Pizza has stopped being simple. The possibilities inherent in a baked (or fried) piece of dough and a few toppings have become limitless. If we didn’t believe such a claim before, several restaurants in New York City are proving its truth right now. The pizzas that follow are for the days when a dollar slice just won’t do. By Jessica Allen.
Bee Sting at Roberta’s
Don’t be fooled by the name: this pizza won’t hurt you. The Bee Sting at Roberta’s balances spicy soppressata with honey. Yes, the pie also boasts a few crushed tomatoes, chili flakes, and some mozzarella, but the real stars are the meat and the sweet, which coexist on chewy crust. Many of the ingredients in the popular Bushwick restaurant’s other pizzas and dishes come from its very own garden and greenhouse.
A Whiter Shade of Kale at Paulie Gee’s
We’d eat at Paulie Gee’s for the backstory alone. Paul “Paulie Gee” Giannone loved pizza so much, he left a successful but unfulfilling IT career to open his very own restaurant in Greenpoint, where he’s become a beloved figure in just a few years. A Whiter Shade of Kale features cremini mushrooms, marinated baby kale, and mozzarella. The super-hot oven ensures that the kale gets crunchy while the crust gets bubbly and charred. Next time, we’re going for the Arugula Shmoogula (baby arugula, olive oil, Italian tomatoes, and shaved Parmigiano Reggiano) or maybe the Grapeful Dead (olive oil, baby spinach, gouda, shaved Parmigiano Reggiano, and pickled red grapes).
Saint Louie at Speedy Romeo’s
In a world where “locavore” and “locally sourced” are the bywords of the day, the Saint Louie at Speedy Romeo’s presents “Provel,” a “cheese product” (the FDA doesn’t think it meets the legal requirements to be considered a food) made in St. Louis, Missouri. It’s made from cheddar, Swiss, and provolone – and it melts into a gooey mass. More prosaically, this pizza also has sausage and pepperoni. Still, it’s greasy and good, even better when topped with liberal amounts of pickled chilis.
Pistacchio e Salsiccia at Kesté Pizza and Vino
- A recent revamp to the menu took Kesté from great to grrrr-eeee-aaaa-tttt. The new offerings at this popular West Village restaurant include a prosciutto di parma, asparagus, and mozzarella pizza, but we fell hard for the Pistacchio e Salsiccia, in which the sausage looked like the pistachio pesto, which looked like the sausage. The camouflage meant that each bite had the potential to thwart your salivary glands’ expectations—would you get savory? Would you get woodsy? Would you get salty? Nothing stimulates the appetite like a little anxiety.
Montanara at Don Antonio by Starita
2012 will go down in history as the year New York City got fried—pizza, that is. Run by Roberto Caporuscio of Kesté Pizza & Vino, and his teacher, Antonio Starita, owner of one of the oldest pizzerias in Naples, Don Antonio by Starita offers an excellent version of the montanara starita. Given the pedigree of the owners, we’d expect nothing less. The dough is stretched, then popped into palm oil to firm up. Things go back to normal: toppings are added, the whole thing goes into the oven, but what comes out is fried pizza, somehow both dense and delicate, wholly unique and wholly wonderful.
Everything on the Menu at Pete Zaaz
Pete Zaaz wholeheartedly embraces craziness, as if Cheech and Chong dropped their bong and became pizzaiolos instead. The speciality (and only) pizzas on offer here include the Shoestring Zucchini, in which corn puree replaces tomato sauce; the Pretzel Parm, with fried chicken, smoked gouda, and garlic chip bechamel; the Brooklyn, with marjoram, mozzarella, and tomato sauce; and the Baked Potato, with white cheddar, bacon, green onion, and a dollop of creme fraiche. Best of all you can order half pies, so go hungry and try all four.
Patatona at Nicoletta
Inspired by the pizzas at Domenico’s in Beloit, Wisconsin (where owner Michael White had his first restaurant job), these pizzas boast thicker crusts than those found on other Neapolitan pies in New York , and they’re cooked at a lower temperature for much longer. The Patatona (top) layers Nueske’s bacon, potatoes, creme fraiche, caramelized onions, and rosemary, comfort food for the foodie set. “Oh, that’s my favorite,” our server exclaimed when we ordered it. Ours too.