Generally speaking, there are 3 ways to bake a pizza. Most places use modern electric ovens which can do a good job. Some higher end places use wood to fire their brick ovens which often produce a better pizza. In New York City, there are still old school pizzerias that fire their brick ovens with coal which produce the best pizzas. (Coal fired ovens are the best because they can reach temperatures of 850+ °C.)
John's Pizzeria established in 1929 is one of the famous pizzerias of New York City that still bake their pizzas with coal fired brick ovens.
It was warm and comfortable inside John's Pizzeria which covers two shop lots. Along the side walls were rows of intimate old style booths with time worn wooden bench seating. I liked the rustic ambiance inside John's Pizzeria.
Customers carve messages (usually for their dates) on the wooden walls, benches and posts in John's Pizzeria.
Everywhere, there were messages carved by customers through the years.
The menu was simple. The small pizza (14 inches, 6 slices) at USD14.50 and large (16 inches, 8 slices) at USD$16.50. There was a wide range of toppings at an additional USD3 per serving, for example, pepperoni, sausage, sliced meatball, anchovies, and so on.
The crust was expertly made from scratch right there at the shop.
And, baked in this decades old coal fired brick oven.
When Shannon ran that pizza knife swiftly through that pizza, I could hear the crackling crunch of the crispy pizza.
I ordered the small 14 inch pizza with classic Mozzarella cheese and tomato topping.
John's pizzas come in old school, simple thin crusts with none of those fanciful modern day stuffed crusts (e.g. with cheese).
The underside of the coal baked bread was browned and slightly charred. There was no grease leaking through the crust (a good sign).
I love this pizza.
The crust was crispy and crunchy. It was not greasy and was a little dry and chewy.
The topping of molten cheese and tomato was moist and juicy, and was a balance of savoury melted cheese and sweet/tangy tomato puree.
For my second slice, I shook some chili flakes onto the slice of pizza to add some spicy hints to the savoury and sweet/tangy blend.
John's Pizzeria is along Bleecker Street just off the junction of Bleecker Street and 7th Avenue S in Greenwich Village.
Bleecker Street reminds me of Singapore's Joo Chiat Road with many old school eateries, hipster restaurants and big brand franchise outlets.
Original, old school coal fired brick ovens are vanishing in New York City. So, try one while these lovely classic coal baked pizzas are still available.
Restaurant name: John's Pizzeria
Address: 278 Bleecker Street, Greenwich Village, New York City
Hours: 11:30am to 00:30am
Date visited: 20 Nov 2014
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