Food & Drink

This East Harlem Pizza Shop Is a New York Institution

Pizza is to New Yorkers as wine is to the French: a delicacy and a right. Whether you’re talking local dollar slice joints, sit-down Italian spots, or neighborhood mainstays, it is an essential truth of life in the city that New York pizza is the best pizza. Some attribute the inimitable flavor to our water, others to generations of Italian immigrants guarding the keys to the perfect sauce -- but regardless of the reason, NYC pizzerias are a local institution.

And while you’re surely familiar with cocktail-serving Brooklyn joints like Roberta’s, and long-standing neighborhood cornerstones like Joe’s, it’s less likely that you’ve made the trek to East Harlem for a slice of Patsy’s Pizza. Open since 1933, the restaurant is emblematic of the finest pizza establishments in the city: small, greasy, and simple. The pizza, however, is none of these things.

Among the only venues in New York serving coal oven pizza by the slice, the stuff is delivered with a charred, blistered crust, a wealth of house-made red sauce, and milky globs of aged mozzarella. Served in classic white paper boxes, each slice still only runs for $1.75, while a full (enormous) pie will cost you $12. Each is plucked from the ancient, smoking oven right in front of you while you chat with the gruff, white-haired, cornmeal-dusted man at the counter.  

Listen: We respect your allegiance to your corner pizza shop -- but every New Yorker should eat a slice at Patsy’s at least once.

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Eliza Dumais maintains her allegiance to the OG Joe's Pizza. Follow her @elizadumais