Let’s get right to the point on this one. If there was ever a potential tourist trap pizza joint it would be Midtown Manhattan’s Angelo’s Pizza. This place sees a lot of traffic. Just a few blocks north of iconic Times Square, it sits in the same building as the famed Ed Sullivan Theater. Named for the variety show host whose show was broadcast live from there for many years (including The Beatles performances that changed America), it later became home for The Late Show with David Letterman and is presently home for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. During the theater’s 2015 transition from Letterman to Colbert, while the marquee was being redesigned, a banner of Colbert eating a slice promoting Angelo’s was comically displayed during the changeover.
I’d been aware of Angelo’s for years, but sensing disappointment and the fact that it would take a full pie to test (i.e. no slices), it took some time for the right opportunity to arise. Despite the suspect location, I’d not given up since the thought of coal-fired pizza always entices my taste buds.
In the City for a 1pm meeting, I had plenty of time to catch Angelo’s right at its 11:30am opening. Much to my surprise at this early hour, there was already quite a crowd lined up waiting for a chance to get into the Colbert show. Unsurprisingly, I was one of the first customers of the day at Angelo’s. While I was the only patron sitting downstairs, when I queried my host, she replied that there were a few folks dining upstairs out of my view. The take-out action was intense, but it was still so early and quiet I felt like I was eating pizza for breakfast.
Angelo’s is a classic and classy New York City dining space that evokes an earlier era. The darkened wood-lined room set the timeless vibe that you can still find in this great city. I knew what I wanted (the 13-inch Old Fashioned Margherita for $18.00, Angelo’s cheapest point of entry) and ordered it straight up. In the queue behind all the lunch time takeout, my pie took about ten minutes, but my “morning pizza” still arrived before the strike of the noon lunch hour.
It was a pretty-looking small pie cut into eight tiny “only-a-couple-of-bites-each” slices. On top were three big salad-like basil leaves that just looked too large to eat. The coal left a nice char on both the top end crust and on the bottom surface. While I wouldn’t call it crisp, the crust was firm and chewy. On top was a delightful swirl of tasty tomato sauce, a dab of olive oil and a deliciously light, fluffy and flavorful mozzarella cheese. And yummy, I could taste the coal!
As much as I feared this to be a tourist trap, my fears were unfounded. Angelo’s make a fantastic coal-fired Margherita pizza. I enjoyed the daylights out of this one.
I’d thought I’d joke with my waiter and ask if most people ate the big-fat basil leaves. He said that they did, so I abided only to find them a little too much for my liking. One other thing to note is that by the time I got to slice #7, things had gotten a little cold. For whatever reason, this kind of pie doesn’t age very well. So, to Angelo: “Get them to the table quickly” and to you my reader: “Eat fast!”
If you are in Midtown doing the tourist thing and are willing to pay the price, I would not hesitate to make your way through the Colbert line and give Angelo’s a try. I wonder if The Beatles grabbed a pie at Angelo’s when they first hit town?
PIZZA SNOB RATING **** ½ Nearer Perfection
1697 Broadway (between 53rd & 54th Streets)
New York, NY 10019