How to Tell You're in a Shitty New York Pizza Place

Sarah Anderson/Thrillist

As the pizza-iest place in the entire country, it stands to reason that New York City is home to plenty of horrendous slices -- the constant, consuming need for pizza in general dictates that someone will be dumb enough to buy them. Don’t be that someone. Read this helpful guide highlighting the warning signs of a Shitty Pizza Place, and save yourself, dammit.

NOTE: This article focuses strictly on classic New York slice joints, not fancy sit-down places. Additionally, dollar slice joints were not considered for this exercise; they’re very transparently designed to be shitty.

They have 20+ kinds of pies with wild-ass toppings, all lined up in the front window

These slices are all incredibly old. You do not want them.

They also sell, prominently, burgers, or teriyaki, or something else weird like that

Unbeknownst to most patrons, the bulk of pizza places also sell an array of heros, salads, pastas, etc. Many of these can actually be very delicious. But they should always be a hidden afterthought.

It says "New York Pizza" on the sign

This place's entire business plan centers on serving crap slices to authenticity-craving tourists who are trying not to eat too much Iowa-style pizza in between Sex and the City bus tours.

It's in the back of a deli

Now, depending on your specific tastes, this form of pizza isn't all terrible, but certainly none of it is “real”. The dough will be spongy and racked with preservatives. The pepperonis will ensure Rolaids stays in business. And the guy working the oven will make egg salad sandwiches all day until he sees you want a slice. This is not the kind of specialization that creates a great anything.

The napkin dispensers don't look EXACTLY like the above


You order a cheese slice, and they don't have one

This means that they've realized that 1) they need to resort to covering their pizza with toppings because it is, at its root, horrible, and 2) nobody is ordering their cheese slices, because, as previously mentioned, they are horrible. Run. Run so fast. You are not yet weighed down by pizza, so this should be easy enough.

They don't have pizza boxes stacked up literally everywhere there is space for pizza boxes

Having pizza boxes everywhere strongly implies that people want to eat your pizza.

It has one of those stacked, possibly revolving, circular pie displays

It looks like it belongs in a 7-Eleven... yet doesn't look like it belongs in a 7-Eleven, because shouldn't 7-Eleven be more modern than that? Anyway, the point is: these slices are run through with evil. 

It's playing music on anything other than a 1993-vintage Aiwa shelf system locked into Z100

I just wanna shake shake shake shake...

There are zero cops in there

They're probably not paying anyway. Why would they go to the shitty place? They wouldn't. Neither should you.

There aren't at least three rickety delivery bikes chained to each other directly outside

Ideally with those cool, pizza box-sized cages.

The slices are larger than normal, and they keep telling you about that

Why do you want a huge slice? You don’t. A slice of New York pizza is the absolutely perfect size, as it allows you to customize your order to your exact level of hunger. Need a snack? One slice will do just fine. Lunch? Two is standard. Really hungry/named Val Kilmer? Go wild, and get three. It’s wonderfully iterative and additive.

A pizza place touting its large slices is like a magician waving his left hand over here, distracting from the fact that he’s setting up the trick with his right hand, which is also holding a legitimately good slice of pizza he doesn’t want you to have. The whole thing is a cover up.

The process differs from: order, guy puts your slice in the oven, pay when he shouts your order

That’s how it’s done. Don’t you dare give me a receipt with number 84 on it or some bullshit like that.

It's in Times Square

Everyone knows that Bubba Gump Shrimp Company is the only reasonable place to eat in Times Square.

The guys running it aren't even PRETENDING to be Italian

You don’t have to actually be from Naples to make great pizza, of course, but there should at least be like an Italian flag on the wall, and maybe you even go so far as to have spiky hair. Gimme SOMETHING.

They employ lettuce as a topping

I don’t care if it’s a BLT slice with 96% bacon.

There's not at least two things each of: red pepper, Parmesan, garlic salt, and regular salt

When a slice is truly great, you don’t need any of these, but that’s for you to decide.

They charge you more on weekends

There's a place in the Lower East Side that does this. It’s B&T surge pricing, and it’s abominable. When I found out too late that the scam was on, I took my slice, grabbed a stack of about 150 napkins, made sure the guy was looking, said “oh, yeah???”, and slammed them into the garbage with tremendous gusto. It was like throwing away his money. Sketchily cut into my margins, and I’ll very transparently cut into yours. I do, In retrospect, sincerely apologize to the environment for my actions.

It is named Sbarro

You are not in the Orlando International Airport.

It is named Famous Famiglia

That name is a lie. It is in no way famous.

It is named Famous Original Ray's, or some variant thereof

Not even worth it for the Seinfeld jokes.

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Ben Robinson is Thrillist's Editorial Director, and will definitely eat shitty pizza, but will complain about it, at least somewhat. Follow him @BenjoRobinson.