To be a New Yorker means you have cerain ideas imprinted on your brain, like NY is superior to LA, and NY has the best pizza and bagels. New Yorkers who travel are often heard complaining about the pizza in other regions. Well, this might have been true decades ago, but now, anyone with a palate has to have noticed that most NY pizza stinks, and that what passes for bagels no longer resembles what a bagel is. Although I believe there are still good pizza in the city, the best bagels I've had I had in London, At the end of Brick Lane, there are (this was years ago, maybe there gone now?) two 24 hour bagel places, spelled "beigel" in Old World style, and those joints served traditional hard water bagels, the kind that are non existent in NY at the moment. There was one old fashioned bagel place on 181st St., but it went out of business a while ago. I don't consider a huge roll with a hole in it a bagel. I do like Murray's bagels, and of the newer larger style, Ess-A-Bagels is okay. but I've yet to find anyone left who makes water bagels in the old sense of the word. By the way, the Brit bagel joinys served a bagel and lox (nobody called it lox, just smoked salmon) for 35p, the best bargain in London. I also ate in a deli in London, where I suffered from cognitive dissonace: the guys looked like Jews, yarmulkas and all, but they spoke with Cockney accents. I'm not used to Jews bringing me my corned beef sandwich, saying "Oi!" Brick Lane used to be very Jewish, now it's lined with Paki/Indian eateries, these two bagel places were hold outs of an older time, I guess.
PIzza you have to search for. When I was a kid, pizza was a 25 a slice. If somebody had told us that we'd be paying 2 bucks and change for a slice, we would've kicked him out of the joint. I'm not a historian of the downfall of pizza, but I believe the popularity of Ray's in Greenwich Village, with its over stuffed slices, heavy with cheese and toppings, marks a definite point of decline. The actual original Ray's, in Little Italy, is not bad, by the way. But most of those "Original Ray's" places are awful, most don't even use cheese anymore. I'm still fond of Ben's, which used to be on the corner of Bleecker and Father What'samacallit Square, and has since moved a few feet up 6th Avenue. I They make my favorite fresh mozzerella slice. Totonno's, in Coney Island or the Upper East Side, makes a good pie, though no slices can be had. Patsy's, down by the Brooklyn Bridge, is excellent, and DiFara's in Brooklyn (though I hear it's been closed for health violations). De Marco's, opened by relatives of DiFara's, on Houston is good, too, even though it's quality was hotly debated by foodies. I will say that they are inconsistent: sometimes the slice is excellent, sometimes just so-so. And I still like Steve's on Bleecker St., but again, not a slice place. And years ago, I was fond of this pizza place on the NY side of the SI Ferry Terminal, but this is pure perversity on my part: it was awful, there was something about it that appealed to the darker side of my nature. There's a soft spot in me for Stromboli's, too, on 1st Ave. and on Univ. Place. But I have to say that most pizza, if you walk around the city, stinks, and bears the same resemblance to food that cardboard does, except cardboard might have more taste.