How often do you really challenge yourself? Do you ever wake up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night, wondering what your full potential is? How many times have you really put yourself to the test?
I'm not talking about that promotion or going back to grad school, what I'm really asking is the all-important question, 'how much pizza can you eat in 3 hours?' I've often pondered this, so when Jen from The Greenpointers/Morta di Fame offered me the opportunity to realize not only my true pizza aptitude but also simultaneously determine the best slice joint in Greenpoint, she had me at "10 pizzerias."
How did we rank each slice? Appearance was worth up to 30 points, while specific and overall taste and flavor accumulated to 45 points for a total of 75 points.
After a windy bike ride north along the East river, I rendezvoused with my pizza comrades Jen and Peter at our first stop, Grandma Rose's on Graham Ave for our first slice of the day. As you can see we decided to use our mind over our gut and just order one slice at each stop and have it cut 3 ways.
Grandma Rose's: 50.5/75
(Note: they tried to bribe us with zeppoles! Fear not, I have integrity)
Next we ducked under the BQE to Nina's at 635 Meeker Ave. As soon as I walked in, they had a point against them- the place proclaims themselves as proprietors of "brick oven pizza," when in reality they just have a pair of gas deck ovens hidden behind a brick facade. FALSE ADVERTISING!
After a quick spin on our bikes down a quiet Kingsland Ave., we arrived at Vinnie's Greenpoint location. I was familiar with the Williamsburg location so I knew what to expect here. I always think of Vinnie's as a fun joint with a sense of humor to hit up when you're on the market for zany toppings, and the same holds true here.
(Note: We were also bribed with garlic knots here and stickers of Vinnie's infamous T.hanks trashcan. I'm not not gonna take 'em, but again my scores remain unaffected. However, they get bonus points for carrying Manhattan Special)
As I rode down Nassau trying to balance a bottle of MS in one hand, it wasn't long before we hooked a right and made our first stop on Manhattan Ave., Pizzeria Valdiano.
At this point we were just walking our bikes since nearly half of our stops on the trip were within a block of each other. Next up was my favorite, Carmine's (not to be confused with the other Carmine's in Williamsburg).
(Notes: Carmine's gets 2 bonus points from me for the fact that Carmine was there in the flesh, making this the only owner-operated pizzeria on the trip. That and the patron cat of pizza was looking down on us for protection. Or hand-outs.)
After Carmine's, we popped across the street to the quintessential pizzeria clad 70's era orange formica and tight eating quarters, Russ Pizza.
Russ Pizza: 50/75
Moving one block north was our next stop, the generically-named Italy Pizza. For the first time on the trip, we found a slice with some decent hole structure in the crust, but unfortunately the slice ultimately didn't deliver on the flavor front-
Italy Pizza: 53.5/75
At this point about an hour and a half in, the pizza fatigue was really beginning to set in. After taking a quick breather and fighting every urge my body was imploring me to yak, we moved on down Greenpoint Ave. to Franklin Pizza.
Franklin Pizza: 57.5/75
I have to admit, I had low expectations of this place, but all things considered it delivered pretty well. Once we scarfed our pizza thirds (I think I was the only one finishing my portions at this point), we were off to Triangolo Pizza further north on Manhattan Ave.
Triangolo Pizza: 55/75
(Note: Triangolo gets a bonus point for their Steven Segall of Fame)
Just look at that tassled-rawhide sport coat. But don't stare too long lest you want a roundhouse to the face. Last on the trip was Casanova over on McGuinness Blvd-
(Note: They didn't even offer a re-heat! Point deduction.)
Once we weighted, tallied and combined our scores over some brewskis, we came to the following winners:
1st Place: Pizzeria Valdiano
2nd Place: Franklin Pizza
3rd Place: Triangolo Pizza
That being said, I think we all know who really rules the neighborhood. After all was said and done, I reflected on the day and learned something about myself:
I eat too much pizza.