With inflation upon us, and menu prices soaring across the city, it seems as good a time as any to extoll the free pizza at Alligator Lounge.
The bar had become something of a local legend, long before it appeared in an HBO show from Nathan Fielder earlier this summer. Its Wi-Fi password — $4fireballshots — doubles as a drink special, and it’s home to two Skee-Ball machines, a pool table, a photo booth, a karaoke stage, a bar area where trivia is hosted on Mondays, and a brick oven that dispenses hundreds of pizzas, free with any drink purchase, each night.
It works like this: You order a drink at the bar. You ask for a pizza ticket. You take the ticket to the brick oven at the back of the bar. You wait 10 minutes. You get a pizza. There’s virtually no terms and conditions and you can do this as many times as you like. Toppings like basil, pepperoni, bacon, and pineapple can be thrown on for a dollar each.
The pies often come out doughy and misshapen — the crust can account for as much as a third of its surface area — but it’s a small miracle they’re edible at all. After sharing that she had signed a non-disclosure agreement and wouldn’t be able to discuss Fielder’s show on HBO, general manager Lisa Graziano tells me the bar hands out anywhere from 1,700 to 1,900 pizzas a week. On a recent Friday, an employee working the ovens said they were on track to make 600 pies that night.
The improbable special hasn’t budged in light of rising ingredient costs due to inflation — and more likely, Alligator Lounge would raise the cost of its cocktails to keep beer costs low and the pizzas free, according to Graziano. “Where else can you get a beer and a shot and a pizza for six dollars?” she says, nodding to the price of its cheapest drink special, a can of Miller High Life and a shot of whiskey called the “Low Life.”
To be clear, these pizzas aren’t good because they’re free. They’re good because, by the numbers, they should be bad — and somehow aren’t. Each of those 600 pizzas is baked to order in a brick oven, and on slower nights, the crust bubbles and comes out with a little char. If 21-year-olds weren’t singing “New York, New York” in the karaoke room, you might think you were at one of the city’s best pizzerias.
You’re not. You’re at the city’s best pizzeria bar.