Food TV: “Slice of Brooklyn” Tastes Warmed Over

Brooklyn can’t catch a break. When it isn’t being caricatured as a place of deep vees and whole pigs carved tableside, it’s crawling with goombahs.

Tonight on the Travel Channel, the goombahs win. It’s the premiere of Slice of Brooklyn, a show about a guy named Tony Muia (above, second from right) who owns a tour company that takes people around eating hot slices. Muia’s like an extra from Saturday Night Fever. He’s a stocky little fireplug, dropping F-bombs like other people drop verbal tics. And he’s kind of a raging bull.

In tonight’s pilot, “Pizza Crashers,” Muia’s pissed that other tour companies have muscled in on his territory. “F*@k ’em, let ’em stay in Manhattan,” he says as a competitor’s bus rolls by. Muia’s tours make stops at Grimaldi’s for thin-crust Neapolitan cooked in a coal oven and at L&B Spumoni Gardens for Sicilian thick crust.

So far so good. The pizza looks great and Muia’s pain looks real. And his tour-guide cousin Paula seems too good to be true: tough and mouthy. But soon we’re in the Brooklyn of movie clichés. Muia has a “family,” a trio of guys who remind you of Clemenza in The Godfather, his “consiglieri.” They decide to go undercover to check out a competitor’s tour and report back.

It’s a toothless bit of show filler. As it turns out, Uncle Louie, Fat Sal, and Frankie Pancakes are about as interesting as guys shuffling around a Kragen looking for wiper blades. And Muia's search for a new tour guide is nearly as dull.

It all ends okay—although in a setup with little real tension to begin with, that doesn’t take much. Slice of Brooklyn panders so much to cliché it seems scripted, and badly. It made me hungry not just for pizza but for the kind of street-level view of New York in HBO's How to Make It in America. Now that show was f*@king real.

See also: "Worst Cooks in America": Extreme TV

Image source: Tony Muia (second from right) with his “consiglieri” / Travel Channel

John Birdsall is senior editor at CHOW. You can follow him on Twitter. Follow CHOW, too, and become a fan on Facebook.