January 31, 2013 by Emily Pergament
Emily: *This is my favorite pizza, but Rob won’t commit to calling it his favorite pizza.
So we went here tonight because we have two Groupons we have to use. We have two Groupons because duh, see above, it’s the best pizza! We started out with the mushrooms bruschetta (the mushrooms were cold, which I wondered about when we ordered it), which was good.
Then, we ordered an 18 inch pizza – half ricotta, mozzarella and pepperoni, and half mozzarella tomato sauce, sausage and peppers. We ordered an 18 inch pizza, but I think they gave us the 27 inch.
So why do we think this place is so good? We were trying to analyze it while we were eating. Rob, what did we come up with?
Rob: Well, let me address the “very very good” in the title first. Emily said before that this is the best pizza she has ever eaten. I think it’s funny how there are certain foods that we always need to identify as “the best” – bagels and steak are also on the list. I guess it’s because we have consumed such a wide variety of pizza quality in our lives, that we become experts in it. I think Aristotle said something about this, how when we first see something like a dressmaker’s dummy, we are fascinated by its likeness to human form. Later, when we see a real sculpture, we realize how naive we were to think that the dressmaker’s dummy was a worthy imitation. So it is with pizza.
I believe we can chart the pizza we consume in our lives on a bell curve like this:
On the left, you have true abominations, like Pizza Hut or Dominoes. “But Rob, I like Pizza Hut.” Congratulations on your opinion, let’s move along.
In the vast middle, between -2 and 2, you have almost all of the pizza you eat in your lifetime. Kids birthday parties, pizza Fridays at work, pizza you order during the game, dollar slices you wolf down at 3 am. It’s all in there.
Starting at 3, though, you have the truly memorable pizza. Let’s be clear: Numero 28 is definitely in this range for me. I don’t remember what the pizza in Italy tasted like, but I imagine it tasted a lot like Numero 28, or maybe not as good. The crust is thin and crunchy, the tomato sauce is freshly made and tasty, the cheese is a perfect texture and very flavorful. And that’s before you get to the great toppings or the white pizza, which we had tonight. I’m just not sure its THE BEST. Emily, convince me otherwise.
Emily: First of all, I’ve gotta say that for those born and bred in the suburbs like me, “almost all the pizza you eat in your lifetime” is probably – sadly – Pizza Hut or Dominoes, or if you’re lucky, Papa John’s. Now that that’s out of the way, I will convince you. First, the shape. Where else can you get an oval shaped pizza? Second, the toppings. They have great topping combinations to choose from. When pizza consumers are left to their own devices to choose their toppings, who knows what you’ll end up with. Leave it to the pros to decide. Third, the ambiance. At least at the location in the East Village, where we went tonight, there’s a really nice atmosphere. It’s dimly lit and cozy, and the waiters are nice, and there was soothing music playing. I could sit in there all day. These three points, of course, are in addition to the taste of the pizza. Those miniature slices that fool you into eating more than you want to, but you just can’t resist one more little slice…
Rob: I cannot argue with any of your points. It is a very pleasant experience at Numero 28, probably the best in Manhattan. Certainly better than anything I’ve had in Brooklyn or Queens. Every slice packs a tremendous punch of flavor, and I was not full until I finished the last slice of our 18 inch pizza.
There is one thing that Numero 28 lacks though – sentimentality. It definitely tastes better than, say, our old Fordham joint Puglsey’s, but there’s no lovable old Sal to take your order, hit his gong and regale you with stories from who knows what (though I think I did hear them speaking Italian tonight). Food is emotional, and that’s the only thing missing.