Uncle Paul’s Pizza Boasts Fancy Ingredients, But a Midtown Lunch Can Still Be Had
Pizza joints don’t get me too enthused these days… especially after MJP’s fantastically written $1-Slice-O-Rama, it’s hard to seriously enjoy a slice at a $3-$4 price anymore. I had been walking by Uncle Paul’s Pizza (Vanderbilt btw. 45th + 46th) for several months, assuming it had either been covered by Midtown Lunch already, or it had faded into the fray of mediocre Midtown pizza joints. After I went on a Slice-O-Rama excursion with MJP a few months ago, I was inspired to research Uncle Paul’s to do a comparison, and I realized it was a fairly new pizza restaurant, only opened for a few months, that hadn’t yet been covered.
I’ll start off by covering the things about Uncle Paul’s that are gonna catch some hell…
Some of the 10 inch specialty pies are… highfalutin. The best deal is the $11 Uncle Paul’s breakfast pizza with quail egg for $11. Then we’ve got an expensive Maine lobster and grilled corn for $29… and caviar pizzas with unlisted prices. Other expensive pies have ingredients like caramelized figs, goat cheese, and truffle oil. The homemade pasta dishes are way over the $10 limit as well, ranging for $15 – $29. Those are enough to make any Midtown Luncher turn on his or her heels. The wraps are also high, at $9-$12, with “premium toppings” available for an additional $2.
The decor is contemporary and clean, with tables with seating, and tables you can stand at if you like — but it doesn’t have the kind of character you’ll find in a lot of older pizza places.
But there are many, many awesome things to note about Uncle Paul’s. I’ll start off with the fact that they a) serve wine, beer, and sangria; b) are open 24 hours; and c) have cheap wings. The small batch of wings is $9 for 12, and a the largest is $30 for 50. Even though this isn’t a bar… I predict a happy hour happening here. At $0.60 – $.70 per wing, these prices aren’t bad at all. (Now, the question is, how do they taste?)
Then we’ve got the other menu items that are under $10. Many of the starters, including the $7 rice balls with tomato, basil, and jalapeno and the $6 bruschetta. Salads range from $7 – $10, paninis and very large subs are under $10, and “Old Fashioned Stuffed Pitas” are $6-$7 (including Bulgarian feta and roasted pumpkin), except for the $17 option of foie gras and figs.
And on to the slices. I’m not going to pretend I’m a New York slice expert. I like pizza of all kinds, thin and thick, tomato saucy and white, and with just about any ingredient you can think of (the one exception is St. Louis style pizza, which I hate; oddly, since I’m from Missouri). I’m sure many native New Yorkers might disagree, but doughy deep dish pizza like Chicago style or Sicilian style are yummy in my opinion, especially because the crust fills me up — it really makes me feel like I’ve gotten my money’s worth.
Slices range from $3-$5, depending on toppings. The first time I tried Uncle Paul’s, I got a white pizza. For $4, I wasn’t that impressed. The crust was crispy and thin, but oily and low on flavor. Even though I thought the $1 slice I had just had at Pizza King with MJP was pretty meh, at least it was reasonably priced. I couldn’t say the same for this slice.
However, the next time I went back I had a better experience. I ordered two Sicilian slices; the Grandma and the Grandpa, each for $3. (Grandma is on the left and Grandpa is on the right above.) If you’re looking for some real sauciness and lots of garlic, try the Grandma. It’s not as thick as the Grandpa, but it’s dripping with wonderful Italian flavors in the red sauce and a good amount of mozzarella.
But if you’re looking to get really full, try the Grandpa. Although there’s not as much cheese as the Grandma, this massive wad of dough will sit like a brick in your belly, and I think it’s the best value of the three. Plus, the fresh basil adds a nice touch.
But if you want more than cheese on your slice, you’ll have to pay $1.00 for regular toppings or $1.50 for premium toppings per slice. Ouch.
Of course, Uncle Paul’s is never going to compare price-wise with the many $1 slices that dot Midtown. But it does offer several options under $10, the staff are friendly and patient, and there are some interesting items on the menu… if you’re willing to pay the price.
The + (what somebody would like this place would say)
- Like every Midtown Luncher, I care if my lunch is cheap, and there are plenty of lunch options under $10.
- I like wings, and the B-wings are one of the better deals I’ve seen in Midtown.
- I’ve been looking for a 24 hour pizza joint by Grand Central Station. Here it is.
- I like Sicilian style pizza, and if you like to be full, the Grandma and Grandpa slices are a good bang for your buck.
- Nice staff = happy luncher.
The – (what somebody would like this place would say)
- Duck confit? Caramelized Figs? Caviar? This place is too fancy for my blood.
- I only like traditional New York style pizza. Heavy dough styles aren’t my preference.
- If I can get a $1 slice in Midtown, why the hell would I go here?
- I’m a fan of older pizza places with a long history, so I’ll just leave my pizza patronage outside of Midtown and save it for the evenings/weekends.
Uncle Paul’s Pizza, 70 Vanderbilt Avenue, (212) 922-1200