Went to NYC this week looking for pizza as good or better than my favorite Luzzo's. We had a margherita at every place.
We were able to hit 7 places in two days:
La Pizza Fresca
7-Da Ciro- Very nice place with a great location in the middle of Manhattan. Not a bad pizza, but worst of the bunch. There was a little too much cheese and not enough sauce but what sticks in my mind about this pizza was how flat and dry the crust was. The kind of pizza where you eat the inside of the pizza and leave the crust in your plate like when you were a kid. My guess is the oven wasn't hot enough and the pie cooked too long. Longest bake time of any of the other places, at least 5 minutes. I noticed after our pizza came out, the fire was allowed to die out, and this was at around 1 p.m.
6-Il Brigante- A good pizza, but not as good as some of the others. Located at the South Street Seaport. While there were hundreds of people in the area enjoying a band near the water, the place was empty. The pizza was good- good cheese and sauce, but the crust was OK- crispy and chewy, but a little on the flat side. Wasn't puffed at all like Luzzo's or Franny's.
5-Brio Forno- Great location in the middle of Midtown. We arrived here when they opened at noon. Loved the fresh tasting tomato sauce (La Valle?) and mozzarella (not bufala). The crust though was similar to the first two places.
4-La Pizza Fresca- "VPN MEMBER" sign hanging next to a big wood burning oven in the back of the restaurant. They use buffalo mozzarella, but its a little hard to taste because of the Parmigiano-Reggiano (too much maybe?).The outer crust was a lot better than the other three places, but the middle was too thin. We sat in front of the oven and noticed two or three times the pizzaiolo tore holes in the dough when he was stretching them.
3-A Mano- If I ever open my own place this is what I want the atmosphere to be like. Its a clean, open restaurant with high ceilings, Burgundy colors and two beautiful ovens towards the back. My wife got the salami/ricotta calzone and it was amazing (thanks Scott r). The crust was a little bit too thick and undercooked for me- almost no char marks on the dough. A Mano used the most sauce out of the 7 places, but I like a lot of sauce. I couldn't help but wonder what would happen if a place like this opened here in Syracuse.
2-Isabella's Oven-Small out of the way location on Grand Street. Doesn't look like a pizzaria from the outside. The inside is very small- 3-4 small tables on the left and a nice wood oven and prep area on the right. We were seated outside in the back of the restaurant. Loved the family run business atmosphere. After we told the waitress we were on a NYC pizza tour, Luigi the pizzaiolo came out to meet us. We talked to him for a while about pizza. He knows Michael (?) from Luzzo's and admitted Luzzo's is one of the best (along with his). We ordered the DOP. If there hadn't been too much salt it would have been one of the best pizza's I've eaten. Funny because I read somewhere that others thought he didn't use enough salt! Everything else about this pizza was great. We had a great time there. Luigi showed us the oven that he built and introduced us to the owner. They remembered Scott r and Ed Levine. By the way, the waitress said we HAD to try Vinnie's in Brooklyn but we were just too damn full from eating pizza all day. Has anyone been there?
1-Franny's-Nice restaurant in a not too nice neighborhood on Flatbush ave in Brooklyn. I knew the pizza was going to be incredible when I first saw it without even tasting it. What a masterpiece! The outer crust was puffed up just enough with little round char marks all over. There was plenty of sauce, and the cheese looked as good as it tasted. I only wish I had a Luzzo's pizza next to it so I could compare them.
Sorry I don't have more details about the pizza but I'm writing this a couple days later and I'm going by memory. Next time in NYC I am going to hit Franny's, Luzzo's and UPN (again) to find out which is the best in NYC.