Only in New York have I sat in a pizza joint and heard two men discuss the gastronomy of their pie as though it was haute cuisine:
Man 1: Phenomenal. The creaminess of the bufala against the bite of the sauce, it’s not too sweet, you know? The crust, my God, look at this. It’s a religious experience.
Man 2: (nodding) The Gestalt.
Man 1: (sounding humbled) I… I never expected this.
Man 2: (smug) What did I tell you? That’s why I live in New York.
Some of the pizza places in New York are more like shrines than restaurants. Grimaldi’s, famous for its coal-fired brick oven and the patronage of Frank Sinatra, is one.
In Manhattan, I like John’s pizza, the one on Bleecker street or (if necessary) the offshoot in Times Square. Sit down in one of their wooden booths and prepare to be dazzled by the ecstasy-inducing combination of salty, browned cheese, charcoal-dotted crust and tangy sauce.
There are plenty of newer, high-end pizza places. I tend to avoid these in favor of the classics, but I did enjoy the stunning, smoky montanara pizza at Don Antonio, which is run by two Neapolitans with pizza sauce in their blood
The bottom line: it’s worth visiting New York just for the pizza. Oh, and Per Se is good, too.