Slice out Hunger

Slice out Hunger

I could practically hear the hallelujah chorus as I set foot into my ultimate house of worship.  I swear I saw bright white light radiating from above.

Yes, I was stepping into a church, but the congregation that night was hungry, not holy.

“Slice Out Hunger” was a night I had been eagerly awaiting since I last attended one year ago.  Sponsored by Scott’s Pizza Tours, the 5th annual mega “pizza party” was held at St. Anthony of Padua in SoHo to celebrate forty-three NYC pizzerias for a most worthy cause.  On October 9th, I had the pleasure of returning to this wonderful charity event and helping to raise over $20,000 for the Food Bank for New York City.  In just three hours, 800 pizzas were served to accomplish this impressive feat.

I personally nabbed twenty-five slices–the equivalent of 125 meals for New Yorkers in need.  An added bonus: the hefty box I filled made for upwards of five large meals of delicious leftovers for myself!  Every leftover slice did have a bite or two (or five) taken out, though.  Had to try everything while it was fresh, of course!  The looks I got while carrying around my unwieldy box were priceless, with some onlookers offering words of admiration, and others surely passing silent judgment.

In order to alleviate congestion inside, event staffers, some of whom donned pizza-themed hats and costumes, sold tickets ($1 apiece) to those on the massive line that formed around the perimeter of the church.  Fortunately, I had a friend who got on line at 4:45PM, thus securing my spot towards the very front of the queue despite my arrival nearly an hour later.  Last year, by the time I got inside, a few key pizza vendors had already sold out.  This year, I was determined and excited to finally taste Di Fara’s pie–only to be disappointed that yet again, they were already gone!  Nonetheless, I surged on.  As a self-proclaimed pizza connoisseur, I had already encountered the majority of vendors either at previous festivals or at their actual restaurant locations.  I continue to wonder why my NYC favorite, Roberta’s, was absent from this event yet again.  Their station would be cleared out in minutes!

A handful of pizzerias listed on the event program were no-shows (or perhaps very unfashionably late), which totally threw off how I planned to allocate my twenty-five tickets.  I came ultra-prepared, with a printed copy of the floor plan and a color-coordinated list of places to prioritize.  For instance, any pizzerias outside of Manhattan (hence, far from my office and apartment) with favorable internet ratings were marked crucial.  There certainly was no shortage of diversity or creativity in the slices I encountered, as styles ranged from traditional New York Style to Sicilian, Neapolitan, Roman, Grandma, thin crust–everything imaginable.  The only exception was deep dish–maybe next year?  Motorino, one of my favorite NYC places for Neapolitan pizza, served up a delectable vegetarian variation of their acclaimed brussels sprouts and pancetta pie.  Several places offered pizzas featuring butternut squash or other seasonally-appropriate ingredients, with some vendors far more memorable than others (Lucali, Joe’s, Don Antonio’s, etc).  Despite the fact that most slices were lukewarm by the time I finally plopped down to eat, I can’t say I tasted anything I didn’t like.

In case anyone on his or her way out had room for more, the Neapolitan Express food truck was parked outside.  I might have considered a final slice had my environmentally-friendly pizza box not started to crumple from the weight.  There were many tempting raffle prizes this year, ranging from a pizza t-shirt to a $200 Gilt City gift certificate.  Raffle tickets, in addition to slices and beverages, were all priced at $1, so it is no wonder the event drew in such crowds!  Unlike many fancy and overpriced food tastings around the city, Slice Out Hunger is very accessible to the general public.  There is no shame here in wearing sweats; in fact, I’d even encourage it.  Anything that gives at the waist.

Being charitable never tasted so good.

By: Emily Giove