Sold by the slice at a stand-up storefront or by the whole pie in a sit-down restaurant next door, Patsy’s pizza is a New York classic.
While all sorts of toppings are available when you dine inside, the basic tomato-cheese pizza is the way to go. It is the simplest pie imaginable, easy to hoist slice by slice, built on a thin crust with charred spots all along the edge that have the smoky flavor that only a coal oven delivers. Two versions of plain cheese pizza are available: fresh mozzarella, with thin pools of creamy sliced cheese are spread out within the microthin layer of tomato sauce, and regular mozzarella on which saltier, slightly oilier shredded cheese is spread evenly all across the surface. They have a very different nature, topping-wise, but they both sport that marvelous wafer-thin crust.
The place is a true destination restaurant, way uptown in a place that is not exactly restaurant row. It’s ancient, going back to 1933 when Pasquale Lancieri first opened for business; and it has the well-aged character of a neighborhood restaurant that hasn’t changed even as the neighborhood around it has. We were especially charmed by waiter Victor, who advised us that in his opinion, “98% of the pizza places in New York aren’t worth walking past.”