Monday, April 19, 2010

Co. / Company

I've been meaning to check out Company for some time now- a relatively new Neapolitan-style pizzeria in Chelsea founded by esteemed baker Jim Lahey. I used to live in Hell's Kitchen, just a few blocks from Jim's first foray into Manhattan baking, The Sullivan Street Bakery (initially founded on Sullivan St. in Soho), which features a selection of thin Roman-style pizzas served at room temp.

(courtesy of The District Domestic)

Since moving out of the neighborhood to a more distant Brooklyn, making it out to Co. became more difficult than a stroll down 9th Ave. Excuses aside, it was time to check what all the fuss was about.

Unless you're seeking the place out, it can be easy to miss. Located on the corner of a strip mall-esque building, Co. almost looks more like some sort of domestic boutique than a pizzeria.

(courtesy of NY Daily News)

Once inside... well, I'm not even sure exactly how to describe the vibe. It's like some sort of post-industrial chic communal layout that felt cold and seems befitting the Chelsea neighborhood. The service was great and the waiter was very knowledgeable on each of the pies on the menu. As per usual, I ordered the Margherita.

Initial thoughts: a bit small, none too generous on the basil, but overall a pretty beautiful pie, ammiright? The mootz was perfectly salty and the sauce is light and creamy, almost like a vodka sauce or something.

Now before I get into the crust, I have some 'splainin' to do. Lahey has been making buzz in the food and baking blogosphere (oh god, did I really just type that?) with his signature style of kneading- or should I say, not kneading. Jim has "created" a style of baking where he essentially lets his ingredients autolyse (fancy word for mixing flour and water and letting rest prior to kneading) for days until it has turned into a fully-proofed ball of dough.

Jim can't (and doesn't) take full credit for this technique- in fact, it's probably the oldest approach to making dough (and beer for that matter) in history. Considering bread was probably discovered by accidentally letting wet grains sit out until a wild strain of yeast floated by to leaven it, this "new" technique is, in a way, the oldest trick in the book.

That being said... I wasn't too impressed with the outcome. Does it make a decent, chewy cornicione? Sure. Is it among the best pizza crusts I've had? Not at all. Lahey and Co. boast a menu comprised of the basics (like my Margherita), as well as a few quirky ones with an infusion of Jim's personality, such as the Popeye (w/ spinach) and the Honshimeji & Guanciale (w/ quial egg). My friend ordered the "Ham & Cheese:"

Yowza, want some pizza with that prosciutto? Overall my experience at Company was fine- nothing more, nothing less. Would I liked to have seen the oven? Of course, but it's sadly hidden away. Some people may dig on Co., but me?

I'm lookin' for a pizzeria with some soul.

Enzo's Brick Oven Pizza

Holy smokes! Over two months without a single update? Boy am I embarrassed, please forgive me readers (if there are any of you left at this point)! I promise the time spent away from blogging has been productive, and while I can't specify exactly what I've been working on right now, I hope to update you soon with some exciting news on the doc production.

IN THE MEANTIME, let me direct your attention to Enzo's, a cozy little joint with a WFO (wood fired oven) just chillin' on the cusp of Windsor Terrace and Park Slope in Brooklyn, only a block from the southwest corner of Prospect Park. I'd heard a few praises of Enzo's from friends, so I decided to stop in for a small pie last time I was in the neighborhood.

Like most traditional brick oven spots, Enzo's is eat in/take out, but no slices. That being the case, my trusty camera and I grabbed a table for two and ordered a small Margherita. Enzo's is a relatively small place with maybe 15 tables and a menu not limited to just pizzas but standard Italian fare as well. While I no doubt enjoy my share of antipasti and gnocchi and what have you, I can't waste stomach space on any dish consisting of tomatoes, cheese and carbs unless it's pizza, ya dig?

I love Enzo's oven- it's built right into the wall with *gasp* bricks. In a time fraught with brick-oven imposters, it's great to see a legit oven built with bricks, inside and out. Reminds me a lot of Toby's, located not too far from here. Just a few minutes later my pie arrived:

As you can tell, the place is dimly lit so it's hard to take a decent picture, but at least you get a feel for the ambiance, right? The pizza (about 12" in diameter) instantly reminded me of a smaller Grimaldi's or Angelo's pie (though I can't say it was up to par with either). The first thing I noticed is that the Margherita is listed on the menu as having basil (as it should), but none was found on my pie...

I asked for basil on the side, but the waiter made no acknowledgment that I shouldn't have had to have done that. Oh well, the pizza was still pretty spectacular, especially for a place that no one seems to have heard of. I had no idea what to expect, and it's easiest to be impressed when you have no expectations.

This is going to really date this post, but I was at Enzo's on Oscar night (March 7th, eek! Over two months ago!). Regardless, it was ultimately satisfying and seemingly befitting to wolf this entire pie while Baba Wawa interviewed my pizzaphiliac brethren, the Ninja Turtles. Cowabunga!

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