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.