Despite having been to the West Village a countless number of times I had never been to John’s Pizzeria. The biggest reason is that there was always a line around the block and being a true New Yorker – standing in line for food doesn’t really do it for me. Judging by the line I also thought that it may just be a tourist trap. I have plenty of good pizza joints in my neighborhood.
When I’m wrong – I’m wrong.
While John’s pizza is not the best pizza that I have ever had in this great city of mine; what surprised me most and frankly endeared them to me was the attitude of the servers. They were friendly – not in the cloying sweet manner at places like Olive Garden (yes, I have been to Olive Garden! God help me), or the hovering over our table way. They just seemed to be having a good time, and didn’t wait on us as though they were doing us a favor.
I had really thought that due to the immense popularity of this place, I would be given an attitude and that I would feel rushed. Not so at all.
We stumbled upon the place on Friday around 5PM – I like stumbling into a place that then turns out to be good. If we had made a plan and then gotten there, there would be all this anticipation and production. I don’t like that. So, we stumbled upon John’s – both my friend and I having lived in NYC forever had never been there precisely due to the long lines. The line was maybe 8 people deep at the most and just as we joined the line – we were ushered in because we were looking for a table for 2. “Its really good not to have too many friends,” I mumbled as we tried to maneuver ourselves through the line.
As I followed our server to our table – I thought – “here we go, they are going to give us the smallest table possible somewhere in the corner or right in the lap of the next table.” Wrong again, we were shown to a booth. I was so happy. I had to go to the loo and I put my stuff down and went to find it. That line was longer than the line of hungry diners outside the restaurant. As I was waiting my turn to go into the 6ft by 4ft bathroom, I must admit I as getting a tad nervous about the waiter. I thought, they are going to wonder where I went, and when am I getting back because we have to order, eat up and leave – to let in the next people.
Got to our booth – and my friend was more anxious to order than the server. We decided to share a house salad and medium pepperoni pizza.
I looked around at our surroundings – we were sitting on a well worn wooden booth, there was a signed picture of the NYPD guys to my right. People had scratched things into the walls – it almost seemed like it was encouraged – judging by the way the public/blatant places the scratched out words were in. To my left was a large table of 8 or 9 and they were definitely tourists (which is not a bad thing- we need tourists in our city). To the left wall there were 4 preppy teenagers who seemed to be moneyed and right from the neighborhood. And in front of me – in the booth near the window was a young couple that looked like was on a date. There were also other tables behind me that looked like young families with babies of all shapes and sizes – some cute enough that I just had to ignore my friend and watch them struggle with their spaghetti. I love watching toddlers eating spaghetti.
Our salad came – an old fashioned salad with iceberg lettuce, raw sliced mushrooms, raw onions, 4 wedges of tomatoes and lots of dressing. My french instructor’s voice rang in my ear – too much dressing – this salad is overdressed! Hell with that guy – I love too much dressing – and moreover I am not sitting in Chez John’s – I am in John’s Pizzeria on Bleeker street.
We dished our overdressed salad on the very tiny plates where some of it had to fall onto the table – but that is great – I love it. It was quite good – not very high expectations lead to easy fulfillment.
As we were eating the salad and catching up, the pizza came – and was put on a stand on the side of the table. It looked good – just like a pizza should. I straight away took this picture – then I looked up – there was a fan on and I contemplated on telling them to turn it off so as to not cool down our pizza. I decided against it.
The pizza was good – I don’t know what else to say about it since what blew me away was the friendliness of the place as opposed to the quality of the pizza. This does not mean that the pizza was bad – it was good. The crust was thin, we didn’t load it up with too many ingredients and I put some red pepper and garlic on it – it hit home just right.
I will definitely go back if there is not such a line and enjoy their hospitality. They don’t need to be nice but still are. I give them top most points for that!