Where does the good go



When I was in law school, a bunch of us East Coasters decided to accompany a friend on her trip back home for Spring Break.

She lived in Las Vegas, so it actually was a pretty cool trip.

However, one of the women in our crew, let’s call her pre-Angel/Buffy Seasons 1&2 Cordelia, just to put her level of annoying in some easily understood context. Well, P-A/BS1&2 Cordelia, spent most of the time unfavorably comparing Las Vegas to New York.

Too new, too hot, too borrowed culture, too neon, etc., etc.

However, there’s one comment she made that struck me as true and sticks with me still.

Our host, for laughs, took us to the New York, New York casino on the strip. We all ordered slices of the “New York pizza,” actually, make that the “New York” “pizza.” On all scales of pizza eatability it was awful.

And, of course, P-A/BS1&2 Cordelia, said so.

“Pizza everywhere else sucks. I think it’s something about New York water which makes the dough taste just right.”

Now, whether or not she was right about cause, I think she is most definitely right about the effect.

There’s no pizza like New York pizza. (And yes, I have had pizza in Rome, Naples, Chicago and New Haven, so no need to email me directions to Pepe’s or JoJos or whatever that place is called. )

Like Champagne and Feta, the word Pizza should be applied only to the New York version. All others should get some generic “flat bread with sauce and cheese” name like “sparkling wine.”

How about “cheesy bread?”

But my snobbery does not end at the borders of the Empire State. Oh no.

I hereby do you one better, and localize it into the very teeny-tiny borders of the borough of Brooklyn.

Obviously, I grew up on pizza from local shops in the ECB and shops around my high school and junior high. But after four years of free nightly Domino’s pizza in college and three years of Harlem’s V&T or Patsy’s (or heaven forfend, midtown’s John’s), I had forgetten the awesomeness that is Brooklyn pizza.

So, for those of you in the area (or who may visit the area), here are the final results of Clareified’s recently completed tour of the best Pizza. And by that, we mean strictly New York pizza and by that, we mean Brooklyn. (All pizzas consumed were pepperoni.)

1. Hands down…or more accurately, hands covered in sauce, the best pizza is DiFara’s on Avenue J.
Each pie is made by the very old hands of the shop’s owner, Mr. Difara himself. He has been making pizza for (I’d guess) 200 years and, wow, does the experience show….er…taste?
Sooo….yummy. Three cheeses, premium pepperoni, sliced by hand…(insert image of Homer, tongue hanging from the side of his mouth…..peeeet-saaaaaaa)
The only downside is that the guy makes every pie by hand, he’s a million years old and has lots of customers, so the wait…you can imagine. Plus, it is super, super pricey. No kid should have to pay twenty bucks to get a couple of slices of pizza at a local shop…but, again, see previously invoked picture of Homer with his tongue hanging out the side of his mouth.

2. Grimaldi’s. Mmmm….under the Brooklyn Bridge, chased by a scoop of Cookie Dough ice cream at the Brooklyn ice cream factory. The prices are cheap, the wait can be long, but the pies are perfect everytime.

3. Totonno’s. Great pizza…helluva trek. The problem with Totonno’s is that since they are now a chain that will deliver pies straight to you in sweat pants in your living room, when you actually drive out to the Coney Island location, you kind of feel like a sucker. (Although I did run into former blogger and rock star Mike D. when I went Saturday.) Also some of the slices in the pie were burnt — a problem that also plagues their East Side location. When I got there, we had to wait for about fifteen minutes before getting a table.

4. Any neighborhood pizza shop. Look for placards advertising Italian ices and there should be a huge window that opens horizontally in the front. Also, it must also only sell pizza or pizza like things — do not trust pizza shops that also sell Chinese Food or (heaven help you) sushi. It’s Brooklyn, it’ll be good. And if you’re buying, I’ll meet you at Gino’s anytime. Cora I am looking at you.

5. The worst, and no, I don’t say this just because I despise Karol and everything she stands for (which I do by the way), is L&B Spumoni Gardens. First off, their pizza is square and that’s just wrong. If the moon hit your eye like a big square pizza pie, you’d be blind and no one sings love songs about blind people. Except Lionel Richie and his daughter’s a freak, so do we really want to emulate him?

Plus, the L&B stuff is too doughy, lacking in sauce coverage and AND they have no idea what to do with the pepperoni — which, by the by, was the cheapo kind they use in public school cafeterias. I mean, seriously, I would rather have Digiorgno’s if the delivery is gonna be L&B’s.

I will add the caveat that, unlike all the other pizza joints on this list, I ate “take out” L&B. However, I took it out myself, and ate it ten minutes later, so I doubt sitting the crowded parking lot, which serves as the dining room during the summer months, would alleviate any of my complaints about L&B.

So, there you have it, Clareified’s pizza best of the best.

Here’s the best of the rest:

If stuck in Manhattan without a metrocard:

John’s Pizza (not to be confused with John’s Pizzeria)
John’s Pizzeria
Two Boots Pizza (after which, run, do not walk, for a Magnolia cupcake (shut it, Ken Wheaton.)
Pizzeria Uno’s (shut it, Rick Blaine)
Rando pizza shop’s in the ghetto areas…i.e. there needs be a bodega in stone throwing distance.

Outside of New York

New Haven
California (although, California style pizza is soooooo bad, you might as well order like Pizza Hut or something.)

Outside the U.S.


  1. Karol Says:

    How do you choose headline covers? Why green?

  2. Karol Says:

    That should read ‘headline colors’.

  3. Vincent Says:

    Yeah Pizza in Italy just can’t cut it….

  4. ken Says:

    Feh to your silly bakery. Hope you enjoy the company of the other chumps waiting on stale cupcakes with sickly sweet frosting. Busted-ass Betty Crocker could whip up on Magnolia any day.

    By the way, you should try pizza in Bahamas or Dominicam Republic…. nothing like undercooked dough with some goat cheese and the water from the top of the ketchup bottle. MMMMmmmmm

  5. Dawn Summers Says:

    I’ve had pizza in Poland…sounds similar…

  6. F-Train Says:

    Uno? And you call yourself a New Yorker? For shame.

  7. mike d Says:

    come on, you can’t be a sucker for travelling for good pizza.

    by the way, if it’s apizza you’re after, sally’s is better than pepe’s.

  8. dawn summers Says:

    They’ve always tasted the same to me.

  9. toby Says:

    You want to talk New Haven? I’m your man babydoll. I know that city like the back of my hand… From the now renamed Picas Tapas to Pepes to Sweeney’s hot dog stands and Mario’s in Morris Cove.

  10. Princess Anonymous Says:

    I had to go to a wedding in the hole that is New Haven, but everyone raved about Sally’s and Pepe’s, so we were at least psyched for pizza. Sally’s was closed, so we waited an hour for our Pepe pie. Not so impressive.

  11. Clareified » Blog Archive » Memorial Day Says:

    […] had V&T Pizza. Pizza which I used to think was so phenomenal until my exhaustive pizza research four years ago convinced me that V&T was just crap served with a knife and fork. After that J promised to […]

  12. Ugarles Says:

    I’m going to comment on this throwback post to point out that Gino’s isn’t the best pizza in the ECB. Family Pizza on Parkside and Flatbush is better but they don’t deliver.

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