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.


  1. It is disappointing to hear that for pizza coming from an acclaimed baker, the crust seems to be the weak point.
    Judging from the interesting (some might say unusual) topping combinations, I'm guessing 'Co.' is Lahey's vehicle for expressing the pent-up inner chef which has been stifled by dough all these years. It would explain the disparaging comments he has made about his own bakery pizza products in the past.

  2. Interesting insight FP, and it is disappointing that a pizzaiolo like Lahey with a background so absorbed in baking is proud of the crust on the pies he is serving.


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