Can you believe that I am about to write my 70th piece on a pizza place in Manhattan? While I’m sure there are 100’s more to cover, I reckon that by now I’ve gotten to most of the good ones, especially south of 8th Street where I spend most of my time. But, nonetheless, my web search came up with an interesting find, Rizzo’s Fine Pizza, on Clinton Street, which was my first turn off the Williamsburg Bridge as I made my way in from La Guardia.
I later learned that Rizzo has another spot out in Astoria, Queens, but I can’t imagine that it has the old-school NYC charm of this one on the Lower East Side. After turning on to Clinton Street, I came upon a plethora of empty parking meters daring me how close I could get to Rizzo’s and still find a space. I took one about two blocks away and enjoyed the walk along the classic city storefronts, left to retain their vintage appeal. Rizzo’s sign and window each had a logo with a face that I assume was Rizzo, and said sign revealed their vintage to be 1959. They also advertised themselves as a “Beer & Wine Bar.”
Rizzo’s looks to be mostly a take-out place and has just a small room with only a table or two in the front. There is an open kitchen area in the rear behind the counter from where I ordered. It was quite apparent when I inspected their wares that they were fond of their “Classic Square” slice, so I indulged and ordered one of those to accompany my customary ordinary cheese slice ($2.75 each). Through the glass, things looked promising indeed.
It didn’t take long, and my goods were soon delivered on a silver platter. All looked quite right except for the tops of the end crust which “scooped up” and had both a light color and a dry look. The blend of the tomato sauce and cheese however was a thing of beauty.
Starting with the round regular slice, the end crust was in fact quite brittle and cracked as I picked it up. Another criticism of Rizzo’s manufacturing process was that there was also cheese slippage. Taste wise, yes, the crust was low on flavor and dry, and the tomato sauce was also sweeter than I like. Not overly sweet, but certainly noticeable.
The round got good points for being thin and in general, the overall taste was boosted by some good tasting cheese. My square was quite similar, and its high-end crust made it look like the cheese and sauce were sitting down in a valley. With squares in general being more crust-centric than rounds, this square suffered more from the dry crust.
Rizzo’s is a cool quaint place with good, but not great pizza. Light and tasty, I couldn’t help but have to point out my disappointment with the crust.
PIZZA SNOB RATING ***1/2 Working on a Good Thing
Rizzo’s Fine Pizza
17 Clinton Street
New York, NY 10002