04 May The MAPPETITE MILE: THREE PIES TO TRY
It’s a funny street, Bleecker Street. It begins almost as if an after thought by city planners who had to balance out the grid where 8th Avenue starts. Heading east (with a slight southerly pull) the charmed building stock houses a spectrum of uber chic shops – a sort of mini-Madison Avenue. At 7th Avenue there’s a marked departure. Shops shift to clientele who are as less likely to know or care about who Marc Jacobs is.
Look amongst the slew of budget-minded storefronts and inexpensive restaurants and you’ll see that this strip of Bleecker was once part of the Italian immigrant neighborhood that flowed south to Soho. Zito’s Italian bakery and the mainstays that endured most of the 20th Century are gone, but Faicco’s Pork Store and Rocco’s Pastry Shop (whose Italian American bakes, while not stellar, are just fine) live on. Head east and Bleecker Streets fades out until it ends a handful of blocks later where it hits the Bowery.
Now, what about those pies? From 7th Avenue to 6th Avenue you’ve got three exceptional pies to try (add in the good slice joints, BLEECKER STREET PIZZA and JOE’S OF BLEECKER STREET, and you’ve actually got five).
JOHN’S OF BLEECKER STREET is a classic New York standard bearer of Italian American pies (and, the most authentic of its many lack-o-charm branches). The two other players are recent Italian imports that brag about their Neapolitan heritage and have pedigrees behind their pies. Across the street from John’s is
KESTE PIZZA & VINO with its Neapolitan APN (Associazione Pizzaiuoli Napoletani) certified pies and approaching 6th Avenue at the intersection of Carmine Street is
NUMERO 28 where Neopolitan Pies have a DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) stamp of approval. These imports veer away from their Italian-American brethren with oblong shapes and artisanal-minded toppings that elevate them to a culinary pie-to-dine-on status.
No questions about it, these are three pies to try.
JOHN’S OF BLEECKER STREET, 278 Bleecker St.; KESTE PIZZA & VINO, 271 Bleecker St.; NUMERO 28, 28 Carmine Street.