March Madness: RVA vs. NYC Pizza, Round 2

For the second and final round of our RVA vs. NYC Pizza Bracket, we go to arguably the pizza capital of the world - or at least the nation. New York City. In last week's March Madness: RVA vs. NYC Pizza, Round 1, Richmond showed us what it was made of with Stuzzi coming out on top as (at least in my opinion) the best pizza in town. Can they make a stand against these New York powerhouses? Sottocasa, Grimaldi's, John's, and Lombardi's sure hope not.

Sottocasa vs. Grimaldi's

Sottocasa is conveniently located right at the nexus of Brooklyn Heights, Downtown Brooklyn, Boerum Hill, and our old stomping grounds, Cobble Hill. The name literally translates to "on your doorstep" in Italian, meaning a place "nearby," "around the corner," or "in the neighborhood." True to its name, Brian and I were thrilled when we discovered this gem of a restaurant only a few blocks away from our apartment. This isn't your typical (read: greasy) New York pizza per se, as they feature a much more pure, refined, Neapolitan alternative. My favorites were the Diavola (hot soppressata) and Salsiccia (Italian sausage). A charred crust, fine Italian ingredients, and a delicate 10-inch's practically perfect in every way.

Grimaldi's Pizzeria is known as the pizza that made the Brooklyn Bridge famous. So famous that on any given day of the week at any time, you'll find a line for a table that basically extends across the East River from it's location in DUMBO. I've waited in this line many a time, and no matter how cold or hot I was, I never regretted my decision to wait hours for superb, coal-fired in a brick oven, New York-style thin crust pizza. The crisp, smoky crust, melted fresh mozzarella, old fashioned decor (see Bevy logo above), and light tomato sauce - what's not to love?

Call me crazy, but even in New York City I have to side with the Neapolitan variety. Grimaldi's is some of the tastiest New York-style pizza you can find, but the quality and flavor of Sottocasa cannot be denied. Bracket Buster!

John's of Bleecker Street vs. Lombardi's

John's of Bleecker Street recently went head to head with Grimaldi's in a pizza challenge on the Food Network and lost. But that's not to say John didn't give Grimaldi a run for his money (and it's not to say I agree with the Food Network). This pizzeria's original location is in the West Village in a messy hole in the wall type place, churning out solid, old-school New York pies. The lines are much more manageable (and mostly nonexistent) for these large pies with crisp chewy crust, creamy mozzarella, and thick special sauce.

Lombardi's literally invented pizza. Well, not literally. But they literally brought pizza to America and are recognized by the Pizza Hall of Fame (they have that?) as the first pizzeria in the west. This place is a bit touristy like Grimaldi's, but they do serve great pizza that you'll think you want to cut with a fork and knife, but end up shoveling into your mouth. If you like fresh, stringy mozzarella cheese, thin crust, and toppings such as sweet pepperonis, you will find this quintessential NY pizza simply enjoyable.

Between these two New York-style powerhouses, I choose John's. The flavors in the sauce and toppings (spicy pepperoni vs. sweet pepperoni) beat Lombardi's in my book. Over the few years I lived there, John's became my favorite of the New York-style pizza joints (sorry Food Network, but you're wrong).

As we said in Round 1, you can't go wrong eating pizza from any of these places (and there are many, many more where these came from, these just being my favorites). If your preference is classic New York-style pizza, I'd tell you to swing by John's of Bleecker Street. However, if I was in New York City for one night and in the mood for pizza, I would get it from the Master of Neapolitans: Sottocasa. What a Cinderella story!


Now comes the hard part. RVA or NYC? Sottocasa or Stuzzi? Both feature some of the finest Neapolitan pizzas (my personal preference) I have ever had the privilege of enjoying. Both use only the finest cheeses, sauces, and Italian meats. Both indulge my pizza fantasies with fascinating and deliciously interesting menu choices. It is difficult to say, but if I could only have one more slice of pizza in my life...I would choose Sottocasa in NYC (with my sincerest apologies to Stuzzi). All hail the king!

Again, I encourage my readers to check out all of these delicious pizzas if you ever find yourself in either of these wonderful cities and let me know who you would crown the winner. Disagree? Gimme a pizza your mind!


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