“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.
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!”.
“[…] 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).
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.
Numero 28 has the typical interiors and furniture of a small Italian “Pizzeria”. The presence of “Our Lady of Pompei” church on the opposite side of the street reinforces the illusion of being in Southern Italy, rather than in the South Village. Luckily, a good pizza is not an illusion and does not require heavenly help from the other side of the street. The Margherita – a standard benchmark to evaluate the quality of a pizza – comes quickly from the wood burning oven. The mozzarella blends perfectly with the crust and with the tomato sauce. The moderately thick crust strikes a good balance between the Neapolitan and Roman styles. A slice can be folded without breaking it, and it does not even bend because of excessive cheese on it. The tomato sauce is not distributed evenly on the surface. This is quite unusual, but it works well since the sauce is quite savory and it could be overwhelming, if in larger quantity. The 18-inch size will let two people enjoy this fine pizza.