“Standing on the corner of Bleecker and Carmine”
Now a New Yorker by way of Texas and Nashville, singer-songwriter Steve Earle kicked off a song on a recent record with the above line memorializing one of The Pizza Snob’s favorite spots in the Universe.
In near proximity to this corner just off Sixth Avenue in Greenwich Village are three of the greatest pizza places in the business, collectively representing three of the best styles: New York at Joe’s Pizza, Neapolitan at Kesté Pizza & Vino and Coal-Fired at John’s of Bleecker Street.
As David Letterman used to say, “If that ain’t enough, and by gosh, don’t you think it ought to be?”, near this same corner, after gorging on pizza, you can go desert crazy at the Pasticceria Rocco Italian bakery, Grom’s gelato or Popbar where you can get your gelato on a stick. It’s a foodie’s paradise!
But lurking in the shadows of all these fab places is another pizza joint boasting a big large yellow sign that has stared me down for as long as I can remember. Something about it though, perhaps a touch of a touristy lure, has kept me away from it all these years. Signage stating, “The Original Brick Oven” and “From Naples,” perhaps seems to me a lame insincere appeal. However, the time had come for Numero 28 and The Pizza Snob to finally cross paths.
Arriving for an early dinner on a lazy Monday, I found it odd that I never noticed that the source of N-28’s name is their 28 Carmine Street address. I guess that makes this the original location and I was quite surprised to later learn that they also have three additional Manhattan spots, two in Brooklyn, one and Queens, and get this—they are also in Austin and Miami! Who would have thought?
Anyway, the weather was nice and the tables outside their open-air storefront with a view of the brick oven at work were highly inviting. I ordered a small individual-size 14-inch Margherita that turned out to cost me $1 per inch. N-28 is cash-only and before I could even check my wallet to see I had the necessary funds, my little pizza was right there in front of me! I was also quite impressed that they served me some nice fresh water from a classy glass bottle.
The small pie was cut into four wide slices. It was extremely light in color with only slightly scattered evidence of tomato sauce. You also had to look hard to find the requisite basil leaves on top. As for the cheese, as far as Neapolitan pies go, I’d say that the N-28 version was heavier than most. Putting these pieces together made for an N-pie that just didn’t have its standard look.
Aside from how it was assembled, overall it did taste good. The slightly-charred crust was quite delish and met my chewiness expectations. What little tomato sauce I could find tasted as pleasant as the cheese, and the volume of oil was about right. I did need to eat rather quickly since my pie did cool down in a hurry.
Overall, there was simply nothing really flattering nor unflattering about the N-28 pie. There’s much better and much worse when it comes to Neapolitan pizza in Manhattan. Also, N-28’s proximity to some of the aforementioned world’s best pizza make them an unlikely choice for a repeat visit by yours truly.
True to form, after my pizza, I did head to Popbar for a gelato-on-a-stick.
PIZZA SNOB RATING ***1/2 Working on a Good Thing
28 Carmine Street
New York, NY 10014