A couple of years back, around my Speakeasy days, I was in the process of creating a new mini series with the name Kung Food! The premise of that was sort of a Jackie Chan type of flick set in a supermarket. I never got around to actually writing the story, and, honestly, I'm kind of glad I didn't, but that name always stuck with me. I had to use it for something. Well, for the two of you that have followed this blog, you know that I've wanted to start writing about food, better yet, my obsession with it, for quite awhile now. I mean, I loooove food, I love writing, so it was time to hop to it, huh? Well, I'm about to stop the talking and start the hopping, or rather the writing!
So, against my fiancee's better judgement (she hates the name!), I welcome you to Kung Food!, my all purpose flour that I'll use as a home for various food writings. I can't say exactly how this will go, but figure some restaurant and food product reviews, maybe an interview here or there, lots of opinions, some recipe sharing (since I adore cooking), and whatever else I can think of. My first outing here goes under the "whatever else I can think of" part...
This will not come as a shock, but I am 100% in love with pizza. We've had a romance that stretches back to my first days of solid food. Being Italian, I've also always thought of myself as a fellow with a pretty discernible taste for the stuff, so let me tell you, I've eaten a lot of pizza in my life! Some bad, some good, some just there, it's always interesting to see just what'll stick to my palette, and what I'll discard and file under "never to be had again"!
That all said, what I present to you now, in this inaugural Kung Food! edition is my Top Ten NYC Pizza Joints: (You'd think I'd start it with my Top Ten Chinese Joints or something!)
Wait! Sorry...let me preface this by saying that I am a severely loyal Brooklynite, who thinks we have the best pizza of the 5 boroughs, so I'm naturally comprising this list with mostly Brooklyn joints, however I will keep you updated if I find a new place that can join this list.
Enough yapping, here's the list:
10. Bay Ridge Pizza: This would be one of the newer additions to my list, but after carefully considering some of the alternates, like DaVinci's, J&V's, or Pizza Wagon, this place wins out. It does so on the power of one of the best Sicilian squares in Brooklyn! It has a great, great sauce that makes every bite a sweet one! 7704 5th Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11209
9. Patsy's: While there are now many locations of the original Patsy's franchised out there, I particularly like the one on West 23rd Street and 8th ave. I've always had a very good brick oven pie there, recommend it with onions! It's also a good place to sit and have a pie or pasta, if you have lots of folks with you, and are in Manhattan. 318 W 23rd St., New York, NY 10011
8. Di Fara's: I'm sure you've heard the story, and unfortunately the hype: A little old Italian man makes classic pizza with a very unique and even more classical method. Yet despite what Time Out New York did to make the place blow up, the fact remains Mr. Domenico DeMarco makes a very mean pizza! It's almost a show to watch. Be warned though, it took long before the hype, now it just takes forever to get a pie! 1424 Ave. J (at East 15th St.), Brooklyn, NY 11230
7. Totonno's: This is the classic Brooklyn brick oven place. While I didn't get there till a few years back, its history is legendary. It's completely no frills, you just order a pie, chill, eat, and repeat. No toppings are even necessary, it's perfect as is. Just be warned, once they finish their dough for the day, they close shop! 1524 Neptune Ave. (near West 15th St.), Brooklyn, NY 11224
6: Numero 28: (or No. 28) Now here's a real classic Neapolitan style brick oven pizza by an actual family from the Naples! These are long pizzas with the freshest toppings imported from Italy, and truly something different than the normal brick oven pizza. The chef, who we followed from L'Asso, knows what he's doing, and surrounded by his family, is cranking out possibly the best brick oven pizza in Manhattan. 28 Carmine St. (at Bleecker St.), New York, Ny 10014
5. Peter Pizza: No, not the Italian Peter Pan, wise guy! This place reminds me of my youth, as the owner/pizzaiolo cut his teeth at my favorite childhood spot, Ciccio's. He brings the same great style and flavor he honed there to his own spot, and even upped it a few notches. The pizza is just some of the best slices you can have, nicely finished with a wonderful sesame seed crust! His Sophia Loren slice rocks the house as well. 2358 80th St. (at Stillwell Ave.), Brooklyn, NY 11214
4. 99¢ Fresh Pizza: To me, getting good, regular pizza in Manhattan is harder than it looks. They all taste generic to me, and none have ever stuck with me except for this little gem. Located in Hell's Kitchen, and behind the Port Authority, on 9th Ave, these fine (Pakistani?)gentlemen pump out these perfect little pizzas with a nice simple flavor. I religiously get one, two, or three either before or after a night of drinking at Rudy's. 569 9th Ave., New York, NY 10011
3. L&B Spumoni Gardens: L&B has a crazy loyal following, and not one done in by hype. Brooklyn Originals have been lining up for their unique squares, with the sauce on top of the cheese, since 1939! I've been going to this place all my life, and it's particularly awesome in the summer as you can sit in their spacious "garden" and eat, eat, eat! Check out their Spumoni (a vanilla, chocolate, pistachio creme ice) and Italian Ices afterwards! 2725 86th St., Brooklyn, NY 11223
2. Nick's: The Forest Hills champion of the brick oven may actually be the overall champion of this style of pizza. Nick's has some the best mozzarella that I've ever tasted on a pizza, and they don't skimp out on it. Complement that with excellent sauce and dough, and you've got the makings of legendary pizza! The wait staff is excellent here as well, and that really makes a difference. 10826 Ascan Ave Forest Hills, NY 11375
1. Peppino's: The official pizza place of me and Marilyn's relationship! We've come to Peppino's loyally since it's inception, which was right around the time of ours. A family owned brick oven restaurant that makes you feel right at home, but most importantly is super delicious! The classic Margherita is great, but it's the vodka sauce pie that's to die for! Piled with mushrooms, prosciutto, and a delicious vodka sauce, it's my favorite pizza in all of NYC! And be sure to try out some of their other dishes, as they make excellent heroes, great soups and salads, and yummy pastas! All in all, it's hands down my favorite spot, and since I go at least twice a month, I'm proud to put it at the top of my list. Pep is a nice guy, too, and him and his family really take care of you. Peppino's deserves your patronage, so get moving! There are two locations, both are excellent. Bay Ridge: 7708 3rd Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11209, and Park Slope: 469 5th Ave. (between 10th St. & 11th St.), Brooklyn, NY 11215
*Special thank yous to Marilyn Patrizio, my pizza partner in crime, my mom, who created my pizza obsession, and to Ian "Iceman" Parfrey, who got me thinking about this list when he needed some pizza suggestions!