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 finest street pizza in New York…There’s something about the crust, no one else can duplicate it, ” said a loyal customer that we happened to bump into in Stromboli Pizza. Owner Zef Curanaj was happy to hear the words of praise, and quick to agree, claiming that top of the line ingredients add to the quality and great flavor of his slices. Making pies for forty years, Stromboli Pizza was first opened by Zef’s father and uncle. This spot is home to Zef – all he has known since he moved from Montenegro, Albania to the United States at age nineteen. Since then, he has been offering New Yorkers a classic, savory pie that he learned to make from his father decades ago.
The ice cream at Alphabet Scoop is refreshing in more ways than one: Managed by Robbie Vedral, Alphabet Scoop is an extension of Father’s Heart Ministry, which has been focused on empowering the neighborhood youth in the Lower East Side since 2005. Robbie, for his part, has always believed that if you take care of your employees, your employees will take care of you—in this case, those employees just so happen to be high schoolers from the East Village. Under the wishes of his parents, who are still pastors of the church next door, Robbie has taken it upon himself to hold Alphabet Scoop to an uncompromising standard, always ensuring that things are done right. From a background of 25 years in retail, Robbie has found that he can learn from anyone’s mistakes - including his own. He has, in this vein, adjusted the shop’s schedule to keep it open all year; previously it was just a summer stop, but Robbie found that being a seasonal location made it more difficult for customers to anticipate when Alphabet Scoop would be in business. So, now, rather than seasonal hours, Alphabet Scoop boasts seasonal flavors. Pistachio flavor, a summer 2019 special, comes highly recommended by the Manhattan Sideways team. Alphabet Scoop is also constantly experimenting with new flavors suggested to them by customers, so if you’ve been saving up that million-dollar ice cream flavor idea, Alphabet Scoop might just be the place to make it a reality. The “sweet n’ salty” flavor is proof of the potential here, as it was suggested by one of the shop’s younger customers. While the spritely New Yorkers that work in the shop are paid for their work, Alphabet Scoop is also a non-profit. The mission, transparently, is as stated on the walls: “Justice & Sprinkles for all. ” The kids, typically between the ages of 14 and 16, learn all aspects of the business, from hands on skills such as making ice cream to managerial skills like taking inventory. The goal of Alphabet Scoop is to encourage maximum involvement from its employees, so they are invited to help make decisions about the business. Robbie told us a story of a young woman, for example, who has worked in the shop for close to two years, and who was initially quite difficult to work with - but with patience and persistence from Robbie and other employees, the young woman grew to better understand the mission of Alphabet Scoop, and now even has keys to the shop. Robbie’s work at Alphabet Scoop shows the importance of creating strong foundations for young people, as well as how truly influential small businesses can be in their communities. Stop by the shop - any time of year - to help Robbie make his impact.