Peter D. wrote to us on Sunday with the news that acclaimed Arthur Avenue pizza hotspot Zero Otto Nove is coming to Manhattan. Located at 15 West 21st Street (between Fifth and Sixth avenues), the new location, which has yet to open, seems to have found a good spot for the Neapolitan-esque style of pizza it makes. The only pizzeria of a similar vein is La Pizza Fresca (reviewed here) about 3 minutes away on 20th Street just off Broadway.
Update: As seriouspizza points out below, Eataly's Rossopomodoro is also in the neighborhood. So scratch that lede. I should have said something like, "The Flatiron is fast turning into a wood-fired pizza hotspot" or some such. Thanks, seriouspizza!
When I say Neapolitan-esque, what I really mean is Salerno-style pizza, which is similar enough to Neapolitan that most folks without an advanced degree in pizza wankery wouldn't noticed the difference. (Zero otto nove, "089" in Italian, is Salerno's area code.) Our man Gianluca Rottura offers this explanation in an earlier Slice post:
Compared to non-Neapolitan pizza, Salerno pizza is very similar to Neapolitan. The difference between Salerno's pizzas and that of neighboring Naples is that Salerno's are crisper, less puffy, less wet, and have a lower crust.
So for heathens like me, who are often put off by the the wetter Neapolitan pies, a Salerno-style pizzeria may be just the ticket.
Yes, I know that photo's horrible, but in my defense, the place has some of the worst lighting for pizza photography imaginable. Here (I love when I get to quote myself) is my first impression of the joint, from 2008:
We ordered a Margherita pie to serve as a baseline and a calzone, since, as Ed reasoned, "Calzones are often a useful measuring stick for judging pizzerias.
The Margherita was a "Salerno-style" pie. A bit thinner in the middle, a little less height at the edges, and a tad more crisp than a Naples-style pie--but pretty close otherwise. The pie was good, with rich creamy fresh mozz with a slight tang to it, and a moderately crisp crust with a chewy, bready interior. The crust could have used a little more flavor, as Peter Meehan points out on the New York Times Diner's Journal blog. Going to the upskirt (right), you'll get an idea of the Goldilocksian char level on the bottom: not too much, not too little. I would have liked a little more crispness. As it was, I couldn't photograph a proper upskirt (tip pointing toward the heavens) because the slice wouldn't cooperate (tip sag).
Still, the place seems to be on the path toward serious pizza. To give you some idea how serious, Bubbs and Ed Levine were throwing around the words "Una," "Pizza," and "Napoletana" in the same sentence. If If you're a tad slow, I'll put it together for you: Una Pizza Napoletana. While I think much of that was hunger talking (at least in my opinion), I'd like to see how this pie evolves.
I've been a couple times since. I think the place has improved since then. I'm not sure I'm on the same page as the folks who rave about the pizzeria, but I'm happy that the new one is close enough to the Slice/SE office that I'll have ample opportunity to change my tune.
Zero Otto Nove (Flatiron)
15 West 21st Street, New York NY 10010 (Fifth/Sixth; map)