Battle of the Dishes: $1 Pizza Faceoff. (Because We're Cheap Bastards This Week)

Victoria Bekiempis
A nice slice for the price at 2 Bros.?

This city's cash-strapped college students and munchie-minded revelers might not be so well fed today were it not for a kindly businessman by the name of Abdul Mohammad.

Around 10 years ago, so the story goes, Mohammad wanted to make some cash and feed an underserved demographic: the homeless. So Mohammad, owner of the ubiquitous 99¢ Fresh Pizza chain, set up shop in Hell's Kitchen -- right across the street from a shelter.

"If they want to buy Chinese food, they need $4," Mr. Mohammad told The New York Times in a 2010 interview. "I say, 'I want to do something for these people.'"

So Mohammad started selling $1 cheese slices, and the concept was a hit. Mohammad expanded to other storefronts, and competing pizza shops -- such as St. Mark's 2 Bros. Pizza, which opened in 2008 -- took the same approach.

And now, one of New York's most esteemed sausage-peddlers -- Gray's Papaya -- has (somewhat perplexingly) entered the bargain-pizza fray. So begins this week's Battle of the Dishes: a three-way throw-down between 99¢ Fresh, 2 Bros., and Gray's $1 cheese pieces.

2 Bros. (32 St. Mark's Place, 212-777-0600)

This East Village fave comes with plentiful melted mozzarella, and has a warm, elastic mouthfeel. The moz doesn't taste especially creamy, but it does glisten slightly with that iridescent sheen of grease you want to see in a respectable slice. The tomato sauce even has hints of basil, and the crust strikes a balance between crispness and chewiness. The pick feels moist, hearty, and solid, but never too thick or homogenous. This could pass for high-quality frozen food, but in a good way.

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