In Manhattan's Financial District, where the law of supply and demand is keenly understood, a new pizza partnership has emerged to capitalize on what we at Slice have noticed is a growing taste in the city for the "grandma" pieessentially a thin-crust Sicilian.
Co-owned by famed pizzaman Nick Angelis (Nick's) and Harry and Peter Poulakakos (Bayard's, Financier, Ulysses), Adrienne's offers Angelis's renowned round piesbut what keeps customers eagerly waiting for tables is the "Old Fashioned." It's a pizza that any Italian nonna would be proud to call her own, and those at Adrienne's exhibit the same bright, fresh tomato sauce; artfully charred crust; top-notch cheese; and stellar toppings that have made Angelis's two New York City Nick's locations favorites among pizza lovers.
The elegant walk-through space (right) is long and narrow, featuring a spacious bar meant for dining, as well as service at about 20 small tables. On-the-go bankers and brokers can order take-away slices during the lunch rush (12 to 3 p.m.) at a small counter in back. Best of all, you don't need an MBA to recognize a good deal: An Old Fashioned half pie (five smallish slices), which is only available if you sit at the bar, will set you back $7.50 (each additional topping is $1.50). Plain slices go for $1.50 each, or $2 for any single topping.
We were keen to visit this newly opened joint, seeing as how Nick's in Forest Hills is one of our favorite pizzerias. Friend of Slice Sandro B. had left many favorable comments about the place, and after much schedule juggling, Slice city editor Seltzerboy and I met him there for lunch yesterday.
Sandro recommended we get three half pies, which he is wont to order, but we were sitting outside on Stone Street, reputedly Manhattan's oldest street and one that is closed to vehicular traffic in favor of an outdoor dining room for the various restaurants that call it home. No half pies outside, we were told. They're only available if you sit at the bar inside. Roll with the punches, we say, so we ordered two whole "Old Fashioned" pies, one half plainhalf garlic, the other half anchovyhalf sausage-and-onion. Each of us had our favorite toppings accounted for.
The crust on the plain-garlic was nicely charred and crisp (left) but not plagued by the overcooking that often occurs with square pies. (For those of you interested, Adrienne's is using Marsal & Sons brick-lined gas-fired ovens, a change from the Wood Stone in Forest Hills.) Seltzerboy thought the crust was a bit lacking in flavor but liked the sauce, cheese, and toppings. His favorite topping, garlic, was in ample supply. I thought the crust was good but was more impressed with the sauce (fresh and bright) and the cheese, which might be overcooked by some folks' standards but had a nice, crispy golden-brownness to it that played well against the sauce and pillowy crust interior and that just hit the spot that day. Sandro gave the first pie an overall thumbs up.
Our second pie was a little lacking, though, probably the result of Mr. Angelis's continuing experimentation with the square form in the short time Adrienne's has been open (this is the first restaurant he's trying it in). The toppings, as to be expected from a Nick operation, were excellent. Even though Seltzerboy and I are not huge anchovy fans (we ordered it for Sandro's benefit), we recognized the high quality of the topping, which was oceanly pungent but not overpoweringjust too salty for our taste, as is anchovy's nature. My fave, the sausage and onion? Delicious.
The problem with this pie was the crust. It was underdone (right) and exhibited a paleness not found in the earlier pie. For now, we'll chalk it up to the fact that Adrienne's (named for Harry Poulakakos's wife) is still working out some kinks. (Evidenced, says Sandro, by the fact that the menu and ordering protocol has changed several times since he's been going. Gone, he says, are the prefab pies that had graced the menu in favor of a list of toppings you can combine to customize your pizza.)
Mr. Angelis is also experimenting with different suppliers. We had a chance to talk with him briefly, and he told Seltzerboy (left) that he's getting the cheese from a place closer to Adrienne's than the famed Corona Heights Pork Store that supplies his Forest Hills location.
Will the not-as-good second pie stop us from going? Naw. We like what we've had so far, and seeing how it takes a while for a new restaurant to get its sea legs, we expect great things from Adrienne's.
Location: 54 Stone Street, New York City, NY 10004 (Financial District)
Getting There: Closest subways are the 6 at Bowling Green and the R/W at Whitehall.
Payment: Cash and credit
Cost: Square pies, $15 plain, $3 each additional topping; slices, $1.50, $2 for any single topping
The Skinny: Good "grandma" style pies; half pies (5 slices) available if you sit at the bar, $7.50, $1.50 each additional topping