Growing up in San Diego I babysat for a number of families, but I always had a special bond with the next door neighbor kids, Amanda and Noah. They're all grown up now - they've both graduated from Cornell and have big fancy jobs - Noah is in Washington D.C. and Amanda lives in New York City with her lawyer husband Randy. Conveniently, Amanda and Randy love food and know the City well - so whenever I come to town, we always get together and eat.
Last year, we went to The Tasting Room, a great little restaurant in SOHO that has since (sadly) closed. It closed before I even had a chance to write about it - but to be fair I was very behind at that point. I've vowed not to let that happen this time, so while I'm working on my post about lunch at The Modern I thought I'd talk a little bit about the pizza we ate later that night.
When we made plans to meet up, I didn't know that I'd be fine dining on Sunday night and Monday for lunch, and again on Thursday - so Amanda made a reservation for us at Balthazar. I love Balthazar, don't get me wrong, but so many French meals in one week just seemed like a bad idea. Plus - I had never tried New York Pizza - the coal-fired thin-crust type the City is so famous for. I was dying to try it and a little burned out on the fine dining, so when our dinner date drew closer, I called Amanda and I begged her to go to John's instead.
John's is one of those institutions that derives almost as much of it's appeal from the atmosphere as the food. I loved the scribble-etched wooden booths and the murals of Italy on the walls. The menu was ridiculously convoluted, with pizzas with almost every conceivable combination of ingredients listed individually instead of just a list of toppings. After puzzling over it for a while, we ordered a pitcher of beer and a large pepperoni and mushroom pizza - ironically not one of the options on the list.
The pizza is extremely thin, and was so fresh out of the oven that when it was set on the table, the topping was literally molten, liquid cheese. After letting it cool down for a few minutes, we dug in. It was cooked at a high enough temperature that the pepperoni did that thing where it cups and turns crisp at the edges, and the edges of the crust were light, chewy and crisp. It had dollops of a mild tomato sauce or paste on top as well as underneath the cheese, and a shake or two of hot pepper flakes gave it just the right amount of zing.
You'll eat more slices than you might otherwise just because it's so thin - three of us had no trouble at all polishing off a large, and some cannolis afterwards. The only other item offered on the menu is a salad - which sounded good, but we decided lettuce would just get in the way. Perhaps the best part is that a pitcher of beer and large pizza only set us back around $35. - a bargain by any standard, and not just in New York!
278 Bleecker St
New York, NY 10014