EAST HARLEM, NYC | If you've lived in NYC long enough, you've familiarized yourself with some neighborhood culinary gems, even if they don't exactly shine the brightest.
Often, it's the most unassuming places that evoke the fondest memories, even decades after our last visit.
So is the case with 82-year old Patsy's Pizzeria on 117th and 1st Avenue in East Harlem. Spanning most on the block, it encompasses a small coal oven pizza joint, and two full dining rooms still churning out all manner of traditional Italian dishes to locals of all stripes, many whose families have lived in the same neighborhood for nearly as long.
But for most, it's always been about the slices—simple, quick, thin, crispy, delicious.
The near barren pizzeria space turns over slices and whole pies all day and all times of day and night, the pizza itself adhering stoically to the "NY slice" aesthetic that helped define the city's earliest food culture. Slices are smaller than average, but even with their thinness the light application of richly layered and finessed tomato sauce more than satisfy and the bubbly cheese is enough to carry you through the next few hours of the day without an oversized doughy crust to want to put you to sleep.
You will find imitations of Patsy's long popular pie and slice—some of those other locations of Patsy's intself, but you really have to go to the original East Harlem location to treat yourself to one of the last few genuine bites of NYC pizza left anywhere in the five boroughs.
PATSY'S PIZZERIA | 2287 1st Avenue, New York, NY 10035 | (212) 534-9783 | thepatsyspizza.com