Tuesday, October 7, 2014

American Classics Bang-Bang on Prince Street (food)

Josh Ozersky recently wrote an article for Esquire proclaiming the burger at Raoul's restaurant on Prince Street to be the best burger in America. I had to try it out for myself, and while I wouldn't go that far, it was a pretty great burger.

The burger arrived with a cone of fries and a dish of traditional French peppercorn sauce. The burger is only available at the bar, and the girls sitting next to us also came just for the burger. I don't know if the price has gone up since the article came out, but they continue to only make a limited number of them, regularly selling out within the first hour of the bar opening for dinner service.

The burger is greater than the sum of its parts, but the parts by themselves are pretty great too. The challah bun is robust, and the patty has a great crust and a nice sweetness to it. The mayonnaise, cheese, and watercress all add flavor, as opposed to iceberg lettuce mostly used for its crunch or processed American cheese mostly used because it melts well. I highly recommend opening up the burger and making sure that the cornichons are evenly spread. It is important to try to incorporate them into every bite as they balance out the richness of the burger and sauces, elevating the whole thing. I also found it extremely satisfying to dip the burger into the sauce and then taking a big bite, but that's just personal preference.

Do not underestimate the fries, as there are a lot of them. While I enjoyed dipping them in the peppercorn sauce, I think next time I'm going to ask for some ketchup to cut the richness.

Raoul's has been around for about 40 years, and eating an excellent version of a classic American food in a classic NYC establishment usually makes for a great night. But my friend and I decided to take it a step further, and finished our American classics bang-bang a few blocks east of Raoul's at Prince Street Pizza. What's a bang-bang, you might ask? Originating from an episode of Louis CK's show Louie, "It's where we go have a whole meal at one place, and then go right to another place and have another one. Bang-bang."

Prince Street Pizza boasts an even more impressive history, as it is on the site of the original Ray's pizza, the one that spawned a gazillion variations all across New York.

What really sets the square slice here apart from the others in the city is the crust. It is surprisingly light with a good chew, whereas many square slices, even good ones, often tend to be too bready or hard. If you request it extra crispy, you'll get a wonderful array of textures in each bite. The other components are also very good, including a fra diavolo sauce that has actual flavor, with just a hint of sweetness. It wasn't as spicy as I would like, but there was good spice on the pieces of crisped up pepperoni, with each of the tiny disks carrying a little pool of oil.

Both the burger and the pizza are well deserving of all the praise they get, but there's something magical about eating two great versions of American classics all on the same street across Manhattan in one night.

Raoul’s Restaurant
180 Prince St between Thompson St & Sullivan St
Prince Street Pizza
27 Prince St between Mott St & Elizabeth St

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