I can't tell you how much pizza I eat.
March 22, 2014 6:58 AM   Subscribe

Slice King Phil Hartman on the Legacy of Two Boots You'd think that after 26-and-a-half years I would have figured it out, and I have a lot of employees that have been with me for 20 or 25 years. It requires constant vigilance and a lot of pizza eating. I can't tell you how much pizza I eat.
posted by R. Mutt (43 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

I have had Two Boots a few times and I really didn't like it :(

Maybe its time is past?
posted by grobstein at 7:20 AM on March 22

What is your favorite slice at any of the stores?
"Well, you have to understand that they're all my babies, so it's like a Sophie's Choice sort of thing."

Never been to Two Boots, but this guy sounds great.
posted by kaibutsu at 7:24 AM on March 22

I like Two Boots just fine. Like he said, its not authentic, its not high-cuisine, but the ambiance is cute and the crust is a big step up from 99c crap.

Good for him for building an empire out these simple ingredients.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:41 AM on March 22 [5 favorites]

Every branch serves a home pie that no other branch has. This one is named after Luis Guzmán, an East Village pal of ours.

I hope they aren't planning to rename it el Chapo.

I've never been to a Two Boots location, but the descriptions make it sound tasty (especially the locations with a full bar). His description of trying to maintain the quality across the country makes me wince; that is a recipe for stress and worry.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:47 AM on March 22 [3 favorites]

The Bayou Beast is tasty.
posted by jonmc at 7:51 AM on March 22 [1 favorite]

Oh, man, Two Boots is delicious. I haven't been there in years, though.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:55 AM on March 22

its not authentic

It may not be authentic Italy but it's authentic New York. Man I miss that cornmeal crust.
posted by escabeche at 8:14 AM on March 22 [5 favorites]

Doesn't the water of each locale affect the ultimate composition of the dough for the crust? That's gotta be near impossible to standardize.
posted by Renoroc at 8:17 AM on March 22 [1 favorite]

It may not be authentic Italy but it's authentic New York.

I dunno, the pizza I'm used to when I think of just regular pizza at the corner pizza place is really different than what they have Two Boots. I really, really enjoy Two Boots' pizza -- I haven't been there in a long time, sadly -- but it doesn't hit the same craving as just a greasy slice from your average pizza spot.

But I have Opinions On Pizza so you know.
posted by griphus at 8:20 AM on March 22 [1 favorite]

Whenever I'm in NYC, I love going to the various slice places, because they're not really a thing here in Boston like they are there. This guy sounds like a riot, and good for him for making his business what he wants.
posted by xingcat at 8:20 AM on March 22

Two Boots is decent pizza for what it is—I had a slice there yesterday, in fact—but New York it ain't.
posted by Shmuel510 at 8:26 AM on March 22

(To be clear, that is not intended as a value judgment. New York pizza spans the spectrum from transcendent to crappy. All I'm saying is, Two Boots isn't trying to sell the same product.)
posted by Shmuel510 at 8:28 AM on March 22

I dig Two Boots. The cornmeal/semolina crust is pretty cool - it's different. I like it. It's good to be different sometimes. Not every single slice joint has to follow the purist "REAL NY PIZZA" rules, sometimes just let good pizza be good pizza. See also: Artichoke (except not the Artichoke slice, which is truly an abomination to humanity).
posted by windbox at 8:29 AM on March 22 [1 favorite]

Your restaurants have a very specific aesthetic. There's always a place to sit, and they're comfortable and clean.
That seems like a mighty low bar to qualify as "a very specific aesthetic".
posted by Flunkie at 8:34 AM on March 22 [4 favorites]

"a very specific aesthetic"

They tend to look like Pee Wee Herman's kind of joint.
posted by R. Mutt at 8:53 AM on March 22 [5 favorites]

Two Boots isn't a typical NY Slice, it's a typical Two Boots slice, which is gritter and cruncher ( Big Nicks also had this kind of crust but is sadly no more, Big Nicks Too doesn't use the same dough and tastes woefully generic.)

I eat ..a lot of pizza.
posted by The Whelk at 9:13 AM on March 22

I eat ..a lot of pizza.

Could you say how much?
posted by curious nu at 9:21 AM on March 22 [1 favorite]

My old theater company is near the Avenue A location, and the artistic director is probably 30% Bayou Beast by volume by now.

A word for the Avenue A sit-down restaurant as well, which used to be across the street - I brought a few Irish guests there once, hoping to introduce them to Cajun food. But the closest thing they had to anything Cajun was "jambalaya pasta," in which they did up a batch of Jambalaya with all the ingredients except the rice and ladled it over pasta. I had a word with the server about the situation ("okay, see, these people are from Ireland and never had Cajun food before...") and asked if there was a batch of actual jambalaya. Just for us, they made a pot of rice and served the jambalaya pasta stuff over the rice instead so they'd get a better idea of what actual jambalaya was like.

Good people.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:23 AM on March 22 [6 favorites]

Two Boots is very much it's own thing---not a "typical NY slice". But holy christ it's delicious. Spicier, crunchier, and more interesting than the average slice.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 9:37 AM on March 22 [1 favorite]

Thanks jerks, now i'm gonna have to have Bayou Beast for breakfast.

Jokes aside, when Two Boots opened up in Echo Park I started ordering pizza again for the first time since moving to Los Angeles. I didn't move from NYC or anything, that's not what's going on.. it's just that most delivery pizza most places in the world is bullshit. Two Boots is definitely not bullshit.
posted by thedaniel at 9:46 AM on March 22

it's just that most delivery pizza most places in the world is bullshit

I know, you get really spoiled by the very high level of average in NYC.

On a tangent, I like all the great Neapolitan pizzas that have opened up, but I ultimately prefer NYC-style to them.
posted by shivohum at 9:49 AM on March 22

Your restaurants have a very specific aesthetic. There's always a place to sit, and they're comfortable and clean.
That seems like a mighty low bar to qualify as "a very specific aesthetic".

I say this as a big fan of NYC pizza, but unfortunately, yeah, the bar is way low. NY pizzarias are not known for their...well, anything but the pizza.
posted by Edgewise at 9:58 AM on March 22

Maybe its time is past?

Very much yes. I grew up on Two Boots and I keep a greasy slice of nostalgia for it warm next to my heart, but as much as it pains me to say so, in the last decade or so I have honestly regretted every time I've gone back to eat there. The Hell's Kitchen location seems especially gross. And it's funny that the article talks about consistency; IMO it's always been one of the most inconsistent pizza places around, whose slices linger far past their expiration date.

New York it ain't

This is some baffling polysemy right here, considering that Two Boots is absolutely the archetypical neighborhood pizza place. I mean, I understand that "New York pizza" means a specific thing for out-of-towner disambiguation purposes, but when you find yourself claiming that a true, native New York pizza institution doesn't serve "New York pizza" it might be time to come up with a new term.
posted by RogerB at 9:58 AM on March 22

I got yelled at by a friend's friend who's from NY about how any NY Style Slice I got here in Madison is just NOT the real thing. She said something about "cut into squares" and I'm like "I dunno what you think I thought NY Style was, but I assure you, it's huge foot long slices dripping with marvelous grease and a droopy crust" (and how I miss that the last place that served a real NY Style slice is now gone) and she was like "It doesn't matter it's not REAL"

I dropped the subject. I guess the water argument of Renoroc might make some sense, but apart from that, the shit was the bomb. There were a couple other NY Style joints, but they were nowhere near the awesomeness that Casa Bianca was.

Looking at Two Boots it definitely does not look what I expect NY Style Pizza to be.
posted by symbioid at 10:18 AM on March 22 [1 favorite]

Not to devolve a thread about Two Boots into a Madison, WI pizza discussion but hell yeah Casa Bianca. Those dudes weren't even Italian. They were Macedonian. I was told that they used to take in new immigrants from Macedonia for a few weeks, teach them how to make a New York slice (in the drippy huge triangle sense, not the Two Boots sense) and then send them off to other deprived sectors of the Upper Midwest to spread the wealth.
posted by escabeche at 10:22 AM on March 22 [1 favorite]

Doesn't the water of each locale affect the ultimate composition of the dough for the crust? That's gotta be near impossible to standardize.

I know this is something that people say, but I find it hard to believe that the water has that much of an effect. Even in New York City, not all the water comes from the same place, and water is constantly being released from a mixture of watersheds in different proportions, so the composition of the water is changing all the time. Also, even from the same watershed, there has to be day-to-day and year-to-year variations in mineral levels, etc., such that if the composition of the water really made that much of a difference it would be nearly impossible to achieve any kind of consistency.
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 10:23 AM on March 22 [3 favorites]

I love Two Boots. I used to eat at the Grand Central location about once a week when I worked in midtown, and since moving away, I make it a point to at least try to get there every time I visit. I've also converted my wife on those visits. IMO, NY-style pizza is its obvious ancestor, but it's mutated a few times, first getting the cornmeal crust, then the awesome non-traditional topping combinations. Now I'm salivating and daydreaming about a Tony Clifton and a Night Stalker. Damn.
posted by The Michael The at 10:28 AM on March 22 [1 favorite]

The "New York slice" is overrated, anyway. Everything is terrible mozz and cheap ingredients anymore. Maybe 1 out of every 10 slice joints consistently serves a decent pizza.
posted by wilted at 10:40 AM on March 22 [2 favorites]

but when you find yourself claiming that a true, native New York pizza institution doesn't serve "New York pizza" it might be time to come up with a new term.

There are multiple ways in which Two Boots is different from traditional gas fired deck oven slice pizza. From the dough, to the sauce, to the topping, to the cheese. That doesn't make it inferior it just makes it not NY slice pizza (which BTW generally sucks in Manhattan and increasingly sucks in the outerboroughs. Increasingly the 'burbs are the best place to get slice pizza)

I like two boots. But it is not NY Pizza.
posted by JPD at 10:44 AM on March 22 [1 favorite]

I'm glad to see that there's a Two Boots in LA now. I would go there if I wanted a good pizza, not necessarily because I wanted a good NY pizza. We used to go all the way out to Cathy Moriarity's Mulberry Street pizzeria in Beverly Hills because she used to fly in the dough from NY!
posted by cazoo at 10:46 AM on March 22

I have worked upstairs from the Bleecker St Two Boots location for the past 9 years. I can't even begin to estimate how many slices I've had for lunch, dinner, working late, special events where where my company orders pies for everyone to share, cold leftovers the next day for breakfast... and I still love it Every. Single. Time.
posted by the jam at 11:37 AM on March 22

There's a Two Boots in downtown Bridgeport as well, right in the middle of another pizza mecca. The pizza is a nice change of pace from the more dominant style of the area. In NY I always considered it a palate cleanse whenever I started taking the the traditional NY pizza for granted.
posted by any major dude at 11:46 AM on March 22

It was a tragedy when the big Ave. A restaurant closed leaving just the pizzeria across the street.
posted by Obscure Reference at 12:27 PM on March 22

Two boots was "alright" 10 years ago. Now, it's just a salty mess.
posted by smidgen at 2:01 PM on March 22

smidgen: Two boots was "alright" 10 years ago. Now, it's just a salty mess.

Out of context, I couldn't say if this place was a pizzeria or peepshow.
posted by dr_dank at 2:13 PM on March 22 [3 favorites]

If I ever make it to New York, I'll go to Vinnie's in Brooklyn first, but doing so, I'll probably insist on a special from Monty Python day.
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:25 PM on March 22

griphus, that other post reminded me that I actually legit like some of those 99c slices... You know, the kind that's baked on a weird-mesh-thing? I like them especially when trying to stretch my last-$10-before-next-stipend-check over a whole evening, but even in general. Some of the people selling it are definitely making the correct trade-offs (in terms of food quality at least) to keep the prices that low.

I also patronized that Two Boots in Jersey City a lot; it was a couple blocks from my apartment when I lived there and came to be my default 10:30pm food. It is definitely its own thing apart from "neighborhood NY pizza joint," except perhaps in the most ponderously literal way you could take that, but there's nothing wrong with that.

It seems like running a somewhat-franchised-but-not-a-large-chain place has got to be a particularly challenging operation, especially when he seems to revel in the fact that it's not totally standardized, so kudos to this guy. I think I'd go nuts.
posted by en forme de poire at 3:25 PM on March 22

I didn't realize Two Boots was now in so many places! The first Avenue A location was definitely a favorite go-to spot and now I'm really craving a slice.
posted by maggiemaggie at 7:29 PM on March 22

Two Boots might not be an authentic NY slice, if we're defining that by, like, Ray's, but it's absolutely my favorite slice in NY and actually hits my marks for a good thin crust a lot more than the Ray's copycats do. The fact that it uses a cornmeal crust (with delicious spices and crunchy throughout) is all the better.

My personal slice is The Dude. YMMV.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:44 PM on March 22 [1 favorite]

(That said, I was at Barboncino in Crown Heights tonight, and their Pepperoni Four Cheese used blue cheese as one of the four. I hate blue cheese. I absolutely loved it in this setting. So you never know.)
posted by Navelgazer at 10:47 PM on March 22

They put chicken on pizza. May as well eat the "pizza" from CPK.
posted by sonascope at 9:38 AM on March 23

I make, on average, 350 lbs of pizza dough a day. The hardness of the water absolutely matters as i have brought in bottled water on a lark and the result sucked. That being said keeping the dough temp consistant is the biggest problem most places have.
posted by nestor_makhno at 3:42 PM on March 23 [3 favorites]

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