Cleopatra Jones…Mr.Pink…Newman…which do you want for dinner?
Each of these is one of the “essential” or “Pantheon” pizzas you can get by the whole pie anytime at Two Boots. But slow your roll because these are just a few of the bizarrely named pizza options available. In a video on the chain’s website, the owner mentions how lots of people ask for a pizza to be named after them, but Two Boots has some criteria. 1) You have to have done something great. Maybe even something that not that many people are aware of. 2) They favor the second bananas…the iconoclasts…the imaginary heroes–in other words, the “weird character in the background” types. The Newman indeed.
Now, don’t go thinking that Two Boots is just slapping funny names on whatever pizzas they feel like making. There’s some thought that goes with it, which to me makes it all the more, well, cool. Going along with The Newman again…that’s a white pizza with sopressata and sweet Italian sausage because in their words, “like the main himself, our Newman pie is a perfect mixture of doughy, cheesy and meaty.” If ever there was something called “pizza logic,” this would be it.
I’m seriously having a blast right now looking up the little stories and reasons behind each specialty pizza, so let me share another interesting one–V for Vegan, which has artichokes, shiitake mushrooms, red onions, sweet red pepper pesto, basil pesto, and non-dairy cheese. This pizza debuted in Fall 2011, was inspired by Occupy Wall Street, and “fed many an Occupier.” In Two Boots’ words, “¡Vivá là queso-lucíon!”
Besides the main stays, there are some pizzas called “home pies” that are available only at certain locations as they represent the flavor of that neighborhood. For example, the Bella at the Upper Westside location, which comes with spinach and artichoke dip, cayenne, jalapeños, and mozzarella and is a tribute to Congresswoman Bella Abzug who represented the UWS and was an anti-war crusader and women’s and gay rights advocate. Then there are the daily specials/wild cards, which you can order as a slice every now and then but as a whole pie all the time, like the Dude, based on none other than El Duderino himself, Jeffrey Lebowski, which has Cajun meatballs, tasso, cheddar, and mozzarella.
I build you up with all of that awesomeness just to let you down, because you know what I ordered? A half pepperoni and mushroom and half cheese pizza. Womp womp. But! This was actually before I knew all the interesting backstories behind Two Boots’ pizzas, and plus, I was ordering through my phone for delivery. I know, I know. I’ve let you all down. But there’s always a next time! And maybe it even gives some of you relief to know that you can get normal pizzas here too if you would like? Another random thing I thought I should mention about Two Boots–their crust is made from cornmeal, which is unusual in itself, but they also offer a whole wheat pizza crust as an option for all you wheat-bread-over-white-bread types.
If you’re not like me and actually venture out into the world to eat some Two Boots, you’ll notice immediately that the restaurants are super colorful and vibrant. That’s because the owner works with local artists to bring the neighborhood into the restaurant and which is why you can find special touches like a mosaic of John Lennon in the Upper Westside location. The owner is pretty colorful himself (nice segue, eh?) as a Lower Eastside born and bred, Princeton University grad, former porno film crew member, screenwriter, and director of a Sundance-winning movie. The stories that man must have…
With seven locations around Manhattan, it shouldn’t take you too long to run into one of these kaleidoscopic pizza places where you can decide which second banana you want for dinner.
Half pepperoni and mushroom half cheese pizza
1617 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10028