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Adventures In Foodblivion: Justino’s Buffalo Chicken Pizza Is Surprisingly Tasty And Utterly Disgusting All At Once

February 21, 2012

A tiny, hole-in-the-wall pizzeria along 10th Avenue.

It is a cruel fate to be a foodie on Manhattan’s far west side.

The easiest lunch can be found at the office cafeteria. It’s good that there is a cafeteria, as the options nearby extend to delis and so forth, none of which have really stood out. Is it really necessary to discuss the cafeteria food?

It's like a secret code, or something. Somebody there knows something about food.

There is a neighborhood pizzeria – Justino’s – that has Staten Island credentials, however. I noticed it carries the signature of a quality joint – the Manhattan Special soda. That stuff is rare nowadays, seems to me. Last time I saw it was at Sal, Kris & Charlie’s in Astoria, and you know how that went.

The Justino’s sausage slice is pretty good– more on that later – but I was struck by the deep bench of pizza styles they have stacked up.

Admit it - that's a lot of pies for one small shop.

At Justino’s, you’ll notice a parade of pies, a la Two Boots, with a variety of toppings. Somewhere buried in the stack is the plain slice, but it’s quickly clear they’re quite concerned about offering a variety. So with that in mind, I asked the counter woman “What’s popular?” Imagine my surprise when she told me the most popular slice there is Buffalo chicken.


I am not one to really mess about with pizza. Cheeseburger pizza etc. are all generally “no no’s” in my book. Stick with the basics: Mushrooms, sausage, meatballs, onions, garlic – all acceptable. Start going crazy, and as my office colleague put it, “It’s no longer pizza.” Nonetheless, I opted to try it and the vodka slice.

As though proof of its popularity, another person walked in just after I placed my order and ordered a slice of it for himself.

Just look at that... thing.

It’s $4 a slice for the Buffalo slice – not cheap. But you get a whoppingly loaded slice. The crust is very thin, and the slice is heavily topped, so I could see how hefting it could prove challenging in terms of it not collapsing under its own weight.

There are fat chunks of chicken and rivers of blue cheese dressing. It bears no resemblance to pizza, except it is served in a triangular slice.

Essentially you get a Buffalo chicken wrap with a surprising – but mild – heat zip to it. There’s a creamy undercurrent that occasionally jumps to the forefront when you bite into one of the globby blue cheese rivulets. If you like Buffalo chicken, you’ll really enjoy this… whatever it is.

I mean honestly. It looks disgusting!

It’s not pretty. The slice looks like vomit. It looks like a cartoon of food. It looks like something that terrifying kid in the Twilight Zone movie would dream up to eat. It is both tasty and atrocious. I found myself both enjoying it and being disgusted by it at the same time. It tastes like the food equivalent of Mountain Dew.

It’s certainly filling: A single slice would suffice for lunch. For sheer novelty, it’s worth trying. And if you’re a Buffalo wing nut, this is a pleasant diversion. I enjoyed it in the same way you might enjoy deep fried Twinkies or something else you know should be detestable but is in fact tasty.

Oddly, I can understand why it is popular – but it’s not for me.

A good looking slice. The white at the top is fresh mozzerella.

Fortunately, the rest of the pizza at Justino’s is very tasty. They do an excellent job with thin crust. I was too stuffed and disgusted from the Buffalo slice to finish the vodka slice, which also has a cream current (and I was creamed out after the blue cheese bomb above). There’s a flavorful parmesan topping on the vodka slice.

Mama mia, that's a lot of sausage!

I’ve previously had their sausage slice, which I enjoyed quite a bit – they cut fat chunks of sausage onto a plain slice nicely.

I can’t put Justino’s in the same pantheon as Sal & Carmine’s and Joe’s yet, but I will say it is a proud carrier of the “thin slice” torch and worthy of careful consideration from pizza enthusiasts.

Just steer clear of the Buffalo slice.

Or not.

Justino’s Pizzeria

881 10th Avenue at 57th Street
New York, NY 10019
No website

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