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John's Pizzeria

Opening Hours
Today: 11:30am–11:30pm
Fri:
11:30am–11:30pm
Sat:
11:30am–11:30pm
Sun:
11:30am–11:30pm
Mon:
11:30am–11:30pm
Tues:
11:30am–11:30pm
Wed:
11:30am–11:30pm
Location
260 West 44th Street
John's Pizzeria 1 Italian Pizza Midtown West Theater District Times Square

Once upon a time, this building was a decrepit old church populated by prostitutes and addicts. It took a woman with a vision to recognize that she could make No. 260 into something spectacular. When Madeline Castelloti visited this location in the 1990s, she knew immediately that she had stumbled upon the perfect home for her dream pizzeria. After two years of demolition and construction, while still preserving some of the charm of the church, John's Pizzeria was opened.

In 1997, John's was the self-proclaimed largest pizzeria in the United States. Each pizza is made to order in coal-fired brick ovens that retain residual matter like cast-iron pots and pans - meaning that the weight of history flavors each pizza now made. The Manhattan Sideways team can attest to the fact that the results are superb having sampled several of them. Madeline passed away in 2004, however, her daughter, Lisa, has kept her dream alive and extended it to Jersey City and the Bronx. It is rare, today, that at almost any hour there isn't a line extended to the door, but the wait is always worth it.

Location
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John's Pizzeria 1 Italian Pizza Midtown West Theater District Times Square
John's Pizzeria 2 Italian Pizza Midtown West Theater District Times Square

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Mercato was the perfect discovery as we were ending our walk across 39th Street. We found this spot to feel like a traditional trattoria that is relaxed with simple wood tables, upbeat music that does not overpower the room, exposed brick and touches of antique kitchen equipment, vintage posters and an impressive wine cellar. We easily settled ourselves down for some hearty, homemade pasta and a friendly conversation with Massimo, the manager and friend of owner, Fabio Camardi. Both from Puglia, a southern region in Italy, Massimo said that the menu reflects this cuisine - with "Tiella Pugliese" being their signature Puglia dish made with mussels and tomato in a rice and potato casserole - however, the chef also pays homage to Umbria, Sardinia and Sicily. When we first sat down, we were brought a basket of bread with a sauce for dipping that had lentils, garlic, capers and olive oil. Not a combination that we had experienced before, but we mopped every bit up. Another classic Puglia dish came next - pasta with broccoli rabe, breadcrumbs, garlic and olive oil. There is usually a touch of anchovies added, but in deference to the vegetarians, the chef was kind enough to leave them out. Despite this, the dish was extremely flavorful. Next up, we sampled Mercato's homemade ravioli filled with spinach and ricotta, butter and sage. So good, so rich and so filling. After being open for four years now, Massimo, was pleased to tell us that it is nice to recognize foreigners who are choosing to return, as well as the locals who are repeat customers. It is "consistency that has been our secret. We make sure that the flavors never change in our dishes - from the first plate that we served in 2010 - we are proud that those same recipes look and taste the same today. "

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Zillions Pizza

Move over dollar slices! There’s a new Hell’s Kitchen pizza place that tastes like a zillion bucks. Head to W42nd Street, where the team that brought you Steak Frites Bistro is now tossing up marquee-worthy slices at Zillions Pizza. Zillions soft opened last Friday and is already experiencing a busy first few days of business on W42nd Street (just east of 9th Avenue), where they serve up classic pizza flavors and limited edition new specials like the Buffalo Barbecue combo slice and the “Hot Damn”, comprising Italian sausage, fresh ricotta and mozzarella, garlic, chili flakes and habanero honey and fresh breadcrumbs. The people behind the pizzas are restaurateurs Adam Schop and Stéphane Bibeau of 9th Avenue’s Steak Frites Bistro, who have joined forces with the expertise of “Chief Pizza Officer” Bobby Hellen to realize a longtime dream of bringing top-notch flavor to the humble Midtown slice joint. “Adam and I met when I first came to New York, and we’ve been friends ever since, ” said Bobby. The pair frequently crossed paths with their East Village ventures, the (now closed) GG’s and Miss Lily’s 7A Café before deciding to collaborate on a new concept. “French Bistro is close to his heart and I’ve mostly been involved with pizza, ” said Bobby, “So this came together pretty organically. ” When it came to choosing a location, “we went to all the best pizza places around Midtown – Sacco’s, John’s – and there’s a nice little pocket here, ” said Adam of the space for an upmarket slice shop amid the many dollar joints of W42nd Street. “Pizza is near and dear to many, many people and we saw the chance to capture that nostalgic New York pizza counter the way you remember it. ” “It’s all about Times Square – this is closest we can get to Times Square without being on Broadway, ” said Stéphane, who added that they were building on the already historical legacy of the block – including the last vestige of the area’s “Deuce”-era, the shuttered, infamous and potentially haunted pay-by-the-hour Elk Hotel. “We hope the ghosts stay away, ” laughed Adam, “but maybe that will generate a whole new inquiry about this place. ”To create their signature space, the team worked with Brooklyn-based creative agency Farewell NYC to design a modern take on the old school pizza counter. In addition to the requisite plexiglass pie shelf and soda cases, the pizzeria features cheery yellow accents, letterboard price signage, plans for a Polaroid customer photo wall and a standout marquee that evokes the W42nd Street signage of the 1970s and 1980s. “Stranger Things called, they said they want to use our location, ” joked Adam. And that nostalgia goes for the taste as well. “Bobby did an anthropology dig into New York City pizza, looking at different formulas of the dough and ratios of sauce and cheese, ” said Adam. “We tried to recreate the nostalgic childhood feeling of a slice of pizza that’s thin and crispy with salty cheese. ” It’s “our version” of a classic New York slice, said Bobby. Zillions has their own signature cheese blend, sauce blend and a 24-hour fermented dough. “Everything comes from a bread baking technique, ” he added, after experimenting with different flour ratios and mixes to perfect the Zillions slice. “We’re chefs first, ” said Bobby. “We season everything on every level – not too much, but not under seasoned either. ” Adam added, “We’re super keen on predictable outcomes. ”They hope their perfect pizza formula will attract customers as varied as W42nd Street itself – from tourists to local students to late night partiers in search of a superior slice. The team is also aware that they’re sandwiched between two cannabis smoke shops, knowing they may beckon to more than a few folks who come in with the munchies. “It’s like a Seinfeld episode, ” laughed Adam, as Bobby added: “You walk to the left, get hungry and come back here, and then you walk out, forget where you are and come back again! ” The Zillions team also hopes to reach a base of loyal Hell’s Kitchen regulars with a soon-to-be-implemented delivery service. “We want to offer a really quality product for locals, ” added Stéphane, who has lived in the neighborhood for the greater part of 40 years. For now, they’re having a blast perfecting their pies and developing a rapport with neighbors as the newest go-to slice joint. “It’s really such a cross-section, ” said Bobby. “You meet all kinds of people! ” Zillions Pizza is located at 360 W42nd Street between 8th and 9th Avenue and is open every day from 11am. The closing hours will be updated, but for now they are “open late! ” This article originally appeared on W42ST. nyc