Alan Richman on Tonda, Ignazio's, and Emporio

20090602-richman.jpgHot off his GQ Top 25 Pizza List, Alan Richman (right) takes on a few recently opened NYC pizzeriasTonda (East Village), Ignazio's (DUMBO), and Emporio (Nolita). Let's take them in order.

On Tonda:

The toppings here are overly ambitious yet flavorsome, but the crusts are flabby, tasteless, barely charred, and lacking the puffy outside ring that is reminiscent of a true Naples pie. My favorite menu item by far was the arancini, listed under “Neapolitan Street Food” but as far as I know found just about everywhere in Italy. These little rice balls were wonderfully crunchy, the only item we tried that came to the table crisp.

Ouch. But when it comes to Ignazio's, it gets worse. To say Richman doesn't like the joint is an understatement. On Ignazio's:

We asked for two pies, and 25 minutes later the waitress came by and told us our order had been misplaced and the cooking was about to begin. The good news: She said our root beers were on the house. The bad news: The pies finally showed up. The crusts were hard, flat, bland. Pie number one, titled The Pizza, consisted of insipid tomato sauce, decent mozzarella, and no noticable hint of the promised Pecorino Romano.

For those of you who don't think Richman knows pizza, several Chowhounders are also down on the place as of late. The trouble starts here before the thread devolves into a natives vs. tourists sideshow.

But Richman takes us out on a high note, with Emporio:

The best pie here, and the best at any of the three places I tried, was the margherita (although it isn’t given that name). The tomato sauce, from San Marzano tomatoes, was properly vibrant; the fresh buffalo mozzarella wasn’t overly watery; and the crust was thin, supple, and strong. (A little more char would have been nice.)

I haven't been to Emporio yet, but I think Richman's analysis of Tonda and Ignazio's is accurate.