Di Fara (Midwood, Brooklyn):
still seems to be suffering from uneven oven treatment. it got all medieval on one half and left the other half blond. while the toppings were solid--the Dominator, as he's known, still serves up the best pepperoni i can recall eating--the crust was actually a bit bland. maybe could've used a bit more salt? or maybe that's the down side of the gas oven--no smokey goodness. also: no basil? wtf? it is the height of basil season is it not? we did get a healthy hand-cut sprinkling of fresh oregano on our pie, but i hardly need point out that oregano is not greater-than-or-equal-to basil. still worth the two hour wait i think. i mean, it's no longer just the pizza you go for at Di Fara, but the experience and watching the completely unorganized clump of disgruntled and hungry customers bumming around the counter waiting to order whilst Dom is painstakingly making each pizza by his lonesome. 1 out of 1 Kyles approve.
Nick's (Forrest Hills, Queens):
significantly better than my one previous visit from last year when the crust was dry and cracker-like. this time around i was pleasantly surprised by a nicely charred crust with some moisture intact in the puffy edge. and look at it! a work of beauty. it tastes as good as it looks. thanks to Em for suggesting and accompanying me there. who knew Queens boardered Europe? not i.
Franny's (Flatbush, Brooklyn):sorry. no upskirt. don't know what happened there. sparsely topped, but you wouldn't know it from the x-treme flavor x-plosion (tm) when biting into it. great smokiness from the oven, a beautifully crisp, yet pliant uber-thin crust, and good company made for an excellent meal.
Isabella's Oven (Grand St., LES, Manhattan):
my first meal back in the states after a year in New Zealand and i'm lucky enough to convince Sarah to have it at Isabella's. a great addition to NYC pizza, if a little pricey. $26 for a DOC Margherita, if I recall correctly. the inside seems kind of like a hole-in-the-wall, cramped, run of-the-mill pizzeria, until you notice that there's a guy working a wood-fired brick oven in an open kitchen--open as in, i could've stuck my hand in the oven as i walked past it on my way to their garden seating out the back. the down side to this is that the interior feels like a furnace, which is probably going to be great for winter, but in the summer heat, it just makes you wilt. Sarah and i split the substantial garden salad and the pizza arrived just before we were able to finish it. a crust with good hole structure, a healthy dose of sauce and the buffalo mozz had a light but noticeable tang.
Grimaldi's (Fulton St., under the Brooklyn Bridge, Brooklyn):
consistently one of my favorite spots. Amie, Jason, and i had a lovely stroll across the Brooklyn bridge prior to grabbing a table before the dinner-time rush was in effect. i overheard the guy working the oven say that he bakes about 500 pizzas a day. the edge crust on Grimaldi's pies is a little on the flat side to be perfect, but i would say it's still consistently the best pizza in the city, and considering the quantity of pizza being made, that's pretty impressive and i can understand how some of those pies might come out under or over-done. the place is a factory, but one with delicious results.
also visited but not shown:
Angelo's (Broadway b/t 53rd & 54th): great pizza in midtown? who knew? certainly as good as any of the Patsy's around the city, and almost as good as the pie I had a Nick's (the owners of both restaurants are somehow related... in-laws maybe). good hole structure with a springy crust and a nice charring pattern underneath--you'll just have to take my word for it.
Joe's (near-ish Bleeker & 6th Ave): a pretty good corner slice, doesn't hold a candle to the city's best though. bland, dry crust kills the thrill for me a little bit.
Graziella's (Vanderbilt Ave, Fort Greene/Clinton Hill, Brooklyn): where's the sauce? otherwise not bad. rooftop dinning space is always closed when i drop by, which is a bummer.