When we travel to New York City, the foods we crave are pizza, bagels and deli sandwiches. Since we moved to Florida from the NY area, we have never found a local place that does any of them as well as they do in New York. Some people say it’s because of the water but places have even tried to import the water and it still doesn’t taste the same. An average slice of pizza in New York is going to be better than the best you can find anywhere else. You can argue this point with me, but you’d be wrong. 😉
Many of our trips to Manhattan are whirlwind affairs. Not much time to go out of our way to eat, even if they’re our favorite foods. Here’s some the places we’ve stopped at. This is a picture heavy post and I take no responsibility for the pounds you’ll put on afterwards.
New York Delis are a tradition and it’s more than just the sandwiches. It’s the atmosphere. Loud and chaotic, with orders being yelled back and forth and plenty of conversation between diners. Quintessential New York.
Our previous mainstay in the theater district was the Stage Deli. Unfortunately, it closed down in 2012. We’ve tried other places in the area but they are all overpriced tourist traps. Junior’s Cheesecake is one place that gets the food correct. The prices are high and the ambience is all wrong but if you’re in the need of some matzoh ball soup and a pastrami sandwich, it’ll do in a pinch. Just don’t try to go before or after a show without being prepared for a really long wait.
We’ve visited the 2nd Ave Deli twice. It’s a bit of a walk from the theaters but we’ve had good meals both times we’ve gone. If you don’t believe that it’s good, here’s Jon Stewart’s NSFW description of the place.
Click Here (remember, it’s got some adult language)
However if you are talking deli’s in New York, there is really only one word. Katz’s Deli.
Just look at that glorious scene in that still life photograph. The matzoh ball (bigger than your fist) soup. Dr. Brown’s soda. Pickles (both half-sour and sour). Sour tomatoes. French fries that were fried in oil that might be older than you are. And finally, the sandwich with pastrami or corned beef that you’d swear was from another planet it’s so good.
The atmosphere is perfect as well. You have to yell your order over the counter and your sandwich is sliced while you wait. It’s perfect.
There are two types of New York pizza that we crave. One is a coal fired pizza with a crispy crust. These pizzas are made in old fashioned coal ovens. The ovens are long since banned in New York City so the only way to get one is to move into a location that has one already in operation, grandfathered around the current laws.
A place to get a good coal fired pizza in the theater district is John’s of Times Square. Located in an old church, this pizza place is like most places in the theater district. A little too crowded and a little over priced and not quite as good as the places further out. If we’re in a time pinch we’ll eat here and be perfectly happy.
If we are looking for a truly great pizza, we head a little further north to Angelo’s Coal Oven Pizza at 117 W 57th St, New York, NY 10001, USA.
This is the only place where I’ve seen Sharon eat the whole pizza. We’ve been 3 or 4 times and it’s been great each time. We’ve even brought friends there on their first trip to New York. That’s a big deal because if the place sucks, it’s your fault.
We did go our searching for the “best” NYC pizza once. We ended up in the West Village at a place called Arturo’s. Here is Sharon’s description from her blog post in 2011.
OhmyGOD, was it good! The crust had the perfect amount of coal-fired crispness, the sauce wasn’t too salty or too sweet and the cheese was nice and thick. When you live in Florida, you forget what “good” pizza tastes like until you have it again. I’m ruined on Florida pizza once again. GOOD!
However, there is more to pizza in New York than coal fired crispy pizza. There’s the typical slice. The one you fold while you eat. The pie that sits and you order a slice and they throw it in the over to warm it up and serve it on a piece of tin foil. If you’re me, that slice comes with pepperoni or sausage (and maybe mushrooms).
I’ve found a place in the theater district that serves an almost textbook slice. It’s a hole in the wall place called Patzeria Perfect Pizza. There’s not really any where to sit when you eat there. I’ve always carried the pizza back to the room (if it’s midnight and 0 degrees outside, Sharon’s not leaving the room, not even for pizza). If you have trouble finding it, it’s right next to the Church of Scientology and across the street from the theater where Hamilton is playing.
Here’s a collage of our pizzas from Pazteria.
Now, Sharon will tell you that as good as Manhattan pizza is, Staten Island pizza is better. She even made a trip out to Pizza D’Oro on Victory Blvd. to make sure it was as good as she remembered. She says it was. I’ll make it there one of these trips to check it out.
I saved the best for last. New York bagels. Nothing like them and you can’t make them anywhere else. Even if you bring the bakers or the ingredients out of the area, the bagels just don’t taste the same.
You’ll notice that most of the bagels pictures will look the same. Sharon’s a non-toasted egg or garlic bagel with lox spread and I’m more of a bacon, egg and cheese on a salt or everything type of person.
We’ve narrowed our bagel places to two favorites. If we’re in the theater district and don’t want to wander far, Pick A Bagel on 8th Ave. is a solid choice. They’re usually busy, have a large selection of bagels and toppings and seating. The only negative is that I’m not a big fan of the coffee there so I’ll usually get a soda, even for breakfast.
During our recent trips to New York, when we stayed at the Waldorf=Astoria and the Fitzpatrick Grand Central, we were more to the eastern side of Manhattan. We took advantage of that and went to eat at Ess-A-Bagel at 831 3rd Ave.
Notice the consistency of our orders. Except for the additional black and white cookie and macaroni salad in the second picture (and the feeble attempt to make up for it with the Diet Dr. Brown’s soda).
Sharon had the nerve to go without me when she went to New York with a friend of ours and to rub it in, she texted me this picture.
So there you have it. Deli. Pizza. Bagels. Everything you need to eat while in New York. Well maybe you can have some Chinese food or a pretzel from a street vendor. Possibly a kabob or a hot dog.
Let me know what your favorite place to go to eat in New York are. I’d love to hear it.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary