Luzzo’s revisted: Ovest Pizzoteca

On a lovely autumn evening we chose to visit Ovest Pizzoteca for dinner. Ovest is owned by the same as Luzzo’s and specialize in “Naples-style dining.”

The space is very industrial-looking which is par for the course, I suppose, as you go further west in Chelsea towards the art galleries, but it was still quite cozy. EXPOSED BRICK, WEE! I was also pretty excited to learn that Ovest has apertivo (essentially an Italian version of happy hour, which means you get to eat tons of food included while you drink), but we obviously came for the pizza.

Their menu gives a choice between 10″ and 12″ pies, but only the 12″ are available for dinner. Fine by me. Our first pie, of course, was the Bufala (pictured above) with buffalo mozzarella, tomato sauce, & basil. The sauce maintained a shocking balance between sweet and salty, in that I felt every bite alternated between which flavor prevailed. I liked it. Like our pie at Luzzo’s, it was covered with ample blobs of creamy mozzarella.

Unlike most other Neopolitan-style pizzas I’ve had, the crust on this one did not become soggy in the center and stood up quite well to the toppings. It was refreshing to taste this kind of pie without feeling I had to shove it in my mouth before it fell apart on my lap. Extra points to Ovest for that, as well as the perfectly smoky char on each slice.

Our second pie was the Arugola (their spelling – grrr), which was topped with mozzarella, tomato sauce, arugula, prosciutto, and basil. There was also what I’m pretty sure is shaved pecorino romano on top. This pie was, hands down, the best non-traditional (meaning not plain/regular/margherita/etc.) pie I’ve ever had. Scott agreed. The salty prosciutto paired with the milky smooth mozzarella, tangy tomato sauce, and bitter arugula in a way that I felt left every taste bud I have completely satisfied. I absolutely must recreate this at home… or just leave it to them, since they did it so well.

For those who must commute home via Penn Station like me, Ovest is an especially good find since it’s just a quick walk away. Molto bene!

Ovest Pizzoteca, 513 West 27th Street #2  New York, NY; http://www.ovestnyc.com

Time Out New York’s Best New York pizza

Time Out New York has published a list of their top 25 pies in the city. Though I usually go with the classic, traditional pies (be it margherita, “regular,” “plain,” etc.) I do love some specialty ones as well. Check this out for some great suggestions!

TIME OUT NY TOP 25 PIES.

Extra extra: more summer pizzadventures!

I promised the remainder of my summer pizzadventures yesterday, and by golly, I’m going to keep that promise.

I had almost forgotten about my lunchtime trip to Lazzara’s in midtown New York. Lazzara’s is probably one of your best bets for legitimate pizza in the midtown area, and by and large, it didn’t disappoint. Their pies are thin and rectangular; pictured above is the margherita in a half-pie size (perfect for one person if you’re usually starving by lunchtime, like me). The place was packed and we sat at the bar; service was pretty quick. Sprinkled with sliced basil and whole tomatoes, it’s a bit messy (and I’m not a fan of whole tomatoes), but apart from that and the slightly burned crust it was a satisfying bite.

Angelina’s Fireshack & Pizzeria in New Hyde Park on Long Island boasts Man vs. Food-esque food challenges and quirk-ily titled dishes. We ordered two pies; the Grandpa, pictured above (mozzarella cheese, onions, seasoned bread crumbs and marinara sauce) and the Desi, pictured below ( baked Tandoori chicken, basmati rice, cilantro and mozzarella cheese). The toppings seem to be the real focus here, and on both pies they really excelled. The Grandpa pie was salty, full of tomato flavor and punctuated by crunchy breadcrumbs.

The Desi was creamy and full of mild, spicy Indian flavors. Between the rice and large chunks of chicken, it’s basically a meal on a pie. It’s heavy and VERY filling –  we both could have easily filled up on one small pie. The toppings really shone and the crust honestly just seemed to get in the way; it was roughly chewy and didn’t add anything to the full variety of flavors offered by the chicken, rice, and cilantro.

This summer I also tried two more slices at Sullivan Street Bakery. Excuse the crappy photo, I snapped this mid-consumption on the street as I stuffed my face like a starving lunatic. Above is the potato slice, which was like eating the most satisfyingly oily, mushy yet crisp hash browns (onions included) you’ve ever had on top of the crispiest, most flavorful bread you’ve ever had. I told myself I’d only eat half but I could. not. stop. The slice is seasoned with the perfect amounts of salt and pepper (and apparently rosemary according to this photo, but as a rosemary-hater I can tell you it wasn’t very detectable).

As for the other slice… well, this is all the evidence that remains -an oily bread bag (half was eaten in the middle of a bar – shameless – and the other half immediately as I sat down on the train home). It was the pizza bianca, which if you’re really cutting it down to the simplest terms, is a slice of pizza dough with olive oil and sea salt. No sauce, no cheese; just the most basic elements. It’s as if you were at a restaurant and plucked the most perfect slice of bread from the bread basket, dipped it in olive oil, and sprinkled on some salt. All of these elements are there, in perfect ratios, and only slightly less messy to consume.

Lazzara’s Pizza: 221 West 38th Street, New York, NY; http://lazzaraspizza.com

Angelina’s Fireshack & Pizzeria: 1302 Jericho Turnpike, New Hyde Park, NY; http://angelinasfireshack.com (they appear to have 2 websites – I just picked one)

Sullivan Street Bakery: 533 West 47th Street, New York, NY; http://www.sullivanstreetbakery.com/

Until next bite! xox

Playing Catch-Up: Summer Pizzadventures

Okay, okay. It’s been embarrassingly long since I’ve last updated. I’ve been so busy working and summer activity-ing and, yes, eating, that I just haven’t had the time. Things are starting to slow down, so I’m going to do a quick review of the delicious pizza eats of my summer. Unfortunately, I didn’t take in-depth notes so I’ll just jot down a few of my strongest memories of each place.

Here goes…

At the beginning of July I took a trip down to Baltimore and Washington D.C. No trip would be complete without some serious eats, so I researched the pizza of these areas and managed to consume it 3 times in a 5 day trip. Not too shabby.

First stop was Pub Dog in Columbia, MD (which also has a location in the Federal Hill area of Baltimore). They pretty much exclusively serve pizza and beer, so you can’t go too wrong. What I ordered here is actually a spinach pizza (Olive Oil, Fresh Mozzarella, Spinach, Mushrooms, Bacon, Fresh Garlic, and topped with Shredded Parmesan). I skipped the mushrooms but as you can see, it largely became a bacon pie. Once I picked off some (or most) of the bacon, it became a pretty enjoyable cheesy and salty accompaniment to my happy hour special (2 beers for $4.50), though the crust wasn’t much to write home about – standard cardboard-y stuff. Good for bar food but it’s not winning any awards.

Next was 2 Amys in Washington, DC, a Neopolitan pizzeria located in the Cleveland Park area. It’s fairly residential, near the zoo and National Cathedral (but don’t try walking in 100+ degree weather like we did). On a Sunday the place was filled with families and small children, but the pizza was phenomenal. We ordered the margherita and abruzzese (Polpettine/meatballs, garlic, parsley, pecorino). Enormous globs of mozzarella covered the margherita, with a sweet sauce reminding me of the good ol’ pies back home in NY (or really, “home” in Italy).

True story: this was my first time having meatballs or anything resembling it. I rather enjoyed it, but leaving it in full balls (albeit small) meant most slices didn’t have a meatball. I remember the cheese on this one making it  salty. But no worries, I had one of their “pizza wines” to wash it all down with! 2Amys is also one of those places that won’t slice the pie for you. While I understand this is traditional and helps the toppings not bleed through as much, I suck at slicing pies and would much prefer that the professionals take care of it with the proper tools!

We ended our trip to DC with a visit to Pizza Paradiso‘s Dupont Circle location. The walls near the restroom are filled with articles singing its praises, and even “Obama has dined [t]here!” (I put this in quotes because I found that nearly every restaurant in DC makes this claim). We placed an order for a margherita and genovese (pesto, potato, parmesan). As per the photo above, the margherita was not typical of most others we’ve seen – the cheese spread thin across the entire crust and chunky tomatoes made for a different, yet still quite delicious, experience.  The crust and pizza bones were a bit dry and tough.

The genovese was… different. I’m a big fan of potatoes but in this scenario they were very heavy and too mushy. The pesto made a nice complement but I think in the future (y’know, if I ever end up several hours south again in DC in this specific neighborhood at this specific joint) that I’d stick with lighter toppings.

This summer I also made it down to Totonno’s in Coney Island. It’s quite legendary and I think it’s worth a visit just for that, but the pizza was somewhat disappointing. Most of it was incredible; it reminds me of John’s of Bleecker St (or should, in historical order, John’s remind me of Totonno’s?) in that it’s not your typical cheesy, greasy, NY slice but it’s not a traditional margherita. The major disappointment came in the form of the crust. It was not charred or slightly overcooked; it was BURNT. I love a little bit of black char on my crust, I even sometimes like them crunchily overdone, but this was burnt. I couldn’t swallow my pizza bones and that makes me sad. My parents had come another time before this (earlier this same summer) and they had the same experience. Maybe it’s recent.

You probably shouldn’t eat this, but I also found an adorable Mets pizza stuffed toy. Yuuuuuuum.

Newsday had published an article on some unique pizzerias on Long Island, so I’ve been making my way through those, which led me to Anthony’s Coal-Fired Pizza in Woodbury, NY. Soon after arriving we realized this is a massive chain (tons of locations in Florida but also across the Mid-Atlantic region). Nevertheless, I’d heard good things so we sat down and ordered a “traditional pie” (above) and the roasted cauliflower pizza (below). Neither me nor my dining companion are avid fans of cauliflower, but it’s gotten some rave reviews. Anthony’s motto is “pizza well done” which I suppose means they’re cool with cooking their crusts until it’s burnt. With that kind of disclaimer, I guess you can’t complain about it. The traditional pie was pretty standard fare; they actually had their own cans of tomatoes (benefit of being a chain?) and the sauce was incredibly sweet. It could have used more basil.

Ah, the lauded cauliflower pie. Description: “roasted cauliflower with olive oil and garlic, romano and mozzarella cheese, topped off with bread crumbs.” The fact that this pie let me, for a few moments, forget it was topped with cauliflower, speaks to its merits. However, it could have used a lot more moisture – the cheese doesn’t really come through and the bread crumbs make it overwhelmingly starchy. And, in the end, if you don’t like cauliflower (which I’ve basically decided I don’t, after this – no fault of Anthony’s), you’re going to taste it, which might ruin it for you as it did for me. Sad face!

Oooh ooh! Before I forget: We made our own pizza! We obsessively made our own dough from Serious Eats’ dough recipe (I maintain it didn’t rise enough; we also should have used the Neopolitan dough recipe but didn’t have the time). Bought fresh mozzarella cheese. Loaded that baby up with basil. It was good, not great; but fair enough for two novices. Part of me thinks it would be better with the proper tools, so a pizza peel, screen, and stone are all on my Christmas list!

Just last weekend we visited Motorino in the East Village. It’s Serious Eats’ (my bible) #1 spot in the East Village, and I’ve heard a lot about it elsewhere, so it was necessary. It’s a really tight spot but they churn out the pies pretty fast. We got a margherita and the stracciatella (burrata-type cheese with olive oil, sea salt, and raw basil). The cheese was smooth and creamy (and ample – I can’t say how sad it makes me when a margherita comes out with only a few tiny blobs of cheese). The sauce was pretty salty yet cloyingly sweet. As per many other former patrons’ complaints, the center of the pie was almost too soft, even for a margherita. To pick up one of the slices I had to fold the inside in, making for a sad-looking slice.

The stracciatella is perhaps one of my favorite pies I’ve had this year. The cheese seemed to be in two forms; one a bit more curd-ly like ricotta and one smoother like melted mozzarella. The crust held up well to these toppings. For a pie that boasts sea salt as an ingredient, it definitely could have used a bit more salt, but the creamy, at-times stringy cheese and leafy raw basil combined with the charred crust was absolute perfection to me.

Not included here are Angelina’s Fireshack in New Hyde Park, NY and Sullivan Street Bakery (which I’ve posted about before, but tried 2 new slices). I just don’t have the pictures with me right now, but they will come soon as they were definitely unique experiences.

Thanks for waiting as I played catch up. I promise I will keep eating pizza and (eventually) posting about it, if you promise to keep reading! xo

Pub Dog: 8865 Stanford Boulevard, Columbia, MD; http://pubdog.net/

2Amys: 3715 Macomb Street Northwest, Washington, DC; http://www.2amyspizza.com/

Pizza Paradiso: 2003 P Street NW, Washington, DC; http://www.eatyourpizza.com/

Totonno’s: 1524 Neptune Ave (between 15th St & 16th St), Brooklyn, NY

Anthony’s Coal-Fired Pizza: 8063 Jericho Turnpike, Woodbury, NY; http://anthonyscoalfiredpizza.com/

Motorino: 349 East 12th Street, New York, NY; http://motorinopizza.com/