It all begin with a simple e-mail. One in our small group of friends sent an innocent message to everyone, "wanna get together Saturday?" Everyone quickly replied that they were available, and then came the debate about what we should do. Some suggested dinner and drinks ("check open table for a Saturday night party of 7 reservation?"), others simplified it to just drinks, but we were all kind of sick of the bar. Finally, someone suggested, "just come over to our apartment in the East Village, and we'll order some pizza and have some wine." The East Village has sooo many great pizza options that it was hard to select just one place. No, we needed to do a sampling of all the best pizzerias in the East Village, and then decide who made the best pie - so a contest was born.
Here were our contenders:
Motorino - mushroom pie - Motorino is well-known for strict Neapolitan style pies, with char-spotted soft crust and soft mozzarella.
Eleven B - plain pie - This was suggested for the typical NY style pizzeria. Soft, thin crust, nothing fancy.
Artichoke Basille - signature Artichoke pie and vodka sauce pie - Their signature pie is meant to replicate an artichoke dip appetizer translated into pizza form.
The logistics were nerdishly exciting. Several different people placed several different seamless orders on their phones, and then we had some wine to pass the time until the buzzer rang. We had a total of 4 buzzer alerts signaling the arrival of the next pizza, and each time was a thrill!
First up: Motorino delivered very quickly. They have a very hot oven, so their smallish pies cook up nice and fast. We each grabbed a slice of the earthy mushroom pizza, and soaked up the umami balanced against a puffy light crust.
Eleven B was next. I wasn't expecting much to be honest, but with a little spark of garlic salt, this pizza was a very fine example of the NY style that most of us grew up enjoying at their parents' kitchen tables and friends' birthday parties. Really, this was the perfect comfort food.
Artichoke Basille came last, both pies slathered in their respective sauces and cheese. I had tried a slice of Artichoke pizza before, and I had about 4 bites of it before I deemed it way too heavy to finish (this is saying a lot for me). I should have learned my lesson the first time. I know people rave about it, and conceptually this translation of artichoke dip and baguette SHOULD work. But again, I was overloaded with the heaviness of it. However, their vodka sauce pizza was great! Tons of creamy vodka sauce, oozing with cheese, this messy pie had enough tomato acidity to cut through the rest of the rich ingredients.
So the winner? Alas, it was difficult. But I went with my instincts, and declared the winner Eleven B. It's always great to try something different than what I'm used to, but the classic NY plain pie is always going to have a special place in my heart.