Monday, July 27, 2009

Angelo's Pizza

One of the lesser known and under-appreciated NY pizza joints, Angelo's Pizza in Midtown offers one of the best coal-oven pies I've had in the city. Like most coal-oven establishments, they don't do slices- always a bit of a drag for pizzaheads on the go.

Fortunately, thanks to my company's 'free pizza Friday' edict, I get to scarf this pizza once a week!

Angelo's, though a relatively new pizzeria (est. '98), was founded by the nephew of the titular pizzaiolo. The first Angelo's opened on 57th (btwn 6th & 7th ave.), now with two more locations on 2nd avenue and W. 53rd right next to Ed Sullivan Theater/Dave Letterman.

This is the standard Margherita. Since the pies get delivered, I've never been able to see them made. It almost looks like the mozzarella is cooked on, THEN topped with sauce. I am confused.

Angelo's does a couple unique things with their pie. First, they generously sprinkle every pizza with oregano. I usually skip most 'pizza condiments,' but I really appreciate what this imposed flavoring does for slice.

Second, the corniccione is pretty remarkable (though I've heard it likened to Grimaldi's). Slightly charred like any coal oven pizza, Angelo's crust is never dry and chewy rather than crispy. I'm not exactly sure how to classify their pies, but I'd say somewhere between a Neapolitan and a Roman.

As always, the pictures never do a pizza justice.

Angelo's only offers a handful of toppings, my favs being mushrooms and ricotta (substituted for mozz), though I wish they did a spinach pie. Regardless, Angelo's puts up a good fight as a competitive NY coal-oven pizzeria (the 2nd of only two in Midtown after John's of 44th St.)

Overall: floppy, chewy, zesty, fresh and bodacious flavor. Thank god I'm on a weekly regimen.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

An Oven-fed Heated Battle

It's no doubt that the hot slice has spread to the far reaches of the globe (which is totally awesome).

(Courtesy of Slice)

(Courtesy of Foodco Holding)

(Courtesy of Japan Probe)

Wait, is that a 'pigs in a blanket' crust? Woof.

I think it's fascinating that a cuisine can be so international but so regional simultaneously. Clam pizza in Massachusetts? Shrimp & squid toppings in Japan? The possibilities are endless (unless of course you're a Neapolitan snob).

Regardless, no regional pizza rivalry holds a candle to the New York v. Chicago contention. Personally, I think the 'Chicago-style' deep dish pizza and world-renowned 'NY slice' is like comparing apples and oranges, but that isn't stopping New Yorkers and Chicagoans from getting pissy and territorial.

Here are some reader review excerpts from NY Times contributor Ed Levine's book Slice of Heaven:

  • "Chicago pizza isn't pizza? It's a casserole? There are millions in Chicago and lines outside our pizza spots that say he's wrong. Don't waste your money on this garbage. This guy has no clue."
  • "As a Chicago native, I've no choice but to lean my support to my home town and our pies, both deep dish and thin crust. However, Levine's critiques of our pizzas are not only far from flattering, they're practically insulting. We put too much cheese on our pizzas!?! Since when did anyone EVER complain about having too much when having it matched with a healthy dab of sauce. Our deep dish is more like a casserole!?! How does he figure? Because it's more of a layered affair and not the standard flat crust? Well, god forbid, that we Chicagoans try to set ourselves apart from NYC."
  • "Chicago has the best pizza in the world, period. If you want pizza that tastes like Dominoes or Little Caesars, go to New York. A New York style pizza joint wouldn't last 2 days in Chicago, where people have come to expect excellence, heaping toppings, carmelized cheese covered crust, and tangy sauce. Some restaurants in Chicago even buy their meat from the top butchers in the city, places where a filet would set you back $35. I lived in both New York and Chicago, and believe me, the crap they serve in New York isn't pizza, it's carboard with cheeze whiz on top."
Yikes. Them is fightin' words! To be fair, the traditional Chicago deep dish really puts the 'pie' in 'pizza pie.'

(Courtesy of Passion 4 Pizza)

C'mon, that looks amazing. LOOK AT THAT MOZZARELLA, are you kidding me?

On the other hand, I can see how Chicagoans have a hard time shifting to a thinner, less bulky slice. But can you really say no to a John's pie?

(Courtesy of Slice)


Sure I may be a little biased on the NY side (though I'm mid-western born), but calling NY pizza 'cardboard with cheese whiz on top?'

My stomach just growled, and it's not from hunger.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Una Pizza Napoletana NY, R.I.P.

I try to live a regret-free life, but man did I eff up this weekend. On Saturday night I headed for Una Pizza Napoletana, the much talked-about authentic Neapolitan pizzeria founded and almost single-handedly run by Anthony Mangieri.

(courtesy of Serious Eats)

Of course the line was massive, so I decided to save this pizzeria for another day.


According to Slice, as of yesterday Mangieri finished up the sale of his shop to Mathieu Palombino, who will turn it into a Manhattan chapter of his Williamsburg hit, Motorino.

Mangieri is packing up and heading out to the San Fran bay area, already accruing its own pizza revolution of sorts. Why the move? NY Mag quotes him,

"Every week, a new place opens. No one pays their dues. They see something that can make money and go, ‘Oh, let’s open a Neapolitan place.’ It’s disgusting!” Lately, he’s been mulling a move to the West Coast, where the lifestyle, at least, is more relaxed."

(courtesy of NY Mag)

(Anthony with his $40,000 wood oven)

Mangieri and Una Pizza Napoletana garnered themselves an austere reputation for absolute authenticity. Serving just four varieties (Margherita, Marinara, Bianca, Filetti), some patrons scoffed at his resemblance to the Soup Nazi and his $21 price tag for a personal pie.

(courtesy of Aaron Landry)

Egos, reputations, and prices aside, UPN and Mangieri will be missed (much like my Saturday night opportunity). Best of luck out west.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Today I went to Kesté (finally remembering to bring my camera), and after reading all the raves about it in Time Out NY and NY Mag, I kept my expectations low, weary of the "emperor's new clothes" effect.

But it truly was amazing.

I waited outside for around 30 minutes (this is starting to become a standard, especially after NY Mag's pizza coverage last week), overhearing at least 16 "is it really that good"'s, and yes, it was.

After finally getting a table for one, I promptly ordered the "regina margherita" - San Marzano and grape tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella di buffala. Three minutes later it arrived.

Not to beat a dead horse here, but the pizza was bodacious. The real winner of the meal is the crust- perfectly charred, chewy, moist, and almost (but not too) sweet.

The cornicione wasn't as impressively inflated as Motorino's, but no matter. Kesté could make flat bread with no ingredients like this and still be the hottest place to eat; so good.

All the ingredients were top-notch (I can still taste the basil when I burp. Too much information?). My only complaint was the distribution of them- the mozzarella di buffala was fantastic, I just wish there were a few more chunks of it. On two slices, I ate that quarter's worth of cheese in the first bite.

The sauce, working together with the grape tomatoes, had a superb flavor - again not as overpowering as Motorino's. I gobbled the whole thing down faster than I should have.

Side note- a lot of these new Neapolitan pizzerias say they serve their pizzas uncut, leaving you to proportion your slices as you like (c'mon, New Yorkers using silverware with their pizza? Please). This is increasingly seeming more like some sort of pizza urban legend. Kesté also apparently offers a smaller pizza that can be folded (the "wallet pizza") for more portability, but if you have to wait in line and sit down just to order to go, you may as well chill out and enjoy it.

The service was incredibly friendly and expedient, and none too stuffy. Around the same time I was finishing my pizza, native Italian Pizzaiolo Roberto Caporuscio took a break from tending the wood-burning oven to meet his clients and ask their opinion- thumbs up all around.

After paying I spoke with Robert and he let me snap some pics of him and his gorgeous oven.

Best pizza I had all weekend. Check it.

Artichoke Basille's

Last night I had every intention of finally checking out Una Pizza Napoletana, especially after hearing rumors that Pizzaiolo Anthony Mangieri is moving out to west coast (please no). After realizing the line to be seated was just as long as it was at Artichoke, I went for the latter.

(courtesy of Black Book Mag)

Artichoke Basille's has only been open for about a year and a half, but has drawn massive lines and loyal customers, frequently waiting half an hour for a slice. Founder Sal Basille and cousin/Pizzaiolo Francis Garcia make only four kinds of pies: Margherita, Sicilian, artichoke, and a crab bisque.

(courtesy of New York Mag)

Just look how cool these guys are.

I've been to Artichoke plenty of times before last night, but I never strayed from the decadent 'choke slice. Costing $4, one slice is a meal itself. The crust is thick - and it has to be to support the heavy layer of creamy alfredo-like sauce, spinach, and artichoke hearts. This is definitely one of my favorite 'specialty' slices in the city.

(courtesy of Me So Hungry)

This picture doesn't even do the slice justice. Go there and eat one.

Last night I had to fight the urge to order another 'choke and instead get a slice of Margherita and a slice of Sicilian. After my 30 minute wait in line, I walked out with my slices and dug into the Sicilian first.

Being a more typical NY slice joint, the (less popular) plain and square slices sit out, waiting for a reheat. This unfortunately left both of my slices pretty charred. The square was sloppy, overly oily, and very tasty; I totally scarfed it down. The sauce was zesty, slightly sweet and perfectly seasoned. It was also nice to have some basil, something you don't usually see on a Sicilian.

(courtesy of The Eaten Path)

After wolfing the Sicilian, I took on the Margherita. Comprised of the same ingredients as the square, this piece was pretty huge as far as slices go. It was just as oily as the Sicilian, but much more burned. The bottom was completely blackened (sorry for lack of my own pictures), and by the time I got to the cornicione (end crust/lip of the pizza) it was cracking apart in my hands/borderline edible.

(courtesy of NY Food Guy)

The Margherita was by no means bad, just a little disappointing coming from the pizza wizards at Artichoke. All in all, I still prefer the artichoke slice best, followed by the Sicilian, and lastly the Margherita. If you haven't made the trip and paid your dues by standing in line for seemingly an eternity (time always goes slower in anticipation of a hot slice), do it now.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


Last night, Williamsburg's Motorino marked stop number one on my NY pizza expedition, and it was a great start-

(courtesy of Decider New York)

Motorino is a wood oven pizzeria-restaurant (no slices) concentrating on Neapolitan-style pies. Belgian-born Pizzaiolo Mathieu Palombino received a highly-coveted Michelin Star award for his work at more upscale Manhattan eateries, including BLT Fish and Bouley among others.

I ordered the Margherita with mozzarella di bufala DOC (Denominazione di origine controllata, an Italian quality control board).

(courtesy of Blondie and Brownie)

What makes Motorino unique is their crust- slightly charred, not too dry, and fluffy as a cloud. You could practically use it as a pillow! It's perfectly moist and chewy without being too much so.

The crust immediately tapers off into the San Marzano-based sauce and mozzarella di bufala, leaving a very thin layer of dough underneath (you need to do 'the fold' or use your hand to support it)- it almost feels like some sort of Frankenstein creation: the crust from one pizza and central core from another.

The sauce is sweet and tangy, something I enjoyed to an extent- until it started stealing the show from the cheese and crust. In my opinion, each ingredient of a well-rounded pizza should compliment and support one another, not outshine or command more attention over their counterparts.

(courtesy of Cherry Patter)

Regardless, the pizza was effing killer. Palombino has got a great pie on his hands, and you will too if you go- there's a sort of authentic, badass feeling to walking out of the pizzeria with residual blackened fingers from the top-notch wood-burning oven.
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