Satisfying a New Yorker’s pizza craving can be a difficult task, but the city’s pizza parlors do so in spades. If you haven't already, we recommend checking out &pizza, Harlem Pizza Co, Salvo’s Pizzabar and La Traviata Pizzeria.
New York is full of pizza shops, and its residents pride themselves on knowing their pies. Satisfying a New Yorker’s pizza craving can be a difficult task, but & Pizza does so in spades, serving a fabulous and delicious array of large, creative, sixteen-inch personal pies. When the Manhattan Sideways team visited & Pizza at their first location in New York, we spoke with Calvin, the Community Manager for the brand. “New York is a city that appreciates creativity and artistic angles, and our pizza does just that, ” Calvin said. Originally founded in Washington DC in 2012, & Pizza decided to expand their market and open their twenty-second spot here in Manhattan during the summer of 2017. The restaurant serves unique pizzas alongside classic menu items such as a Margherita. “Pizza in the industry is kind of stale, but we decided to shake it up, mix things up. ” Calvin noted. The American Honey, a pie with spicy tomato, mozzarella, pepperoni, arugula, red pepper flakes, goat cheese, and Mike’s Hot Honey, became a big hit on day one. The unique honey flavor combines well with the pizza’s other ingredients. Another favorite is the Farmer’s Daughter, a pizza with spicy tomato, spinach, mozzarella, Italian sausage, egg, red pepper chili oil, and parmesan. While many customers choose to stick to & Pizza’s pre-determined “Hits” menu, others love to build their own creation, adding unlimited toppings for a flat price. Patrons are also encouraged to add any toppings of their choosing to the “Hits” items, creating a virtually unlimited combination of flavors. Pizzas are cooked in under two minutes, a key to churning out customers during the busy lunch hours. Calvin told us that he loves to eat the restaurant’s pizza and to add his own twist to classic menu items. “I always wonder, what will this pizza taste like with pepperoni, or that one with hot honey? The possibilities are endless. ”Also on the menu are & Pizza's homemade sodas, with innovative flavors such as mango passionfruit and Ginger Berry Lemonade. As with their pizzas, the staff suggests pairings on the soda machine, allowing bold new flavors to arise. Every & Pizza location has a unique design that caters to the neighborhood, and the Flatiron store is no exception. This one is nicknamed “The Point” for its location at the tip of the Flatiron District. The entire store is specifically designed to fit around this pointed theme; the repurposed and recolored subway tiles on the wall are fitted to be pointed, the utensil holder is angled, even the mirrors in the bathroom are pointed. The store’s black and white interior, the color scheme of the & Pizza brand, creates a beautiful aesthetic that customers love, Calvin said. On the ceiling, the light structure mimics the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Broadway, the store’s location. In order to pump up customers and create a fun atmosphere, & Pizza blasts loud music throughout the store. “When we first opened up, " Calvin told us, "people kept on passing by and asking, ‘Is this a club? It looks so fun in here! ’ We have live DJs on Thursdays and Fridays, and people enjoy stopping in just for the music sometimes. ”One of the other wonderful aspects of & Pizza is their dedication to working with the local community, wherever they are located. At this location, they have partnered with David Chang’s Milk Bar to create a unique cream soda and cream soda-flavored cookie, both of which are only available in New York. The art on the walls was done by New York artists Rubin and Frisco Smith, both in black and white to fit in with the rest of the store. At the end of our conversation with Calvin, we asked him about the & Pizza name. “We believe in the power of ampersands, which binds and connects things, just like us. We combine creative ingredients, we combine local artists, we connect the community. Everything we do stays true to the ampersand. ”
It is always comforting to know that there is an excellent pizza place in the neighborhood, and Harlem Pizza Co. might be the perfect one. As owner, Alper Uyanik so aptly put it, "It is always worth one trip and then you can decide for yourself - take a chance, we think it's worth it. " The pizzas are made to order in their brick oven by Chef Jonathan Shepard with innovative names like Hot Bird (roasted chicken, fresh mozzarella, arugula and hot sauce) and The Hangover (sausage, broccoli rabe, tomato, taleggio and pecorino cheese, and basil). Alper opened a few small cafes and restaurants before transitioning to finance for some twenty years. But, in 2014, he decided to go back into hospitality and pursue his love and passion for "serving food with integrity. " Having lived on 118th Street since 2008, Alper felt that he knew the area well, and, at the time, felt that there was "literally nothing in food or other retail shops, besides the old-time favorites. " He could never find "other alternatives" for dining nearby. With the development and continued Renaissance of Harlem, restaurants began to arrive, but Alper did not believe that the quality was necessarily coming with it. When I asked, "why pizza? " Alper replied quickly telling me that the current location that he occupies was a pizza place, so why not pursue this concept. The difference, however, is that it was originally New York style pizza sold by the slice from a wood burning oven. "The model was wrong. We cook our pies in less than a minute, and this is how an oven like this should be used. " With high end ingredients including fresh mozzarella and burrata made by a fourth-generation family in Brooklyn, Alper and Chef Jonathan pride themselves in all that goes into their pies. The space is also filled with their personalities. A warm, friendly vibe, with outdoor seating in the warmer months, and the thought provoking pictures hanging on the walls by world renown photographer, Chuck Fishman. Watching the incarnations over the past several years while living in Harlem, Alper and Jonathan then made the decision to open Harlem Burger Company on the corner of 118th Street and Fredrick Douglass Blvd, where they have been serving quality burgers since mid 2016. Their hope is to create a brand out of these two restaurants with a view to open other locations in the future. "We are just taking what we know, adding our passion and hoping we can make it work. "
When I peeked my head inside the space under construction next door, I did not get much past "hello" before Joe invited me into Salvo's and insisted that I have something to eat. It was here, while devouring my amazing slice of pizza with warm creamy ricotta and spinach, that I was introduced to the three Inzerillo brothers. I asked them to join me at the table and encouraged them to share their story. There is always one to tell whenever members of a family are in business together. The brothers' parents are from Sicily, but came to New York decades ago and owned several restaurants and pizza places before returning to Italy in 2004. Growing up, Joe, Sal and Rosario always helped in their father's businesses, never believing that they, too, would be running an Italian restaurant one day. Although none of them are "real" cooks, they grew up memorizing both their mother and grandmother's recipes - and it is from these special dishes that the menu for Salvo's was created. Once out of school, the boys began their separate careers, but one by one they found themselves on York Avenue running a pizza shop that has been on this corner for some forty years. Sal told me that he was the last to join his brothers in 2012 when they took over the lease. "I waited until they had it up and running, " he admitted. Today, they each have their own responsibilities and strengths - Joe said that he is the "people person, " therefore he "runs the operations, " and is the "hospitality" guy. His brother Sal is in charge of marketing and Rosario is the in-house manager. Together they "pride themselves on being a warm and friendly family business. "While sitting at Salvo's around three o'clock on a weekday, I witnessed the entire restaurant fill up with enthusiastic little ones eager for their afternoon pizza fix. Within minutes, every table was spoken for as parents and nannies sat down with children who had recently gotten out of school. It was at this point that Joe spoke up and declared, "We love what we do, but wouldn't if it wasn't in this neighborhood. " The brothers truly believe that the Upper East Side is the best place to live and work. As proof, two of them reside above the restaurant. While out walking with my husband one beautiful weekend afternoon, I suggested stopping by Salvo's. It had been a very long time since I sat down with him to have a traditional slice of pizza straight from the oven. It conjured up an overdose of childhood memories from when we were growing up together on Long Island. We reminisced about how frequently we visited the local pizza parlor and recalled that a slice had been just 25 cents. The only difference that we found in 2015 on the corner of 78th Street and York Avenue was the price. The slices that we ate were made with old-fashioned tomato sauce, gooey cheese and a crust that was as perfect as we remembered. Needless to say, we were a very happy couple to have relived this treat together.
I was pleased to discover that this classic little pizzeria had been serving up slices to the Upper West Side since the 1970s. Though most customers grab their pieces of pizza to go, there are a few small tables inside that were full on each of my visits. I met the owner, Virgilio, who works alongside his daughter every day, and listened to him while he chatted with the people who seem to have been stopping in for years. It did not take me long to realize that the prices, flavor, and authenticity, make La Traviata one of the top choices in the neighborhood to snag a slice of classic New York pizza.
From classic NY slices to creative concepts, the pizza shops on the side streets offer every kind of pizza you could possibly dream of. If you prefer to customize your pie, &pizza on 28th Street offers both a “hits” menu and a “build your own” option, creating a virtually unlimited combination of flavors. Another unique pizza parlor is Harlem Pizza Co. on 116th Street, where inventive pies with high-end ingredients are cooked in less than a minute. If you prefer a more traditional slice, Salvo's Pizzabar on 78th Street has mastered creating the perfect proportion of gooey cheese and old-fashioned tomato sauce on every slice. Just ten blocks down on 68th Street, La Traviata Pizzeria has been serving their classic slices since the 1970s and is known for their top-notch flavors and family atmosphere.
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.