Earlier today I awarded three stars to Roberta's in my first review for Eater. In that writeup, I mentioned that Chris Parachini and Brandon Ho's Bushwick hot spot was charging a few dollars less than its competitors for both margherita pizzas and pastrami sandwiches. But precisely how much do Roberta's competitors charge?
Let's find out!
Check out These Pizza Prices:
Motorino (EV or Williamsburg): $15
Olio e Piu: $13
Don Antonio: $12
Paulie Gee's: $11.94
All of the pizza purveyors listed above, incidentally, serve Neapolitan-style pies in the same ballpark as Roberta's — roughly 11-12 inches. What accounts for the price differential? Likely the same factors that impact price in any given venue: Location, rent, labor, ingredients, and occasionally, though you'll rarely hear a restaurateur confirm this, demand (i.e. "because we can").
So Paulie Gee's in Greenpoint is naturally going to charge a few dollars less than Luzzo's in Manhattan. And Franny's, situated in a posh nook of Brooklyn right by Grand Army Plaza, can command a higher price than Roberta's, in an industrial swath of Bushwick. Keep in mind that pizza is more of a local product rather than a destination venue like, say, Noma, so it's unlikely you'll travel from one part of Kings County to the other to exploit the $5 price differential, which probably won't make or break your bank account.
Location, of course, doesn't explain everything; Motorino in Williamsburg charges the same price its East Village branch ($15). And it's worth noting that Franny's uses imported mozzarella di bufala (which this critic generally finds too rich), while Roberta's serves house-made mozz from domestic curds (rightly so) on its margherita. FYI: the price for Paulie Gee's is 8.875 percent lower than what you'll find on its menu, which already reflects NYS sales tax.
Here Are Your Pastrami Prices:
1. Carnegie Deli: $18
2. Second Avenue Deli: $16.95
3. Katz's: $16.95
4. Pastrami Queen: $15.95
5. Sarge's: $14.95
6. Mile End: $14
7. Roberta's: $13
8. John Brown: $12
9. David's Brisket House: $7 (small)-$13 (large).
Roberta's is near the bottle of the list again, but keep in mind that its pastrami was a lunchtime special, and prices for specials can trend lower (or higher) as a restaurant tries to figure out whether to serve that dish full-time.
And notice how if you exclude the small sandwich at David's Brisket House, there's just a $6 price differential between the lowest and highest priced pastrami sandwiches, just a dollar off from our $5 pizza differential!
This relatively tight band of prices is likely because margherita pizzas and pastrami sandwiches are viewed, for the most part, as casual foods that don't change a whole heck of a lot in size or style from preparation to preparation. So even though you might not cross from one borough to the other to save a few bucks on smoked meat, it's unlikely you'll be overcharged much more than a few bucks because of the competitive environment.
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