Otto Enoteca Pizzeria Leaves Me Speechless.

It’d been a while since my last pizzadventure with Scott, so I was SUPER excited to head out last night to Mario Batali’s Otto Enoteca Pizzeria. The food was so good, at the time it left me speechless, but hey – the blog is for verbalizing food, so here goes!

https://i0.wp.com/www.restaurantsinyc.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/otto-enoteca1.jpg

This photo isn’t mine, but I felt it necessary to show the vibe of the restaurant. It’s modeled after an Italian train station, though I can personally vouch for the fact that besides the schedule sign up front, it’s MUCH nicer than an Italian train station! We were extremely well-attended to the entire evening – water constantly refilled, wine filled from the carafe when my glass was low, managers checking in. Best of all (for me, at least) – it’s totally casual and unpretentious, despite the extensive and high-class wine list.

We skipped appetizers and went straight to the pizza, which was reasonably priced at $7-15 per pie. We went with the classic Margherita D.O.P. and the Cacio e Pepe (above). According to what I’ve read about Otto, they cook their pizzas on a griddle then broil them, rather than baking them in an oven. Perhaps due to this, their crust is extremely thin and crispy and does not sag with the weight of its toppings. This also means you don’t feel heavy or overwhelmed consuming it, as it’s light and flavorful.

Cacio simply translates to cheese as far as I can tell, and this pie is a mix of mozzarella, pecorino, and parmesan, coated in a thick dusting of coarsely grated black pepper; NO sauce.

Perhaps it was the large amount of cheese, but there also seemed to have been olive oil sprinkled on this pie, which made it extremely greasy. Past the point of just adding a nice sheen, the grease straight up dripped down the pie onto the plate. Apart from the mess, it was still incredibly delicious. After a while, the black pepper became a bit overwhelming, which made the light, sweet Margherita such a welcome accompaniment.

At first glance I was a bit disappointed by the sparse amount of cheese, but the sauce was so intensely flavorful that it was easily forgotten. Sweet and pure and not overly spiced, the sauce stood solidly on its own, complemented by the small basil leaves added post-cooking. The crust was crunchy with the perfect amount of char adding a burnt, toasty taste. I actually found that I enjoyed the cheese in small doses as sort of a special treat rather than taking over the pie.

Now, it would have been a shame to visit Otto without trying their much-revered gelato. We chose the olive oil and milk chocolate chip gelato with tangerine sorbetto. NONE of the flavors disappointed. We were both incredibly shocked by how much we enjoyed the olive oil gelato, which somehow preserved the essential olive oil flavor (drizzed on top with salt as well) while still remaining creamy. The milk chocolate chip, as per Scott, tasted like a “melted chocolate bar,” and its flavor was so perfectly on point for light gelato (as opposed to heavy ice cream). The chips melted in your mouth. The tangerine sorbetto was so refreshingly fruity and sweet. We even tried combining 2 flavors (and even 3 flavors) at once, and they were all spectacular together.

Now get up, and go. But make a reservation first.

OTTO Enoteca Pizzeria

One Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10003

http://ottopizzeria.com/

“Meh”: New York Pizza Suprema

I work in Midtown Manhattan, and though it’s the tourist mecca, I’ve actually found it’s pretty slim pickings for good food, especially pizza. Most things worth trying are too far to travel during my “lunch hour.” Therefore, I was pretty excited that there were a few places nearby deemed worthy; one being New York Pizza Suprema on 8th Avenue & 31st Street, only blocks away from my office.

I went around 1pm, so it was crowded for lunch. It’s right by Penn Station and it seems to get a pretty good crowd from there as well (though I’m technically one of them, so I can’t complain… or can I?). After shouting my order through a glass case way taller than my body, I was made to repeat my order multiple times – to the cashier, to the guy taking it out from the oven – which annoys me, but whatever. Their red & white striped outfits were ADORABLE.

I was planning on just getting the renowned upside-down slice (left), but I can’t turn down a margherita slice, so I ordered both. At $3.00 and $3.75 a slice, respectively, they were a bit more than I’d like to pay for two slices, but HEY, IT’S NYC! (A reasoning for charging more that I find to be absolutely bullshit).

I first tackled the upside-down slice, which is essentially a Sicilian slice with sauce on top. Here’s one good reason to favor places that refuse to sell by-the-slice: your pizza will be fresh. If you’re ordering a whole pie, they’re making it for you then. At a place like Pizza Suprema, they have multiple (maybe around 10-15) different pizzas sitting around waiting to be served, and it was obvious that my chosen slice had been there for quite some time.

Though they reheated it, my crust was more than burnt. I’m a lover of char, but this was so hard, not even crisp, that it kind of ruined things for me. I didn’t even want to eat my pizza bones – they were barely edible! I found this on the margherita slice, too – the crust was cooked for far too long that it became overly chewy and even hollow. This could be attributed to their lunchtime rush, I suppose – though it’s not really a reason to abandon quality. They probably left it reheating too long, as well – if you didn’t remind them of what you ordered and to take it out, you would have stood there waiting forever.

HOWEVER, the sauce on both pies was impeccable. If their sign is to believed, they actually use 4 different sauces (at once?). Big chunks of tomato, plenty of seasoning. The cheese and sauce essentially blended together on the upside-down pie, and were it not for the petrified crust it would have been completely enjoyable.

The sauce on the margherita slice was extremely sweet, which for once I have to say I didn’t mind. Crispy, thin crust – much better until I got to the edge (pictured above). It was even good cold – I got a bit stuffed eating so much at once; those bready Sicilian-style pies fill you up!

I did find it a bit over-seasoned and also overcooked so the cheese wasn’t as stringy as it probably should have been. Nevertheless, it was a decent slice, though their plain cheese slices looked the best – perhaps next time. I guess that in the land of dollar slices and tourist trap chains, sometimes the best you can ask for is “good enough.” :(

New York Pizza Suprema

413 8th Avenue,  New York, NY 10001

http://nypizzasuprema.com/

Hands-On Pizza Time.

Now that everyone is well aware of my obsession with pizza, I get suggestions from people all of the time (which, BTW, I love – so keep them coming). Last week, a friend sent through a deal she found on Daily Candy for a pizza-making class – so of course, I signed up Scott and myself at $75 for 2 people.

The class was located at AOA Bar & Grill down near TriBeCa. I was a little suspicious of the place based on its Yelp reviews (I live by Yelp) – the food got OK reviews; but the service reviews were horrible. The setup was adorable; at 11am with one whiff of the basil we were both more than ready to go.

They gave us aprons and gloves and we got set up at our stations. We got there about 15 minutes early – common courtesy, I think – but we ended up not starting til about 20 minutes after 11. Annoying, but okay.

Soon after we arrived, it became obvious that the pizza class was a ploy to gain customers and improve their reputation – fair enough. It started out fine, with a fun vibe and adequate attention paid to each member of the 30-person class (albeit with a sharp sense of desperation).

We started with a basic pizza dough, which we didn’t actually end up using in the class as it would need time to rise. I did take it home and refrigerate it – which reminds me that I should probably get on with making something of it! They provided us with dough balls that we would use to first make calzones.

The chef teaching the class clearly loves what he does but was also clearly being pressured by his boss – who lingered QUITE a bit – to make it more about us liking the restaurant than learning about pizza. We got off to a good start with the calzones, which we filled with mozzarella, spinach, and, in some cases (though not mine) ham.

They came out pretty well – notice my sweet empanada-style edges – and luckily the people around us were friendly & lovely as we had lots of time to sit and talk while everyone’s calzones went in the oven. Next, we started on the pizza. We all got dough balls, buckets of pre-made sauce, cubed or sliced mozzarella, and basil to cut and arrange as we chose.

Heeeere’s where things got bad. Once the lunch crowd started to arrive, we were all but ignored by our instructor, who was apparently the only one there able to make pizzas. He was forced to leave us in the middle of OUR pizza prep to make pizzas for the customers, while our dough dried out and those who had prepped to be put in the oven became soggy with sauce.

Promises of making our own sauce AND making focaccia were soon completely forgotten, as the class ran well over the 2 hours it was scheduled for. It got to the point where we just wanted to make our pizzas and get out; even worse, some people who must have had other plans DID leave before finishing.

The final product, once we actually got to put ours in the oven, was pretty excellent. The crust crisped up nicely; mine was really thin – which is really my own fault for being horrible at rolling out dough. Scott’s prior pizza-making experience shone through in his perfectly puffed crust (not to mention his flawless pizza-tossing) – not fair! I really did enjoy their sauce, though it would have been nice to make my own.

Someone mentioned this was only the fourth time they’d done this class – could have fooled me, as I thought it was the first time. There are a few things they could do to easily improve this class, namely sign up less people (30 is way too many for their space and tiny oven), have a clear agenda of what you’re making and keep it moving, and not interrupt the class to serve other customers (perhaps a second pizza chef?).

A lot of the other couples there (it was indeed mostly couples, or at least pairs of friends) didn’t seem to mind as the bar was open and they were free to do their 30-something socializing, but for younger, hungrier folks like us – we didn’t enjoy the wait! Given some time to work out these kinks, I’d recommend taking the class – or maybe one like it somewhere else.

AOA Bar & Grill

33 6th Avenue, New York, NY 10013

http://www.aoabarandgrill.com/

Astoria Pizza Tour

Upon realizing that several of the pizzerias on my list were in Astoria, I decided to organize my own pizza tour! Naturally, I dragged along Scott and made him suffer (joking – pizza never equals suffering) through 4 pizzerias in about 2 hours. I didn’t realize things were quite so close – hence the eventual stomachache – but I did completely fall in love with Astoria.

Our first stop: Sac’s Place!

Above: the coal-burning oven at Sac’s. We got there just about when it opened and they already had a few amazing-looking pizzas out, but we stuck to the basic cheese & sauce. There’s a pizza side where you can order slices, and also a sit-down restaurant area. The entire place was really nice!

This is their cheese slice, but from what I’ve read the “Mama’s Old Fashioned” slice is also amazing – their version of a margherita. Thin, crispy crust; the perfect ratio of sauce to cheese. The cheese is stringy but not excessively so. I was so hungry from waiting to eat all day that I gobbled it up :)

Sweet NYC-style decor at Sac’s.

Our next stop: Rizzo’s Fine Pizza.


Rizzo’s walls are covered with articles praising its food and about the pizza traditions of New York. Unfortunately I didn’t do my research – their most famous slice is the square Sicilian-style, which you can see above on their menu. I’ve never seen Sicilian pies done in that way with the cheese, so of course I must go back. I got their “round” Neapolitan pizza – which, in my opinion, isn’t actually Neapolitan at all. All of Rizzo’s pies have a thin crust, which is flavorful and crunchy – you can even see how easily the crust would break in the picture below.

Though it doesn’t look like much, this slice was packed with flavor. Plus, you get this guy smiling at you from every table!

We were both getting a little full by then. But we must go on!

Third stop: Rosario’s Deli.

Rosario’s is an Italian deli full of authentic, imported Italian goods. It’s got everything I remember from my time spent in Florence plus more. In the back, you can get pizza by the slice only, made with their own freshly-made mozzarella. Their pizza had quite an interesting look to it with the way the cheese cooks, but it’s delicious through-and-through. The orange makes me think they also put olive oil on their pies, but I can’t be sure – it might just be the sauce and cheese blending.

There’s nowhere to sit inside so we took our slices to the streets of Queens! We both agreed this was one of the best NY slices we’d had. I don’t even know what it is – just melts with a very straightforward tomato flavor. My favorite slice of the tour by far, and one I’d definitely return to Astoria for.

You can’t really go wrong with such a great slice from a place full of Italian goods – plus, you can pick up a Kinder bar on your way out.

Our final stop was right across the street: Rose & Joe’s Italian Bakery. Like Rosario’s, it’s a whole other business upfront – a bakery, in this case – with slices available towards the back. They do both regular pies and Sicilian, but I’d heard the Sicilian was the one to try – and try we did.

I didn’t snap any pictures of the store itself, but the front is full of all kinds of Italian cookies, breads, cakes, and even sandwiches. By this point, I was pretty full and starting to feel sick, but I couldn’t stop myself from finishing this slice – that’s how good it was. Without a doubt, the best Sicilian slice I’ve ever had. Airy – not heavy like most Sicilian slices – and crisp. Greasy, sure; but well worth it.

Kudos, Astoria. Though I only visited these 4 places, we passed about a million other promising-looking places. I’ve heard people mention several other favorites in the area, so I guess I’ll just have to return! Feel free to share ’em here if you have them – any in Queens, really; my list is lacking in that borough.

Sac’s Place: 25-41 Broadway, Astoria, NY 11106; http://www.sacsplace.com

Rizzo’s Fine Pizza: 30-13 Steinway Street, Astoria, NY 11103; http://www.rizzosfinepizza.com

Rosario’s Deli: 22-55 31st Street, Astoria, NY 11105

Rose and Joe’s Italian Bakery: 22-40 31st Street, Astoria, NY 11105

Pizza Tour 2.0: Bronx Edition

This weekend Scott & I went on our second Scott’s Pizza Tour, but this time we did the bus tour – 4.5 hours and 4 stops (the other option is a walking tour; 3 stops). Though the destinations change every time, we knew this one was headed to the Bronx. I’d never really go up there otherwise, so this was the perfect chance!

Like all of Scott’s Tours, we started out at Lombardi’s, the first licensed pizzeria in North America. Though this happened in 1905, I actually learned today that they were closed for a bit and only opened back up in the 90s. Cuuuuurious. I also took notes this time around in my handy SPT journal – so get ready for some detail!

Their pizza cooks in 3 minutes, and has an extremely thin but still chewy AND crunchy crust. The longer the pie cooks in the oven (and 3 minutes is on the longer end for coal-fired ovens), the firmer the crust is. I found that our pie had more sauce and less cheese than usual – I’m a cheese girl all the way, screw sauce if I have to choose one! Lombardi’s uses fresh mozzarella, and the sauce was sweet but slightly tart. Scott and I agreed there was less char than we remembered, but that can also be attributed to the heat of the oven at this particular time. Lombardi’s keeps their oven running at all times, and the temperature changes depending on time of day. I also learned that Lombardi’s doesn’t cook their sauce – a technique I think I might try!

Our second stop was Patsy’s in East Harlem. I’ve heard so many good things about Patsy’s and even though it’s technically in Manhattan, it’s always been too far for me to venture. But alas, not today – not on pizza bus tour day!

One of the best parts of Scott’s tours is that you more of an inside look at how the pizzerias are run. We literally went into the kitchen at half of the places. Above, you can see a dough machine at Patsy’s and the flour they use to make their pizzas. It was super fine; I had last seen “00” rated flour in Italy – so this is legit.

Here’s the oven at Patsy’s – their pizza cooks in 2 minutes and, like Lombardi’s, is coal-burning. The faster bake gives it a softer crust, but it was still crunchy in parts, especially around the edges.

The crust was very charred, and the cheese stringy – Patsy’s uses low-moisture mozzarella instead of fresh. It was more “wet” than Lombardi’s pie because of this, and also because there was a lot more sauce. The sauce was savory and rich.

Alright, so now we’ve moved out of Manhattan and into the Bronx. As soon as Scott mentioned Arthur Avenue, I know what was next: Zero Otto Nove. I’ve been to the one in Manhattan on 21st, but nothing’s like the original! They had such a cool setup – bar and lobby in the front, then a long, narrow hallway to a larger, open courtyard-esque area in the back. The name Zero Otto Nove – which translates to 089 in Italian – signifies the area code of the region of Italy where they’re from: Salerno. I LOVE TRIVIA.

We were seated up above in a separate area and could look down on the pizza-making. Scott and I were tasked with timing the pizza in the oven – our average was around 1 minute, 35 seconds. CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT? You can barely microwave anything decent in that time. But their oven is wood-burning, and dome-shaped so that it heats faster.

This is Neapolitan-style pizza, JUST like Italy. They put some olive oil on before it goes in the oven; and of course use fresh mozzarella. The wood-burning oven gives an excellent char to the chewy, fluffy crust and their sauce is a bit salty (good thing!). Because it cooked for so little time, the crust was definitely softer – which just makes me eat faster. They top it off with just a sprinkle of parmigiano-reggiano cheese once it’s out of the oven. I’m obsessed – I may have volunteered to take an extra slice that was left over…

Scott was very diligent in the pizza-timing. We caught on to their technique – put it in the oven for about 40 seconds, take it out to turn it around, back in for a bit. It seems that the tops were finishing first, so they would take them out of the oven for about 10 seconds, then put them back in. So interesting!

Here’s the oven at Zero Otto Nove. Thanks to Scott’s fancy tools, we were told that the inside was an average of 848 degrees Fahrenheit – which is actually lower than the temperature of Patsy’s and Lombardi’s, which were over 900.


Our last stop was at Louie & Ernie’s, where we finally got a good helping of traditional, New York-style pizza. The people inside were really confused by our large group, but didn’t hesitate to offer up suggestions and sing L&E’s praises!

Traditional New York-style pizzas like this one are cooked in deck ovens (probably what you’re most used to seeing in pizza joints) around 550 degrees Fahrenheit – therefore they cook for longer and have a crunchier crust. I loved this crust, the edges were basically cracking off it was so crunchy. As you can see, they’ve got some seasoning in there – oregano, black pepper. This was the only pie I had to blot since it was so oily – but what do you expect from a NY slice? It was super cheesy (low moisture!) making the sauce not so present, as it actually ends up blending with the cheese when it cooks. I will say this – it was really consistently cooked, and my fellow tour-mates agreed!

Now… I couldn’t just leave it be after 4.5 slices of pizza.. so when we were dropped back off in SoHo, I had to get a cupcake. I made Scott come with me and swung by Georgetown Cupcake on Mercer Street.

I chose the peanut butter fudge cupcake, and myyyyy god – creamy peanut butter icing, but it doesn’t overwhelm the moist chocolate cake. It did start falling apart a bit, but that was okay – I wanted to eat it more than I wanted it to stay together!

Siiiigh. A long weekend of eating, and I’m still hungry after looking at the pictures.

Victorious! Here’s me, Scott, and Scott (confusing) after the tour, with the stylish pizza tour bus. This man knows everything. Go on one of his tours; it will change your life.

Lombardi’s: 32 Spring Street; http://www.firstpizza.com

Patsy’s: 2287 1st Avenue (at 118th St); http://www.thepatsyspizza.com

Zero Otto Nove: 2357 Arthur Avenue, Bronx; http://roberto089.com

Louie & Ernie’s: 1300 Crosby Avenue, Bronx

Georgetown Cupcake: 111 Mercer Street; http://www.georgetowncupcake.com

Don Antonio by Starita!

I haven’t updated in SO long! Last week was absolutely insane at work and I didn’t get much of a chance to write once I got home. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t eat pizza – I’ve got 4 new places (plus 1 oldie) to share with you!

After that crazy, hectic, stressful week, I was really looking forward to some pizza, so we headed to the fairly new Don Antonio by Starita near Times Square. Based on my research, it’s a collaboration between Keste’s Roberto Caporuscio (<3 Keste, but that’s for another post) and his former mentor Antonio Starita – who, as luck has it, was actually in the building on the night we went.

I really loved the whole setup, very sleek. We were seated at the back, right next to the kitchen. They even have a screen where you can watch them making your pizza – you can see it in the back left of this picture.

Our first pie was the Margherita S.T.G. (Guaranteed Typical Specialty). Tomato sauce, mozzarella, some pecorino romano, and basil. I found it a bit oily; but still delicious. At $12 it’s not a bad deal, though I probably could have finished the entire thing myself. Good-quality cheese, but a bit too much char even for my liking – as you can see, the top is burnt in one or two areas.

What I was most excited about was the Montanara pie – dough that is fried, then topped and baked in the oven. The fried dough definitelymade a difference; it was puffy and chewy and extremely flavorful. The pie itself was quite small and once again I found the oil a bit overwhelming. I don’t like dabbing my pizza, but I will if I have to – no one likes greasy fingers.

The only complaint I have about it – and this was an oversight on my part – was the smoked mozzarella. I’m not a fan of smoked mozzarella; I find that the smokiness overwhelms any other flavors that may pop out – even something as blatant as the basil. I basically didn’t read the menu, and I don’t think this is standard on all montanara pies (I’ve yet to try the ones at PizzArte or Forcella). Their menu is quite impressive overall; though I stuck to my standard cheese+tomato+dough, I saw some other rather intriguing pies come out of the oven.

Overall, a very good pre-show dinner at Don Antonio. I was surprised at how crowded it got, and fairly early too – before 6:00pm. In this area of NYC, it’s kind of slim pickings for good pizza, so Don Antonio is definitely worth your time.

Don Antonio by Starita

309 W. 50th St., b/w 8th & 9th Ave

646-719-1043

RIP: 900 Degrees

This past summer I was super excited to try out the much-hyped 900 Degrees at 29 Seventh Avenue South. Though many had cited this as a “cursed location,” I decided to take my family there for dinner before a trip to Target Free Friday at MoMA.  I mean, it’s the West Village – how bad could it be?

We got there around 5:30-6:00 PM, and it was empty. I think we were literally the only ones there. Apparently, this wasn’t a rare occurrence – though I really couldn’t tell you why. I was even worried about getting a pie, since they have a disclaimer on their menu that they only make 73 margherita pies per day. They also describe it as:

“World Pizza Cup Winner Naples, Italy
Dough Mixed by Hand Using San Felice Flour then Proofed in Neapolitan Wood Boxes, San Marzano Tomatoes Dop, Sea Salt, Mozzarella Fior Di Latte, Fresh Basil, Extra Virgin Olive Oil”

Sounds impressive, huh? Well, this is what we got:

Note: my family doesn’t understand my need to photograph my food before diving in; hence, the half-missing pie.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I completely enjoyed this pizza (because when do I not?). But just looking at it, I have memories of how.. wet.. it was. I tend to favor more cheese, less sauce – and this had a bit too much sauce for me.

Perhaps more interesting to me was the 2 1/2 foot Pizza Romana (we ordered the “Bennici” style):

Intended to essentially cover three courses, the pie is broken into three sections of toppings (once again, half-eaten before I could photograph its beauty, but all including mozzarella cheese):

On the far left: Italian Pizza Sauce, Natural Casing Pepperoni, Fresh Pinched Sausage.

In the middle: Ricotta, Garlic, Prosciutto Crudo, Piquante Peppers, Arugula, Piave

On the right: Pesto, Caramelized Onion, Robiola Cheese, Roasted Tomatoes (my favorite – I’m a pesto freak)

Everyone was very impressed with this pie, and even I, the picky meat-eater, tried out a slice from each section. 900 Degrees offered two other varieties of this Pizza Romana, which you can see on their menu here.

So why did it fail? According to Eater, it had a lot to do with how high the rent was for that space compared to how many people actually came by, poor service, atmosphere. I would have given it another shot, but hey – you win some, you lose some. I’ve got a pretty extensive list of places to go, so, moving on…

NYC Classic: John’s of Bleecker Street

Backtracking once again, the final stop on my 2011 pizza tour with SPT was John’s of Bleecker Street. The first stop had been Lombardi’s, which I loved; the second Pizza Box, your typical “NYC pizza” but nothing remarkable to me (above: Scott playing with dough in the back courtyard of Pizza Box). John’s was perfection; exactly what I was looking for at the end of a pizza-, walking-, learning-filled day.

John’s is a New York City pizza institution, if you will. Apparently, it’s frequented by celebrities such as Jack Black, Bruce Springsteen, and Jon Stewart – and there’s photos in the front window to prove it.  Speaking of Jon Stewart, I did really enjoy his Trump/Palin pizza rant (Famiglia? Seriously?).

Just look at that. Beautiful.

John’s slices are crisp and thin, “coal fired brick oven” pizza. Once again – NO SLICES, but trust me, you’ll want to eat an entire pie ($16.50 for a large). It was the first pizza I’d had in New York that I really fell in love with, and is still one of my favorites to this day. I loved that there was sauce on top of the stringy, bubbling cheese as well.

Here’s another shot from when I went back in December. Everything just works so well; and there’s char – so be still, my heart. I’d recommend getting there early on busier nights since they don’t take reservations and a line tends to form outside. I’d also recommend trying their calzone – it’s massive, literally looks like a pie folded in half – and extremely savory.

Bleecker Street itself, btw, is a mecca of wonderful foods (especially pizza). I truly wish the entire West AND East Village was right in my backyard. So many good eats.

John’s of Bleecker Street

278 Bleecker Street
(212) 243-1680
http://www.johnsbrickovenpizza.com

Parade Magazine’s United States of Pizza

I was quite pleased to find this cover of Parade Magazine sitting on my kitchen table yesterday morning. Naturally, I scanned it in to share! It gives a great synopsis of the history of pizza in the United States and also clues you in to some regional styles. Click on the United States of Pizza above or the link below to view the article.

Parade Pizza Article

Sunday Funday: Luzzo’s & ChikaLicious

SO my wunder-ful boyfriend Scott is most often the one who accompanies me on my pizzadventures, so we decided to make a day of it today before he headed back to the evil land of Grand Central Terminal.

Today’s stop: Luzzo’s Restaurant in the East Village. A cute, decent-sized place with a coal oven. I really loved the benches where we were sitting and all of the homey decor. When we got there, we were the only ones there – but it was only about half an hour after they opened on a Sunday, so…

Perhaps our favorite part was the Italian music videos playing in the background. I recognized Vasco Rossi from my Italian classes; Scott thinks they all sound like Vertical Horizon.

Their regular pie is the “bufala“: buffalo mozzarella, tomato sauce, basil. I loved how evenly cheese’d it was, almost polka-dotted with mozzarella. I personally didn’t taste a difference with it supposedly being “bufala mozzarella” (though I am a huge fan of bufala mozzarella on its own, caprese-style).

Easily cut, the crust was SO incredibly crisp that I was amazed. I’m a huge fan of crunchy, crispy things – and I have literally never had crust this crunchy. The edge, end of the pizza was still full of soft, chewy dough, but the outsides, and especially the underside, crackled away. It was thin, but thick enough to not droop underneath the weight of the sauce and melted cheese.

The bottom was decently charred to give it that smoky taste. Scott described the sauce as “tangy,” which I would have to agree to, but not in the typical sense. Whereas many pizzerias on Long Island and even in the city have a heavy, dark sauce, this sauce was light, airy, and in my mind – perfect. A good mix of sweet and savory, melting right against your tongue. One interesting thing I did notice was there was a decent amount of olive oil on the pie, a flavor that I ADORE, and perhaps what made the sauce so interesting. Most places don’t include olive oil; rather, it’s the cheese cooking that gives off that grease. I loved this sitting on the table as well…

At $21 for a 16-inch pie I’d have to say their price is probably typical of most of the Napoletana-style pizzerias in NYC.

But the best part of the bill? It came in this bucket.

And naturally, to follow up the pizza, I HAD to get dessert, so we made our maiden voyage to Dessert Bar, ChikaLicious only a few blocks away. There is no shortage of desserts I’m dying to try there, including the cookie eclair ice cream sandwich. Today, however, I settled (if you can even call it that!) for a delicious banana cupcake.

Nice to look at, VERY nice to eat. I have to be honest, usually I’d go with something straight up sweet like chocolate or vanilla but I was feeling a bit more adventurous, and it was worth it. Excellent icing to cake ratio; moist cake that didn’t crumble; extremely flavorful. I was really surprised at how fluffy icing is – I’ve never had anything I could actually describe as that.

I am so more than willing to go back there and try different treats. Yum yum YUM.

Luzzo’s Restaurant
211 1st Ave
(between 12th St & 13th St)
(212) 473-7447

&

Dessert Club, ChikaLicious
204 E 10th St
(between 2nd Ave & 1st Ave)
(212) 475-0929
http://dessertclubnyc.com