I know I know! You’re thinking to yourself, “This girl is writing about pizza again? She must be off her chain!” As the Jersey-Girl that I am (and ex-ballerina wannabe) my career and former art form have led me to commute in and out of NY Penn Station since the ripe old age of 12. I used to take dance lessons on the Upper West Side at STEPS and Broadway Dance Center. Now at 31 you can say that I’ve had a lot of opportunities to stop at Don Pepi’s for a slice. Consistent they’ve been for 19 years. I would be their best judge.
One of my earliest memories of this place: A kid noticed a true New York-style cockroach crawling up the wall near the register and started to lose it. Myself being the Wisenheimer that I was said, “Ssshhhh don’t say anything. It’s what makes the sauce so good!” I was less squeamish back then. Now the sight of “urban pets” make my skin crawl. Ironic enough I’m capable of seeing them from a mile away, all shapes, colors and sizes. A secret skill… You can’t hide from me!
Most likely you’re walking into this establishment and there is a line wrapping around the corner without a place to spare at their standing bar or the very few tables located at the back. You get hassled down the line so be prepared with a plan and cash or card ready to go! There’s no time for slow-pokes at Don Pepi’s. A slice of plain pie runs you $3.00. (Not too shabby) You can have a lot of fun dressing it with their mini bar of shaker-toppings located just to the right of the register including: Salt, Garlic Powder, Pepper, Oregano, Crushed Red Pepper and Parmesan Cheese… Go Cray! (Don’t forget to grab a napkin.)
In my opinion, the plain slice is not only the best way to judge any pizzeria but the most special slice here. They also make a mean White Pie which requires a bottle of water to wash down. The others may look amazing but I always walk away from the counter thinking, “I wish I just got the plain.” If you get a chance to pop in, take note of the sound the crust makes when you take your first bite. The light crunch as your teeth sink into the shallow soft and saucy base with cheese you have to fight from coming off all in one go. Mmmm!
I’m not sure what their secret is since Don Pepi’s is tiny and they are bangin’ out pies left and right on premises. It’s clear that the ingredients are good quality and they sell so fast you hardly ever get a slice with congealed nonsense happening. They have a cult following for anyone that commutes on NJ Transit or the LIRR. For those who aren’t familiar you can find them next to the Crispy Cream Donut Kiosk off of the 7th Avenue Entrance.
Best three bucks you’ll ever spend.
New York, NY 10121
Neighborhood: Midtown West
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