Monday, December 28, 2009

And Video Rentals, To Boot!

In previous posts, I've called Ray's the McDonald's of NY pizza chains and Patsy's the Starbucks. And now I come to another visible NY pizza empire and the question arises, what recognizable corporation can I compare Two Boots to? And after much consideration, I guess they'd have to be the Urban Outfitters - they're hip, grungy, and their products seem too cheap to cost as much as they do.

Two Boots continues to expand all over the city and there are even a few locations above 14th Street, which seems to defeat the purpose for me. Two Boots has always been a drunken late night pizza stop for artists and hipsters. There is definitely plenty of drinking on the Upper East Side, but it's more of the frat boy sport watching varietal than the introspective, artistic depression varietal you'd find in the Village.

I chose the Two Boots on Avenue A in the Lower East Side. Besides it being the original location, this Two Boots also houses a video store. What a brilliant concept - you can rent your movies and buy a pizza all at the same time. This is groundbreaking. It feels so... 1987!

1987 was the year that two indie filmmakers with a love for Cajun cuisine (The name Two Boots refers to the similar shapes of Louisiana and Italy) thought to put the likes of andouille sausage and crawfish on pizza. And then name their pies after such iconic pop culture characters as Mel Cooley and Tony Clifton. Somewhere, Genaro Lombardi is spinning in his grave.

I've been to Two Boots before and really liked their thin, seasoned crust and interesting toppings. $3.75 for a slice is pushing it, but it's worth trying their unique spicy Cajun flavors on one of our all-time favorite foods.

On this visit, I tried to pick the slice that was closest to what I'd expect from New York style pizza. On any other day, I'd love to do spicy buffalo wings and blue cheese - but there's work to be done here and so I opted for the Mr. Pink: marinated chicken, plum tomatoes, fresh garlic, and mozzarella.

The kid behind the counter said that it just came out of the oven so it didn't need to be warmed up. After my first disappointing bite, I realized he was wrong. I brought the cold, limp slice back to the counter and told him to heat it up.

After that little delay, the pizza tasted much better. The thin crust now had a much warmer enjoyable crunch - it was like a whole different pizza. And it was decent. but not as good as I had remembered.

The cheese seemed cheap and not terribly fresh, while the tomato sauce didn't have as much zippiness and seasoning as I had remembered. The chicken was peppery so maybe it overshadowed the tomato sauce. The crust had a slight ashy char and a chewy depth from the cornmeal they use but it was also a bit dry.

I wish I had ordered one of their more bizarre, Cajun-inspired slices. The Mr. Pink was a bit too bland and I'm afraid when Two Boots' pizza is not spruced up by some spicy green jalapeño pesto or something, the flaws become more evident.

Two Boots' saving grace is that their flavor combinations are interesting and the locations are fun and off-beat. And even though we can download any movie we want from Itunes or have it delivered from Netflix, it is nice to see an independent video store still thriving in the big city. (Maybe I should've named Two Boots the Blockbuster Video of NY pizza chains.) Let's just hope Two Boots can stay in business if we ever figure out a way to stream and download pizza.

Is Two Boots the best pizza in NY? They serve unique and sometimes flavorful slices, but these artsy, kitschy shops are not in the same league as the big boys and they only get a 6 out of 10 from me.

No comments:

Post a Comment