I’m something of a traditionalist when it comes to pizza. I cringe at toppings like pineapple, laugh at some options available in Japan (potato and mayo pizza with shrimp and sweet corn?!) and turn my nose up at the idea of cheese in the crust. (What kind of back room lobbying deal brought us that?) If a pizza place has a proper oven and uses good ingredients I see no reason to get more adventurous than a pizza margherita. Most of the time, that is. I have found a couple offbeat pizzas that work well right here in the neighborhood, from places that deliver. Today I’m going to share two of them with you.
Getting a brick oven pizza delivered is a game of chance: the longer the time from oven to table the less good the pizza will be. Fast delivery is crucial. Here San Marzano (71 Clinton Street) gets pretty high marks. They consistently get pizzas to my door in under half an hour, so I’ve often ordered from them. Their brick oven pizza has such a thin crust that even with the fast delivery the middle of the pie is often soggy. But it’s a good pie nonetheless.
The margherita here is not a standout, so I explored their other offerings, and was met with a surprise. Their best pie (in my opinion) is called la Foresta, and it’s pretty nontraditional by New York standards. It’s a white pie topped with speck (double cured ham that’s somewhere between prosciutto and bacon), then covered with a fistful of baby arugula to finish. It’s elegant: the flavors balance perfectly. Might be my favorite pie in the neighborhood.
If your brick oven pizza desire is more about over the top richness than elegance Goodfella’s (144 Orchard) has you covered with their Smoking Goodfella. The premise starts out traditional, with roasted peppers, sausage, basil and pecorino. They use smoked mozzarella for a little extra kick, then gild the lily by adding a roasted red pepper cream sauce. The result is as weighty as it is flavorful – I actually feel naughty eating it. The crust is right on, allowing this raucous combination of flavors to shine.
Of course, neighborhood traditionalists can enjoy a margherita pizza delivered to their door. Lil’ Frankies makes a great example, and they deliver below Houston Street. Unfortunately they don’t deliver east of Clinton Street, where I live. That’s probably why I found the two offbeat pies described above. Both are worthy, if untraditional.
JP Bowersock is a professional musician and music producer who has toured the world repeatedly, eating at top restaurants and hole-in-the-wall joints. He is a serious home cook with over two decades’ experience cooking for family, friends and fellow rock and rollers. Mr Bowersock keeps a toe in the wine business as well, consulting for the wine lists of several neighborhood establishments, including Clandestino, 35 Canal St. When not on tour or in the recording studio he’s scouring the neighborhood for frugal food finds.
Mulled (spiced) wine, served warm, is a traditional winter drink, particularly around the holidays. It brings up the same question making sangria does: Do you spring for a bottle of balanced, nuanced vino when your intent is to adulterate it? No. But all the spices (or fruit juice) in the world won’t save a terrible wine, so you have to start with something drinkable. Falling Star is a completely drinkable blend of merlot and malbec, soft and fruity, yet dry. And at $11 for a magnum it’s very inexpensive – a great choice for making mulled wine or sangria.