CNNCTD

Scarr

Scarr: Scarr's Pizza

 Photo by Peter Pabon

Photo by Peter Pabon

Looks can be deceptive and that can be said about Scarr, the Uptown native, who has become a staple in the lower east side. Don’t let his appearance fool you, Scarr knows what makes a good pizza and you'll taste it!

Scarr cares more about his ingredients than most. His love for New York comes out in every slice and pie from his Orchard street location, which looks and feels like a classic NYC pizzeria. He spares no expense nor attention to detail. He only uses all natural ingredients, which one can taste in every slice as well as creating a vegan caesar which he’s added to his menu. CNNCTD sits with the ever reserved Scarr and talks about his history in restaurants, his love of pizza and growing up in NYC.

 
 

Scarr:
My name i
s Scarr. I'm from Manhattan, NY. One, zero, zero, no I'm kidding. Okay, I'm Scarr from New York, Manhattan. Born and raised for the most part. Lived in Queens for a little bit in the Bronx, but mostly Manhattan.

CNNCTD:
What part of Manhattan?
Scarr:
Uh, uptown. It's called Hamilton Heights now, but by City College.

CNNCTD:
How’d you get into this industry?

Scarr:
I used to work in Ballatos when I was 17. That was my first restaurant job. Then I worked at Lombardi's. That was my second restaurant job. Took a little break in between both. Then Lasso, which is closed now. Also, Artichoke and Joe's. That's it. At Lombardi's, I was a server, front of house and waiter. At Ballatos, I was a bus boy first because I was a kid and then a part-time server. Everywhere else I either consulted or managed.

CNNCTD:
How did you get into pizza?

Scarr:
I don't know, it's just something I grew up having all my life and then it started tasting like shit. People started using cheaper shit in the last 10 - 15 years and then we decided to switch it up. I originally wanted open a restaurant because my dad had a diner in the South Bronx when I was a kid. He sold it and I loved the feeling of people coming in and eating. It was always the same 20 people.

CNNCTD:
Nice. So it was more to recreate that feeling?


Scarr:
I always like camaraderie,  I like that people would come in like it was an extension of their living room.

That’s what I always loved growing up. Most restaurants were like that growing up. My boy that I went to  high school with had an uncle that owned the spot where Café Havana is now on Prince Street. That used to be hamburger joint when we were kids. We used to go there a lot and he treated us like family and gave us burgers.

 

CNNCTD:
Yeah, you don't find that much in New York anymore.

Scarr:
No. It's all gone now. It's a bunch of people who aren't from New York that own it now. Not immigrants, just people from the Midwest, transplants that own most of these restaurants. They don't understand and don't know what a New York establishment is because they're not from here. So they just come in and do what they know. You know?

CNNCTD:
I mean pizza falls in that realm too. I remember as a kid, pizza was one of my favorite meals and as I got older, the quality of the pizza fell off.

Scarr:
Even the old school spots - everywhere! Like that guy that does pizza that’s 90 years old in Brooklyn, it just sucks now. It's not what it used to be.

CNNCTD:
The ingredients and the purveyor I guess to keep the cost down they go with cheaper ingredients.

Scarr:
It's not their fault. I don't blame them. Their rents are going up. I mean. They know they can get away with using cheap shit, 'cause mind you most, the people living New York now aren’t from New York, so they’re coming from a place in American, Europe or wherever and their pizza is worse than it is here! You come from a spot where they eat shitty ass food and they arrive here and the pizza is still shitty, but not as shitty as where they came from, you know what I'm saying?

CNNCTD:
No, I agree, I mean for them pizza is Papa Johns, or fuckin' Dominos.

Scarr:
You come here anything on a slice for me is garbage 'cause as a kid pizza was fucking good, it was never bad. It was always good everywhere. There were great spots and there were good spots. You know my favorite spot was Sal and Carmine on the Upper West Side.

CNNCTD:
I used to go to a spot on 116th and Lexington.

Scarr:
Sam's. Sam’s used to be good.Then for me was Sal and Carmine. There was a spot called Theo.

CNNCTD:
Coronette 'cause my brother used to go to Columbia University.

Scarr:
I don't like Coronette. I never did. Coronette was trash.

CNNCTD:
You had places you just went to fill your stomach and then you had places where you knew the pizza was good.

Scarr:
Of course, but everything was good for the most, if you had whatever you call quality slice now, back then, they would have shut down. Nobody would go there. People would fight over it, "This guy had a better pizza, Sal or Momma's had a better pizza. Everyone's pizza was good 'cause no one was buying from Costco and the restaurant depots. Buying all this shit from there.

CNNCTD:
No, they were buying from purveyors.

Scarr:
They would get it from real purveyors. You get the meat from the butcher. You get the fucking flour from the bakery. You get shit like that. You know what I'm saying? It was a whole different story back then.

CNNCTD:
Big box wholesale killed the quality of food.


Scarr:
Yeah. It killed the quality of food.

CNNCTD:
What's New York mean to you?

Scarr:
For me?
Now? I've been here all my life almost. I don't know. It's different. I don't miss the old New York that's for sure. Whoever tells you that is a fucking liar. You don't want to live looking over your shoulder every day. I don't miss that at all. Even if we didn't have beef. People don't understand. I was a troublemaker, but I didn't have beef with people. You never knew, your friend could had beef with someone or your cousin had beef with someone. Or someone mistook you for someone else. That shit happened all the time. Or the cops pulling up on you. The first person to pull a gun on me was a cop when I was 15 years old.

CNNCTD:
Thats a shame.

Scarr:
I had a gun right up against my head. Put me up against a wall and put a gun right up to my head and searched me.

CNNCTD:
I got threw up on a cruiser hood. It was some dumb shit. ' Cause I was running with my hands in my pocket of my hoodie 'cause it was cold.

Scarr:
We literally walked out the store. I remember this clear as day. We were on Crescent Street visiting somebody that lived on Crescent Street. And we walked out my boy Johnny's store, Dominican guy. They only Dominican bodega in Long Island. I don't even know if he still owns it yet. We walked out, we bought some 40s. We were like 14, 15, I think at the time, or maybe 16. We bought some White Owl, some Duchess, rolled them up. We were smoking weed. We weren't even making noise. It was like four or five of us and this beat up DT car pulled up right on us and four guys pulled guns. Snub nosed 45s right in our face

CNNCTD:
Fuck!

Scarr:
Put us up against the wall. We didn't even know who they were. We didn't know they were cops. We thought one of our boys did something. They put a gun to our heads, they started breaking 40 bottles and let us go.

CNNCTD:
Yeah, I don't miss those days.

Scarr:
I don't miss those days at all.

 

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CNNCTD:
So, what's your plan. What's next for Scarr?

Scarr:
Well, the reason I came up with this concept is I wanted to go back kinda like in the era when people would still buy from purveyors. We get our stuff from upstate. The flour is local. We don't use chemically laced flour. Our shit is organic. The tomatoes are from California, they're organic as well. The tomatoes we use for our sauce. I try to keep it at a low price point. I want it to feel like you have a deal all day instead of coming in for a specific hour. Or from 4:00 to 6:00 for three hours. Keep it cheap. We serve cheap beer. I wanted to have that family vibe back in there.

CNNCTD:
It reminds me definitely of that. When I was a kid and the quality of pizza and the food.




CNNCTD:
Thank you.

DSCF8598.jpg

Scarr:
Yeah, if you have a palette you will know. We don't lace our stuff with sugar like most places do now. Even the most popular spots, they put Domino in their dough. Domino sugar in their dough. People think sauce should be candy sweet. I'm like I've never had sweet sauce until I was an adult. I've never had that growing up.

CNNCTD:
It's always just, they're supposed to do a pinch.

Scarr:
It's just to cut the acid. But not even that. The people add too much sugar. It's all white processed food. People don't understand their favorite pizza spot, I'm 100% guarantee, 100% sure that they use chemically laced ingredients in their pizza and people don't even know. They don't even ask. But, I also know my shit. No one else knows their stuff too.

Listen, my shit is made with the best ingredients on the planet for a fact. No one makes it better with the better ingredients even though it's simple ingredients. That's why I don't put arugula and all that shit, fancy shit. It's not a fancy pizza place. Don't get it twisted. Imagine a pepperoni pizza but your pepperoni is all natural. Which most places don't have, believe it or not. Flour that's local, organic. And cheese and sauce that's organic. That's all it is. It's nothing else that's fancy, it's just the pepperoni.

CNNCTD:
And people come here because it's good.

Scarr:
Most people hate on me all the time, but it's all good. They don't want a brown nigga like me making money. So, it's all good. Nobody wants to see you shine.

CNNCTD:
You know what? The food speaks for itself and you have a clientele.

Scarr:
People come. We're doing well because the food is good.

CNNCTD:
Exactly, it's not because of Instagram.

Scarr:
It's not because of Instagram. Not because I put photos of pizza all day on my Instagram like everyone else does.

CNNCTD:
Or that you have celebrities walking through.

Scarr:
No, we do, but I don't say it. I don't take photos with them. I don't say it.

CNNCTD:
Yeah, but they're there because they want to eat there.

Scarr:
They're there because they hear it's great. Listen, there was a food guy that was here. He's a reporter in Chicago. He had pizza all over the city. He didn't like my pizza. He liked shitty spots. People like shitty pizza.

CNNCTD:
Oh, and I've been to Chicago and that shit is just fuckin' tomato soup in a bread bowl.

Scarr:
People hate Chicago pizza.

Our customers love and appreciate us and I appreciate them. And they know a good thing. I show them love. I'm not Hollywood. I'm always in my shop.

CNNCTD:
Yeah, definitely. And it shows. And that's it. At the end of the day you have a good product and that's why people come.

Scarr:
For a fact.

CNNCTD:

Thank you