Friday, November 27, 2009

Slice by Slice, Part One (Lower East Side)

Pizza and beer. Well, probably more accurately, beer and then pizza. There's nothing better to indulge in after a late night of bar hopping than a greasy slice of NY's treasured pizza.

And I feel like there's no better neighborhood in Manhattan to experience both a drunk beer crawl and a cheesy pizza feast than the Lower East Side. When I first moved to the city eons ago, the LES is where I spent most of my nights out. It's a hip, still (practically) un-gentrified 'hood with lots of restaurants, even more bars, and a handful of late night pizzerias.

I headed down there during the day, which is a strange experience on its own, and hit up these drunk pit stops for lunch.

The first stop was named Rocket Joe's East which was very confusing. I kept checking my Iphone to find out where their West or Original store is located. But it doesn't exist. I guess this store was bought from the original owners and in order to keep the name the new owners had to add the "East." This is what the guy behind the counter explained to me.

What makes Rocket Joe's stand out from all the other NY pizzerias is the addition of sesame seeds to all their crusts. I like sesame seeds, especially when they're on a crunchy crust, so I was looking forward to this prospect.

Too bad nothing else about the pizza stood out. The sesame
seeds seemed to dry out the crust and dry bread was really the only flavor I could taste. I saw the orange cheese and tomato sauce, but couldn't quite place it on my palate. The whole experience was reminiscent of a frozen pizza. It was completely bland and any flavor was pretty non-existent. You have to be drunk to think this stuff is good. And I get it; when I'm drunk my tastebuds are numb and all I want is that chewing sensation. This definitely accomplishes that.

Is Rocket Joe's the best pizza in NY? I should say not. It's cheap, flavorless pizza that is only good for a drunk snack when you couldn't care less what you're actually eating. I was not drunk, so I give it a sobering 3 out of 10.

Rosario's had to be better than Rocket Joe's. And I remember this place from my younger days. I had many a 3am slice at this joint. So how does it hold up to my more mature discerning palate?

It's not bad. This is a decent NY slice. It's as good as Ray's, if not better. It's not too greasy and doesn't leave you feeling terribly heavy. The cheese and tomato sauce are equally enjoyable. The crust is not as thin as you might hope, but it's buttery and flavorful. And even though I was nowhere near drunk (I had one beer the night before), I enjoyed the NY pizza experience.

Is Rosario's the best pizza in NY? It's good for a post-drinking snack without being too greasy. 6 out of 10 ranks it up there with most of the city's standard slices.

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