When the MoMA will open a pizza art gallery, the curator will probably include Forcella as a leading example of the new wave of Neapolitan style pizza in New York.
The name of the restaurant comes from an iconic neighborhood in Naples, and the pizza experience at Forcella is true to its Italian roots. The pizza is impeccable, the ingredients are of excellent quality, the spicy olive oil is available on request, and the waiters always try to sell you more expensive beverages.
It is impossible to resist to the “Pizzella”, a tiny piece of pizza dough quickly fried and then baked with a simple topping of tomato and cheese. This is an absolute must, especially if you are not going to order the “Montanara”, the deep fried whole pizza.
The “Margherita Extra” is pure art and passion. The crust is thick, light and fluffy. The toppings are perfectly blended together creating a continuum of flavors, from the acid-sweetness of the tomato to the decadent, sinful opulence of the melted cheese. A masterpiece on a plate.
“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!”.
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.
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.
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.