Daily Slice: San Matteo, NYC
Daily Slice gives a quick snapshot each weekday of a different slice or pie that the folks at the Serious Eats empire have enjoyed lately.
The first time I stopped by San Matteo on the Upper East Side, I ordered a Margherita, and to be honest, I was a little disappointed. The moisture from the mozzarella made the crust go limp, and the cheese had not melted fully. Was there something wrong with the huge wood-fired oven?
I returned a few weeks later and ordered the Diavola, a spicy pie topped with tomato, basil, homemade mozzarella, spicy sopressata, Parmigiano Reggiano, and olive oil. While I waited, the owner offered me a sample of some of the ham he had just sliced: "Aged two years," he told me. This time, the pizza was far better. It was everything you want (but never get) from a pepperoni slice. The sopressata was hot and flavorful but not greasy, the creamy cheese stretched without being stringy, the crust (though not supremely puffy) had a pleasant give to it, and a slight char.
As I ate, I watched the pizzaiolo make another pie. I kept track of the time the pizza was in the oven: less than three minutes. The owner claims that the oven runs at about 1,000 degrees, which would seem to do the trick.