New York City Feelings

I would give the greatest sunset in the world for one sight of New York's skyline

Feb 27, 2009

A Pizza Moment

By Frank Bruni

“Why does everybody keep talking to me about pizza?” a good friend from Italy complained to me during her recent trip to New York.

She’d turned to her most food-savvy friends for recommendations on where to eat while in town, and those friends kept coming back to her with pizza places. “I live in Italy,” she griped to me. “When I’m in New York, I’m not after pizza.”

But these days, many of those of us in the small but voluble world of the food-obsessed are. This certainly isn’t the city’s first pizza moment and it definitely won’t be the last, but it’s a definite pizza moment all the same.

Much of that has to do with the recent opening of Co., Jim Lahey’s high-gloss pizza joint (of sorts) on Ninth Avenue in Chelsea, which has generated as much chatter among committed restaurant watchers as any place that’s come along in the last four months, with the possible exception of the John Dory.

But Motorino, in Williamsburg, also gets mentioned a lot.

“Have you been to Motorino?” is a question I’ve fielded more than a couple of times in recent weeks. (I haven’t, but Pete Wells has, and wrote about it for the Times last year.)

When it comes to pizza, everybody has opinions, and itches to rank Motorino against Co. against L’Asso, down on Mott Street near Kenmare. About L’Asso the blog Grub Street, owned by New York magazine, just asked: “So is L’Asso’s new artichoke pie truly the best in the city?” If so, then it bests the stiff competition from Artichoke Basille’s Pizza & Brewery in the East Village, which opened last year and marked a starting point of the current pizza moment. Peter Meehan assessed Artichoke for the Times back then.

But what I hear most about right now is Co., and its Popeye pizza, with a bevy of crisp-edged, singed (in a good way) spinach leaves on top, is one of the most memorable things I’ve eaten in months. It’s also $17, for a modestly portioned, individual-size pie, and that underscores a peculiarity of our current pizza moment. While you’d think this moment might be recession-driven, the artisanal pizzas at its center are pretty costly per square inch.

In any case, if you’re one of the pizza hounds out there who’s got strong feelings about whose pies are best, here’s yet another opportunity to make your case.


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