Famous Ben's Pizza | 177 Spring St. (at Thompson St.), Manhattan | 212.966.4494 | no website
Numero 28 Pizzeria | 176 2nd Ave. (on 2nd Ave.), Manhattan | 212.777.1555 | www.numero28.com


I'M STARTING TO THINK THAT God is looking out for me. After promising myself on Friday that I wasn't going to eat pizza every day for National Pizza Week, I've eaten 3 slices a day or more from, so far, seven different places. That's why I think God, today, made sure that I got my directions all screwed up as I wound up walking uptown and downtown, east and west, for over an hour total.

Today was a day where I was going to try out pizzerias that my friends recommended and I had personally never heard of myself. Three of my Facebook friends had mentioned a place in Soho called Ben's that, they claimed, had great slices. Then, again on Facebook, my friend, Noelle, posted a link to a New York Times article touting the great new Roman-cuisined restaurants, listing a place called Numero 28 as well worth visiting.

So, again, I head to the subway and take the 6 train downtown to Spring Street, opting to walk west from there to hit Famous Ben's first. There were some interesting visuals on my way, unusual anywhere besides Soho.

I go in and, having done a little online research, order a slice of their "famous" square pie.

The recommendations were spot on! A good, thick crust, slightly dry, which kept it from getting too chewy. The sauce had a great, rich roasted tomato flavor, that lingered a bit after each swallow and, with the cheese, finished with nice aroma and a hint of smokey sweetness.

I had to rush to the next plate; I started late this afternoon and needed the last little bit of daylight left in case Numero 28 was too dimly lit for me to take any decent photos without the flash. I had the address as over on Carmine, a couple of blocks away from Kesté, but looking inside, the interior didn't look anything like the picture in the New York Times article.

I called 411 and they told me that I was at a place called N. 28—also a pizzarie, mind you, but Numero 28 was up on 11th and 2nd. So I walked and twenty minutes later, was at another place the didn't looked representative of the pic in the Times. So I walked in to solve the present mystery.

A very kind young man—still don't know what exactly his title was—informed me that the Numero 28 I was originally looking for was back down on Spring Street—across the street from Ben's!! And the downtown place was also the one that actually did serve their new school, Roman-style pizza by the slice. Here, on 11th St., I could only order a full pie. They had many, interesting combinations of toppings, and the entire, very accommodating staff, were kind enough to let me order a half & half pie.

I got one half Marinara—their interpretation of it—with garlic, red chilli peppers, anchovies, oregano, and capers. The other half was Al Tartufo, with potatoes, speck, truffle cream, and fresh mozzarella. For the second time this week, I got to watch them make my pie, and it was out in a matter in minutes.

I really can't go into detail about what was outstanding about both version of pizza pie; once I started eating I was enjoying myself too much to analyze it. I was always a fan of anchovies on pizza, and they were almost precise in the balance of having just enough to compliment the bursting with freshness tomato sauce, the little bit of acidity tempered by the sweetness of heated gralic.

The speck, added at the very end of the cooking process, kept its genuine pork flavor and salt, the streaks fat in the speck rounding out the layers between the salt and the earthiness of the mushrooms and the very aromatic truffle, blended deftly into the cream as to not overwhelm any other flavors and to release its own richness throughout the mouth and not just on the tongue.

So far, my favorite pizza of the week.

And with the second being the pie I had at Kesté, I'm starting to learn that I am acquiring a preference for the "new school"-ology of pizza prep. The use of fresh products and foods, cooked quickly and/or barely to maintain not only the integrity of their flavors, but their textures as well. Letting the ingredients sing as individuals while only improving as a whole.

But it's only Wednesday, and I still have to hit New York City gold standard, Grimaldi's on Friday, with my friend Dave. Could that be the pie that brings me back around?

I don't know, but Grimaldi's being all the way out in Brooklyn—the increase in citywide travel being one of the many reasons why I'm seeing this National Pizza Week through on a daily basis—by Friday God may very well have it in his wishes to render all mass transit stopped, forcing me to walk off today and tomorrow's slices...!

Bun Apple Tea!


Famous Ben's Pizza | 177 Spring St. (at Thompson St.), Manhattan | 212.966.4494 | no website
Numero 28 Pizzeria | 176 2nd Ave. (on 2nd Ave.), Manhattan | 212.777.1555 | www.numero28.com