A few years back, I heard somewhere that you had to go underground for the best slice in Midtown Manhattan. That intel was quite valuable since I found some great pizza at Don Pepi’s down in Penn Station. Back then, while searching for this place in the rather hectic train station, I was quite surprised when I noticed that there was even another pizza joint listed on the directory. I never gave that info a second thought until I recently found myself pondering pizza while I sat in Madison Square Garden which sits atop the Station.
The occasion was Billy Joel’s monthly residency at the Garden which I was finally able to check off my NYC to-do list. Albeit a rather pricey affair, I nonetheless enjoyed Billy’s show immensely. It was his 103rd show at world famous, but “it takes forever to get out of there” Midtown arena. And just before the Piano Man kicked off his show, I remembered about the second pizza joint down below and found it was called Rose’s Pizza & Pasta.
Despite the late finish to the show and the never-ending exit from the venue, I saw Rose’s 4am closing time and knew I had no problem. What I didn’t expect was that it seemed like all 19,500 at the concert had the same idea that I did!
Like my search for Don Pepi’s, it was not easy to find anything in the vast Penn Station, and I was glad that I didn’t have a train to catch. It took an assist from one of New York City’s Finest, and I finally found the spacious and crowded pizza spot. When I asked the officer if Rose’s was any good, all he said was “Oh yeah!”
By size, Rose’s was one of the largest pizza purveyors I’ve ever seen. I took my place in the lengthy line along the long glass counter that displayed many types of slices to order my two late night plain cheese slices for a subway-surcharged $3.50 each. On the other side of the front room was a bar full of beer taps that helped explain the huge crowd at this late hour.
What happened next has happened to me before and I don’t like it. You get your slices, and it gets cold while you wait on line to pay. Although it did go reasonably fast, I should have just eaten one while I waited for my turn at the register. But, I didn’t, and I took them both through the narrow entry way back to the ginormous room that spilled out to the other side of the station. The sea of tables there was all full, but I managed to find an empty stool up against the wall.
Well, Rose’s slice was good. In fact, it was very good, and I really enjoyed it. It did have the oddity of having a rather large and doughy end crust that just worked the hell out of my jawbone! Otherwise, everything else was fine and tasty with the tomato sauce a tad sweeter than usual. (Reminded me of nearby Pizza Suprema’s sweet sauce. Maybe it’s a Midtown thing.) Nice and compact in its fixing and not over-oily, the cheese held good and firm. The solid and sturdy slice led to a perfect Fold & Rip. Aw heck, it was just fantastic.
Rose’s makes a stellar slice, and for me, wins the prize as the best slice in Penn Station. However, it’s a hike to get there and not worth the hassle. (You can however get there without having to first pay a train fare.) But, if I were there to take a train, I’d get there early to grab a slice. Better yet, I’d probably get a pair to go and take them along with me for the ride!
PIZZA SNOB RATING **** ½ Nearer Perfection
Rose’s Pizza & Pasta
1 Pennsylvania Plaza
New York, NY 100119