Op-Ed: Of Pizza and the LES, or How I Spend My $2.50

Posted on: March 25th, 2014 at 11:22 am by

This image has been archived or removed.

Williamsburg Pizza fire escape signage

There is no love like the first way-too-hot crunchy, chewy, cheesy, greasy bite of pizza.

Healthy food is all well and good, but when you need sustenance to make it through the day or night, you sometimes just need a slice. Or five.

So, I give you my four favorite Pizzerias east of Bowery and south of Houston. They are all markedly different, and they are incredibly delicious. They will henceforth not be listed in order of awesomeness, just in a convenient clockwise fashion around Sara Roosevelt Park.

Before I delve into my little breakdown, I should briefly outline my pizza credentials and pizza criteria with you.

I am merely a holder of Manhattan Pizza expertise. Admittedly, Brooklyn legend DiFara checks all of my anxiety boxes of line waiting and other intolerable, tourist soaked fuckery, so their pizza has evaded me thus far. Though I have been to Totonno’s and Spumoni Gardens, and man that was good. So purists can get angry if they like, but my weekends only upbringing in Staten Island, a.k.a. Shitaly, is like going to CCD for pizza catechism. If you have never been to Nunzio’s, you have never touched the foot of Santa Margherita of the Pizza Pie. Keep the tourist traps, because I was also trained in the art of Handmade pizza and Mozzarella en Carozza by my Dad, who was a fabulous cook despite his many flaws. We made our own mozz from Novelli’s buffalo curd. Surviving on a lunch of Chelsea slices during college, I made sure to only give my $1.50 to the best places (Bella Napoli, forever).

Now that the slices we were used to paying $1.50 for cost $2.50, no one wants to eat a shitty slice … unless it costs a dollar.
For me, the finest pizza is the ‘standard’ New York style slice, but I have space in my heart for other types, if they meet the following criteria:

  • Must have crunch.
  • Cheese must be slightly blistered.
  • Sauce must be a touch sweet and salty, not too acidic and not over seasoned.
  • And there must be NO OREGANO sprinkled on the pie.

Seriously, if you sprinkle oregano on your display pies, I will turn around and walk away. I have nothing against herbs, in fact, I am rather fond of them, but the overpowering piney pungency that freeze dried plant fodder imparts to every shred of luscious pie it touches is a dealbreaker for me. Last of all, pizza must be kissed by a drizzle of good quality olive oil.

Italian immigrants paraded down Orchard St with a tub of small pizzas on their head at one point in time, I would hearken back to these days in a heartbeat over the confused puddle of wannabes that currently line the street. Though there are plenty of “good” places, how many of them can we actually eat at on a regular basis? How many of them sell affordable items or artwork for people that only have a 5-figure salary? At least even someone that recycles cans for a living can afford pizza.

Pizzerias are great for different reasons. They can be great places to have a date, or delicious, reliable places to call when you don’t feel like cooking. These are selected for their different values to the neighborhood. These are reasons why in my opinion, you can never have too much pizza.

This image has been archived or removed.

La Margarita on Ludlow, Photo: Danielle Guercio

1 o’clock: La Margarita Pizzeria, 151 Ludlow St (between Rivington St and Stanton St)

Yum Yum YUMMMM! This is a proper slice joint, for sure. The counter staff is super sweet and polite. Despite the strategic, smack in the middle of Hell Square location, there are never tooooo many drunkies in there. The balance of respectful diners and twats is not bad, which is hard to find in other, more obvious corner pizzerias. Scaffolding always makes for mystery, and behind the little window is a charming shop with a great slice. Appropriate crunch, palatable acidic sweetness, decent cheese, and a few gourmet extras, like nice olive oil that you can taste in the crust, and a big plate of roasted garlic for eat-in use.

Luckily, this place has a great price on a large pie at $13.00 and with speedy delivery. I have never had a bad experience. Whether in transit and in need, or incapacitated and insatiable, La Margarita does not disappoint.

This story has multiple pages:

Recent Stories

Entrance to Broadway Lafayette Goes Under the Knife (Again)

One of four main entrances to the Broadway-Lafayette subway station just (partially) closed for an extended period. The shutter, albeit temporary, is the second time for this particular stairwell in the two years since development began at the southwest corner of Lafayette and East Houston. A large sign on the sub-level landing announces the closure […]

An Elon Musk Space on Rivington Street?

Until 106 Rivington Street fulfills its destiny as the next Hell Square nightspot, this. A tunnel construction company? A tipster was out front last night and snapped a few photos before security stepped in. Below a “boring” neon sign, the sparse space is occupied by something called The Boring New York Company. There is a […]

Man Repeatedly Slashed on Rivington Street Yesterday Morning

When someone asks you if you’re a gang member, just keep walking… Early yesterday morning, at around 5am, a man was slashed across the torso near the corner of Rivington and Ridge Streets. Police said that two assailants, male and female, approached another guy and asked if he was a gang member. When the victim […]

My Time Recording the Buzzcocks’ Pete Shelley During his Lower East Side Years

Beloved Buzzcocks frontman Pete Shelley passed away of a suspected heart attack last week (December 6). Ken Lockie, singer-songwriter and sometime collaborator with John (Rotten) Lydon of Public Image Ltd., fondly recalls his time behind the board with Shelley thirty years ago in Williamsburg and on the Lower East Side. Pete Shelley was a charming, likable, […]

Cristin Tierney Gallery Takes Space on the Bowery

The decade-running trend of Chelsea gallery refugees quartering on the Lower East Side continues with news of another. The Cristin Tierney gallery just signed a lease to take over 219 Bowery. It sits one store south of the Camper Lab concept shop, both of which formerly comprised the Chair Up restaurant supplier. Tierney, who had […]