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© 2019 by The Curious Uptowner

Uptown pizza taste-off: Uncle Tony's vs. P&M Classic

October 30, 2017

 

New York takes its pizza very seriously, and Uptown is no different. So when Uncle Tony's Pizza, a takeout joint that's an offshoot of the popular and stylish Fumo, opened a few months ago, I wondered how it would compare to an old-school pizzeria with relatively deeper roots in the neighborhood. I aimed to find out.

 

 

I gathered a group of four friends who have what I consider to be sophisticated city palates and invited them over for a taste-off. I chose the old-school pizzeria by looking at three in my West Harlem neighborhood and using one of the most widely-used metrics–Yelp–to find the one with the highest rating. It turned out to be P&M Classic Pizza, a few blocks above Uncle Tony's on Amsterdam ("Proudly serving this community for over 15 years!" it says on its website.) I certainly liked its motto: "A taste of Italy in Harlem."

 

 

When it comes to pizza we all might have slightly different preferences but we can still agree on what's important: crust, sauce, cheese and toppings. I made a ballot that let my hungry guests judge those individual details plus give an overall score (1-5) and ordered the same two types of pizzas from each place to make the judging as fair as possible: one plain and one pepperoni.

 

In terms of price and delivery, the two pizzerias were very competitive:

 

P&M Classic Pizza

Napolitan [sic] large 18": $17.50

Napolitan [sic] large 18" with one topping: $20

Stated delivery time: 40 minutes

Actual delivery time: slightly under 40 minutes

Online ordering service: none

Freebies: a 2-liter bottle of soda of your choice with large pie order


Uncle Tony's Pizza

18" Regular Pizza: $15.95
18" Regular with Topping: $20.20

Stated delivery time: 40 minutes

Actual delivery time: slightly under 40 minutes

Online ordering services: Grubhub, Seamless

Freebies: none

 

The pizzas arrived hot and smelled delicious, and we dug into all four with gusto. And while everyone was expecting two very different types of pizza–without reading the menu too deeply, we imagined the ones from Uncle Tony's would have fresh mozzarella like the individual "margherita" they serve at sister restaurant Fumo–the reality was that the two places offered surprisingly similar pies.

 

The pepperoni and plain from P&M Classic Pizza

 

What differences did our taste-off reveal? The P&M pizza had a thick, soft crust that stayed that way even as it cooled; its sauce was tangy and salty; the cheese was plentiful, and its pepperoni were large and generic. We all agreed it was classic New York delivery pizza. We all wished the crust wasn't so doughy, but as one of my home critics put it, the pizza "maintains its juiciness and flavor." 

 

The pepperoni and plain from Uncle Tony's Pizza

 

The pie from Uncle Tony's had a more rustic crust that was tasty when hot, but that hardened as it cooled (on Instagram the restaurant uses the words "organic" and "unbleached"). One friend liked that the dough was "nice and trim," another complained that it was "still too thick"–this, I should add, from someone who admits she doesn't love New York pizza. The sauce was simpler than P&M's, while the cheese was maybe a notch better. The standout was the pepperoni, rich salty jewels of thick-cut, spicy cured meat.

 


The final overall score? P&M got a 3, Uncle Tony's 3.7 (out of 5). The pizza that almost everyone went back to for seconds was the pepperoni from Uncle Tony's–the meat was that good. Neither of the pies had crusts to truly rave about, so I found myself at the end of the night cleaning up a heap of leftover ends.

 

I think maybe my favorite takeaway from the taste-off was the advice of my foodie friend Carol, who had this to say of the pizza from Uncle Tony's: "Big introduction, flat as it cools." She told me that whenever she orders takeout pizza (usually artisanal) she asks the pizzeria to cook it only halfway, then finishes the pie in her oven at home, guaranteeing an almost perfect pizza experience. It's definitely something to consider the next time.

 

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