Updated October 7th, 2021
It’s almost impossible to resist the gravitational pull of Scarr’s, a slice shop on the Lower East Side. That’s partly because of the stereotypically hypebeast-y crowd that lingers out front, and partly because a Scarr’s slice will make you wonder how crust alone can taste so flavorful.
Let’s break down the anatomy of a Scarr’s pie. Scarr’s mills their own grains in the basement, sifts the flour once-over, mixes it with another blend of flour, yeast, salt, and olive oil, lets it ferment for a few hours, then portions it out into sticky, elastic balls of dough. We’re going to pause here, because this is a big deal. To our knowledge, there’s no other NYC slice shop milling its own grains instead of using regular unbleached flour or even packaged Italian 00.
After receiving a similar amount of attention as a spoiled only child, the dough is kneaded out to a perfectly thin consistency. One more round of stretching, and the crust would emerge from the oven too crackery. Browned cheese blankets the surface of the slightly yeasty crust, with a zesty tomato sauce underneath. In the sauce are hints of oregano that recall Sicilian bushels of the stuff showering down into bubbling vats of passata. If you opt for a pepperoni slice (which we highly recommend), precious grease will drip down your wrist and charred pepperoni bits might lose their balance when you fold it in half. It’s these details that make Scarr’s thin-crust slices the best you’ll find on the LES.
The only caveat is that Scarr’s can be a little inconsistent, which is why we’ve kept it off of our guide to the best pizza in NYC in the past. Certain options are often unavailable (it’s tough to score a grandma slice) and the Sicilian has been too doughy on certain occasions. Add in long wait times, and the whole utilitarian premise of a slice shop - somewhere you can get a quick, cheap meal - no longer exists.
And yet, Scarr’s is one of the few slice shops in the city where you don’t just go for a slice - you go for the scene. There’s almost always a line, and it’s basically impossible to walk by without being lured into it yourself - partially because you want to eavesdrop on the buckethatted clientele sipping natural wine on the sidewalk, and partially because the pizza really is that good. Before 2020, much of that crowd used to hang out in the back dining room and bar area. But now, there’s an outdoor dining structure in front that has its own party energy, filled with those same Dimes Square characters sharing pies and drinking frozen daiquiris and guava margaritas.
Scarr’s is the only slice shop in the city where you can drink tropical cocktails, feel simultaneously in the know and acutely aware of your age, and eat a standout slice. That’s why we’ve added it to our guide to the best pizza places in NYC, and suggest that you get in line the next time you’re walking down Orchard Street.
The tangy dough makes us want to start milling wheat berries ourselves. The cheese is browned all over on this slice and the sauce notably tastes like oregano and garlic.
Savory pepperoni improves what is already a banger of a cheese slice. Little pools of grease from the meat might drip down your wrist if you fold this slice in half. Order this one if you think patting pizza with a napkin is a crime against humanity.
Occasionally a bit too doughy, but still has a nice distribution of cheese, tomato, and basil leaves draped over the top. Regardless, we’d advocate for a thin-crust slice or pie over this.
A nice bowl of greens to balance out massive amounts of dough, cheese, and tomato sauce. We’ve always found the salad perfectly seasoned with some breadcrumbs, nutritional yeast, and creamy yet dairyless ranch-like dressing.
Both guava margaritas and frozen daiquiris are newer additions to Scarr’s menu. Sure you can order beer and natural wine, but having the option to pair a pepperoni pizza with a sour and refreshing cocktail makes us love Scarr’s even more.