all current locations at the bottom of the page:

201 W. 11th Street
New York, NY 10014
(212) 633-9096

489 3rd Avenue
New York, NY 10016
(212) 545-9191

Is there a micro-chain pizza war brewing in Manhattan? No. But I remember dating this girl a few years back who, upon learning I was a huge foodie insisted that she take me to get the best pizza she'd ever had. Pizza 33. Then I went out with someone else who insisted that Two Boots was simply the most amazing thing ever cut into eight equisized pieces. Both are known for having pretty wacky slices, both charge about $4 a slice, both are pretty popular (with Two Boots expanding beyond Manhattan into Connecticut, LA, and even distant exotic Brooklyn) and both are where people like me stop at 2am on the way to the subway.


Two Boots is the hipster of the micro-chains. Its walls are covered in bright colors, its signage is pop-arty, its pizzas are named after pop-culture characters like Newman from Seinfeld and The Dude from The Big Lebowski. When Seth was last here, before hooching it up at Little Branch, we decided to eat on the cheap at Two Boots, a few blocks away. We split five different slices.

The Mild: marinara and mozzarella. This is their standard slice. It had too crispy crust and oily cheese. The marinara was sweet, but they love their oregano. It's drenched in herbs. In fact, when I mentioned going here to Speeds, her immediate unprompted response was "they over-spice their sauce." And they do.

The Dude: with ground beef, cajun spices, cheddar, mozzarella , tasso, andouille, they describe it as their bacon cheeseburger pie. This was a very oily pie and heavy heavy heavy on the Cajun seasoning. You'll like it if bacon cheeseburger gumbo is your cup of tea or if you're a huge fan of The Big Lebowski and can overlook the fact that the movie took place in LA and not New Orleans.

The Mr. Pink: marinated chicken, plum tomatoes, garlic and mozzarella. For starters, the marinated chicken was way too dry and the garlic was... missing. Furthermore, the chicken marinade was so strong, that it almost completely overpowered anything else you could taste.

The Mel Cooley: a white pie with pesto, sundried tomato, ricotta and roast pepper. Of the specialty slices, this was easily the best. The vegetables worked well together, it wasn't buried in quasi-culinary pretension and it was just pleasant to bite into. It was comfortable. With The Dude and Mr. Pink, it almost felt like the pizza was arguing with you.

The Sicilian: spicy sauce, mozzarella, thick crust. This was far better than their regular "mild" slice. It used the same over-spiced sauce, but the cheese was heavier and the thick crust made it less like biting into a cracker.

So five slices. Five ultimately mediocre slices. That's the thing. The pizza simply wasn't that good. It's not like we were spitting it out, but given the hype, given the expansion the chain's seen, it just wasn't that good. They played with the sauce too much, the cheese felt cheap and, while I didn't care much, Seth felt that the crust was somewhat... poor.


Prior to my writing this post, the most recent time I'd been to Pizza 33 was about six months ago. It was late, I was desperate for food and they were open. There wasn't much left so I ordered something triangular and cheesy. When the guy told me that I had to pay over $5 for a single slice, I nearly laughed in his face. "Seriously?" I said. "Is it made with gold?" And yes, I bought the goddamn pizza. And no, no gold.

Well, maybe there was a night surcharge, because when I returned to write this up, the slices weren't quite that high, though I do think that almost $4 for a pepperoni slice is absurd. Where Pizza 33 differs from Two Boots is easy. Pizza 33 sells pizza. Two Boots sells "pizza".

Plain: This is what normal good ol' New York pizza is. Good crust, good sauce, good cheese. It's thoroughly unmemorable, but it does it's job well.

Pepperoni: This is what normal good ol' New York pepperoni pizza is. Good crust, good sauce, good cheese. It's thoroughly unmemorable, but it does it's job well. Wait. Did I just say that?

Sicilian: Unlike the Two Boots Sicilian slice, this Sicilian was the worst of the bunch I ordered. The crust was thick, but overcooked and too crispy. Both the sauce and the cheese was too thin, leaving you with basically a pizza-flavored biscotti.

Margarita: Very good. Sweet sauce, nice clumps of cheese, crisp but not cracker-like crust. My only complaint regards the basil leaves, which had been dried to a crisp.

Penne Pasta: Good, but standard penne pizza. What else is there to say?

Zucchini, Broccoli and Mushroom: Maybe the best of the slices, if only because it had more imagination than any of them. Having lots of zucchini, lots of mushroom, and lots of broccoli is good because it means lots of roughage... which you'll need after that much white-flour dough and cheese.

Pizza 33 isn't fancy and doesn't pretend to be. Okay, maybe it pretends a little. But at the end of the day, it's regular pizza. No one can really differentiate Pizza 33 from some local no-namer without marketing. Maybe this is why Two Boots will always win, at least in the hearts and minds and wallets of NYC. See, Pizza 33 doesn't do anything different at all. It doesn't try. At least Two Boots goes out of its way to be different. Sure, the pizza they sell really isn't very good. But it sure ain't boring either. Pizza 33 was good in that it wasn't bad. But there is simply no reason to go out of your way to eat there over any other, closer pizza joint.

Unless they start selling gold-topped pizza after all.


Two Boots Locations:

East Village
42 Avenue A (at 3rd Street)
(212) 254-1919

Greenwich Village
74 Bleecker Street (at Broadway)
(212) 777-1033

West Village
201 West 11th Street (at 7th Avenue)
(212) 633-9096

Midtown/Grand Central Terminal
Lower Dining Concourse
(212) 557-7992

Lower East Side
384 Grand Street (between Norfolk and Suffolk Street)
(212) 228-8685

Upper East Side
1617 2nd Avenue (at 84th Street)
(212) 734-0317

Hells Kitchen
625 9th Avenue (between 43rd and 44th Street)
(212) 956-2668

Pizza 33 Locations:

East Village
133 2nd Avenue (btwn 8th & 9th Street)
(212) 979-6381

South Chelsea
527 6th Avenue (at 14th Street)
(212) 255-6333

North Chelsea
268 West 23rd Street (at 8th Avenue)
(212) 206-0999

Midtown East
489 3rd Avenue (at 33rd Street)
(212) 545-9191

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