Pizza Guru comes to NY to sample what American pizza tastes like.
This weekend, The Pizza Guru®, that mysterious critic of all
things pizza, made a guerilla visit to New York. For those of you not familiar
with Pizza Guru™, he usually operates in the Upper Tiber River Valley in Umbria
Italy, but for reasons known only to Guru, he chose to come to New York and
sample American pizza. If you need to catch up on Guru’s pizza pronouncements
you can catch up here.
The same basic scoring elements were in place:
*Crust: must be thin and crisp, no soggy bottom permitted
except at the epicenter
*Sauce: light handed, fresh tasting but not raw tomato taste
*Cutlery: should be able to cut through the crust, not as
simple as it sounds
*Ambience: overall vibe of the joint
*Waitress: having a pretty lass adds points, but a winning way and smile
counts almost as much.
Gets points for being out of the way. One of our Umbrian
pizza traditions is that we travel far and wide to sample pizza. Some who have
tagged along would say we travel a little toooo far and a little tooo wide, but
the search for fine pizza is a quest worthy of the effort. Roberta’s fits the
bill perfectly. After confounding even the GPS, we drove up on a cold Friday
night and the dark, graffiti covered entrance was looking more than a little 3rd
world uninviting. I do love a graffiti covered ATM machine that looks as if it
dispenses communicable diseases along with cash. Then you swing open the door and the warm, easy, noisy
atmosphere sucks you into its cozy cocoon.
Pizza Guru© gave a big thumbs up for Ambience and Waitress,
and special bonus points for toutstanding bravery in attempting to maintain
a rooftop greenhouse in the winter. The staff is clearly passionate about where food comes from and how it is prepared, it's wonderful to behold.
Unfortunately, the consensus was that the pizza oven wasn’t hot enough
to create a crisp crust. Although the crust was certainly tasty and pleasantly chewy, it
needed to be thinner. Topping quality was judged to be just ok, they were very
skimpy on the Gorgonzola and there was something off putting about the sauce. All in all, a fun place to go, and they
are trying very hard to be local and sustainable, but lets have something other
than pizz I've had some of the roasted meats there and they were outstanding as are the vegetable dishes…oh, and the cookies are damn good as well.
Situated in the Financial District, this lunchtime pizza
joint cranks out Roman style palam pizza. Palam is the long, narrow wooden peel
that is used in Roman pizza ovens, so you get 4-foot long, narrow strips of
pizza instead of a round pie.
Ambience: well lit, clean, friendly luncheonette
Waitress: big thumbs up, pretty, friendly and with an accent
that just keeps you guessing.
Pizza: Outstanding. It’s a thin, focaccia-like crispy crust.
Toppings are excellent quality and there is plenty to choose from. The crust
does get tough as it cools so its best to be eaten quick and hot. It would also
pay to find out what pizza just came out of the oven and go for that.
Cutlery: Wimpy plastic
Bonus Point: best espresso in NYC. Yes. Best espresso in the
city, so sayeth Pizza Guru™ who also believes in the spiritual value of a good
espresso dopo il pranzo (after lunch).
A bit far afield, a gem of a pizzeria in the A&P shopping plaza, this is the classic suburban American
pizza joint. A mural of the Portofino harbor on the wall, permanent Christmas
lights framing the menu, booth seating, garlic bread, spaghetti and meatballs. It’s
been a Westchester fixture for years. Their claim to fame is the incredible
size of an individual slice; it’s easily the size of a ‘personal pie’ and
requires layering 3 paper plates in order to accommodate one slice.
Ambience: Classic American-Italian pizza joint
Waitresses: big demerit…no ladies at all, pretty or
Crust: super thin for such a huge slice, very crispy and
flavorful. The crust is so crispy that you can actually cut right through it
with the plastic cutlery. Extremely generous with their toppings. Good sauce
of time. It’s not easy to keep up with Pizza Guru©™® when he’s on a mission,
but we managed.
Farinella’s won the competition in nearly every critical
category, and with 2 pretty ladies and a good espresso, they even captured the
OK. I do not want to hear about your scoring criteria, this is Guru's domain. But, if there is a place we absolutely have to go to, them I'm all ears. And obviously, we travel for pizza.
We barely scratched the pizza surface in NY when it was time
for Pizza Guru ™ to move on, so we bid him Namaste and look forward to seeing him back