As a college student living in Manhattan, an embarrassingly significant portion of my diet was pizza. It’s fast, cheap, easy, and most of all, delicious. Luckily, the neighborhoods around Washington Square Park are home to some of my favorite pizza places anywhere in the country, and the world. I wouldn’t exactly call myself an expert, but if quantity consumed counts for anything, you can probably take my word for it. Here’s my list of the best pizza in lower Manhattan.
Located in the Lower East Side, Scarr’s Pizza is a rather recent addition to the New York pizza scene. The look of the place, however, could fool just about anyone. The interior of the restaurant is perfectly preserved in all its 1970s glory. The pizza could fool anyone too. At first glance, it’s a classic New York slice; paper-thin crust and a thin layer of toppings that don’t weigh it down. Actually tasting it shatters pretty much all expectations. Owner Scarr Pimentel takes his pizza making very seriously, even going as far to grind portions of his own flour for the dough. After working in other’s restaurants for years, Pimentel took the best from each to create his own masterpiece. The atmosphere relies heavily on nostalgia, but the slices really do all the talking.
Back in 2014 when I was 19 and living alone in New York for the first time, Bravo Pizza was my best friend. I frequented their 14th street location, but they have several others scattered throughout Manhattan. (Did I mention some are completely kosher?) While the first time I walked through the doors was because the line at Joe’s (another pizza joint very popular among NYU students) was too long, I’m happy to say I never looked back. This family-run business first opened in 1985, and offers everything from garlic knots to baked ziti on their extensive menu. I recommend sticking to the pizza. A personal favorite of mine (and my mom’s) is the Sicilian slice, a much sturdier vehicle for copious amounts of Bravo’s sweet, tangy tomato sauce.
Now, when I said pizza made up an embarrassingly significant portion of my diet during college, it was mostly thanks to Prince Street Pizza. During my senior year, I lived less than ten minutes away, and was there at least twice a week. It wasn’t just convenient, it was amazing. In fact, the guys behind the counter started recognizing me, and would sometimes pull my order before I could ask. My go-to is the “pepperoni square;” a hefty Sicilian style slice blanketed in crispy, nickel-sized pepperoni. Cover that in a heavy layer of red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese, and you’re in pizza heaven. The closet-sized Nolita joint is notoriously busy, but the wait is more than worth it. You can avoid a long line outside the lunch and dinner rushes, but just know the pizza is fresher when they have more traffic. Finally, while Prince Street does take credit cards, it’s much faster to pay in cash.
Bleecker Street Pizza is consistently among the best pizza joints on the lists of both New Yorkers and tourists alike. In 2018, they even came in second for best pie in the country. Therefore, it’s no surprise that’s it’s one of my favorites as well. Situated in the West Village on the street where it takes its name, Bleecker Street Pizza stays as true as possible to owner Douglas Greenwood’s grandmother’s recipe for the dough and sauce. The owners also ship in real parmigiano-reggiano to sprinkle on all their pies. Despite the high-end ingredients, a slice will set you back less that five bucks.