The buck stops here!
In my time at this newspaper, I have become an aficionado of inexpensive cuisine, scouring the city blocks around our Downtown office for a dish that will fill my stomach without emptying my wallet. So it felt like a visit from the gustatory gods when two 99-cent slice joints opened over the last few weeks, each within 60 feet of my favored Jay Street-Metrotech subway entrance.
With these upstart one-buck cheese slingers added to an already existing dollar-slice spot on the same block, I was faced with a cornucopia of triangular dining options. But which pizza purveyor truly deserved my Washingtons? I launched a lunching taste test to be sure.
My first visit was the newest, Jay Street Fresh 99¢ Pizza, which opened two weeks ago at 408 Jay St., between Fulton and Willoughby streets. In exchange for a single Sacagawea, I received a single cheese slice, and settled in at one of its handful of square aluminum tables. The slice lacked char, but was stiff enough to hold in a classic pinch maneuver. It had the proper balance of cheese and sauce, and puffed up at the crust, giving it a light and airy texture. Overall, the slice was a definite contender.
The second stop on my journey was 99¢ Supreme Pizza, at the corner of Jay Street and Willoughby, open for three weeks. Housed in a former “Cricket” phone sales shop, the oven occupies most of the space, leaving just enough room for customers to lean against the glass counter running. The mid-point of the trip was also its nadir of flavor: the slice had a too-sweet sauce, and the dough was flat as a sheet of cardboard.
Finally, I visited my old stand-by for penny-pinching pizza: 99¢ Fresh Hot Pizza, at 51 Willoughby St., between Jay and Lawrence streets. This was the only place where I encountered a line, which snaked past a series of classic red booths. But one minute and one buck later, I had my final piece of the pie.
This slice had the most grease, but also the most flavor — dabbing off the grease with a napkin somehow diminished its blend of cheese and sauce, which came on a crust with just the right amount of chew. bThis was the pizza for me, and I celebrated by devouring every bite, and then getting back in line to bring my editor the special: two slices and a can of soda for $2.75. In exchange for three dollars, the proprietors gave me the required two wedges, a Coke, and a coin which turned out to be 20 Maylaysian Sen. I still feel like they’re the winners.