Posted by: Jeffsayyes | September 7, 2011

5, No, 4 Boros of Pizza Bike Ride

I’m a big fan of Couchsurfing. I’ve been hosted a couple of times (Thanks Pittsburgh Louis and Camille, Robin, Aurelie in Montreal), and because of limited living quarters, I’ve only hosted once (What up, Louis!!). The way I build up my CS karma, though, is by doing food tours with the org as a part of their week-long annual hoorah, CouchCrash NYC. This year I wanted to accomplish my dream event, The 5 Boro Pizza Bike Tour. That’s 5 boroughs, 5 pizzas, 1 day, by bicycle.

Some of the logistics were hairy, like if they are couchsurfers, they probably do not live here, and probably do not have bicycles with them. Weeks before, by coincidence, I literally stumbled into a bike shop in downtown Manhattan and the staff was really nice. I later contacted the shop, Bicycle Habitat (244 Lafayette St), to help us out with rentals. They set us up with great bikes (I was way jealous), and that logistic worked out fine. Other logistics… not so much.

We met at the Staten Island Ferry under the ATE of the sign. I’m a big fan of the ferry (partly because it’s free), and am happy to give anyone the excuse to ride across and spend time there.

For the tour, I wanted to choose 5 essential pizzas, each representing a different style from their home borough.

The Staten Island choice was Joe and Pat’s. It’s essential Staten Island; a style that begot Rubirosa and Pier 76. The ride was almost entirely uphill, and then up more hill. It was tough, and though I was ostensibly the “bike expert”, I was quite winded along the journey. Even the couchsurfer who prior alerted me that she was concerned the group was “pros” was charging up the hill at a Pittsburgh pace. They all did a great job.

And at Joe and Pats, everyone LOVED the vodka pie.

It was fun to show people around Staten Island, through the Sri Lankan section and other areas where we’d normally never go. Excuses like CouchCrash NYC are a great thing.

Up through the coast of Manhattan, across the Williamsburg Bridge and down to Roberta’s of Bushwick. It’d be another winner. I hadn’t been there in a few years, so I was eager to see how they’ve evolved – especially after so much word about them getting more and more awesomer. They were. Even our real, live Italian from Turino thought it was one of the best he’s ever had – woahh.

On to Queens and things began to get difficult. After traveling across Flushing Avenue to get to one of my proudest spots, when we arrived, John’s of Elmhurst was closed for vacation! NooooooJohn’s was a little further than I anticipated (8502 Grand Ave), and the fact that it was closed was just more air out of our tires. Moving on, I decided to bring the crowd to a newer, fond slice of mine, Sunnyside Pizza. It’s a nice representation of a NY slice, and I wanted the crowd to experience that. They had some game that day, with our Italian, Giacomo, highly impressed with the BBQ chicken slice. He wanted a Real American slice, and this was it.

"American" slice, BBQ chicken

At this point, it was getting late and the 3 boroughs of pizza touring so far took up too much of the day. My lateness karma at work was eroding, and others were starting to think heavily about the Chaos Cooking event later that night. Only our Pittsburgh gearhead truly was game to go “Scrotum to Totem” for the 5-boro tour. It was endearing, but the total tour would have to wait… We had to give up the Bronx.

Over the Queensboro Bridge to Midtown East, where a slice is hard to come by. My brain was spinning trying to figure out an appropriate slice (if only somebody made an app for this!). I could only think of one personal favorite, Pizza by Cer Te. At this point, we were all pretty full, but we had fun with 3 bunches of slices on their after-5pm-2-for-$5 deal.

Thank you Dan, Anita, Barbara, and Giacamo for riding with me. My 5-boro fantasy is not done yet, so we’ll have to try again next year. 2012 will have to include a route more condensed, and leaving at an earlier ferry. Also, I will call ahead the pizzerias to make sure no one is on vacation. The tour was a valient effort – But we are not done.

Special thanks again to Bicycle Habitat for their help with bicycle rentals – you’re now my favorite Manhattan bike shop.


  1. I really envy you guys (in a good way, I mean). I would love to have been there, biking and enjoying the sites, and of course – the pizza! Especially tempting photos are the vodka pizza from Joe and Pat’s (you get a buzz from the amazing pizza as well as the vodka – I like that idea!) and Roberta’s. So Sunnyside’s a new favourite of yours, then? I do like chicken and I do like BBQ flavour, but I’ve never actually had a slice with chicken on it (I’ve not had pineapple on a slice either, but I know some people absolutely go crazy for it), so I’d like to sample that, as well.

    I think you all did really well, even if you didn’t make it to the Bronx this time. Four outta five is a fine day’s work (the best job in the world, from where I’m sitting and imagining how amazing those slices tasted). There’s always next time. And maybe next time, if I ever get back home, I can sign up for the next 5 (or 4, even) Boro Pizza Bike Tour.

    The photos are fab, by the way. Thanks for sharing the pizza and borough love.

    • Thanks! that vodka pie was excellent, I didn’t think it could be that good.

  2. What an amazing story! There truly is no better way to see New York City on a bicycle and to taste it through it’s pizza (NYC pizza being superior to all others). We can’t help but think of what the tour may have missed in the Bronx. Hopefully their next visit you can makeup of for missing a borough. Thanks for sharing your tale!

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