Which of these represents the true future of pizza? The fastidious cone ($5.90) or the sloppy slice ($2.50)? You decide…
Just this afternoon I found myself standing in a long line that snaked out the door of a new pizza parlor opposite the Empire State Building. When I say new, I mean really new–the joint had only been open for a few hours. Have I gone insane? I thought as my wait went from 15 minutes to 30 minutes to three-quarters of an hour.
Waits hovered near 45 minutes in the early afternoon.
This was not any pizza parlor, of course. It was K! Pizzacone (punctuation theirs), a place relentlessly hyped and speculated over on foodie websites. K! Pizzacone’s distinction is obvious enough in the name: The slices of pizza come out shaped like cones.
Basically, the process involves taking a prefabricated cone of pre-cooked pizza crust, filling it up from a series of stainless-steel tubs that contain roughly two dozen substances, and chucking it into a convection oven for four or five minutes. Some toppings contained in the tubs–like mozzarella, ham, and jalapeno peppers–might be expected, while others–berries, banana flambé, and scrambled eggs – seem relatively unusual in the expanding universe of pizza.
An assembler lines up the par-baked cones and fills them with the appropriate foodstuffs.
The pizzacones hunker in their carryout boxes, left to right: Vegetarian, Breakfast Pizza, and Mozzarella & Tomato.
It must have taken a lot of chutzpah to introduce this pizza variation in the pizza capital of the world. Or maybe the proprietors knew that the combination of novelty and relentless hype would draw culinary curiosity seekers like flies to — well, never mind.
I waited in line behind a couple of tourists from Boise, Idaho. They were frankly confused by the mobs inside and out of K! Pizzacone. Moreover, at various times there were as many as three or four food writers with cameras snapping away and carefully taking notes, as if they were witnessing the Academy Awards. Others were proudly tweeting their participation in this momentous event.
A disembodied hand tenderly and carefully lifts the tomato-and-mozzarella pizzacone from its complicated packaging.
Seen in cross section, the tomato sauce appears trapped like a corpse beneath concrete.
Well, I finally got the three K! Pizzacones I’d ordered: The first was made with plain tomato sauce and mozzarella, and let me forewarn you this isn’t the kind of cheese people dream about. The tomato sauce was also without distinction; in fact, it was virtually flavorless. I also got a breakfast pizzacone (cheese, scrambled eggs, ham, and bacon) and a vegetarian pizzacone (broccoli and mushroom). I ate the breakfast version as I hopped on my bike, and you might take it as a bad sign that I tossed half into a trash can as I peddled downtown.
I gave the vegetarian one to some hungry editors at the Voice, one of whom had seen the same gimmick in Barcelona. “It wasn’t very good there, either,” she reported. I took the plain pizzacone home for some close analysis. I also bought a cheese and tomato sauce slice from a random pizza parlor for the purposes of comparison. Here are the facts:
Pizzacone mozzarella and tomato sauce
Weight: 5.7 ounces
Neighborhood plain slice
Weight: 5.6 ounces
*–I found out when I got home and examined the receipt that the cashier had automatically sold me the slightly larger and more expensive cones without asking; there’s a smaller version priced at $4.90.
And I couldn’t have put it more eloquently than the tourist from Idaho. She took a bite as she went through the door, and said to her male companion: “Gee, this tastes like frozen pizza.”
Three little pizza coffins all in a row…