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The Neighborhood Pizzeria Hall of Fame Presents: The Golden Slice Awards

Eater's senior critic lists 10 of his favorite neighborhood slice shops

Neighborhood pizzerias are the backbone of New York City’s vernacular cuisine — easily as important as hot dog carts, Chinese-American carry-outs, soul food cafes, and pastrami sandwiches in defining the city’s historic culinary landscape. Since the 1950s, these stalwarts have unceasingly provided delicious nourishment at astonishingly cheap prices to rich and poor alike, but their massive achievements have largely gone unsung.

Their successes have continued in the face of onslaughts from encroaching forms of franchised fast food on one hand, and fancy pants wood-burning pizzerias making comically small pies at high prices on the other. (Sure these pies are good, too, but they don’t quite seem like our own.) The humble neighborhood slice joints have long deserved their own accolade, hence the Eater NY Neighborhood Pizzeria Hall of Fame. Here is the latest installment, in which we present 10 more distinguished neighborhood spots with a figurative Golden Slice.

Korner Pizza Robert Sietsema

Korner Pizza — Open since 1966 on Kensington’s main drag, Korner is a neighborhood pizzeria par excellence, with a corner location boasting garden-style concrete tables out front for scarfing your slices, calzones, pastas, and heroes in fine weather. The inside dining room with the usual wavy-benched orange booths is equally comfortable, the walls plastered with photos and other reminiscences of Sicily. The regular cheese slice is perfection itself, with a lighter-than-air crust, thin coating of tomato sauce, and an extravagance of good cheese. For vegans, the broccoli rabe hero is recommended. 226 Church Ave, Brooklyn, (718) 853-3755

Ivana's Pizzeria Robert Sietsema

Ivana’s Pizzeria — This ancient pizzeria retains its nostalgic, time-worn décor, including dozens of framed photographs from the last six decades. The location is iconic: in the midst of the Bronx’s Little Italy (a/k/a Belmont or Arthur Avenue), the pizza here is much better than at surrounding, snazzier pizzerias. Start with the modest cheese slice, which glistens with exuded oils, necessitating the classic New York fold. The slice is salty, the crust nicely browned, the "bone" (circumferential crust) almost non-existent. This constitutes one of the Bronx’s best slices, idiosyncratic and made with evident pride. 2373 Arthur Ave, Bronx, (718) 365-4322

Mario's Robert Sietsema

Mario’s — While most of the neighborhood pizzerias we extol originated in the 50s, 60s, and 70s, when the neighborhood pizza parlor movement was at its height, here’s a new one — founded in 2015 in Jackson Heights — that proves the formula is still sound. The inside is brightly lit, the counter is at the rear of the space, and one wall is decorated with white paper plates painted by young Mario’s fans. Garlic knots and grandma slices are better than most, but the plain cheese slice is the real triumph here, more thin crusted than most, with a thick coating of slightly sweet and herby tomato sauce painted on the crust, and an average amount of cheese. A great slice to eat while walking down the street, not too messy. 77-09 37th Ave, Queens, (718) 446-8879

Astoria Hot Pizza Robert Sietsema

Astoria Hot Pizza — Who can resist the white slice at Astoria Hot Pizza, with its masses of ricotta and mozzarella on an un-tomatoed crust, like driven snow after a blizzard. The chicken slice is another favorite: a diced cutlet, tasting fresh from the fryer, scattered across what would otherwise be a regular cheese slice. It’s like a deconstructed chicken cutlet parm hero. This place shares space with a Middle Eastern grocery store, which allows an unusual latitude in the selection of beverages. 32-04 30th Ave, Queens, (718) 545-1313

Franklin Pizza Robert Sietsema

Franklin Pizza — Yes, the swells head further down Greenpoint Avenue for Paulie Gee’s, a wood oven place with some weird and sometimes spectacular pies. Franklin is conveniently located just across the street from the historic Pencil Factory bar, so that you can see beer fans knocking off a slice or two before scampering across the street. Featuring both ricotta and mozzarella, the broccoli slice is a particular fave, and the drinkers all know that one constitutes a perfect balanced meal. 109 Franklin St, Brooklyn, (718) 349-2472

Kiss My Slice Robert Sietsema

Kiss My Slice — There is a kind of modern neighborhood pizza parlor that flaunts its creativity, turning out oddball slices that seek to compete with other forms of fast food, either by poaching on their territory, or just by jumping up and down and shouting, "Me! Me! Me!" The sassily named Kiss My Slice does both, as you can see by a careful examination its epic fried chicken and waffle slice. The waffle has been minced into individual boxes, the fried chicken cut in cubes, and a drizzle of pancake syrup, probably constituting the first time syrup has been put on a slice of pizza. Pineapple and pepperoni is another strange slice choice. 274 W 40th St, (212) 391-9524

A white plate with a single slice of cheese pizza. Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Sal and Carmine Pizza — Pizzaiolo Sal Malanga opened this popular Upper West Side joint in 1959 and ran it until his death in 2011. His crust remains the quintessential element — "crisp on the outside and tender on the inside" as pizza fanatic Ed Levine once put it. Thereafter Sal’s grandson Lou kept the place up and running, despite a mysterious closure for over a week last year. We’re happy to report the place persists and the cheese slice is as good as always — great crust, with a tomato sauce and cheese that merge into a mysterious amalgam. 2671 Broadway, (212) 663-7651

Dona Bella Pizza Robert Sietsema

Donna Bella — Holding down an incredibly expensive corner location in Tribeca, Donna Bella ("Beautiful Lady") puts an almost surreal amount of energy into its eye-socking window display. The crusts on the Neapolitan slices are a little thicker than usual, the toppings moister and more opulently applied. A case in point is the wonderful mushroom slice, to which a great heap of ‘shrooms has been applied, and plenty of cheese, too. The round fresh mozzarella pie is also great, with big splotches of sweet tomato sauce. 154 Church St, (212) 374-1130

Bravo Pizza Robert Sietsema

Bravo Pizza — What if your neighborhood turns out to be the corner of 42nd and Fifth Avenue? Here's your slice shop. This especially comfortable pizzeria is part of a Manhattan mini-chain, with a deep dark interior kept cool in sweltering weather, mounts an enticing display of by-the-slice pies to lure passersby, some of them rather creative. Of several sampled, the one topped with pepperoni and canned jalapeños was the most enthralling, mouth tingling in the best possible way. 6 E 42nd St, (212) 867-4960

Underground Pizza Robert Sietsema

Underground Pizza — How does a simple independent slice joint stay in business in the Wall Street area? By serving some of the best pizza in town in a somewhat shabby and abject location a few steps below street level. Nevertheless, this is a frequently recommended favorite among brokers, clerks, web journalists, and non-profit wonks who labor in the neighborhood. The fresh mozzarella slice is especially enticing, with splotches of sweet herby tomato sauce, great mozzarella that doesn’t go all soggy, and a memorably crisp crust browned just the way you like it. 3 Hanover Sq, (212) 425-4442

Check out Eater's previous neighborhood pizzeria honor rolls:

  • The New York City Neighborhood Pizzeria Hall of Fame
  • 10 Great Old-Fashioned Brooklyn Neighborhood Pizzerias
  • 10 Old-Fashioned Neighborhood Pizzerias
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