Ask any New Yorker where to cop the best slice and prepare for more than just a recommendation–you're likely getting a mini history lesson on neighborhood nostalgia, craft, and tradition. In 2010, Brooklyn native Frank Pinello got sparked by his Bensonhurst roots and the glory days of high-quality slice spots on every corner. Since then, Best Pizza has become a high-profile brand that's never lost its north star of making the perfect slice with top-shelf ingredients.
The longtime grab-and-go choice for anyone pushing through the streets of NYC, Best Pizza's OG location in Williamsburg, Brooklyn instantly became a slice destination. A decade plus later, Frank's expanded the brand worldwide and hosts the popular VICE Munchies series, The Pizza Show. A popular lunch spot for the HUF Brooklyn squad, we caught up with Frank to talk about craft, quality, and 20 years of HUF.
Photographs by Jacob Consenstein
Best Pizza crew seen wearing HUF Holiday 2022
Considering we've just recently ended our 20-year anniversary, what are your thoughts on HUF and the brand's meaning to NYC?
In 2009, I was working for Chipotle doing this cool event on East River. It was a snowboarding event and they must have had one of the biggest ramps I've ever seen. I was on the VIP boat handing out food when I randomly introduced myself to this man who was wearing a HUF skull cap, only to find out it was Keith (Hufnagel). We must have chopped it up for at least a half hour and he was the nicest guy I have ever met.
To be honest, I knew very little about the brand at the time, but that moment when I met Keith stuck with me forever. When I caught wind of HUF opening up in Williamsburg, I knew those were the homies. I walked in when they first opened and had mentioned that they had to let us bring pizzas through. Keith was such a down-to-earth cool guy and the clothing was right up my alley. The shit is just fly.
The pizza game in NYC is so competitive. What was your original idea for Best Pizza and how did you plan to stand out?
Honestly, I never wanted to work in a pizzeria. I always wanted to work for the bigger chefs and eventually become a Michelin Star Chef. I grew up in a food family—both my parents are from Sicily and everything my mother made was from scratch. That opened my eyes to everything. As I was graduating from The Culinary Institute of America, I was working at a pizza place 'cos I was broke. I was looking around the industry at the time and Momofuku had just opened up. David Chang leveled up a traditional noodle bar and I was thinking it was such a great idea—it was unique. You'd typically have to go to a four-star restaurant to get this type of food and that's when it clicked. When you work in those high places, you serve that 1% of the population, but I wanted to share that similar experience with anyone, especially with pizza. Rich or poor, 8 years old or 80—pizza is this universal vessel that has a lot of power if you do it well.
I started working at Roberta's and the owners liked me right away. They knew that I liked pizza and I had a food background, so they invited me to come to their garden and wanted to talk to me. I initially had a five-year plan: two years to work in Italy, come back and open up a quick service. Before I even mentioned my plan, the owners of Roberta's mentioned that they came across this spot in Williamsburg and wanted to do a slice place. That first pizza I made for them… I was confident, but I was nervous because I was serving my idols. They had their first bite and they fell in love with it. They asked if I could replicate this and make it every day.
Obviously, the food industry is a lot different than apparel but are there any similarities in your ethos and approach?
I see a lot in common with Best Pizza and HUF. I felt that immediately when I met Keith, Jacob when he came by to take our photos and even when I'm talking to yourself… we're all just regular people, not trying too hard, not frontin'. It's been a real pleasure getting to know the crew.
Grab a slice, pop in and pay Frank and the team a visit whenever you're in Williamsburg at 33 Havemeyer St, Brooklyn, NY 11211 and check them out on Instagram at @bestpizza33