99 Cent and $1 Slice Pizza in Manhattan

Double Chili Cheeseburger
2010/04/13 14:59:21
About three or four years ago, a pizza stand opened a block away from the Port Authorty Bus Terminal that started selling pizza slices for 99 cents. There was no seating and at one time they charged sales tax on the slice. It wasn't and still isn't great. But it was better than some snack bar or company cafeteria pizza, and is probably slightly better than some of the industrial chain pizza. Because of the low price, there is a steady stream of customers and you usually get a slice that was just baked, rather than reheated.
The other day, I saw one is going to open on East 34th Street, just east of Third Avenue. This caused me to reflect on the openings of what must be a dozen clones of that first stand on Ninth avenue and 42st Street. With the price of a normal Manhattan slice (which always follows the price of the NYC subway fare) now running $2.25 to 2.50, it is not hard to see these stands will get plenty of business. The proliferation of these places is the first new food business concept I have seen since frozen yogurt places started opening up all over town.
The first dollar slice joint I tried, 2 Brothers Pizza Plus on Sixth Avenue and 18th Street is a block away from a TJ Maxx. The thin crust was closer to Ray's than to Domino's. The sauce tasted like out-of-the-can Restuarant Depot pizza sauce, and the cheese was better than what you get on a Jeno's or Totino's frozen pizza. The clerk told me they make the dough fresh from scratch. This particular place does have seating, but the store interior looks like it was built by friends of the owner who have no construction experience.
As I was finishing my slice, the cashier who served me at the TJ Maxx sat down next to me with her slice and beverage. So, all kinds of people looking for a cheep meal eat here.
The New York Times ran an article about these places last month:
Filet Mignon
Re:99 Cent and $1 Slice Pizza in Manhattan 2010/04/13 15:08:44
Hey David, I used to work at Theatre Row on 41st Street right near there.  I always thought it was a good deal for a few reasons.  1.) It's 99 cents.  2.)  For 99 cents, I never set the bar very high and eas never disappointed.  3.)  It's more representative of the typical NYC slice joint than most people would like to admit and better than many of them.  4.)  The cast of characters hagning around there can be kind sketchy but it's as though they were booked through Central Casting for NYC archetypes.  5.)  Always plenty of crushed red pepper flakes, garlic powder or salt and oregano to dress it up. 

There are quite a few of the 99 Cent Fresh Pizza places popping up in the last year or so.  Haven't been to the clones yet.  I've tried three of the 2 Brothers Pizza spots and just don't like them.  There is something funky-tasting (in a bad way) about the cheese on those slices that I just don't like.  I totally agree with you on the construction job on the one at 18th and 6th.  Maybe his buddies got a case of suds for their hard work!
Filet Mignon
Re:99 Cent and $1 Slice Pizza in Manhattan 2010/04/13 15:20:24
Judging by the FF joint advertising, there is a big demand for quick, hot food at the $1 price point.  I figured the restaurants like McWendyKing make it up on the rest of the menu, and on sodas.  It's a surprise that the places that you mention can pay their rent with their main food item (are there others?) at $1 with NYC costs.
billyboy:  I like your #5 - that was my solution at sketchy slice joints like the one in the food court in the building where I worked for years!
post edited by MiamiDon - 2010/04/13 15:23:49
Filet Mignon
Re:99 Cent and $1 Slice Pizza in Manhattan 2010/04/13 15:32:39
Don, there was a slice joint in the Village near where I used to work that had 2 slices and a 12 oz cup of ice, er, soda for $2.99.  I gave it three strikes but couldn't bring myself to return as I thought it was just awful.  No amount of oregano, garlic powder and pepper flakes could save that fresh as cardboard crust, smelly cheese and off tasting sauce in my mind. 

A bit off topic but still somewhat relevant...when I lived in Boston, I used to take the Chinatown bus down to the city quite often.  It was $10 one way.  I got on the bus one time and they guy sitting across from me said, "Hey, what are the bathrooms like on this bus?"  To which I replied, "You just paid $10 for a bus ticket.  What do YOU think?" 

I don't crave 99 Fresh Pizza nor would I go out of my way for it, but sometimes it just hits the spot.
TJ Jackson
Re:99 Cent and $1 Slice Pizza in Manhattan 2010/04/13 15:47:02
Come on now, its only a 2 hour trip then a 2 hour wait then an additional 4 bucks to have one of Dom's slices

then a 2 hour trip back

the 6 hour 5 dollar lunch is underrated

Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:99 Cent and $1 Slice Pizza in Manhattan 2010/04/13 19:27:08
TJ, I look on both the dollar pizza joints and DiFara's as a phenomenon.
There is more to DiFara's than just an excellent slice of pizza. If there wasn't such a ridiculous wait for pizza, you would not stop and observe the man lovingly making each pie. Plus, eating pizza in an unrestored NYC slice joint straight out of the 60's.

The fascinating part of the dollar slice joint is how GOOD it is for only a buck. There sure are plenty of people around the Port Authority Bum, er, Bus Terminal who can only afford a dollar for a slice of pizza. But what about the dollar joints around Grand Central Terminal, with one of the largest concentration of office workers in the city, and foot traffic headed to GCT, with trains destined for affluent suburbs?

I think it is going to be one of those things that tourists just have to try, just like the hot dogs at Gray's Papaya.