New York City – Pizza Joints, Diners & Delis

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“In New York I pretty much live in diners – I order French Fries, Diet Coke floats and lots of coffee.”

– Lana Del Rey

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“When I’m back in New York – and this is a terrible thing to complain about – I eat a lot more really, really good food than perhaps I’d like to. So many of my friends are really good chefs. It’s kind of like being in the Mafia.”

– Anthony Bourdain

When I first washed up on the greasy streets of NYC and bellied up to my first real NYC pizza counter, someone might easily have remarked, “You’re not in Kansas anymore.” New Yorkers do pizza differently than anywhere else.

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“I thought America was fabulous. Take pizza for example. For years I’d been thinking, I wish someone would invent a new kind of food. In England it was always egg and chips, sausage and chips, pie and chips… anything and chips. After a while it just got boring, y’know? But you couldn’t exactly order a shaved Parmesan and rocket salad in Birmingham in the early 70s. If it didn’t come out of a deep-fat fryer, no one knew what the fuck it was. But then, in New York, I discovered pizza. It blew my mind wide fucking open. I would buy ten or twenty slices a day. And then, when I realized you could buy a great big pizza all for yourself, I started ordering them wherever we went. I couldn’t wait to get back home and tell all my mates: ‘There’s this incredible new thing. It’s American and it’s called pizza. It’s like bread, but it’s better than any bread you’ve tasted in your life.”

– Ozzie Osbourne

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For New Yorkers, a slice to go, served on a paper plate with a stack of napkins, is our version of fast food. While folks in other parts of the U.S. might do the drive-thru thing and slam a burger and fries in the car, we grab a slice and walk down the street cramming grease-laden cheese bombs down our gullets. It looks weird at first to see someone walking down Fifth Avenue with a piece of pizza as if it’s no big thing, but you get used to it and, soon enough, it becomes, well, no big thing.

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One thing you might not be familiar with is the fact that some NYC pizzerias use anthracite coal to cook their pizzas. Pizza geeks have long been into coal-fired pizzas. The ovens cook at a hot-enough temperature that a skilled pizzamaker can create an amazing crust that is both crisp and chewy at the same time and that is not dried out and tough. Also, the way that most of these old-school coal-oven places make the pizza, they just sort of know how to make a nice balanced pie, one that doesn’t go too heavy on the sauce or pile on too much cheese.

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“Everybody ought to have a lower East Side in their life.”

– Irving Berlin

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“I am not Jewish, but I think that America invented nothing so fine as deli food.”

– Mike Newell

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“I‘m going to marry a Jewish woman because I like the idea of getting up Sunday morning and going to the deli.”

– Michael J. Fox

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“I hate sandwiches at New York delis. Too much meat on the sandwich. It’s like a cow with a cracker on either side. “Would you like anything else with the pastrami sandwich?” “Yeah, a loaf of bread and some other people!”

– Mitch Hedberg

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“You look around New York, and we are surrounded by restaurants and food trucks, and we celebrate food in this city like no tomorrow.”

– Chris Noth

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“Too few people understand a really good sandwich.”

– James Beard

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“New York City has fantastic restaurants and, unlike London, a lot of the best restaurants are relatively cheap.”
– Tibor Fischer

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“I don’t feel like I have to dress up to go to the deli.”

– Adam Driver

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