Pizza @ Kesté

271 Bleecker Street, New York, NY

“Kesté” reads like “this is it” in Neapolitan dialect. The naming is the appropriate answer to a critical question: are you looking for a good Neapolitan-style pizza in the Greenwich Village? Kesté: this is it!

As usual, the Margherita is the first choice to prove the overall quality. In this case the experience is outstanding. The crust starts thick on the borders – crunchy outside and soft inside – and it becomes thinner in the center. The tomato sauce and the mozzarella do not release too much water: this allows for a thin crust that can hold all the ingredients without becoming soggy. The buffalo milk mozzarella is tender and loaded with flavor: it blends with the pizza and melts in your mouth.

If you want to try a different type of pizza, I recommend the Burrata, a special that may not be always available and that could be shared, considered that “burrata” is a soft cheese heavier than mozzarella.

 

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Pizza @ Pizza Roma [CLOSED]

259 Bleecker Street, New York, NY

Pizza by the slice did not benefit significantly from the pizza renaissance that took place in New York. The triangle-shaped thick slices are still dominant while the rectangular shaped slices – typical of the Italian tradition – are a rare find.

Pizza Roma is one of the few places where the slices are rectangular and the crust is true pizza rather than a bagel-bread hybrid.

The pizzaiolo makes pizzas with many different toppings: a true symphony of flavors where I recently enjoyed a memorable “crescendo”.

Start “adagio” with pizza bianca: a classic that will let you appreciate the quality of the dough. Accelerate to “andante” with the mosaic of zucchini and the hidden layer of melted cheese. When the margherita comes, it is time for an “allegro” of mozzarella and tomato sauce. And finally the “vivace” flavor of the porcini pizza, where the mushrooms are true porcini with their unmistakeable fatty texture and fully developed flavor. “Bravo, maestro!”.

Focaccia @ Il Cantuccio [CLOSED]

91 Cristopher Street, New York, NY

This white focaccia speaks for itself. I fell almost useless in describing the thick and delicate slice, and the delicious olive oil that covers its crunchy surface. You just have to try it.

I would rather spend some time describing the cozy West Village location. A true bakery, with a courteous service, where they usually offer some of their focaccia and biscotti for tasting. Focaccia is my favorite order here, but you should also try the “cantucci”. These pastries, typical of Tuscany, give the name to the bakery and are prepared daily, with different ingredients, including figs, apricots, chocolate. I find difficult to resist focaccia and cantucci: usually I have to taste them immediately. If you share this compelling need, Il Cantuccio’s backyard offers two tables where you can sit down, relax and escape from the hectic pace of the city.

Pizza @ Artichoke Basille’s Pizza

114 Tenth Avenue, New York, NY

When you go to Artichoke Pizza, you should take the same precautions before going to the beach for a swim: wait at least four hours since your previous meal. The pizza is really good and you will not be able to stop until you are scratching the last drops of melted cheese from the bottom of the 18″ metal plate. In this case, your first choice should not be the classic “margherita”. A place that has “artichoke” and “pizza” in its name gives you a subtle hint about what you should order.

The crust is thick and with high borders: it is almost like a pan (tasting obviously better than a pan) where the artichokes are literally dipped in a melted mix of cheese. This pizza is a celebration of abundance and flavors. You will really enjoy it if you follow the “beach swim” rule stated above, and if you have a good lager beer to refresh your mouth.

The Chelsea location is recommended if you want to eat the pizza “on site”, which is always the preferred option.

Brunch Pizza @ Pulino’s [CLOSED]

282 Bowery,  New York, NY 

“[…] Deviation from a dominant theory, opinion, or practice”. This is how the Merriam-Webster dictionary, defines the concept of “heresy”. This was also my initial thought as I saw the pizzas in Pulino’s  brunch menu: heresy!

After ordering the pizza with salmon, potatoes and crème fraîche I was forced to eat my prejudice, together with the eight slices of this interesting interpretation of a traditional recipe.

In this case, pizza is not the main subject. Its crust is thin, properly baked and with a good flavor, resulting from a mix of different flours. However, the crust is only the canvas where thinly sliced salmon, potatoes and onions are masterfully combined. A tiny amount of crème fraîche keeps everything together.

This is my favorite choice at Pulino’s, where I suggest to go only if there are tables available outside or if the inside open space is not too crowded (and noisy).

Pizza @ Da Mikele

275 Church Street, New York, NY

You can call him either Michele, as per the Italian spelling, or Mikele, as per the name of his restaurant in Tribeca. Regardless of his name, this guy has always had a good touch for pizza.
Several years ago, you could find him at Luzzo’s, showing East Villagers what is the difference between a good pizza and the slices sold at St Marks Place.
Now, Michele (or Mikele) moved to a more gentrified area, changed the style of his pizza, and still delivers an amazing product. The pizza is square and served on a wood board. The mozzarella is delicious, melted to perfection and blended with the delicate tomato sauce. The pizza is medium-thick with a rich flavor, probably thanks to generous brush of oil applied before going into the oven.

Enjoy this pizza with a good selection of Italian beers on tap, and close with a shot of limoncello.

Pizza @ South Brooklyn Pizza

122 1st Avenue, New York, NY 

South Brooklyn in Manhattan is not an oxymoron. At least it is not an oxymoron since when this pizzeria appeared in the East Village a few years ago.

The place is small but it has all that is needed for a great pizza by the slice. There are two types of pizzas: round and rectangular. The latter – also called Sicilian-style – is the one you should try.

Since the baking takes longer, the rectangular pizza is available in more limited quantities.  In case there was a customer like me immediately before you,  you may need to wait for a new batch to come out of the oven. Rest assured that the quality of the pizza is worth the short wait.

The Sicilian pizza has a crunchy crust at the bottom and a tender layer of dough at the center. Tomato sauce all the other ingredients are really top-notch.

You can check the quality of the cheese by contemplating the windowed refrigerators located  below the countertops place on one side and on front of the window. Additional sauces – spicy, garlic, and others – are available at the countertop tables.

The Sicilian-style pizza is also good for a home delivery. It can be re-heated quickly and without loss of quality in an electric oven (avoid microwave, for this delicate task).

Chicago Pizza @ Pequod’s Pizzeria

2207 N Clybourn Ave, Chicago, IL 60614

Rossini’s “William Tell Overture” and Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven”  are two masterpieces in their respective genres. They share the same building blocks – a handful of musical notes – to produce two completely different types of experience. Both experiences can be extremely positive, provided that different factors are properly combined together: the quality of the score, the abilities of the musicians and the personal preferences of the listener.

If you have read until this point, you may be wondering what is the connection between music and pizza. Your curiosity will be immediately satisfied!

Traditional pizza and Chicago pizza are like a classical music theme and rock ‘n’ roll song (you can decide which one is what). They use the same “musical notes” – flour, water, yeast, oil, tomato, cheese, salt, herbs and spices – to produce different kinds of culinary experience. Both of them can be really good, provided that they are prepared with care and tasted without prejudices.

Tasting a Chicago pizza and expecting an experience similar to a traditional pizza is like asking for a stage diving at a cello concerto. A total failure, most likely.

Today we want to taste Chicago pizza and we will evaluate it as a… Chicago pizza. With this idea in mind, we enter Pequod’s.

Pequod’s is home to one of the best Chicago pizzas you could find. It is located in a residential neighborhood, which makes the tables less crowded and the experience more enjoyable. The waiters are friendly and efficient.

The Chicago pizza has a thin crust at the bottom and on the sides. The consistency and flavor of the crust create a balanced contrast with the fluffiness of the dough. The dough itself is not heavy and it is perfectly integrated with tomato sauce and the cheese on the top.

Each slice starts with a moistly bite of tomato sauce and cheese, and ends with the rich flavor of the melted cheese crust. The seven inch “personal” pizza is also the right size for   a meal that will leave you with the desire of “just one more slice”.  A good reason to come back.

Pizza @ Pizzarte

69 West 55th Street, New York, NY 

Finding a good pizza in Midtown is an almost impossible task. Most of the places offer pizza by the slice: a quick bite of dubious quality for lunch breaks at the office and for tourists rushing between Central Park and Times Square

Pizzarte is an appreciated exception to this general rule, and also a good reason for adventuring above 23rd Street.

The location is 40% pizzeria, 40% restaurant and 20% art gallery. The “Pizzarte” name obviously combines the pizza and the art gallery concept, but it is also a statement about the approach to the preparation of pizza.

The tomato sauce is lightly sweet and dense, blending properly with the melted mozzarella. The mozzarella did not release water, leaving the baked dough with a balanced texture (even though I would expect it to be a little bit fluffier, for a Neapolitan pizza).

They also have a magnificent pizza tartufata and delicious fried pizza. The wine list is really interesting: it helps with the challenging task of pairing wine with pizza. The service was  polite, efficient and entertaining.

This is one of the few places in midtown where it is worth to come back again and again.

Pizza @ Via Tribunali

122 Ludlow Street, New York, NY 

A few years ago we observed the first signs of a “pizza renaissance” in New York, with several good pizza places opening in the East Village and in the Greenwich Village. Now, the picky foodamentalist can benefit from this trend, finding good pizza in almost any neighborhood. The beloved Lower East Side makes no exception.

“Via Tribunali”, in Ludlow Street, takes its name from one of the main street in Naples. The pizza – prepared in neapolitan style, of course – comes actually from the West Coast, where the first “Via Tribunali” locations were opened.

The ingredients used in the pizza are top quality: rich of flavors without being to heavy. The “salsiccia and friarelli” is a rare find outside of Italy: our compliments to “Via Tribunali” for daring to include this pizza in the menu, and for being successful in the execution.

The dough is the only area of improvement: it seems to be not soft enough, requiring excessive effort to chew it. This is particularly noticeable in the crust surrounding the pizza.

Overall, there is one more good reason to go the Lower East Side.