E 101st Street’s Lexington Pizza Parlour may sound like your typical New York slice shop, but all it takes is one meal at the family-run, intimate Italian bistro to see that the popular neighborhood eatery is anything but. Operated by local restaurateur Charles Devigne, the Lexington Pizza Parlour offers a wide variety of traditional Italian fare — from their signature Roman Artichokes to a six-layer Lasagna, Veal Saltimbocca to freshly made desserts from their in-house Harlem Baking Company — and of course, a comprehensive selection of hand-crafted, brick oven pizzas. “My wife can’t stand the name, ” Charles laughed, referencing the leftover moniker from its previous owners. While the “pizza parlour” denomination may belie the cafe’s full assortment of fine dining entrees, it’s a callback to 2015, when Charles first walked by the space on the way to drop his son off at school and noticed a previously undiscovered slice shop. “I came to this restaurant with my son for a slice of pizza, and I was really shocked to see the menu — the previous owners were Italian guys who had been in the restaurant business in Queens importing Italian products, ” he told us. “We started chatting and it was at that point that he told me he was looking to sell the place. We bought it from them, and I kept the name as it was. ” Building a restaurant from the ground up, Lexington Pizza Parlour quickly garnered attention — and some confusion — from New York diners, said Charles. “I really started to think about changing the name in 2019 — I was even sending out surveys for people to make a list of names, because it just was killing us, ” he added. But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and overwhelmed the city’s hospitals, they shifted focus to support healthcare workers in need. Raising over $50, 000 for New York hospitals and delivering more than 18, 000 meals to field hospitals and overfull emergency wings alike, “we started getting a lot of press as Lexington Pizza Parlour, ” said Charles, who spent the early days of COVID-19 personally delivering pies citywide. “It was a really great thing to be a part of, and now it’s almost that we can’t change the name, ” he told Manhattan Sideways. “I’ve decided that we’re sort of a ‘culinary speakeasy’ — you have to come find us because somebody recommended it to you. ” Those who do find Lexington Pizza Parlour, however, keep coming back. “Our clientele is very loyal, ” said Charles. “Once they find us, get to know the space and my staff and enjoy the food, they become very special, loyal customers. One thing I know is that ‘Mom and Pop’ businesses are dying, unfortunately, and while we’re never going to get wealthy doing this, we have a great product and I’d rather make two slow nickels than a fast dime. ” He added, “It’s really become a family tree — there are different seeds of people, from the first customer base of a dozen people to everyone who they’ve brought since. I’ve come to make peace with the name Lexington Pizza Parlour! ”
If the sight of a regular lunch rush doesn’t convince you to try La Bellezza Pizzeria, then their pitch-perfect, classic New York slices will. After a trip in to try their signature pepperoni and tomato slices (a well-seasoned combination of cheesy, crunchy and savory, the Bellezza team has mastered the elusive sauce-to-cheese ratio), we got a chance to check in with the Dedvukaj family who have operated the East Midtown pizza joint for the past 23 years. Founded by Bronx-based Marko Dedvukaj, son Frank Dedvukaj — who started slinging slices in the shop at just 20 years old — took over the business so that, as Marko put it, “I can focus on the most important job of all — spoiling my grandkids, ” he told us, surrounded by visiting family members, some of whom also used to work at La Bellezza. As groups of grateful office workers filed in and out of the intimate storefront for a slice of pizza or La Bellezza’s famous chicken parmigiano hero — “at one point we were voted the #1 Chicken Parm on Yelp” Frank told us, he added that the biggest change he’s seen in business is a post-COVID slowdown of daytime visitors to the block. “The area is quieter, ” said Frank, noting that they still maintain a set of loyal regulars. “We’re still here! ”
Known across the city for its exceptional Neapolitan-style pies, this small pizza lair with low ceilings, vintage light fixtures, and a tiled floor is often on NY's “Best Pizza” lists. I have been here on a number of occasions and never been disappointed with the simple but perfect Margherita pie. Others have opted for the Sopressatta Picante, the Brussels sprouts, and the Stracciatella with basil and sea salt. No matter what goes on top, though, the thin crisp crust is extraordinary. And for anyone who wants a unique brunch experience, Motorino tops their pizza dough with a fried egg, succulent bits of pancetta generously scattered across the silky bed of white fior de latte (mozzarella) and a spicy drizzle of chili oil. Who needs to order the well decorated omelets or French toast that crowd the city’s endless brunch menus when all of the best brunch components are conveniently located right here on a thin-crust pizza?
Joe's, a welcome addition to 14th Street, is a classic family-run pizza place that started in Greenwich Village in 1975, and one that many of us have frequented. Hanging on the ceiling are Tiffany lamps taken from their original shop that was on the corner of Bleecker and Carmine for thirty years. When they moved down a few doors, Joe kept the ovens, tiles, and lamps, many of which are now being used on 14th Street. Sal, Joe's grandson, assured us that the pizza is his grandpa's original recipe - traditional pizza that is charred a bit on the bottom and topped with homemade tomato sauce and fresh slices of mozzarella. "Simple is key, it's all in the pie, " is how Sal described his philosophy to us. We are so glad that the two men have decided to make this side street the new home of their first expansion in almost forty years.
I was obsessed with this place well before they expanded in several directions around Manhattan. I was introduced to Artichoke Pizza here on 14th Street a number of years ago, and I have not stopped raving. I have brought friends and family members here many times, as well as carried pies home. I was probably one of the first customers when cousins Francis and Sal decided to open their next endeavor on 17th Street and 10th Avenue, and then again in the Village. What a gastronomic delight. There are just a few choices to make when ordering pizza - Margherita, Sicilian, Vodka, Crab, and, of course, the Artichoke. This pizza has the finest spinach, artichoke and cheese dip as its base. Add that to a thick, perfectly cooked crust with a little more cheese and creaminess and... voila! A star is born! My husband, who was afraid to step into any place with artichoke in the name, was quickly won over by the Sicilian, which has just the right amount of crunch thanks to a twice baked crust. Recently, at this original location, the owners converted the space next door to allow for seating. So the good news is that one no longer has to sit on the sidewalk to enjoy their pizza, although many of us still choose to do it the old-fashioned way.
The sign above the entrance to PizzArte promises 'Cucina Napoletana', making it clear what is at the heart of the establishment: Naples. The enormous red pizza oven found inside is imported from Naples, and everyone working at the restaurant hails from there too, making for an especially authentic experience. The space is narrow and has a distinctly modern feel to it. As the name suggests, the restaurant doubles as a gallery for contemporary art by Neapolitan artists. The idea of using a meal as an opportunity to engage with art is refreshing, and the perfect pizza dough feels like an artwork in itself.
With its entire front opened to the street, serving signature cocktails alongside thin crust pizzas, Ovest is a charming spot for an after-work drink or a hearty Italian meal. In a neighborhood full of hotels and galleries, this low-key ristorante certainly fills a niche. The food is simple and tasty, Neopolitan pizzas topped with fresh fixins of all sorts. The "Martha, " sporting prosciutto and truffle oil, is a house favorite, as is the old-fashioned square buffala pizza. We stopped in for an afternoon snack and came away sated with bellies full of rich fried artichokes and a tre-colore pizza. The drinks are designed and served by a "published" mixologist – we can vouch that the Ulan Bator Sling is delicious. The mangapeño also comes highly recommended. Cocktails and white wine begin to be poured during the 5: 00-8: 00 happy hour, but in traditional Italian style they are accompanied by complimentary small plates of food constantly being prepared by the kitchen. This is certainly a tradition everyone can get behind.
How happy were my husband and I when we came to the end of 17th Street, this particular day on our bikes, and there was Artichoke Pizza waiting for us (the entrance is on the side street)? We went in and ordered individual slices of whatever we could fit in one box, put it on the back of our bike, and headed home quickly so that we could savor every bite. Read about the original 14th Street location.