Slice Out Hunger: Recap!

Thursday, June 9 was our annual Slice Out Hunger fundraiser in which we collect donations from NYC’s best pizzerias and sell slices for $1 each. All the money goes to feed the city’s homeless and hungry, with this year’s proceeds going to City Harvest. The event started in 2008 as a simple launch party for Scott’s Pizza Tours and has since blossomed into an animal all its own. This year we raised $5,000 for New York’s homeless with the help of 20 amazing pizzerias, a dozen amazing raffle prize donors, 25+ volunteers, and about 700 hungry pizza lovers.

Pizza started to arrive around 5:30, as I didn’t want to risk running low on slices mid-event. Last year we blew through 40 pies in 20 minutes and people had to wait in the rain before 25 backup pies arrived. This year’s pie count was at 182 the afternoon of the event, so my only fear was that we wouldn’t have enough people to eat all the pizza. I was totally wrong.


Excited pizza lovers waiting in line. (Photo by Liz Migliore)

Doors were scheduled to open at 6:30PM but the line started by 5:15 and the sky was threatening to burst open, so we started selling slice tickets to people waiting outside by 6:10 in an effort to assist the flow once doors opened. All pies were in position, plate distributors were at the ready, pizza servers were armed with spatulas — so we opened the doors at 6:20.

Amity Hall was completely mobbed within minutes. We quickly reached capacity for the building so the bouncer had to stop letting folks in until people left. Then the sky opened up and things got crazier. Our volunteer crew had the pizza under control so I ran outside to let everyone in line know why they weren’t moving. While we weren’t able to get anybody else inside, we did bring some pizza to the line so people could at least get a slice in their bellies.

 
Happy dude inside; me in freakout mode outside. (photos by Rosemary Zuppardo).

Enough people eventually left and the bar and we were able to get more pizza lovers inside. The scene was pretty crazy but everyone was certainly having a blast. We started calling names for raffle prizes and have away TONS of cool pizza stuff. There were pizza making classes, pizza t-shirts, bags of flour, travel vouchers from GAP Adventures, pizza tours in NYC and Chicago, pizza books, etc. It was incredible. We even raffled off some great photographs of our featured pizzerias, courtesy of the NY Pizza Project.

Our pizza donations were incredible this year and we are eternally grateful to all 20 pizzerias for being part of the event:Lombardi’s, NY Pizza Suprema, Luzzo’s, Pizza Box, Keste, John’s of Bleecker St, Artichoke, Slice, Joe’s Pizza, Famous Original Ray’s, 900 Degrees, Two Boots, Famous Ben’s, Difara, Tosca, Pizza Roma, Grimaldi’s, Arturo’s, Rizzo’s and Bleecker Street Pizza. By the end of the night, we had eaten over 1,500 slices and raffled off 30 prizes. The resulting $5,000 will help City Harvest rescue 21,121 pounds of food around NYC.

As much pizza as we had, it all disappeared into the bellies of hungry pizza lovers within one hour. Plans are already in motion to make next year’s event even bigger and better. To volunteer, please contact me at sliceouthunger[at]gmail[dot]com.

THANKS TO ALL WHO ATTENDED AND WE HOPE TO SEE YOU AGAIN NEXT YEAR!

Here’s a smattering of photos from Slice Out Hunger 2011…

   
 
 
 
 
Until the dough runs out… (photo by Adam Kuban)


Slice Out Hunger - $1 Slices to Benefit City Harvest

Mark your calendars for the biggest, most awesome pizza party you’ve ever been to in your life. We’re collecting pizza from all the city’s top spots and selling it off for $1 per slice at a bar in Greenwich Village. All the money goes to City Harvest, NYC’s only food collection organization, so you’re helping others while feeding yourself.

DETAILS:
Thursday, June 9
Amity Hall
80 W 3rd Street (at Thompson)
6:30 - 10pm

Enjoy pizza from: Lombardi’s, DiFara, Grimaldi’s, Joe’s, John’s of Bleecker, Pizza Roma, Famous Ben’s, Slice, 900 Degrees, Two Boots, Luzzo’s, Artichoke, NY Pizza Suprema, Tosca, Pizza Box and MORE!!!

Raffle prizes from Serious Eats, Pizza a Casa, Coluccio & Sons, Chicago Pizza Tours, GAP Adventures, Trader Joe’s, NY Pizza Project, Busted Tees, Scott’s Pizza Tours, Real Pizza of NYC App plus your chance to win a pizza party for you and seven friends catered by Slice founder Adam Kuban!

Learn more at www.sliceouthunger.org or read about last year’s event at I Dream of Pizza.

Check out this awesome article on Slice about my VERY first pizza tour! I can hardly believe it has been two years since the maiden voyage of the pizza bus. The whole thing started with a love of pizza, a bunch of awesome friends and a birthday party.

I was turning 26 and all I wanted to do was eat a ton of pizza with my buddies. My car only fits five people, and even that’s tight, so I started fishing around for buses to charter. We ended up with a school bus for five hours and hit six different pizzerias. There were almost thirty of us, so we placed orders while en route and took our pizza to go. We would finish our slice just as we rolled up to the next pizzeria. It was awesome. I even made everybody goody bags. After all, it was a birthday party!

Not much has changed since that first tour. The goody bags are fancier, we get to actually go inside the pizzerias, there is more detailed discussion of the science behind pizza, and I have a t-shirt with a logo on it. But the vibe is exactly the same. Every tour feels like a party.

If you were on that first tour, this article will crack you up. If you have taken a tour in the past two years, this article is the best explanation to the question everyone asks me: “How did you get started running pizza tours?”

Pizza in Phoenix

Here’s a summary of Pizza-cation 2010: Phoenix Edition!

My first Phoenix pizzeria was Organ Stop Pizza, truly an incredible restaurant that combines my love of pizza with my love of pipe organ music. While it may seem like it is a gimmick (it is, they won “Best Pizza Gimmick” in several local papers), Organ Stop certainly makes every restaurant-goer happy! And how can you not smile when you’re being entertained by this guy:

But what about the pizza? I wish you hadn’t asked. Notice how the bubble completely overtakes 1.8 slices. I ordered half cheese half “combination,” which seems to be just about every topping they carry. It’s first on the menu so it must be important. As it turns out, it’s gross.

My next stop was a place I’d heard about from several pizza tour alumni. Cibo’s is a lovely Neapolitan pizzeria located downtown. The menu was pretty average Neapolitan fare. The pies look lovely, but crust was a bit limp and lacking flavor. Every bite was just a bit underwhelming, although the service and outside seating were a real treat!

After Cibo’s, I decided to follow the advice of a friend at PMQ Magazine and visit Oregano’s, a Chicago-style pizzeria that serves both thin crust and deep dish. I opted for a simple thin crust pie, but within two bites I was reminded that thin crackery cruts just aren’t my thing. It’s a shame because I like the vibe here and they are the first Phoenix pizzeria I visited that serves Coke instead of Pepsi. Notice the “party cut” of the circular pie shopped into square pieces.

The purpose of this trip is to cover some pizza ground in cities with which I have little experience, but I also like the idea of exploring New York’s influence on the Left Coast.

While I was in Scottsdale, I checked out an outpost of Grimaldi’s. Their goal is to replicate as closely as possible the experience of eating pizza under the Brooklyn Bridge and I have to say the place looks and smells a lot like the original location.

Because Arizona’s tap water is so terrible, just about every restaurant filters their water with reverse osmosis. Grimaldi’s goes a step further and has a chemist test their water every other month to make sure it’s as close to NYC tap as possible. Nice!

And of course, the pies look lovely:

Phoenix has some other glaring odes to New York, but none are quite as direct as the frequent appearance of the most familiar name in Pizza: RAY! That’s right, there are no fewer than 12 Famous Ray’s pizzerias in the greater Phoenix area, each of which claims a different association with other Ray’s in Phoenix and New York. It’s pretty amazing.

The cheese slices I tried fell somewhere between “good” and “bearable.” They all had too much cheese, which was quite greasy. This is what most people think of as being New York pizza, so in that respect Ray’s did a good job of emulating an image presented by television and film. It was actually better than some pizza I’ve had in NY/NJ, but certainly nothing worth traveling for.

However, a pizzeria worth the flight exists in Phoenix and it’s the place every pizza enthusiast has on their wish list. Pizzeria Bianco occupies a beautiful building in the Heritage Square district of downtown Phoenix. They open at 5PM and the line is legendary so I did what any freak would do and arrived at about 2:15. Yes, I was first on line. I knew I had a wait ahead of me, so I came prepared with a sandwich and cane cola from Pane Bianco. That might be the best idea I’ve ever had. Waiting in line for Bianco to open is a real treat because everybody else in line is also a pizza enthusiast. It’s hard not to start a conversation with everybody in line and before you know it, everyone in the group knows everybody’s story.

Since I was flying solo, I had to find a group of people who would let me join them so we could sample each of the six pies offered at Bianco. It wasn’t long before pizza conversations led me to a group half from Phoenix and half from Rochester, NY. They agreed to let me become part of their family for a night, so I relinquished my #1 position in line to join them at spot #4. Once we got in and ordered our pies, I fell into somewhat of a trance. Here I was, sitting with a gang of new pizza buddies in a pizzeria across the country that I had only read about. But the trance ended when the pies arrived at the table. My new pizza family, from left to right, is Joe, Meghan, Emily, Pat, Susan, Nicole, Terri and Joe.

The pizza was wonderful and the service was excellent! It’s hard to visit a pizzeria with this much hype, but I had taken the edge off with my Ray’s morning and the Pane Bianco sandwich so hunger wasn’t an issue. My favorite pie of the visit was the simple, elegant, fragrant, zippy Marinara. It had such focused flavors and played no games whatsoever. The Rosa (with onion and pistachio) was excellent but a bit too strong for me. I also enjoyed the Biancoverde, a white pie with arugula. Oh what the heck, here are a bunch of pizza pictures:

Sonny Boy

Biancoverde

Margherita

Marinara

Rosa

Wiseguy

Although this is an unlikely city to begin a pizza-cation, there ended up being a surprisingly good spread of options around the greater Phoenix area. You can get pizza by the slice (Famous Ray’s), coal-fired pies (Grimaldi’s), wood-burning oven beauties (Pizzeria Bianco and Cibo), bizarre pizza gimicks (Organ Stop Pizza) and even Chicago-style pies (Oregano’s). Variety is the spice of life!