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Crown Jewel of the City: NY’s Pizza Parlors

Written by: Isabelle Banin. Published: July 30, 2023.

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.

Lost Gem
&Pizza 1 Pizza Tenderloin Flatiron


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. ”

Lost Gem
Harlem Pizza Co. 1 Pizza Harlem Morningside Heights

Harlem Pizza Co.

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. "

Lost Gem
Salvo's Pizza Bar 1 Italian Pizza Upper East Side Uptown East

Salvo's Pizzabar

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.

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.

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Lexington Pizza Parlour on E101st Street in East Harlem Italian Pizza undefined

Lexington Pizza Parlour

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! ”