An extra-crispy body is found in the oven at Authentic Nick's Pizza. The owner, whose real name is Ralph, thinks one of his rivals is responsible. The list of suspects includes the owner of Terrific Authentic Nick's Pizza, who is actually Sal Malavolta. It could also be Terrific Nick (aka Vinnie Delfino) or Authentic Terrific Nick, who is actually Luca Sabalini.
The dead man found at Authentic Nick's is a newspaper reporter named Gordon Burns. No, really! Gordon's editor says the former war correspondent was devastated a few years back when his 10-year-old daughter was killed in a car accident. He hadn't written much since then. His most recent assignment was about New York's pizza wars. Looks like Castle and Beckett caught this case just in the "Nick" of time!
The prints of Sal Malavoti are found on the oven where the body was found. He claims that's because he was planning on stealing it. Sal says Authentic Nick, aka Ralph, has mob ties. Both Nicks alibi out. Gordon Burns had an argument with Authentic Terrific Nick, aka Luca, because Burns was going to expose the fact that his fat-free pizza actually has fat. Cheesy, but true. So, Luca's no killer.
The names "Johnny Farrell" and "Swede Anderson" are found on the dead journalist's notepad. Both names sound familiar to Castle. Burns had a late date with a lady from his past, real estate agent Monica Wyatt. The woman says Burns was working on a story. It may have involved the murder of a drug trafficker named Harley Romero. ATM surveillance video shows Romero very much alive as he attacks the murder victim.
Castle learns the names on the notepad are characters from old film noir movies. Burns once worked on a story about a drug distribution ring that used movie names as part of a code. The person behind the ring was a legendary crime figure known as Cavallo. Burns was getting too close and he believed that's why his daughter was killed.
Burns knew he was on camera at the ATM. He wrote out an address of a heroin processing house. The victim's cell phone captured a picture of Monica Wyatt outside the place. The team breaks into her apartment where she's found bruised and bloodied. Monica says she was attacked by Cavallo's right-hand man, Harley Romero. She got into trouble years ago and Cavallo had her under his thumb. Burns said he was closing in on the dangerous drug dealer. Now that he's dead, Monica fears she's next.
Castle and Beckett believe Harley Romero IS Cavallo. Monica says the codes being used for the next transaction are from Burns' favorite film, The Maltese Falcon. All they need to know now is at which pizzeria it'll take place. We're guessing it'll have a clever "Nick" name. Castle picks up a takeout order at Terrific Authentic Nick's Pizza under the name Sam Spade. But there's no piping hot pizza in the box, only heroin.
Sal Malavolta says Harley Romero wanted to use his oven as a crematory. Sal refused, so the killer used the pizza place across the street. Beckett sets up a sting where they capture Romero/Cavallo. Case closed. Or is it? Castle and Beckett realize Monica Wyatt is the true mystery kingpin. She made millions in the heroin trade and laundered the money by selling houses in the name of film noir characters. Any way you slice it, this femme fatale is going down for murder.
In other news, Alexis' friend kisses Ashley and then posts pictures of the ambush-smooch online. Things escalate to a fistfight before the two girls eventually call a truce. Alexis doesn't know if their friendship can be saved, but she knows her dad will always have her back as he brings home pizza to cheer her up. And it wasn't even from a place called Nick's!