who filled buckets with pizza. Both of them are better videos than mine so definitely check them out!