Skip to content

Large Pie To Go

If most men, as Henry David Thoreau pointed out, lead lives of quiet desperation, it isn’t because there aren’t alternatives. I was pondering this the other day after a guy asked me for directions to Lucali Pizzeria (which is only a few blocks from my apartment) and then added “that’s the place where the two guys were knifing each other in the street, right?” Lucali is one of those elitist pizza joints that’s exclusive to this city and gets rave reviews by everyone from Pizza Weekly to French Vogue. It’s very authentic, whatever that means – limited seating, cash only, bring your own bottle, etc. The pies are made by two guys working behind a stone counter in a setting that looks as though staged for The Pizza Merchant of Abruzzo. I tried to get in on my birthday a few years back and was told by the young hostess that there was a two hour wait and they were closing in an hour and a half. I made it in eventually, a few weeks later. Good pizza, yeah, but I wondered if all the hype and expectation didn’t overshadow the tomato sauce.

But back to the knives. My immediate neighborhood has become something of a mecca for knife-related incidents. This seems unusual, as it’s a relatively safe area with a police precinct tucked in between bakeries and dry cleaners. A few years back a middle aged radio personality living in a nearby brownstone was knifed to death by an underage kid whom he solicited on Craig’s List to “suffocate” him. This incident, ugly as it was, seemed to fall loosely under the category of “had it coming,” as the older dude was plying the lad with vodka and cocaine before Junior went Benihana on him. But the Lucali incident, save overtly violent overtones, also served as reminder of why I moved here from San Francisco. As reported by the New York Post, the bloody dispute broke out last month “between Lucali pizzeria owner Mark Iacono and Benny Geritano after Geritano accused the pizza man of trying to steal his lover.” The lover in question? 37 year-old greeting card shop owner Annette Angeloni. Screw the thin crust and sublime mozzarella – these three names are the only authentication I ever needed from Lucali. Response to the incident was indicative of the hood’s makeup and the newer wave of gentrification that’s mixed, mostly peacefully, with the old Italian holdouts. Those new to the neighborhood commented with shock that the nice owner of their Time Out New York favored pie shop might be associated with such violence. Older residents were a bit more matter of fact in their appraisal, with one describing the neighborhood from the ’50s through the ’70s as a “wiseguy playground.”

I should qualify my remark about moving here for this sort of thing. I in no way mean to advocate knife violence, and think it’s a phenomenon best confined to Britain, where they don’t have the sense to supply their criminals with guns to more efficiently do away with each other. But, as Harry Callahan once noted, “there’s nothing wrong with shooting as long as the right people get shot.” The same can be applied, sort of, to the two knife-related incidents mentioned above. Shit happens in the city, with good and bad connotation equally applied. It’s why most people live here. Within that setup, one hopes that the bad shit is mostly confined to those with some stake in the matter. It’s when pizza shop patrons get held up at knife-point, or wandering youths start slashing indiscriminately, that I start to worry. Those wishing to label me a naive white kid from the streets of Marin County should feel free to do so. They don’t even know where Marin County is around here, and in the meantime I’m enjoying the pizza.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. Dad wrote:

    The pizza place where La Felce used to be is the most popular restaurant in North Beach…I understand that their pizza is f**ing fantastic. Not sure if that place has anything to do with Brooklyn, but it is an interesting side bar.


    PS: I kind of remember who Henry David Thoreau was (and the comment that all men lead lives of quiet desperation.) Did he live to Eighty two? I could tell him something about that remark!!

    Saturday, May 14, 2011 at 6:34 pm | Permalink
  2. admin wrote:

    Thoreau died at 44, desperately quiet and looking like shit (if the Wikipedia-posted daguerreotype image of him at 38 is an accurate representation.)

    Wednesday, May 18, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *