In the guise of his alter ego, music-blogger Music City Mike, the Pizza Snob has spent many an evening enjoying live music at Lower Manhattan’s City Winery. I must have passed a darkened Phil’s Pizza on Varick Street (right where it turns into 7th Avenue) a dozen or so times, wondering if I will ever get to taste this place that closes each day at the un-Manhattan like hour of 6pm.
With time finally on my side, I found myself in the neighborhood with just minutes to spare. And after mapping it on my phone for the walk there, my eyes noticed a Yelp review stating that Phil’s has been in biz for something like 50 years. With that kind of tenure, I was quite excited to try Phil’s even though its name did not sound as pizza friendly as a Mario’s or Guido’s.
I entered the then empty room of this typical-looking pizza joint to order my plain cheese slice ($2.75) from the lady behind the counter. I then went into waiting at one of the few seats inside at the end of the same elongated counter. My eyes managed to catch that there were also some tasty-looking Grandma and Sicilian slices sitting out.
For a bit of funny, when I ordered, the lady asked “warm” or “hot.” My reply of “warm” solicited her response of “Wanting to protect your uppers?”
Summoned after my slice was subjected to a short stint in the pizza oven, a perfect specimen of a slice was served up on a white paper plate. It looked as about as on the mark as a pizza slice could ever be, and its taste would soon prove to be the same. My host also could not have heated that slice any better —she knew what she was doing!
Enjoying every bite, I pondered just how many perfect slices can there be, and in a moment of clarity, concluded that there was just not a single thing wrong with Phil’s slice. It easily passed all my usual tests: size and amount of ingredients, char and crispness of the crust, blend of sauce and cheese, bendability and finally, taste. It nailed each one with flying colors.
It’s obvious that Phil’s is in a part of the City that shutters early, and that they make their bread and butter by serving the lunchtime and early dinner working crowd. While this of course limits one chances at experiencing a fabulous Phil’s slice, this is a place that needs to be on every classic NY-style pizza lover’s list. Phil’s is a spot!
P.S. Just as I was finishing my precious slice, I snapped my usual inside photos and was approached by a dude claiming to be a photographer. The friendly fellow offered to snap a shot of me doing my business. So, here’s a rare shot of the Snob in action.
PIZZA SNOB RATING ***** Sets the Standard
226 Varick Street
New York, NY 10014