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.
The art world will never be the same after this epic gallery show of amazing pizza boxes hits the scene this Thursday at the Melville House Gallery in DUMBO. About a dozen boxes will be on display all month long, most of which are featured in Viva La Pizza! The Art of the Pizza Box, the acclaimed new book about the history, art and science of pizza boxes.
The Art of the Pizza Box an exhibit curated by Scott Wiener
Opening party Thursday, March 6, 6:30 PM
Melville House Gallery
154 Plymouth St, Brooklyn
The show will be up through the end of March!
*Buy the book on Amazon
*Buy a signed copy from McNally Jackson
*See the list of Tour Dates
I’ve been saying it for a while now: New York needs a deep dish pizzeria. The mark of a good pizza city is variety and while NYC has a good amount, we’re missing a very large piece of the pizza style pie. Yes, I’ve seen the various Daily Show pieces about how deep dish isn’t even pizza and I do feel strange being forced to eat my slice with a knife and fork, but every slice has its place and I truly believe deep dish pizza is an acceptable format.
Chicago has its fair share of New York style pizzerias, but most New Yorkers have never experienced deep dish pizza because we just don’t have access to it. Sure, there are a bunch of Pizzeria Uno (oops… I mean Uno Chicago Grill) locations around the city but they are only in pizza deserts where you have no other option. But all of that has changed. In the midst of all the Chicago-NYC pizza hubbub on The Daily Show, a tiny bar/restaurant opened in the Soho/South Village nook on Macdougal just south of Houston Street. Emmett’s has about six tables and a bar, not too dissimilar to the original Uno in Chicago. But there’s one major difference: Emmett’s makes a great pizza.
The space is adorable, complete with a rad green glider bench out front. But there’s no loud proclamations boasting about deep dish pizza, it’s much more subtle. Two brothers run the place and they’re all about Chicago pride. It’s probably wise to keep the place understated. Tensions could produce a dangerous situation.
I went with a crew of serious pizza enthusiasts. Jeff Orlick, creator of the Real Pizza of NYC app, “Famous Fat” Dave Freedenberg (sporting a brand new beard we all love but got pretty clogged with cheese), and Steph Mantis of Forever Pizza and Animal Butt Magnet fame. We ordered a traditional Chicago deep dish pizza with sausage, mushrooms, onions and peppers. It was the right choice.
Most wanna-be deep dish pizzas just have a thick crust, but that’s garbage. Emmett’s is the real deal, with a dense biscuity crust covered with stringy cheese, loads of toppings and a highly seasoned plum tomato sauce. I really enjoyed the robustness and zing of this sauce, it’s a great counterpoint to the usual laid back tomato of most New York pizza sauces.
I loved the chunky sausage. It was perfect for the pie and totally reminded me of the sausage I ate on Chicago pies in November. It balances the dense crust in a way thin crumbly sausage cannot. But the crust was the real telltale sign that whoever is back there making these pizzas has done some serious Chicago pizza homework. The owners are a pair of brothers from the Windy City and they clearly have their pizza act together in a way I really respect.
The rest of the team agreed and the four of us took down an entire large pie. That’s not a big deal for a NY style pizza, but more than one slice of this stuff creates a seriously different experience. But as you can see from the photo above, people in New York just cannot be restrained by the tyranny of a knife and fork. I think all of us went for the open-face hand-hold method for at least a portion of each slice.
This is the perfect place to hole up on a cold night. It’s tiny, so get there early. Deep dish pies take a while to bake, but there’s a good beer selection to keep you company. If you get annoyed at the 45 minutes it takes to make your pizza, just remember it’s wayyyy shorter than the flight to Chicago.
Just a few shots from this year’s Scott’s Pizza Tours holiday party, a retrospective of hometown pizza styles.
Our amazing host / pizza tour guide JOE showing off his flatbread appetizer and a classy oven mitt. It was awesome.
Miriam photographs a frozen pizza from her favorite pizzeria in Dayton, OH called Marion’s. Close the oven, you’re losing heat!
Marion’s pizza from Ohio gets cut into squares even though it’s round. I will never understand this, but I will accept it.
Joe is from Detroit so he made a style of pizza indigenous to his native land. Miriam is excited and Scott is amused.