OK, I get it that folks are glad 2020 is over. Yes, there is finally hope that these vaccines will bring an end to this disgusting pandemic. Not to be a total downer, but let’s face it, things will still suck a while before we get back to normal.
It will soon be a year since the Pizza Snob has been in New York City. This is the longest time I have ever spent away from my favorite place in the world. Holed up here in Tennessee, at least the survival rate for small businesses has been better than it has on the island of Manhattan. One reason seems to be that NYC needs a steady influx of office workers and tourists to keep everything thriving and we know that ain’t been happening. And when it comes to pizza, there probably were more joints than were necessary to keep pies on the tables of those still living in the City. Casualties were therefore inevitable.
When it comes to all this misery, I’m clearly a coward who avoids the news reports and YouTube videos about how badly the pandemic affected NYC. But I did hear from one friend who lived there all his life and late last year moved his family to Texas. He said that “Everything bad about New York City has gotten worse and everything good about it is closed.” And just the other day, another friend who hadn’t seen the City in a while, told me of walking down Seventh Avenue just shocked about how many bars and restaurants were shuttered. For the sake of this blog post, I just learned from Eater New York that since March 2020, at least 1,000 restaurants have closed in Manhattan due to the financial consequences of the pandemic. Yuck!
I thought about searching each pizza place in the City that I have visited to check on their status but decided that might be as ineffective as it could be depressing. I did scan some posts about restaurant closings and was surprised to see only a few pizza joints. However, I suspect that some were simply too small to matter for this kind of research. So, for now, I will just take to reporting on three sad pizza closures I learned about.
By far the most shocking was the October loss of Kesté Pizza & Vino in Greenwich Village. For 11 years, this place made one of the best Neapolitan pies in the USA and their tiny little room on Bleecker Street was a fun place to squeeze into. It also gave the area a trifecta of pizza greatness with nearby Joe’s and John’s giving you the best of whatever kind of pie you desired. Keeping Keste off my RIP list is the news that at they will continue to operate their other location down in the Financial District.
Keste owner Roberto Caporuscio had this to say in a message to his patrons: “The much smaller of the two Kestes was reduced to delivery and shipping service, three outdoor tables occupying a narrow storefront and what would have been 25 percent capacity 11 indoor tables. The financials did not make sense for us.” He also added that his landlord was unwilling to work with him. This makes me wonder if the spot is still vacant why the landlord thought it best to not be patient that such a successful business would once again reopen to full strength.
Further east on the same street, December saw the closure of Fiore’s Pizza, a place I stumbled upon and immediately fell in love with. Their classic yet unique New York slice was heavenly. And their back story of being named for a firefighter who lost his life on 9/11 was quite touching. Fiore’s owner, Steve Cunningham, became a fan of the Snob and I will miss regularly hearing about his great spot. Fiore’s is a sad addition to the Pizza Snob’s RIP list.
Steve passed the news along on his Facebook page: “For many, today will be a very sad day. After many months of struggling, as a result of COVID-19, Fiore’s Pizza will serve its last pizza. As many businesses in NYC, Fiore’s Pizza is another victim of COVID. I hope to see you all very soon. Maybe at another Fiore’s Pizza spot. You never know!” I appreciate Steve’s optimism and I wouldn’t count out his return some day.
Finally, my good friend, The Bronx Apostle, who turned me on to the great Gotham Pizza which had several locations in the City, was sadly also the one who snapped the above photo after one of their locations closed its doors. Another great slice of New York pizza that has its own special touch to it, it looks like Gotham still has at least two locations in the City open and can stay off the Snob’s RIP list.
(Original Pizza Snob review)
PIZZA SNOB RATING ***** Sets the Standard
88 3rd Avenue (corner of 12th Street)
New York, NY 10003
Well, unfortunately I suspect that there have been some other New York City pizza joints that have shut down. Understandably, it’s hard to pay the rent when you aren’t selling enough slices. Hopefully, landlords will be kind, and some of these places could possibly reopen. Let’s just keep Corporate America from taking over for these small local business locations when things finally come to an end. There are enough national chains out there already. I say, “Long live the individual local pizza makers of America!”