Visiting this area makes me incredibly upset that I didn’t go to NYU.
It’s a shame that I didn’t want to go to school in a city (I wanted a real campus and all) and that I wasn’t at all interested in NYU when I was 17, because that area is a pizza mecca. Located very close to other pizza meccas, not to mention baked good meccas. You live and you learn, I suppose.
In the space of 2-3 blocks are so many amazing pizzerias you could cry (if you’re the type of person who gets overly emotionally excited about pizza). One of my all-time faves, John’s, is right on Bleecker Street. Across the way are Keste and Pizza Roma; around the corner on Carmine in one direction is Joe’s and in the other is Spunto. There’s also Bleecker Street Pizza, which I have yet to try.
Keste serves authentic Neapolitan pizza under Chef Roberto Caporuscio, who is a delegate of the Associazone Pizzaiuoli Napoletani and therefore works very hard to maintain the standards they believe necessary to carry on the tradition of Italian pizza-making. Keste’s pizza is pizza like I remember it in Florence, Italy. My visit to Keste came before I knew much about pizza, but I can tell you this much – it was delicious.
We ordered the traditional Margherita (second photo) and the Regina Margherita (first photo, necessary since I’m a sucker for buffalo mozzarella). The pies were perfectly charred, a dream of cheese and sauce fusion, tinged with basil. As per most Neapolitan pies, the crust gets soft and sags under the weight of the sauce & cheese, but I actually enjoy the semi-mush that results.
Pizza Roma was my next stop down the block (different day! My binging disguised as a pizza crawl is semi-recent). Their roman-style square slices look appetizing, but as I recall I didn’t really enjoy it much. The crust was actually burnt in areas (and I burned my mouth – that’s my fault, not theirs), there was too much thick sauce in proportion to the cheese. It was really messy – which I normally don’t mind – but I didn’t think it paid off. However, they had some really interesting looking slices up front that I’d go back to try (in a rare twist, you can actually get it by the slice).
Joe’s is THE quintessential New York slice. Crunchy crust, loads of cheese, it’s just straight up delicious. Like John’s, the walls at Joe’s are plastered with photos of celebrity visitors, in case you weren’t convinced enough that you should love it. It’s an *institution* of New York pizza. Go in, grab a slice, fold that bad boy like a real New Yorker, and just go to town on it.
The last place on my little mini tour here is Spunto Thin Crust. When you literally name your restaurant describing your food, you better deliver – and Spunto does. The crust of their Classica pie is without a doubt the thinnest crust I’ve ever had, and it doesn’t bend or sag at all, remaining perfectly crisp. Unfortunately, I’m not a fan of raw tomatoes (despite my love of tomato sauce, ketchup, etc.) so this wasn’t a big favorite for me, but I still enjoyed it – how can you not with those enormous balls of mozzarella?
There ya go. If you’re ever in this area of town and not eating pizza, you’ve officially sinned.
Keste, 271 Bleecker Street, New York, NY 10014; http://www.kestepizzeria.com/
Pizza Roma, 259 Bleecker Street, New York, NY 10014; http://www.pizzaromanewyork.com/
Joe’s Pizza, 7 Carmine Street, New York, NY 10014; http://www.joespizzanyc.com/
Spunto Thin Crust, 65 Carmine Street, New York, NY 10014; http://www.spuntothincrust.com/