A week of pizza by the slice: Ian's
In honor of Damien Jaques' article this morning about pizza by the slice – and in honor of my recent trip home to Brooklyn – I'm going to have a slice a day this week and write about it here.
Because it's right across the street and the idea just hit me, I'm starting with Ian's on North Avenue, where I opted to buy two slices for $5.50, because I'm a hungry man (plus I got two punches on my card).
I decided to stay pretty basic in the interest of being able to compare apples to apples – which means I'm not ordering any pizza with apples on it – and so I chose plain cheese and pepperoni.
Plus, I like basic pizza. A topping here or there is good, but a great slice of cheese pizza is never any greater for having a "wacky" topping added. Those are distractions and sales gimmicks. After all, if you can't do a great slice of plain cheese, can you really be a good pizzaiolo?
These slices are definitely New York-size. The slice with pepperoni is 10 inches by 9 inches and the plain cheese was 9x7. The crusts are thin and crispy, but not brittle, which is a plus when you're eating a slice folded in half without silverware (which is the only way, really).
I'd have liked a bit more cheese up top on these slices, but they are filling and tasty, with some nice flavorful dark crust spots underneath and some mildly sweet sauce in the middle.
It's not fair to compare anyone against legends like DiFara's on Avenue J or the now-departed Bella Donna on Kings Highway in Brooklyn – it's hard to quantify mystique and tradition – but I think Ian's on a good day is certainly competitive.
However, I do not condone the yeast and hot sauce among its condiment selections. Come on, I have to honor some traditions, right?
Had Ian's once when they opened and both the wife and I got sick. Not sure how long those pizzas sit under the heat lamps, but I don't know if I want to try again. Classic Slice is superior in my opinion.
Agreed. It comes down to the simple stuff...great cheese, sauce, and crust will prevail over all others.
Bobby Tanzilo | May 21, 2012 at 2:08 p.m. (report)
milROCKeeguy makes a valid point. But I stand by my theory that if you can't make a great basic slice or burger or steak, then I hold out little faith in your ability to riff successfully. But certainly there might be examples contradicting me on that. Maybe there are places that can cover up a bland basic slice by piling on the goodies. But I'm sure we all agree that great pizza is great pizza, be it simple or complicated!
I respect anyone that respects (and orders) a slice of plain cheese pizza. My tastes have come a long way since I was a kid who wouldn't eat anything but plain cheese (like Kevin in Home Alone) as I now like sausage, pepperoni and enjoy hawaiian, bbq chicken and numerous other combinations of pizza creations. But sometimes nothing beats just a plain cheese. If the pizza is good to start with (dough, sauce, cheese selection) then it can stand alone.
Bobby....I respect and share your love for pizza...which is why I think you couldn't be more wrong about plain cheese, and a "wacky" topping being the deciding factor. Ordering a piece of plain cheese is like going to Kopp's, Sobelman's, or AJ Bombers and getting a plain hamburger. Or to any steakhouse and ordering a plain steak...you just shouldn't do it. Enjoy what a specific joint has to offer. You don't need to oder a Pineapple and Ham...Mac n cheese...but sometimes the kind of sausage or basic topping could make or break the place.
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