My long hectic evening travelling through Manhattan had finally come to its last stop. My destination was a highly-rated pizza joint that had been on my radar for quite some time. The place was the LES (“Lower East Side”) location of Williamsburg Pizza. Taking its name from the Brooklyn neighborhood of its flagship spot, in addition to expanding to Manhattan, they also hold court selling slices at the Barclays Center, home of the Brooklyn Nets hoopsters.
My expectations were quite high seeing that WP boasts some awesome accolades from some highly-regarded pizza purveyors. People like the big pizza dude Ed Levine from Serious Eats and a writer at the New York Times have put WP in the same class as DiFara’s and Totonno’s. Little did the trendy WP know of the tough test that they were about to be put through by yours truly, the Pizza Snob.
Although I was running later than I had planned, WP keeps late hours suited to the “city that never sleeps.” My 11pm arrival found the LES still quite lively on a Thursday night. Unfamiliar with its location, my GPS to Broome Street would not have been necessary had I known that WP sits on the corner of the busy Allen Street boulevard. Lucky me even found a parking spot right outside the front door although I may have illegally been too close to that fire hydrant!
I immediately awarded WP with the prize for the coolest sign I’ve ever seen at a pizza place. But while the hanging giant umbrella emblazoned with the word “Pizzeria” was a beacon of attraction, oddly, the word “Williamsburg” was nowhere to be found.
While the sign outside may have been fab, the room inside was quite small. In fact, while I ordered at the counter and waited on my wares, it looked like I might be eating my slices in the car. Fortunately, just as they were delivered reheated from the oven, a space opened up and I happily seated myself.
There were 12 different kinds of slice available (all given cutesy names like Two Boots does) in addition to only a few salads and heroes. The plain cheese I ordered was called “The Brooklyn.” Since I was hungry and curious, I also ordered a tiny “Grandma Square” as a chaser. From their presentation behind the counter, both looked quite yummy. However, there was “nuthin’ Brooklyn-looking” about The Brooklyn (it looked very classic NY-style) and the Grandma looked quite thin for a square. This set of slices ran me $6.75.
Starting with The Brooklyn, it was a killer slice made with exceptionally good ingredients. The tomato sauce and cheese were beautifully blended together like a true work of art. Funny though, it did carry a big handle for its end crust. But, although I loved it, it just wasn’t as extra special as it seems everyone may want me to think it was. It was cooked to a good crispness and was indeed tasty—just nothing groundbreaking or uniquely special here. Expectations aside, I can’t deny that this is one of the better slices you’ll find in the LES or anywhere in NYC for that matter.
I’m sure a lot of WPs appeal comes from their specialty slices, and my pick of the Grandma for me was somewhat of a disappointment. It was just too garlicky and oily for my liking. This little strip of pizza just wasn’t my thing.
All in all, my visit to WP was a good experience. It’s a nice hip place, but it just was not quite what the hype about this place was up to be. I questioned whether it had gone downhill or was it simply over-rated to begin with. In the following days. I surveyed some of my NYC foodie friends who chalked it up to the later. While WP is a darn good pizza place, it’s nothing to set the pizza world on fire. Great, but not groundbreaking is how I’d sum it up. Nonetheless, it’s some darn good pizza and I’d go again and I’m telling you to go there as well.
PIZZA SNOB RATING ****1/2 Nearer Perfection
277 Broome Street (corner of Allen Street)
New York, NY 10002