How’s the Cardboard Taste?

By Artem Osherov

Brooklyn has a reputation for excellence when it comes to pizza. The thin crust slice, a local favorite better known as New York-style pizza, remains a trustworthy cure to hunger for the on-the-go New Yorker. With pizzerias around the city boasting the “dollar slice,” it’s time to ask ourselves, are we cutting our pizza too thin?

Cash-strapped teens flock to pizzerias for the low-cost, social atmosphere and the abundance of great tasting food. There are a variety of eateries around Fort Greene for students to sample after school, from burger shops to Thai restaurants, and of course, pizzerias.

S&S Brooklyn Pizza, at 717 Fulton Street, a few steps away from the Fulton St. subway station (G train), has been serving the community for nearly 30 years. From its early 20th century cash register to the classic, tube TV that hangs above its stocked pepsi cooler, the pizzeria delivers a quaint, family owned air that is coveted by its loyal customers. Offering a variety of Italian specialties, from steaming baked ziti to freshly prepared cannoli, there’s something for any hungry passerby.

“Their cheese is great, they’re always friendly, and I always have small conversations with the owners when I go there to eat,” says Shaquille Sinclair ’13. “It’s one of those stores that actually feels like a family place. I love it.”

Lately, the family-owned pizzeria has been losing its flair, as brands like 2Bros Pizza expand into the Fort Greene area. Few students share Sinclair’s mindset, with most choosing to flock to the cheaper, “dollar slice” pizzerias.

“It used to be that at 3 o’clock, this place would be filled with kids,” says Sara Fundaro, the owner of S&S Brooklyn Pizza. “Now they don’t eat our pizza anymore. They buy for a dollar.”

A slice of pizza for a dollar seems like a great deal. 2Bros Pizza on Flatbush Avenue, near the Dekalb Ave subway station (B,Q,R trains) is packed every afternoon.

Located on Flatbush Avenue, 2Bros Pizza is just a few blocks away from Tech.
Located on Flatbush Avenue, 2Bros Pizza is just a few blocks away from Tech.

“Kids who understand what they eat will come here,” argues Fundaro. “The ingredients for a slice of pizza don’t work out for one dollar. We tried making dollar pizza. It just doesn’t work.”

Although some students agree with Fundaro, attributing the taste of 2Bros Pizza to cardboard or plastic, many remain optimistic about the cheaper slice’s quality.

“I think [2Bros Pizza] is pretty good,” says Leo Andriasyan ’15. “It’s pizza for a dollar. What’s not to like?”

Sounds like the demise of small businesses in Brooklyn. Fundaro’s single pizzeria cannot compete with chains like 2Bros. According to a New York Times article published in March, when one of 2Bros’ branches in Manhattan had dropped its price to 75 cents for a slice, pizzeria owners agree that $1 is the minimum amount they can charge to still make a decent profit.

Yet a slice at S&S Brooklyn Pizza is $2.50. What the owners call “good pizza” is two and a half times better than 2Bros, their price argues. Fundaro claims her pizzeria gives a 10% discount to students, which still leaves her slice more than two times as expensive as 2Bros’ “cardboard.” Both businesses believe they use the finest quality ingredients, whatever that means.

Inside a 2Bros Pizza box: Dollar slices look surprisingly edible.
Inside a 2Bros Pizza box: Dollar slices look surprisingly edible.

While students can buy two “dollar slices” and a can of soda ($2.75) at 2Bros for just over the cost of one slice at S&S Brooklyn, it makes sense that Fundaro will be losing money. Students can find welcome alternatives in the Fort Greene area, which are healthier than any cheap pizza slice, regardless how fresh. A footlong at Subway will cost somewhere in the range of $5 to $10, and offers tremendous variety for your money. At National Thai on Fulton street, for similar prices, students can enjoy a more elegant Asian meal.

Students concerned about eating healthy won’t be buying pizza, regardless of whether it’s made from real cheese and organic tomatoes or it’s rumored to be made from the same stuff as a McDonalds Big Mac. To those students, the dollar differential between one slice and another doesn’t matter, and neither does a three dollar increase for sensible foods.

Next time you’re stuffing yourself with chemicals, check your wallet. If it only weighs a dollar less than before, perhaps it’s time for a lifestyle change.

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