While meandering in lower Manhattan on New Year’s Day morning, I made my way through the Chelsea section of the borough. Within its cozy confines, I came upon a pizza place—one among hundreds in the bustling metropolis. But what differentiated this eatery from so many others was its name: “The Best Pizza.” Could it actually be the best? The best at a dollar a slice? Presently, the going rate for a plain slice of pizza in New York City is $2.75, the price of a subway or bus ride. I longed for answers to my questions, but it was well before lunchtime when I passed by. I couldn’t sample their fare. I could, however, hazard a guess as to whether it was the best pizza or not. Going out on a limb, perhaps, I concluded that it was probably not the best pizza.
Yesterday, I found myself on the very same urban terra firma. It was my intention this go-round to try The Best Pizza’s pizza. Unfortunately, the establishment had very limited indoor seating and a take out for me wasn’t practical. Despite my burning desire to know for certain if The Best Pizza lived up to its name, I wasn’t about to take the pizza—best or not—on a subway journey to the Bronx. And, from my vantage point, it was a little too cold to chow down on the street. Besides, I don’t do that in the best of climes.
It’s worth noting that Chelsea, apparently, attracts the best and the brightest. It values excellence, too. Case in point: A few stores down from The Best Pizza is a new restaurant on the cusp of opening—Excellent Dumpling House. In the vicinity of both is Best Shoe Repair. There’s a Laundromat next door to Best Shoe Repair that’s evidently not the best, but I’m sure it’s excellent nonetheless. I’d surmise that Best Cleaners is somewhere in the area—on some side street that I missed. I did encounter the next best thing: Nice Laundry. And a little kindness goes a long away these days, especially on the mean streets of New York.
(Photos from the personal collection of Nicholas Nigro)