Pizza time: Where should the Mets’ Francisco Lindor get his first New York slice?
When Francisco Lindor arrives in New York, he already has his sights set on what he wants to do first.
“I love pizza,” he said during his introductory press conference Monday. “I’ll probably eat some pizza.”
A relatable mood and a perfect mindset for coming to New York. Just ask Michael Scott, but pour one out for the Times Square Sbarro.
There’s somewhere in the ballpark of 32,000 pizza joints in the city, so the new Mets shortstop has plenty of options to pick from. But then again, his first foray into this city icon should be something to remember.
Sure, he could get something from 2 Bros., Rays or a number of dollar slice options and share his crust with the pizza rat. Seeing him scarf down something from Rose’s Pizza in Penn Station would be pretty funny.
But anyone from New York knows he can do better than that.
And as someone who keeps a spreadsheet grading every single pizza place he’s been to and went on a pizza crawl for his 25th birthday, I feel at least a little qualified to weigh in. So let’s do borough-by-borough breakdown and see where he should go first.
I can’t imagine the Citi Field concession stands are open and staffed, but if the Mets make an exception for Lindor, he has a number of pretty solid options. Papa Rosso’s got a strong selection of pies in center field. I’ve had the Margherita a few times and it hasn’t disappointed. It wasn’t as crispy as I imagined it would be, but the sauce and fresh mozzarella make it better-than-average for ballpark food.
If he wants crunch, though, Emmy Squared is the move. Yes, they’re technically Detroit style, but they definitely satisfy the pizza craving. I’ve had the classic, which is fine, but if Lindor wants to go a little off-the-wall, the colony squared with jalapeños, pepperoni and honey would be a move.
This might be a ~take~ but I personally don’t love Two Boots and anytime I’ve had it I’ve been disappointed. The semolina flour turns me off, and I recognize that some people do prefer it. I just don’t.
But what’s weird is Queens has an incredibly diverse food scene from great Latin American fare to Korean options. I just generally don’t think of it has the center for pizza in the city, even if there are a number of pizzerias he can venture to. But Bellucci Pizza in Astoria sells a vodka pepperoni slice. That’s a winner and a good first option.
There’s a breadth of options here and it’ll be impossible to make a dent in all the places Lindor could have his first bite from.
Off the top of my head, Joe’s is the absolute classic option. If you’re going for a regular slice with no frills, this is your go-to. It’s consistently good. It has a good sauce-to-cheese-to-crust ratio that gives it a nice balance.
Not far away in the West Village is John’s of Bleecker Street where there are all the toppings you could want on a pizza. It’s fun to eat inside the restaurant, so with indoor dining not a thing still, it loses a little charm for that. Artichoke’s famed pizza tastes like eating artichoke dip on bread, which personally I enjoy. But I wouldn’t recommend it for a first NY slice.
Head a smidge east and you’ve got two fan favorites in Prince Street (probably the best pepperoni slice I’ve ever eaten) and Rubirosa. I’ve always partial to a thin-crust pizza, but the vodka pie and tie dye with a mix of red and vodka sauces drizzled with pesto and topped with fresh mozzarella is in the upper echelon of pizzas. Lombardi’s is historic and not far from these places but, to me, is a little touristy in Little Italy.
I’ll also give one of my personal favorites, Sauce, a nod. The extra dipping sauce for your crust is a winner, plus the pizza is top-notch.
The mecca of pizza. There are so many legendary spots here.
When I lived in Williamsburg, the short walk to Roberta’s in Bushwick was always worth it. Funny enough, I had it for dinner on my own move-in day. They tend to rotate different pizzas on their menu, but there’s always an array of options that have Italian meats and differing cheeses and tasty veggies. And none of the options are bad.
But there are three heavyweights here that I always think of: L&B Spumoni Gardens, Lucali and Di Fara.
All have their specialty slices and pies. There’s a reason why they’re consistently rated among the nation’s elite.
If you’re going to Bensonhurst, L&B is a must. And if you’re making the trip there, you have to get the square pie. The sauce on the top is impeccable. The crust has a nice crunch on the outside and a softer interior. Bonus that it’s a stone’s throw away in a car from the Mets’ Class A facility at Coney Island.
Lucali has maybe the best combination of a regular pie and calzone anywhere. The cheese is fresh, the sauce has a great tang and the calzone has enough cheese to feed a family of four for a week. It’s divine.
Di Fara, outside of it’s lengthy wait times, has great square and triangular options. Honestly it’s fun to watch the pizza makers cutting the basil with scissors. It’s unique and satifsying in an entertaining way. When I went here with some friends last January, we waited over two hours, so Lindor has to consider this if he’s hungry and ready to nosh on the spot.
Staten Island and the Bronx
I’ll venture a guess to say Lindor won’t be traveling to Staten Island right away, but if he does, Denino’s and Joe and Pat’s would be the places to chow down. I’ve had Denino’s a number of times now, and the thin crust is up there with the best in the city.
As for the Bronx, Lindor would almost undoubtedly get vilified by everyone on #MetsTwitter if he ate his first slice in the same borough the Yankees call home. He’d be better off saving this for a day during the Subway Series.
This really is a toss-up. You can’t go wrong with most of these.
But to me, the winner is L&B Spumoni Gardens.
Even though it’s hotspot, it still has that local charm and one of the best pizzas you can ever ingest. The sauce sets it apart. Plus, the spumoni afterward for dessert is never a bad idea, unless you’re cutting out extra sugar, that is.
Considering I missed over 31,000 pizzerias, I was not intentionally being crusty and slighting anyone’s favorite places.
So what do you think, where should Lindor grab his first New York pizza?