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Joe’s Pizza
Joe’s Pizza
Photo by Gary He

NYC’s Top Pizza Slices, Mapped

Pizzerias so splendid they can serve as destination dining spots

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Joe’s Pizza
| Photo by Gary He

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.

What constitutes a neighborhood pizzeria? It must sell pizza by the slice; cook its pies in stacked gas ovens that burn at around 550 degrees or below; and, in general, not be part of a chain with multiple outlets. And the pizza must be good enough to eat with great pleasure, day after day, year after year. These are pizzerias so splendid they can serve as destination dining spots, conveniently mapped to find the nearest at any moment.

Note: This map is arranged geographically, north to south.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Broadway Pizza & Pasta

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Located in hilly Kingsbridge and boasting a big and comfortable dining room, BPP is deluxe for a neighborhood joint. The best slice wasn’t the Neapolitan pepperoni or the Sicilian cheese, but the lasagna slice, with gobs of mellow ricotta, splotches of sweet sauce, and herb-scented ground beef. You won’t miss the noodles. For a bigger meal and a spicy kick in the pants, try the chicken fra diavolo ala Rosa, one among many entrees served with spaghetti, ziti, or salad with garlic bread. The slogan of this delightful spot is, “The taste you always come back to,” and we will! 

A slice on white paper plate with little ponds of tomato sauce on a white cheese background. Robert Sietsema

Brother’s

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For 49 years Brother’s has occupied a prime spot in Fordham Manor, with the elevated 4 train towering overhead. The premises are very modest indeed. The plain slice is thin crusted and cheesy, and the sauce is practically unseasoned, which is just fine with me. Other pies beckon, more often available as whole pies rather than individual slices, including a lasagna pie, a salad pie, and a Hawaiian pie with ham and canned pineapple, a favorite in South America.

Plain cheese slice Robert Sietsema

University Pizza & Restaurant

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On the northern verge of Belmont facing Fordham University, this pizzeria has been a longtime favorite of students and working-class neighborhood residents. The topping selection is paltry by modern standards, but the plain cheese slice is truly excellent, with a thin and nicely browned crust, a tomato sauce that whispers rather than shouts, and a painstaking strew of cheese that makes for the perfect cheese-to-sauce ratio.

University Pizza & Restaurant Robert Sietsema

Ivana's Pizzeria

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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.

Ivana's Pizzeria Robert Sietsema

Napoli's Best Pizza

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What a charming name! With a tip of the hat to Naples, this tiny pizzeria across the street from Tremont Park is usually thronged with locals enjoying the neighborhood’s best pizza. And this place doesn’t doll it up, either. There are two choices: a plain cheese wedge and a square, extra-thick Sicilian, unless you want pepperoni to be strewn across the top of your slice as an afterthought. The crust is the thing here, beautifully browned, with a little more dough around the circumference than you really need, in order to flaunt the crust’s excellence. And every morsel of crust gets eaten. Astonishingly, a whole 14-inch round pie can be had for $5.50.

Napoli’s Best Pizza Robert Sietsema

Como Pizza

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The slogan of this Washington Heights pizzeria not far from Columbia Presbyterian Hospital is, “Keep this place in mind, a better pizza is hard to find.” Como is one of those tiny places where the main output is mainly cheese slices, with each pie being subdivided and scooped up the minute it comes from the oven. The crowd loves these plain pies, and you rarely see extra toppings, though if you consult the menu pies with names like Hawaiian, meat eaters, and genuine Mediterranean (eggplant, black olives, and “authentic feta”) are available. Founded 1963, near the start of the neighborhood pizza era.

Plain cheese slice Robert Sietsema

P&M Classic Pizza and Restaurant

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This two-decade old pizzeria bills itself as “A Taste of Italy in Harlem” — and it is indeed, with an extended menu of chicken, veal, seafood, and eggplant, with full dinners under $20. But most folks dash in for a slice, and the overwhelming favorite is the pepperoni, the sliced sausage vying with the profuse tomato sauce for pungency. Sicilian slices and calzones are also worth ordering.

P&M Classic Pizza and Restaurant Robert Sietsema

Offering virtually no place to sit and eat, only a narrow shelf that runs around the room, Olga’s on Upper Broadway in Hamilton Heights is nevertheless mobbed during the day with neighborhood types, who use it as a sort of stand-up social club. The slice is uber-cheesy, the crust pale and doughy, the tomato sauce less profuse than usual, and yet it tastes fantastic, showing how a distinct point of view is always an asset to a great neighborhood pizzeria. 

Olga’s Pizza Robert Sietsema

Best Italian Pizza

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This mainstay with a self-congratulatory name sits just east of the South Bronx shopping district called the Hub. Open since 1958, it was founded at the dawn of the neighborhood pizzeria era, when the stacked pizza oven was first popularized, and the old-fashioned interior, with an order window on the street, shows it. The slices are thicker, with lusher toppings than usual, and the accommodating pizzaioli will ladle extra sauce on a slice at your request. Get the white spinach, which boasts clouds of soft ricotta and plenty of garlic.

Best Italian Pizza Robert Sietsema

Tom's Delicious Pizza

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Founded just north of Columbia University in 1998 by brothers Tomas and Eduardo Ochoa, this small pizzeria turns out spectacular cheese slices. The crust is ultra-thin and crisp, the cheese thicker than usual, and the tomato sauce merely a pastel background to the rest. The smell of fresh garlic knots suffuses the air, and there’s a second branch in Union City, NJ, in case you happen to be in the town that’s right across the Hudson River.

Tom's Delicious Pizza Robert Sietsema

Golden Pizza

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Golden is about as bare-bones as a pizzeria can be, yet it has obviously been feeding the populace of its Mott Haven neighborhood for a good long time. The dining room is standing-only, and the counter routinely displays only one kind of slice, yet what a slice it is. Trim, nicely clotted with good cheese, not quite thin-crusted but crisp and tasty nonetheless. You can have some pepperoni thrown on top, but it’s not necessary. And, miracle of miracles, an entire cheese pie can be had for $6.50, which is less than dollar slice places charge.

A slice of plain cheese pizza sits on a white paper plate placed on a brown counter. Robert Sietsema

Mama's TOO!

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Mama’s Too is one of the new crop of neighborhood pizzerias that have reconfigured their slices to be more modern and innovative than that of the classic neighborhood pizzeria. (The place is related to a more conventional pizzeria on Amsterdam Avenue.) This is all to the good, you’ll realize as you survey the collection of square pies with rich crusts and atypical toppings. The pepperoni slice uses a small-bore sausage packed tightly on the slice, weeping paprika oil down on the crust. Other pies include caramelized onion and mushroom, and zucchini with Kalamata olives.

Square pepperoni slice Robert Sietsema

Sal and Carmine Pizza

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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 keeps the place up and running, and the cheese slice is as good as always — great crust, with a tomato sauce and cheese that merge into a mysterious amalgam.

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

Sam’s Famous Pizzeria

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Sam’s is a throwback to the ’60s, when East Harlem was one of the city’s most prominent Italian neighborhoods. Now it and Rao’s are two of the few surviving institutions of that era. The place is narrow and efficient, and turns out a bigger range of products than seems possible given the small space. The pizza crust is especially thin and crisp (the dough is made on premises), and the regular slice is on the cheesy side with a big thick “bone” (circumferential edge). Among specialty slices, the three meat (pepperoni, bacon, Italian sausages) is especially fine and greasy, and the chicken parm slice a nice invention. Garlic knots A+. 

Sam’s Famous Pizzeria Robert Sietsema

Cheesy Pizza

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The name says it all at this Upper West Side institution dedicated to the dairy component of the classic slice. The cheese here is so profuse, it threatens to roll off the pie. Sure, the crust is a bit doughy and pale ensuring the sauce recedes into the background. But gradually as you eat it, you’ll realize the other components have been formulated so you can better worship the molten cheese.

Cheesy Pizza Robert Sietsema

Luigi's Pizzeria

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This Upper East Side mainstay has been pumping out the slices since 1997, offering a sauce slightly sweeter and chunkier than average. Our favorite is the grandma, a square slice in the upside down formation, meaning that the cheese is on the bottom and the sauce on top, so that the imperially thin crust doesn’t get soggy. That the crust is also on the thin size for a square slice, and a little bit oily, is an added bonus, and so is the shredded basil sprinkled on top.

Grandma slice Robert Sietsema

Delizia 73

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A mural of Venice graces one wall of this venerable Upper East Side pizzeria — with Superman flying overhead, looking for criminals. If you want to feel like you’re sitting in a real restaurant while scarfing your two slices and a soft drink, this is your place. And the quality of the pies makes it a destination spot, too. Our favorite is the grandma slice: In the square format, it displays cheese-on-the-bottom pizza-tecture, with splotches of herb-y sauce on top.

Delizia 73 Robert Sietsema

Astoria Hot Pizza

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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.

Astoria Hot Pizza Robert Sietsema

Luigi's Gourmet Pizza

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This commodious pizzeria just south of Central Park has deep Sicilian roots and the slices show it magnificently. The best offerings fall among the square-slices including the musketa, which features chopped tomatoes and onions on a thick bed of cheese; and the oxymoronic Sicilian margarita slice, which melts artisanal mozzarella and shoots splotches of tomato sauce over an exceedingly well-browned crust.

Luigi's Gourmet Pizza Robert Sietsema

Famous Amadeus

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This pizzeria not far from the Broadway theaters treats its output like a dramatic event. Dating from 1994, it flaunts a long glass counter with a ridiculous number of pie choices. Sometimes you just need lots of meat, and the meat lover’s pie features sausage, bacon, and pepperoni. Other sporadically available pies deploy Portuguese chorizo, Philly cheesesteak, lemony chicken Francese, and Tex-Mex jalapeños and seasoned ground beef.

Meat lover’s slice Robert Sietsema

Belmora

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This agreeable East Side pizzeria offers a larger dining room than most and a sunny southern exposure. The slices are about average in thickness and crispness, with a tomato sauce rich and herbal but not sweet. Its forte is unexpected combinations of ingredients, including a great pepperoni and black olive slice that turns out to be fantastic. Plus, it's open at 8 a.m., seven days a week — in case you'd like a slice for breakfast.

Belmora Robert Sietsema

Steinway Pizza

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Wavy orange seats on the formica booths are classic neighborhood pizzeria décor, and often cue you that a great slice is on the way. And so are the gargantuan stacks of pre-folded pizza boxes at this classic parlor on a busy Astoria shopping strip. Go straight for the plain cheese slice, with a magnificently thin and floppy crust, large bone (the circumferential edge), and unusually large quantity of cheese, which is not a burden but a pleasure. One of the mellowest slices in Queens.

Steinway Pizza Robert Sietsema

Polito's Pizza

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Though it was established in 1981 and not long ago appeared timeworn, a more recent renovation has left this Astorian stalwart handsome and comfortable, a place to linger. The grandma slice is the one to get. Perfect for its type, it sports a lush and deep red tomato sauce, flecked with little bits of garlic and onion that add sweetness, and the cheese is exemplary, too.

Polito's Pizza Robert Sietsema

Gianni's

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Gianni’s is a classic 1980 Jackson Heights pizzeria, heavy on the Sicilian influences, with an ambitious menu, but a premises that says “pizzeria” rather than “fancy restaurant.” There’s a nice little backyard, and the thing to not miss is the Sicilian slice. The bottom side of the crust is brown and crisp, the crumb light as air, the sauce on the sweet side, and the cheese tumbles over the side like a waterfall.

Gianni's Robert Sietsema

Kiss My Slice

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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 seen by a careful examination of 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.

Kiss My Slice Robert Sietsema

Uncle Paul's Pizza

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Clad in green marble, why is this pizzeria directly across the street from Grand Central so elegant? The interior gleams and the patrons are often well-dressed businesspeople. Yet they’re ordering slices like more typical pizza parlor patrons, though these slices often seem denser and fresher than usual. Our favorite is the lasagna slice, which emulates a serving of lasagna with its rich sauce, ground beef, and ricotta cheese that plays second fiddle to lots of mozzarella. Open 24 hours.

Uncle Paul's Pizza Robert Sietsema

Daro's Pizza & Chicken

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Surrounded by Northern Chinese restaurants, Daro’s is tasked with fulfilling two pressing neighborhood needs: pizza and fried chicken, a combination common enough in Brooklyn’s Afghani-owned fried chicken joints. Here it seems like the pizza predated the bird, because the list of pies is far more sophisticated than the chicken menu. A case in point is the grandma slice, thin-crusted and utilizing fresh mozzarella, premium tomato sauce, and fresh basil — an herb not easy to find in these parts. Hot heroes are another strong point, especially the iconic egg and peppers.

Daro’s Pizza & Chicken Robert Sietsema

Bravo Pizza

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This especially comfortable pizzeria is part of a Manhattan mini-chain, with a deep dark interior kept cool in sweltering weather, and 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.

Bravo Pizza Robert Sietsema

Highline Pizzeria

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Proving again that even today neighborhood pizzerias are opening up, Highline appeared not too long ago on the edge of Hudson Yards, peddling a menu of predictable slices with a few new twists. The pale crust is distinguished, and one of the best uses is in a pie topped with cubed chicken cutlet and fresh ripe tomato. This place floods with construction workers from nearby high-rises in the post-noon period.

Highline Pizzeria Robert Sietsema

NY Pizza Suprema

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Located directly southwest of Penn Station since 1964, NY Pizza Suprema is undoubtedly one of the most celebrated neighborhood pizzerias in Manhattan. The lavish display of pies under glass right inside the front entrance provides a beguiling dilemma, but we generally spring for any of the Sicilian slices, which have a bit of oil in the dough and are thus crunchier than most. The sausage Sicilian is particularly dope, miring shavings of good fennel sausage in a profuse floe of cheese. Open until midnight, seven days.

NY Pizza Suprema Robert Sietsema

Mario's

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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.

Mario's Robert Sietsema

Pizza Bella

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Flaunting a nautical theme, Pizza Bella stands out on Elmhurst’s Broadway among the mainly Southeast Asian cafes. The plain cheese slice is plain as plain can be, with a precise and carefully calculated inter-relationship of cheese, sauce, and crust. The crust itself is done to a premeditated brownness. This is pizza for folks who don’t like bells and whistles.

Pizza Bella Robert Sietsema

Stella's

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Founded in 1997, this Chelsea mainstay seems far older. The regular slice is especially tomatoey and slightly salty, best enjoyed as part of the $5 lunch special (two slices and a can of soda). On the other hand, then you’d miss the dense white broccoli slice, which features cloudy masses of ricotta and mozzarella. Seating is limited to a gleaming metal counter, and you should see the line that winds out the door during mealtimes! Are those Roy Lichtenstein prints on the walls? He once lived nearby. 

Stella’s Pizza Robert Sietsema

Giovanni’s Pizzeria

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This Woodside pizzeria of ancient vintage always had a larger menu than most. On top of the regular pies, there are pastas, heroes, salads, steaks and chops, and belt-busting, all-in Italian dinners. But in addition, the place now serves Mexican food, so that you can have guac and chips alongside your Sicilian slice. The cemitas (round Pueblan sandwiches) have become neighborhood favorites. Hopefully, the Mexican and Italian menus will begin fusing, and we can expect a Mexican pizza strewn with chiles and cactus strips, or maybe chipotle chicken, in the future.

Giovanni’s Pizzeria Robert Sietsema

Marabella

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Debuting in 1984 and occupying a distinctive corner location in Sunnyside, Marabella is proud of its Sicilian roots, as evidenced by the choice of art and maps on the walls. The ovens stand right inside the front door to make it easy to dash in and out for a slice. You should look no further than the fine grandma slice, which is square and thin-crusted, sporting fresh mozzarella and thick, sweet tomato sauce. Unique to Marabella are sandwiches (the pizzeria calls focaccia) made by splitting a thick wedge of pizza and piling it with chicken parm and other fillings.

Marabella Robert Sietsema

Village Pizza

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We have a particular affection for pizzerias squished into tiny spaces, where the ovens dominated the visual landscape and a single employee serves as pie wrangler and clerk. Just down the block from an important subway stop, Village Pizza is just such a place, with a surprisingly large collection of slices for its cramped premises. The buffalo chicken is one the best, featuring a cut-up chicken cutlet and tart sauce that delivers a spicy and vinegary tang. Some say this slice was invented by pizzerias trying to get in on the football-party delivery action without actually doing wings.

Village Pizza Robert Sietsema

Gino’s Pizza

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Since 1968, this quaint pizzeria has lingered beside Elmhurst’s busiest bus stop. Quaint because the limestone-faced walls and carriage lamps make it seem a bit like a village inside. Vegetarian is the way to go here, via a series of pies in a separate case of slightly smaller circumference, including an eggplant slice that looks to be almost a quarter of a pie — a bit more expensive than most slices, but also encompassing square inches of pizza territory.

Gino’s Pizza Robert Sietsema

Lunetta

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The stylish pizzeria (the name means “Little Moon”) is on the verge of becoming an actual restaurant, but the emphasis remains staunchly on some excellent pies, with a sauce perhaps a little sweeter than usual. The margherita is a round, thin crust pie with fresh mozzarella and little wads of crushed tomatoes here and there, creating a prodigious mouth wallop. A larger than usual roster of apps, subs, hamburgers, heros, and cheesesteaks provide enhanced dinner options.

Lunetta Robert Sietsema

Triangolo Pizzeria

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Located on the northern reaches of Manhattan Avenue, Triangolo is one of Greenpoint’s most distinguished neighborhood parlors. Look through the glass display counter and pick what looks best — on a recent visit, it was an extra thick slice with sauce and cheese, dotted with bacon, pepperoni, and ground beef. The cheese and spinach stromboli, with a particularly crisp crust, was also exemplary. Dig the lettering on the neon sign outside, and don’t miss the cryptic Steven Seagal shrine.

Triangolo Pizzeria Robert Sietsema

Joe's Pizza

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King of the neighborhood pizza parlors, Manhattan edition, Joe’s offers a slice magnificent in its plainness, appreciated by generations of New Yorkers and visitors. No frou-frou here, just a well-pureed sauce and just enough cheese — but not too much — and one of the city’s most perfect crusts. On the other hand, for just a bit more you can get the fresh mozzarella slice, with little annealed gobs of newly minted cheese. But the best-selling slice, according to a counter guy I talked to, is the pepperoni slice. Miraculously, new branches of this place near Union Square, Times Square, and in Williamsburg have not diminished its brilliance.

A slice of pepperoni pizza on a white paper plate. Robert Sietsema