Miriam and Joe came over to make pizza with me LAST NIGHT!!!
My company is called Scott’s Pizza Tours because I never envisioned anyone but me leading these cultural-culinary adventures around NYC. Turns out I was wrong. Miriam and Joe have been on board for the past couple of months after an exhaustive search for fun and exciting pizza enthusiasts to help lead folks through the city’s ever-changing pizza landscape.
Both Joe and Miriam lead normal lives with normal jobs, but pizza is their passion so they scored some NYC Sightseeing Guide licenses and now they’re cruising the streets looking for great slices. I’m beyond excited for anyone who gets to experience their tours.
Schedules aren’t set in stone but Joe will be taking on Sunday walking tours through Greenwich Village and Soho, Miriam will have most Friday Crosstown Pizza Walks and I will still be doing every Sunday NYC Pizza Bus tour as well as walking tours and private tours most other days. We now have evening tours on Mondays and Thursdays plus more to come toward the end of the summer. Stay tuned!
You’re lost. You’re hungry. You need pizza. You have a wi-fi equipped mobile device. You are saved! Everybody knows about general food-locating apps like Yelp, Foursquare and Foodspotting but there are several apps dedicated solely to helping you find nearby pizzerias. Here’s a quick rundown of four of them.
NAME: Pizza Finder PRICE: FREE (you just have to deal with the ad at the bottom) TERRITORY: Entire USA DEVICES: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad
Pizza Finder opens with a list of pizzerias in close proximity. You get exact distance, address and phone number right there on the main page. Clicking through to any pizzeria gives you its Yelp page for more details and reviews. You can even enter any location in the US and get a list of pizzerias if you want to plan ahead rather than wait until you’re standing sliceless at an unfamiliar intersection. It’s pretty much just a “pizza” search in the Yellow Pages.
Not a bad app if you’re in a new apartment and want to order a couple pies for all the friends you roped into helping you move, but keep in mind you’re depending on Yelp reviews to light the way to the right spot. Choose the wrong pizzeria and you’ll have to find new friends for the next move.
NAME: Cheazza PRICE: $0.99 TERRITORY: NYC DEVICES: Compatible with iPad, iTouch and iPhone
As its name (sort of) indicates, Cheazza is all about helping you find cheap pizza. It lists chains, dollar slice shops and pizza deals by neighborhood or via a geo-location feature. In the screenshot above, you’ll see Papa John’s (#3 chain in the US), 2 Bros. Pizza (dollar slice chain around NYC), Crocodile Lounge (one of several NYC bars that offer a free personal pizza with every drink) and a couple other dollar slice joints. Come to think of it, Cheazza is technically an app that lists pizzerias you’ll want to avoid! It amazes me that anyone New York would go out of their way to find a bad slice, but I suppose desperate times call for desperate measures. Use at your own risk!
Who is Jeff Orlick? He’s a guy who lives in Queens and really likes good food. He’s constantly searching for authenticity, honesty and general realness in eateries of all sorts but this app concentrates specifically on Jeff’s personal pizza recommendations. Instead of searching based on proximity, Real Pizza suggests pizzerias based on user-selected filters (right screenshot above) such as borough, oven type and pizza style. There are also options to sort by price and neighborhood if you don’t want to go with straight alphabetical order.
This is easily my favorite pizza-finding app because it features something none of the other ones have: curation. Orlick has clearly spent countless hours, days, months, years culling his list and it is constantly being revised and expanded. His app shows you photos he took and reviews he wrote with extra info you can’t get from a simple phone book listing.
Real Pizza’s only real downfall is that there’s so much information that the app tends to run a bit slow and the navigation is a bit clunky. I also wish it had a geo-location function but my fingers are crossed that’s coming with the next update. That being said, this is the only app for serious pizza enthusiasts and it’s well worth the price of admission. (Full disclosure: My tour is listed on the app, but I’d dig it even if it wasn’t.)
NAME: Pizza Compass PRICE: $0.99 TERRITORY: Earth DEVICES: Compatible with iPhone 3GS and later, iPod touch 3rd generation and later, iPad running iOS 6.0 or later
This one just came out and its release gave me an excuse to finally review the pizza apps that have been sitting on my phone for the past few years. It is without a doubt the most attractive and user-friendly of all selections in this post but at the same time one of the most basic.
The Pizza Compass website is brilliant in its simplicity. It has links to just a few of the massive number of press pieces written when the app dropped as well as a simple video of the app’s “creator” Zeus Gorham Munkist (he’s not listed as a copyright holder) giving a spiel about the app. I was really taken in by the video because it lays out that the app is simply for finding the closest pizzeria and not interested in cultivating an elite list of authentic options. In that sense, it’s a lot like Pizza Finder (and the many other location apps I chose not to include since they’re all the same) but Pizza Compass actually looks like a compass as it points you toward slice salvation. It has smart features like a smoke indicator to let you know when you’re getting close and a red-green bar that tells you whether or not the place is currently open. It’s a really clean design, perfect for helping you find those late-night (READ AS: drunk) desperation slices.
But is it the greatest app ever? Will it change your life? Is it a “tool…to help us celebrate life…love…adventure,” as the video claims? No. No. Maybe. Because sometimes pizza isn’t about historic coal ovens or 48 hour fermentation or mozzarella di bufala; it’s about the comfort of a warm slice without having walked very far.
DIY Pizza Pie is the greatest home pizza making tool since the advent of the pizza stone. No less should be expected of Mark Bello, the big cheese at Pizza A Casa in NYC’s Lower East Side. PAC’s pizza making workshops have become legendary for their ability to transform the dough-phobic into master pizzaioli in a matter of hours using a treasure trove of tricks and hacks developed over Bello’s years of tortured existence in the land of the deep dish. His methods are extremely simple and yield incredible results. The DIY Pizza Pie app distills the juiciest moments of a Pizza A Casa pizza making workshop into an easy-to-use app that’s perfect for beginners or pizza pros.
The app opens with a menu of selections ranging from necessary pizza gear (Tools of the Trade) to common mistakes (7 Deadly Pizza Pitfalls) to necessary dissertations on sauce, cheese and dough. Each of these categories gets you to a far more detailed list of options, such as this step-by-step process for making a Pizza Margherita.
Bello keeps it simple, but there are special features on nearly every page that will take you even deeper into pizza madness with incredibly detailed videos. These aren’t your ordinary cooking show variety where you see five seconds of work and the thing is magically done. One video demonstrates how to repair a punctured dough skin by using a light box to illustrate thin sections. Another shows two simultaneous angles of a dough stretching technique that would be difficult to describe in text alone or with a single video shot. It’s brilliant in its deep understanding of what processes concern most home pizza chefs, a skill the crew at Pizza A Casa developed by instructing thousands of people in the ways of the DIY pie.
For those who have taken the class, DIY Pizza Pie is a perfect way to take Bello and his bag of tricks with you. For those who aren’t planning a trip to New York anytime soon, it’s a valuable tool for attaining independence from low-quality take-out pizza wherever you live.
A new phone book arrived on my stoop and it reveals amazing insight into the state of pizza in Brooklyn. Here are some stats:
- The book lists 518 phone numbers for pizzerias - There are 19 listings for Domino’s Pizza - There are 14 listings for Papa John’s plus a location at 3528 Nostrand Ave that’s spelled “Pappa John’s” for some reason (it’s a Papa John’s) - There are 5 listings for Little Caesar’s - No Pizza Huts are listed - Popular pizzeria names include Sal’s (4), Vinny’s (4 + 1 Vinnie’s), Luigi’s (5), Rocco’s (6), Gino’s (6 + 1 Gina’s) but the most popular is Tony’s (13) - There are no Ray’s pizzerias but 2 Not Ray’s listings remain - Remove all duplicate listings and the Big Four chains and you’re left with 449 pizzerias in Brooklyn!
Cooking Channel's New Pizza Show feat. Artichoke Guys
I usually cringe when TV shows do segments about pizza. They all go to the same places and describe food the same boring way with no insight into the real interesting stuff aside from a quick line about oven temperature here and mention of fresh ingredients there. This is not true for Cooking Channel’s new show Pizza Cuz, featuring Francis and Sal of NYC’s Artichoke Basille’s.
The show drops pizza into the standard format of 3 restaurant visits over the course of a 22 minute show. Francis and Sal have lots of experience working at their family’s restaurant in Staten Island, three pizzerias and two sandwich shops in Manhattan, all of which helps them translate the tastes and techniques they encounter at the pizzerias they visit. Other shows have such lame hosts who know nothing and freak out over everything they see happening in the kitchen but these guys are legit and their analysis is the perfect translation for armchair pizza tourists.
Francis and Sal are clearly guys who like to eat and it shows by their reactions to each slice. I actually got hungrier with every bite they took! It’s not the tired old “this is the greatest thing I’ve ever eaten” reaction. What a relief.
Pizza Cuz is scheduled to run for six episodes but if the remaining five are anything like the premier I really hope they get picked up for more.