Veterans of the fairs, exhibitions, and gallery shows of Armory Week know that there are few things more exhausting and hunger-inducing than taking in miles of art. Luckily, we New Yorkers have the perfect remedy: pizza! Cheap, universally beloved, and easy to slurp down à la Michelangelo (the Ninja Turtle) while zooming off in a taxi, it can’t be beat for on-the-spot nourishment. Here, pie-aficionado Daniel Young, author of Phaidon’s indispensable new guide Where to Eat Pizza tells you where to go for an artful, artisan slice or two.
Prince Street Pizza
27 Prince Street
New York, NY 10012
Frank Morano, the owner of this incomparable slice joint, hates it when a customer blots one of his SoHo Squares, as his Sicilian pizza is called, with a napkin. “That’s not grease,” he protests, “it’s olive oil!” The crime, if there’s one, is in wanting to remove the good grease filling up the curled cups of pepperoni atop the Spicy Spring pizza.
BEST PIZZA: Spicy Spring
IF IT WERE AN ART MOVEMENT: Cubism, given Prince Street’s chunky, geometric slices
SITE SPECIFIC: SoHo was still an artists’ colony when Francoise Schein’s LED and metal Submay Map Floating On A NY Sidewalk was installed between Spring and Prince back in the mid Eighties. The artists are gone; the art’s still there.
230 Ninth Avenue (24th Street)
New York, NY 10001
James Beard Award winner Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery is a pioneer among artisan bread bakers pursuing a passion for pizza. In 2009 he opened Co. and there’s been a wait for prime-time seats and rustic, hand-crafted pizzas at its communal tables ever since. Insiders pressed for time, or money, know they can pop into the bakery just up the avenue for an airy slice of pizza rossa.
BEST PIZZA: Popeye
IF IT WERE AN ART MOVEMENT: Pattern and Decoration, thanks to the fine, vernacular hand-finished flourishes.
SITE SPECIFIC: The Stonewall-inspired Gay Liberation Monument by realist sculptor George Segal is in nearby Christopher Park.
LOWER EAST SIDE
Mission Chinese Food
171 East Broadway
New York, NY 10002
Everyone knows about Mission for fiery Chinese food but few are aware it moonlights in pizza made with a San Francisco sourdough starter and Italian DOP tomatoes by a Filipina chef working for Korean-born orphan raised in Oklahoma. Only in America.
BEST PIZZA: Hot Cheese
IF IT WERE AN ART MOVEMENT: Skewed authorship? Shifting meanings? This has to be Postmodernism!
SITE SPECIFIC: The plaza at the base of the nearby Chase building is home to two monumental works: Isamu Noguchi’s Sunken Garden and Jean Dubuffet’s Four Trees.
UPPER EAST SIDE
1374 First Avenue
New York, NY 10021
A “routine” New York neighborhood pizzeria-restaurant – exactly the kind most areas of most cities in most parts of the world would kill for. Hits the spot for eat-in, eat-later or, better still, eat-now, for groups of between one and 12.
BEST PIZZA: Margherita
IF IT WERE AN ART MOVEMENT: Social Practice. This is a for-the-people, by-the-people place.
SITE SPECIFIC: Alexander Calder’s only terrazzo piece—black and white tiles arranged in zig zags and swirls—can be found on the sidewalk of 1014-1018 Madison Avenue nearby.
261 Moore Street
Brooklyn, NY 11206
The utter excitement of finding something new, edgy, and special in the grimmest outreaches of the city is a part of every Bohemian counterculture. What’s unique about Roberta’s rise, as compared to other hipster breakthroughs, is that its fame came not from painting, poetry, or punk rock but from pizza. The singed markings of Neapolitan inspiration show on the every bubbly, leopard-spotted pie.
BEST PIZZA: Bee Sting
IF IT WERE AN ART MOVEMENT: Fauvism. Just look at those wild, leopard-spotted pie tops.
SITE SPECIFIC: Look out for ever changing street art pieces by local crew the Bushwick Collective, via their Instagram account @thebushwickcollective.
33 Havemeyer Street
Brooklyn, NY 11211
A gallery for paper plates displaying the menus, customer drawings, and, best of Best, gorgeous slices of pizza blistered in a wood-fired oven. The selection of classic New York pizzeria toppings is millenialized with pickled veg and kale.
BEST PIZZA: White
IF IT WERE AN ART MOVEMENT: With the rough-hewn plate drawings, it has to be Art Brut.
SITE SPECIFIC: Jeppe Hein’s fun, tactile sculptures in Brooklyn Bridge Park, entitled Please Touch the Art, might be a few blocks away, but they’re worth the walk.