Corner Slice and the Gotham West Market

Given all the hype Corner Slice has received, it took me forever to get over to Gotham West Market and try this new pizza joint for myself. Though Eleventh Avenue between 44th and 45th Streets, where this food hall is located, isn’t exactly a convenient location. And despite all the new development that’s been slowly creeping west along 42nd Street, there’s little if any reason to wander over that way – other than the perennial reason that is the Landmark Tavern.

But I was headed to Pier 94 for Art New York, the annual international contemporary and modern art fair. So I decided to approach from the south, grabbing a late lunch at Gotham West along the way.

This relatively new food hall is a nice looking place. And it seemed spacious, though likely due to the fact that it was completely empty on a Thursday afternoon, despite crowds starting to amass nearby to heckle El Trumpo, who was paying a visit to the Intrepid…presumably in search of more seamen.

I went straight to Corner Slice, which is indeed located in the corner of the food hall. They specialize in what most New Yorkers call a “grandma” slice, though even that has many variations. In a nutshell, it’s basically a traditional, thin crust with a Sicilian shape – rectangular pies cut into square slices. The real distinguishing factor is the heavier sauce, which typically includes chunks of tomatoes, along with slightly less cheese. And some go as far as putting the sauce on top of the cheese, but the Corner Slice has the cheese on top with the tomato chunks occasionally busting through.

I ordered a slice of their margherita and a slice of soppressata, which is their version of pepperoni. With a small iced root beer, it came to $9.75, which isn’t bad given all the fanfare.

And the pizza wasn’t bad, either. It wasn’t particularly warm, but it was a good grandma slice – on par with what you can get a neighborhood places like Delizia’s. Their dough might give them a slight edge, as it’s similar to focaccia bread.

Corner Slice might have genuinely impressed if the pizza had been fresh, or at least a little warmer, perhaps with another sprinkle of cheese. But that’s how they served it, so that’s how I’m judging it. After all, it’s not like they were in a rush…there was only one other customer besides myself.

Being a food hall, Gotham West Market has a number of other options to choose from. And in an impressive (and, let’s be honest here, totally unprecedented) feat of self-control, I was able to walk by Ample Hills, which is one of the vendors there, without ordering their salted crack caramel ice cream. Yes, I’m actually crediting myself with not eating something, because that shit is so damn good that resisting it becomes noteworthy.

As for Corner Slice, I don’t think it lived up to the heavy hype. Maybe it did when it first opened, but that was less than two months ago. They can’t be phoning it in already, can they? Or maybe if you live in that area, which still remains a relative wasteland of culinary options, something like Corner Slice would seem like a gift from the gods. But it can’t even compare to the four pillars – John’s (Bleecker Street), Patsy’s (East Harlem), Lombardi’s (Spring Street), and Totonno’s (Coney Island) – let alone something like Roberta’s.

I might give it another try if I am ever in the neighborhood again. Perhaps on my way to next year’s Art New York? But unless you have a reason to be over there, you can probably do just as well with a grandma slice from your local pizza joint.

 

A Taste of Modern America

What better a way to celebrate the 4th of July than by eating – especially eating a dish that emigrated to America and became even better? After all, isn’t that what America’s all about? People from all over the world coming to a new land in hopes of building a better life?

I wandered down to the historic South Street Seaport on July 4th and checked out the mini-Smorgasburg. The selection of vendors was surprisingly sparse, but they did have one of my favorites: Pizza Moto. And they were offering a special Independence Day pie: The Pork of July. It was a basic margherita pizza topped with bacon and pepperoni. Frankly, it doesn’t get much more patriotic than that.

Pizza Moto's Pork of July pizza at the South Street Seaport's Smorgasburg.

Pizza Moto’s Pork of July pizza at the South Street Seaport’s Smorgasburg.

Di Fara Fetched

Like The Book of Mormon, I was totally underwhelmed with Di Fara’s Pizza. Could it also be a victim of expectations? No, I don’t think so.

DiFarFetchedEven if you remove factors like the filthy establishment (trash on the floor, trash on the tables, and the guy came out from behind the counter to remove the trash from the trash can only to set the bag on the floor next to it), the long-ass wait (I was told 20 minutes for a pie, at 3:17 PM on a Friday, but had to wait nearly an hour), and – above all – the ridiculous price ($5 per slice, $28 per pie…toppings not included), I don’t think it’s even on par with the likes of the legendary Patsy’s, Grimaldi’s, Lombardi’s, Totonno’s, or John’s.

Good? Yes. Different? An abundance of Parmesan does set it apart. But great? No. And certainly not at $5 per slice, or $28 per pie.

Di Fara’s strikes me as a case of something different being spun into something great. Then they start believing their own hype, and the next thing you know they are selling the stuff like it was the original cronut.

For me, the proof is in the taste. And even if you overcome all the many obstacles to tasting Di Fara’s pizza – from the wait to the price – it’s still a disappointment compared to the upper echelon of New York City’s pizzas.