07 4 / 2012

Cheazza’s Choice: FDR 99 Cent Slice Pizza

Pizza for breakfast is allowed, right?

Joe and Adrienne woke up after a long day (and night) on the town with an acute hangover craving: cheazza. Yes, it was 9:30 a.m. on a Sunday. Yes, finding cheazza asap was imperative.

“Are pizza places even open this early?” Joe asked.

We whipped out our Cheazza iPhone app, coming to Apple App store soon, and looked up nearby Cheazza joints.

Now, the East Village isn’t lacking in dollar slices. But the entire neighborhood is sleeping at 9:30 on a weekend morning. Finding an open grocery store or restaurant is difficult, let alone a cheazza spot. Our hopes were low.

Then… bingo! FDR 99 Cent Slice Pizza on 2nd Street and Avenue A, open at 10 a.m.

The walk over was filled with suspense. Would it actually be open this early? Will the oven be on? It’s only 10:02, will they have pizza ready for customers?

FDR 99 Cent Slice didn’t fall short. In fact, it was already in business - another customer had beaten us there. Four slices were thrown in the oven for a quick minute and handed right over, along with an ice-cold Coke.

The slices themselves would have been forgettable for dinner or a mid-afternoon snack. They hadn’t been warmed up enough, so the cheese was bland and congealed. The crust was just short of crispy. Aside from grease and a mild cheese flavor, the slices didn’t have much taste.

But as breakfast cheazza for a desperate crowd, FDR 99 Cent Slice hit the spot.

Verdict: The slices were… eh. Not bad, but the almost-crispy crust and congealed cheese made the slice forgettable. It has some of the friendliest and fastest service around, however.

FDR 99 Cent Slice Pizza
150 East 2nd St
New York, NY 10009 
(212) 253-5950 


29 3 / 2012

Cheazza’s Choice: Percy’s on Bleecker St

Greenwich Village’s Percy’s is a newcomer to the cheazza game. Nevertheless, the New York Post lauded the spot as “The Best Dollar Slice In New York" in early 2012.

This praise, of course, just meant the Cheazza team had to try Percy’s ASAP.

Joe and Adrienne walked over to 190 Bleecker Street one chilly evening. At first glance, we wondered if Percy’s was a takeout pizza joint or a small, casual eatery. A hand-written chalkboard menu detailed pizza options and the three tables were filled with NYU student types.

We piled four large slices into a to-go box. Luckily for Percy’s, a small park at the corner, Jackson Square and Washington Square Park are within easy walking distance.

We’ll be honest: Percy’s pizza baffled us. Is the slice crispy? Edging on gummy? Is it a large slice? Or insubstantial from the thinner crust? Is the cheese plentiful? Or simply strategically used?

The crust was neither crispy nor chewy, but at a point smack in the middle. The slice was one of the largest we’ve seen, but on the thinner side. The cheese was perfect (more later), but not piled on.

Here’s what we agreed upon:

The sauce tasted bright and fresh, with chunks of tomato and a hint of red pepper on each slice. Applied liberally, the tomato sauce made our slices feel fresher than most.

The slices came piping hot; the small counter space prevents Percy’s pizza from simply lying around. As such, the cheese was perfectly melted. None of that molten cheese lava that slides off a slice - this cheese oozed just enough.

Percy’s pizza could easily pass for a more expensive, robust slice of pizza. Only the seasoned cheazza expert would recognize the dollar price tag.

Verdict: Fresh sauce, piping hot cheese and a charming cheazza location were all pluses. We didn’t think it was “NYC’s Best Dollar Slice” - Mamani keeps the #1 spot in our mind - but it was darn tasty.

See what the NY Post had to say about Percy’s:

For just one measly smacker, Percy’s offers up a tasty thin slice that crackles when you bite into it, thanks to the prowess of Italian pizzaiolo Giacomo Lattaruli. Not too salty, not too greasy, it’s lightly sauced and not overwhelmed with cheese or sugar. It’s a fantastic concept — let’s just hope it lasts.

Percy’s
190 Bleecker St
New York, NY 10012
No phone

 

22 3 / 2012

Cheazza’s Choice: Crocodile Lounge On East 14th Street

The East Village’s Crocodile Lounge isn’t a traditional dollar slice spot. Instead, this dive bar along 14th Street offers free personal pies all day, every day.

Alright, nothing in life is truly free. There is a caveat. Each drink purchased at Crocodile Lounge garners one ticket for a free pie. But drinks here come cheap. You can easily grab a $5 draft and personal pie and lounge in one of Crocodile Lounge’s many dark corners all evening.

The pizza process is a cinch. Buy a drink, get a ticket. Take your ticket to the oven smack in the middle of the bar. Slide your ticket across the counter and grab a formidably sized pizza in return.

Crocodile Lounge doesn’t skimp on size. One pie makes for a satisfying dinner, especially if you’re nursing a beer on the side. Ample red pepper flakes, garlic powder and cheese are scattered around the bar and you can add toppings for an additional price.

The pizza quality, however, is inconsistent. On a good night, you’re handed a pie fresh from the oven. The crust has a great crunch when it’s piping hot. The pies are always a bit shy with the cheese, but it’s perfectly melted without sliding off each slice.

On an off night, you’ll get a pie waiting on the counter. The crust is a bit dry, and the cheese seems downright skimpy. You’ll quickly resent the solid inch of boring crust on each slice.

The risk is worth it. Crocodile Lounge presents a deal that can’t be beaten. You’ll get a cheap dinner – around $6 for a drink and a pizza – in a bar worth spending the evening in. 

Check in on Wednesdays for a challenging trivia session or during warmer weather for the great outdoor space out back. 

VERDICT: Quantity trumps quality here. You get a satisfying dinner – complete with a drink – for around $5. The pizza is hit or miss, but the hit nights feature crunchy crusts and perfectly melted cheese.

See what others have to say about Crocodile Lounge on Yelp:

The pizza was actually good, too. Evan after tipping the pizza guys in the back, you’re still paying next to nothing for a pizza. Awesome place even if you’re just looking to get one drink and a pizza… it’ll be worth it.

How can the hour not be happy when you get a ticket for a free mini personal pan pizza with every drink you order?

Crocodile Lounge
325 E 14th St
New York, NY 10003
(212) 477-7747

06 2 / 2012

Cheazza’s Choice: 99 Cent Fresh Pizza on Lexington & 46th

Imagine: You’re in a late-night cab heading home in the pouring rain with no umbrella and a rumbling stomach. Your taxi stops at a red light, you turn to the right and - lo and behold! - spot a cheazza joint. Instead of a door, the shop opens right onto the sidewalk. Within 15 seconds, you’ve slid back into the waiting taxi with two steaming slices in hand.

Adrienne experienced this lightning-fast cheazza pickup at 99 Cent Fresh Pizza in Midtown East. It’s strictly a grab-and-go spot. The wide open doors open into a sparse room - a long counter employees simply slide a slice across. 

The slice itself was classically cheazza. The smaller size (it is $0.99, after all) revealed a thinner crust with perfect crunch. Blistered cheese had a distinct mozzarella taste. The stringy, greasy, slightly congealed cheese perfectly balanced the light helping of sauce. 

A classic slice of cheazza also includes a trademark metallic taste - as if the sauce is a bit tinny. But it’s all a part of the appeal. And for $0.99 and 15 seconds of your time, it can’t be beat.

VERDICT: A classic cheazza slice with all the right qualities: thin crust with good crunch, flavorful cheese and just enough sauce. The sauce tasted right from a can, but it’s a minor setback in a quality and efficient cheazza joint.

See what others have to say about 99 Cent Fresh Pizza on Yelp:

As far as 99 cent pizza goes, this is the best I’ve had.  The cheese tastes like cheese and they now have made the crust crispy. All the other $1 pizza joints have a weird chewy crust going on.

Thin, crispy crust - check
Mozzarella is mozarella - check
Sauce is not sweet ketchup - check
Served in under 60 seconds - check
Cheap & cheerful — check

99 Cent Fresh Pizza
473 Lexington Ave
New York, NY 10017
(212) 661-6221 

17 1 / 2012

Cheazza’s Choice: Two ‘N A Can on 6th Ave

Two ‘N A Can pizza lies right off Bryant Park. The location would be perfect as a go-to lunch spot; a place to grab a cheazza slice and head to the park for lunch in the sun. Unfortunately, Two ‘N A Can’s pizza isn’t any good.

The space, on 1032 6th Ave on the corner of 39th Street, used to be In-N-Out pizza. It has more room inside than most pizza joints. We ate at a standing bar, and noticed ample offerings of parmesan, oregano, red pepper flakes and garlic powder. Many cheazza spots don’t offer seasonings, so this was a pleasant surprise.

As it turned out, the pizza needed any help it could get. The crust had such a sweet, doughy flavor it tasted undercooked. In fact, the doughy crust was all we tasted. It provided an overwhelming taste and texture to the slice.

The cheese was… who knows? Our slice was too greasy to discern any cheese. The grease overpowered any cheese or sauce on the pizza. Between that and the doughy crust, tasting any other flavor was difficult.

Perhaps we tried Two ‘N A Can’s pizza on an off day. Perhaps. To us, it wasn’t worth the $1 we paid.

VERDICT: Two ‘N A Can is in a great Midtown location. We wanted to like it! But the undercooked dough and gross grease factor was a turnoff; keep walking for a better cheazza joint.

Two ‘N A Can
1032 6th Ave
New York, NY 10018
(212) 398-3288 

21 11 / 2011

Cheazza’s Choice: 99¢ Fresh Pizza On East 43rd

Nestled into a space on East 43rd Street large enough for about three customers, the newest outpost of 99¢ Fresh Pizza serves hefty cheazza slices well worth the quick walk from Grand Central Station.

The original 99¢ Fresh Pizza on 9th Avenue quickly expanded into a cheazza empire, opening their second spot in Midtown East on 151 E. 43rd Street between Lexington and 3rd Avenue. 

Come for a quick lunch or a large snack. You’ll be in and out within 10 seconds. While most cheazza slices are smaller than their more expensive counterparts, this slice was thick and doughy. The bottom crust was as crispy as you’ll get without burning the pizza. Balancing a thick crust with considerable crunch is difficult, but 99¢ Fresh Pizza had it nailed.

The tomato sauce tasted real - an accomplishment among cheazza slices. Each bite had just enough sauce, and we discerned bright, sweet flavors.

Yes, the cheese was a bit bland. The lack of a stringy, gooey texture didn’t help matters. It seemed congealed. All in all, the cheese just made the pizza lack grease factor.

VERDICT: Head here when in Midtown East and looking for a quick and cheap meal. Each slice is satisfying; the crispy crust and fresh-tasting sauce made for a pretty enjoyable meal. The cheese was dull and could have been improved upon. 

See what others have to say about the East 43rd Street outpost of 99¢ Fresh Pizza at New York Magazine:

We are not Harvard-trained behavioral economists, but we do know enough to tell you that when a dining establishment makes a good slice of pizza for 99 cents, the chances are excellent that there’s going to be a rabble of slavering slice hounds beating down its door. Such has proved to be the case at 99¢ Fresh Pizza, the second hole-in-the-wall branch of a slice-joint concept so foolproof, so compelling, that the elusive owner—who goes only by Abdul—has decided to spell it out in the name.

And on Midtown Lunch:

The truth is- I freakin’ LOVE the 99¢ pizza place.  Call me a cheapo, but I’ve never once asked for my penny back (and they’ve never offered it.) 

99¢ Fresh Pizza
151 E. 43rd St. 
New York, NY 10174
(212) 922-0257 

06 11 / 2011

Cheazza’s Choice: 44th Street Pizza

Joe and Adrienne did some cheazza investigating at 44th Street Pizza recently. We ambled from the Roosevelt Island tram - enjoying the pretty views of the East River and Manhattan skyline - down to 196 East 44th St, between Lexington and Third Avenue. 

Our pizza was made to order, which was a big bonus. The slice arrived just greasy enough and piping hot. The crust was crispy and thin. Doughy, undercooked crust can be a big cheazza downfall. But ours had a blistered, crunchy quality. 

Cheazza tends to have overly sweetened tomato sauce, and 44th St Pizza was no exception. But the ratio was right, with just enough sauce to balance the cheese without overwhelming the thin crust.

VERDICT: A good late-night snack choice. The thin crust makes one slice feel less substantial. But the crispy crust and just-greasy-enough texture were plusses.

See what others have to say about 44th St Pizza on Urbanspoon:

Nice, went to this on march 15 ,not bad for 99 cent pizza, got a spicy touch.it was fresh cause they have automatic oven and every two minutes there was a new pie was coming out .

and on Yelp:

The slice, decent size, love the sauce, thin crust., I like it a lot!! I will be back. Oh, one slice is not enough, you’ll need 2+

44th Street Pizza
196 East 44th St.
New York, NY 10017
(212) 599-4438