Pizza by the slice offered in neighborhood joints remains the backbone of inexpensive New York City eats — though formidably challenged by tacos, samosas, steamed bao, empanadas, and other hand-held snacks. Yet pizza by the slice didn’t really arise until the 1950s, when the stacked pizza oven became commonplace. Pizza could be made and slices reheated simultaneously at different temperatures in the oven’s multiple levels. Veterans returning from World War II were our first neighborhood pizza impresarios, but eventually immigrants from Italy, Albania, Mexico, and other places took over.
Though the city is awash in pizza styles — coal-oven pies, pies from Detroit and Chicago, dollar slices, Roman styles, lushly topped focaccia, Cajun pizza, Sicilian sheet pizza, California pizza, national franchise pizza, grilled pizza, deep-fried pizza, pies pretending to be the true pie of Naples, New Haven clam pies, cracker-crusted bar pies, Indian pizza, and too many Staten Island varieties to count — the neighborhood slice, unpretentious yet innovative, remains New York City’s default style.
So join me gazing into the alluring glass case at any neighborhood pizzeria in town, as I make an idiosyncratic selection of slices that are more than worth giving a try.Read More